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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 8:57 am | Fair 48º


Developer Seeks To Delay Costly Fixes At Old Motel In Santa Maria

Reported sale of Laz-E-Daze Retirement Center raises questions about future of improvements at facility to be used as farmworker housing facility

A decision on whether the owners of the Laz-E-Daze Retirement Center can delay required property improvements has been postponed by the Santa Maria City Council.
A decision on whether the owners of the Laz-E-Daze Retirement Center can delay required property improvements has been postponed by the Santa Maria City Council. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The Santa Maria City Council has agreed to wait another month to consider whether the owner of the Laz-E-Daze Retirement Center can delay required property improvements while still operating as a boarding house for field workers.

On Tuesday night, the council approved the request of Western Sky Properties to postpone ruling on a five-year development agreement. The hearing was rescheduled for Feb. 2.

“With delay of the hearing, we believe that we can shorten the time periods for completion of the needed facility improvements and infrastructure replacements,” Kevin Teixeira, Western Sky Properties president and broker, said in a letter to the city.

The facility on four acres at 1318 N. Broadway, long known as Laz-E-Daze, has a new sign saying Pasado Del Sol.

The Planning Commission recently voted to revoke the conditional-use permit that allowed Laz-E-Daze to operate as a senior housing facility. Despite that permit, over the years the facility began housing low-income residents, and was the site of many police calls.

In revoking the existing permit, the Planning Commission granted Western Sky Properties permission to operate as a boarding house for field workers under the federal H2A Temporary Agricultural Worker program — a role it had already fulfilled last year.

The development agreement to be considered by the council would let the property owner defer costly improvements while working to obtain financing for a bigger multi-use project to demolish existing structures and build new commercial and residential buildings. 

Staff pointed out that property representatives remained mum during the Planning Commission meeting about whether they planned to sell the property, despite being asked twice by Commissioner Maribel Hernandez during the December meeting.

City officials said they have since learned the property was already in escrow, and questioned whether commissioners would have recommended approval of the development agreement if they had known of the pending change in ownership.

With the new information, staff said it remained uncertain whether the project should be approved.

“Knowing now that the current owners intended to abandon their plans to develop the property, the question before council is whether or not the necessary improvements should be phased-in over time or should they be done immediately as is the case with a normal planned development permit approval,” Community Development Director Larry Appel said in the staff report.

“Staff is content with the use of the site as a boarding house for H2A housing, but in light of the owner’s decision to sell the property, and that there is no guarantee that a new owner will perform the improvements, staff is in support of the DA as submitted,” Appel said.

Laz-E-Daze originally was a motel alongside Highway 101 before the freeway was rebuilt on the eastern edge of Santa Maria.

In the 1960s, it received permission to house senior citizens, and later became home to low-income residents.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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