The County Planning Commission denied the subdivision and lot line adjustment of the iconic Las Varas Ranch on Wednesday, April 29. The 1,700 acre ranch straddles 101, just to the west of Dos Pueblos Canyon, and includes the sweeping views of ocean pastures, historic barns, orchards, and eucalyptus windrows. The owners attempted to create additional lots on the ocean side of 101, and to gain approval to build upward of 14 house on 7 lots. The project would have significantly fragmented this working ranch, imperiling its agricultural viability. The owners refused to provide conservation or agricultural easements for the protection of the environment and agricultural productivity. As one commissioner said, “approval of this project could set an unwelcome precedent for the Gaviota Coast.” By a 3:2 majority, they voted to recommend that the Board of Supervisors deny this ill-conceived project.
The Gaviota Coast Conservancy has consistently opposed this project since 2007, at every level of the permitting process. Our sincere thanks to Commissioners Hartmann, Brown, and Cooney, for their strong statements supporting denial of this project, and their clear understanding of the importance of protecting the Gaviota Coast. One of the Commissioners cited the thousand letters that the Commission received over the course of the permit process as a strong influence on her decision to deny the project; your participation did make a difference!
A battle was won, but the war continues. The Las Varas project will now proceed to the County Supervisors for their final decision within 2 to 3 months. We will update you on this process, and will need your continued help to seal the denial of this project.
Phil McKenna, President, GCC