Proposed land use ordinance amendment for new Templeton housing development dies in deadlock

SLO COUNTY — San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors approved an amendment to a groundwater export ordinance that requires a permit to move water between groundwater basins within San Luis Obispo County.

The ordinance amending Chapter 8.95 of the San Luis Obispo County Code adds an exemption movement of groundwater through the emergency intertie between the Atascadero Mutual Water Company (AMWC) and County Service Area (CSA) No. 23 water systems in the event of a CSA 23 water supply emergency.

Currently, the ordinance requires a permit to transfer water between basins.


In 2016 the county installed a 2.5-mile pipeline intertie to move water from the AMWC to CSA No. 23 in Santa Margarita.

CSA 23 has been in a water alert status since April 2021. 

District 4 Supervisor Debbie Arnold holds Atascadero and Santa Margarita within her district. She directed a question to county staff to elaborate on Santa Margarita’s reliability on groundwater.

“The town of Santa Margarita and the CSA 23 customers depend on the only one dependable well in Santa Margarita for their water in these drought years,” said Arnold. “It isn’t just this year that this intertie is an important piece of their water dependability, correct?”

Staff corroborated her statement, saying Santa Margarita is dependable solely on groundwater and the emergency intertie allows them to draw water from other basins.

Most of CSA 23 lies within the same basin as AMWC; however, two small areas lie outside of the basin, which would trigger the permit requirement, preventing a timely response to a water emergency.

Additionally, Arnold clarified with staff that this amendment would only be used under specific emergency conditions. The board unanimously approved the amendment.

Supervisors also reviewed a request submitted by Mittry Farms Trust to authorize the processing of a land use ordinance amendment to application LRP2021-00006 to amend Planning Area Standards to include single-family dwellings as an allowable principal use on the project site (APN: 040-201-033). 

The proposed site consists of 23 parcels with single-family homes on 10.2 acres. The project will be located on Highway 101 and the North Main Street interchange area in Templeton.

Specifically, Highway 101 sits to the west of and the SLO County Sheriff’s Templeton Station to the north of the proposed project.

The proposed amendment would allow the development of single-family dwellings on the project site through Minor Use Permit or Conditional Use Permit approval. 

District 4 Supervisor Lynn Compton recused herself due to receiving a campaign contribution.

District 1 Supervisor John Peschong, whose district includes Templeton, expressed his support of approving the project, saying, “That end of Main Street has changed a lot since the residential properties built by Gary Grosman and his team, which is a great project. I think that this is the direction that end of Main Street in Templeton is going is in residential, so I am supportive of this.”

However, District 2 Supervisor Bruce Gibson opposed the approval, saying the nature of what they are being asked to authorize is not consistent with their housing policy and will not support affordable housing.

Ultimately, approval of the amendment died with a 2-2 vote, Arnold and Peschong voting yes. 

Peschong then made a new motion to authorize the processing of a land use ordinance amendment application adding alternative development ideas to be presented.

The new motion passed with a 4-0 vote.

The next Board of Supervisors meeting is a budget hearing scheduled for June 13 at 9 a.m.