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Litigation and conservation campaigns cost money!
Make your TAX-DEDUCTIBLE check out to "Sierra Club Foundation," write
 "SLO Land Preservation Fund" in the memo section
and mail to:

Sierra Club
P.O. Box 15755
San Luis Obispo, CA 93406


May 18, 2010: VICTORY -- Court strikes down ordinance, County agrees to put countywide viewshed protections in place. Thanks to all our supporters for making this great win for the environment possible!


Sierra Club Sues to Block Cayucos Viewshed Ordinance

Action would force review of controversial measure's environmental impacts

Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club v. San Luis Obispo County

On January 17, the Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club filed suit against
the County of San Luis Obispo challenging the Cayucos Viewshed ordinance.
The vote by County Supervisors Ovitt, Achadjian and Lenthall to approve the
ordinance was one of the most controversial actions taken by the board last year.

   "Projects permitted and built under this ordinance would significantly
degrade scenic public views in one of the county's 'signature landscapes,'
said Karen Merriam, Chair of the Sierra Club's Santa Lucia Chapter in San
Luis Obispo. "The Sierra Club cannot stand by and allow such an act of
destruction to take place. On behalf of this irreplaceable landscape and the
hundreds of citizens and who asked the board not to disregard sound planning
and the broad public opposition to narrow private interests, the Sierra Club must
take this bold action to fix the problem the board created."

   The board majority was widely criticized for passing the ordinance as
drafted by a private property rights group and ignoring more protective
drafts prepared by county planners and unanimously approved by the
supervisors' appointees on the County Planning Commission. The ordinance the
board selected reduced the area affected by nine-tenths and added multiple
exemptions for landowners and future land speculators wishing to build homes
on ridgelines.

   The Sierra Club lawsuit is designed to protect the viewshed from
inappropriate development and safeguard environmental resources in the area
by keeping current standards in place and preventing any projects from going
forward under the new ordinance; stop the precedent-setting nature of the
ordinance from weakening other viewshed protection policies elsewhere in the
county by requiring a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR) with a complete
alternatives analysis; and highlight the Supervisors' consistent abuse of
state law through the inappropriate use of "Negative Declarations" claiming
no environmental impacts and put an end to that abuse. An EIR would require
that the county put mitigations in place for any identified impacts to the
environment resulting from the permitted land uses in the ordinance.
   "In their haste to run an errand for the real estate lobby, Supervisors
Ovitt, Achadjian and Lenthall ran over the California Environmental Quality
Act," said Andrew Christie, director of the Santa Lucia Chapter. "The
County's claim that this ordinance will have no environmental impacts has no
basis in fact, and for that reason the County must prepare a full
Environmental Impact Report. That report will make it clear that the
'standards' contained in this privately drafted ordinance are weaker than
the minimal regulations in place now, and will require mitigations to
protect the viewshed."

Concerned about a local issue that you think we should be addressing? Feel free to contact us at

For issues that affect more than just San Luis Obispo County, look through the links at the left to see if one of the Sierra Club National campaigns applies, or visit the Sierra Club National site.

Or check out some other local and national activist groups.

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Explore, Enjoy and Protect - Santa Lucia Chapter hike in Machesna Wilderness
Machesna Wilderness hike
April 2002
Photo by Gary Felsman