By Ana Citrin
You may have noticed new construction on the north side of Highway 101 just before the El Capitan State Beach exit, where El Capitan Canyon Resort is adding new buildings, new tent campsites, and a parking lot adjacent to Calle Real. This new development is only the first installment of a much larger expansion planned for this private resort, which is now owned and operated by SUN Communities, Inc., a publicly traded real estate investment company of manufactured housing and recreational vehicle communities across the US and in the UK.1
47 newly developed campsites and associated structures are proposed in two areas of the open agricultural parcel east of the canyon. 22 of the campsites would have “RV Cabins” and 25 would have yurts. Much of this proposed development, which includes night lighting, is within the Highway 101 viewshed.
The resort is also planning a substantial facility expansion within the canyon itself. The in-canyon proposal includes roadway widening, replacing temporary structures with new permanent ones, and adding new and more modern amenities including a new pool, spa, and health retreat facilities.
El Capitan Canyon Resort operates under a Conditional Use Permit approved by the County in 2004. New development requires additional permits from the County, however, which must comply with County policies and ordinances, including the Gaviota Coast Plan.
SUN is claiming the entirety of this new development is not subject to the Gaviota Coast Plan including provisions protecting the Critical Viewshed Corridor from Highway 101. GCC disputes that claim and is participating in the County’s review process to help ensure the Resort follows the same rules applicable to other Gaviota Coast properties, and that the County applies those rules to protect the viewshed and other sensitive resources.
Please stay tuned for future installments on this topic to follow.