Commission seeks detail on vesting rights process

The new owners of the Santa Maria restaurant in the bay want the city to waive modern code requirements because it will continue in the same use established before those modern codes.

The owners, White’s Wharf, LLC, already have approval to demolish the current structure and construct a new, two-story restaurant.

“Provisions for zoning, parking, utilities and other land development requirements – that were not in effect when the site was first developed – should not apply to the reconstruction,” Attorney Ellen Avery-Smith told the commission. “City code is not specific about what is required for a vested rights determination.”

“Vesting rights” is something that is brand new for all of us in this context Mayor Nancy Shaver told Historic City News. “We’d like to get clarification from our city attorney on what vesting rights are.”

So, without taking any official action at the Monday meeting, the commission is asking what passes for a city attorney, Isabelle Lopez, for her advice on how they should think about the owner’s vested property rights.

If Lopez’ recommendations before the next commission meeting leads the city into more litigation at this late point, as some of her previous poorer property rights recommendations have, the taxpayers could be looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to another outside attorney, once again.

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