Save Santa Maria Raceway

Save Santa Maria Raceway

0 have signed. Let’s get to 15,000!
At 15,000 signatures, this petition becomes one of the top signed on!
Stacy Dearinger started this petition to San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors Lynn Compton and

It is with deep regret that we are forced to announce the indefinite suspension of operations at Stadium805 and the Santa Maria Raceway. The ongoing efforts of the County of San Luis Obispo and the Costa Pacifica Estates Homeowners Association to shut down our facility, and the legal fees defending the actions, has made it financially impossible to continue operating this facility in the way it has operated for decades. This is extremely frustrating as from the beginning we have made every effort to operate under the direct guidance from the County of San Luis Obispo.

Before purchasing the racetrack in 2018, and again before investing a significant amount of private capital in improvements, we invited a contingent of County officials and our 4 th District Supervisor to the facility to confirm the approved uses of the facility and to inquire as to what improvements could be made without affecting the approved uses of the Santa Maria Raceway. It was confirmed by County staff as well as our District Supervisor that the Santa Maria Raceway use permit allowed many forms of entertainment, including concerts, color runs, festivals, and other non-racing events without the need to pull additional permits for each event. This was also confirmed publicly by our elected official at the South County Advisory meeting in November 2019. This was an extremely important feature of the property and was a major factor in the decision to purchase the property, and the subsequent investment in the facility. All previous promoters of the facility had operated under that same guidance and have held numerous non-racing events, including live music, for decades, and with the full knowledge of the County of San Luis Obispo and local law enforcement. These non-racing events have been vital in keeping the facility financially viable. At no time was there any indication that there was any additional steps we needed to take to continue all of the historical activities at the raceway, including live music.

After getting assurances from the County on the kinds of improvements we could make without jeopardizing our approved uses, we proceeded with capital projects to improve the overall experience to our fans of all activities, including live music and racing. These improvements included new grandstand and terrace seating, new bathrooms, improved safety fencing, and many other infrastructure projects that were badly needed. The County encouraged the investment and were aware of our business plans. Based on the County’s endorsement of our plans, we entered into a multi-year agreement with an outside promoter to provide live entertainment.

After the renovations were completed, we received positive reviews of the improvements from the County and other entities interested in holding events at the racetrack. This included the decision of the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series to return to Santa Maria Raceway after an over twenty- year absence. And we began to book events consistent with our operating permit. We then began to get complaints from some new residents of the Costa Pacifica Estates (a new development behind our facility) about noise from the facility. This was despite the homeowners signing a document in their CC & R’s acknowledging the existence of the racetrack and the noise generated by our activities. The residents then complained to the County about the live music events and contended that live music was a new project and was not an approved use of the facility.

The County of San Luis Obispo then, remarkably, rescinded their previous guidance and informed us in a letter dated 2.7.2020 that they made a mistake in allowing us to have non-racing events, and we would need to file for a 6.56 Entertainment License to put on live music events. This was in direct conflict with the guidance we were given before investing in the property and the completed improvements. Some of the improvements were specifically designed to enhance the experience of concert attendees. But we were assured by the County this new Entertainment licensing process would be fair and swift. We then proceeded with applying for the said license and went through the additional expense of the studies required to complete the license application. After overwhelming support of the local public at an open and public hearing of the County Board of Supervisors, and supportive staff reports from various County departments, including a positive staff report from the SLO County Sheriff’s office, we were granted the Entertainment License on a 4-0 vote of the County Supervisors in February of 2021. This license included new restrictions and limitations on our operation, some directly from the residents of the Costa Pacifica Estates, that we agreed to as to facilitate the process.

However, the Costa Pacifica Homeowners Association then filed a lawsuit under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) contending that the county had improperly granted us an exemption from conducting an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). CEQA has several provisions that exempt us from having to conduct an expensive EIR. One requires us to be an existing facility and not a new project which the County properly applied. Another requires the activities permitted to have been conducted for three or more years. Despite meeting both exemptions, the lawsuit held up the license and required extensive legal fees. The licensing process exempts the County of all legal liability so all legal fees must be paid by us, even if it is the County being sued.

In addition, the license was approved as we were still dealing with shutdowns due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the business being shutdown with no revenue to fight the lawsuit and the COVID restrictions prevented us from using our new license. The license was rescinded until the State of California and the County of San Luis Obispo removed the attendance and mitigation efforts in place for COVID. In June of 2021 both the state and the county relaxed restrictions and allowed us to be back at 100% capacity for live events. We requested a reinstatement of the previously approved Entertainment License to resume normal operations. But the County is now saying we must start this expensive process all over again.

We now find ourselves in a no-win situation. We can follow the ever-changing guidance of the County of San Luis Obispo and risk being in violation of our contract with the promoters or we can fulfil our contractual obligation and be fined by the County at each event for violations that have no basis in specific County codes. County fines between June and August will have reached over $37k and must be paid up front. Adding to over $150k of lawyers/consultants fees and studies,This has drained us of all remaining operating funds. This is now affecting the quality and safety of our shows.
This makes it impossible to continue to operate this venue without direct intervention of the County to resolve the problems they caused by luring us into an investment and then abandoning a local family operating a local business. A small group of homeowners complained about a facility they knew existed before they bought their homes. We did not build a racetrack in their backyards. They built their backyards next to our racetrack.

In addition to investing over $2m locally, Stadium805 employs or contracts with 40+ individuals and has welcomed over 50,000 visitors to our region annually.

Unfortunately as a local family operation we no longer have the means to continue the fight to keep this iconic facility open. The effect this had on our personal health and mental well-being due to the constant legal battles and uncertainty of the future has led us to this distressing decision.

As of today we are officially closing down the operations of Stadium805 and Santa Maria raceway to stop the financial bleeding. Apart from one or two remaining contractual arrangements through August 2021 all other events will be canceled. All outstanding invoices and staff arrangements will be paid in full from personal funds.
We sincerely and unreservedly apologize to our community of devoted fans and racers.

Yours sincerely

Nick Duggan

0 have signed. Let’s get to 15,000!
At 15,000 signatures, this petition becomes one of the top signed on!