A Closer Look at Naples Development

by Ethan Stewart

Last Friday’s scorching sun and 90-degree temperatures provided
a picturesque yet taxing backdrop for a public walk-through of the
proposed Naples development. The daylong affair was an official
site visit for the county’s planning and development staff, led by
the developers’ consultant Mark Lloyd, and organized by Santa
Barbara Ranch owner Matt Osgood and the Schulte family of Dos
Pueblos Ranch.

Thanks to the Brown Act, the public was also invited, and by 9
a.m. nearly 100 people — including several members of the Naples
Coalition, a community group whose goal is to see that the
development of Naples does not marginalize the area’s unique
environmental qualities — gathered in a parking lot on Dos Pueblos
Ranch to get a close look at the project. Of particular interest
were the 35 story poles erected to depict the exact size and
location of potential multimillion-dollar homes. After about six
hours of driving and walking various portions of the
several-hundred-acre project site, the day concluded with a
question-and-answer session that proved lackluster despite leaving
some attendees with a bad taste in their mouths.

Perhaps anticipating the tension that would increase as the tour
progressed, Lloyd kicked things off by stating that the purpose of
the day was not to critique or endorse the project, and that he did
“not intend to debate the public at all.” However, as the noon hour
came and went with nary a story pole closely inspected, many of
those traveling in the 15-car caravan became restless, expressing
their frustration with generally good-natured catcalls such as,
“When are we going to see a story pole?” and, “Where are the
goods?” Lloyd was quick to point out that every stop of the tour
was related to the project in some capacity. “The numerous stops
were not stops just for tourism’s sake,” he later explained. “They
were all totally pertinent.”

Nonetheless, due to the abundance of scheduled stops and an
unexplained shuffling of their order, a majority of the attendees
who were not there for work purposes were forced to leave well
before the tour arrived at the controversial ocean mesa area.
Calling the day a “filibustering of the important things,” Gaviota
Coast Conservancy leader Mike Lunsford expressed his discontent
with the tour stops that cut into valuable time that he felt should
have been spent with the story poles, such as the lengthy,
behind-the-scenes look at an onsite abalone farm and a jaunt around
the Mosier Mansion. “Sure it’s nice to get an overall feel, but the
field trip was specifically for seeing the story poles and the
visual impact of the project,” he said. “Proportionally speaking,
there was very little time spent looking at the poles. … As far as
I’m concerned, we got snookered.”

Even more troubling to Lunsford and his supporters was the fact
that the last-minute, voluntary story-poling by Osgood and company
did not cover all of the proposed 54 homes. “They avoided the full
impact by not story-poling all the homes, especially on the marine
terrace,” Lunsford charged. “As a result, the county and public did
not and could not see the realities of the mass, bulk, and scale of
what’s being proposed.” Lloyd disagreed, maintaining that the story
poles cover all of the proposed sites that fall in the Highway 101
viewsheds. With the draft environmental impact report set for a
public comment hearing on July 27 and an Architectural Review Board
meeting on the project slated for August 11, the most recent
chapter in the ongoing Naples debate is only just beginning.


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