What’s really behind the Richards Ranch annexation proposal?

I wonder if we have been asking the wrong questions regarding Richards Ranch LLC and its application to annex county key site 26 into the city of Santa Maria.

The two questions we might consider: 

1) Who are the members of the Richards Ranch LLC, and

2) What is their goal?

Over a year ago, I did ask who the members of the LLC were. Because the city of Santa Maria had provided Michael Stoltey with my personal information, it seemed reasonable that I be given the same information of the members. I sent an email to Michael Stoltey, which went unanswered. I sent letters to Michael Stoltey at both the street and P.O. box addresses on record with the secretary of state. One came back to me “unclaimed” and the other “attempted/not known.”

Last night’s meeting, May 23, presented by Michael Stoltey, managing member of Richards Ranch LLC, confused most attendees by focusing on “conceptual” design plans that have not been submitted to the city of Santa Maria for review. The only thing submitted for review is an application for annexation and pre-zoning.

This annexation process is overwhelmingly complicated. But, to simplify: Richards Ranch’s annexation application triggered the need for an EIR (environmental impact report). The draft stage of the EIR will be completed September after the comments we submitted are addressed. From there the request for annexation (with completed EIR) goes to the city Planning Commission, then City Council, and finally City Council submits the annexation application to LAFCO (Local Agency Formation Commission).

This process, up to the LAFCO review, is entirely within the city of Santa Maria’s discretion/purview, not the county’s. If annexed, the property will remain surrounded by county/Orcutt residents who will have no voice for how it is developed and managed.

This brings us back to Richards Ranch LLC. Who are the members directing this annexation, and why would they choose this path rather than striving for one of mutual regional cooperation?

Susan Bryant

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