Plans to convert the Seahorse Riding Center into an assisted living facility are dead, report Rolling Hills Estate city officials.
Earlier this month, developer Oxbow Corp. through Thomas Grabiel sent a simple email to the city:
We have decided not to continue to pursue the Seahorse property at this time. If circumstance changes I will advise further.
Thanks for your assistance,
Planning Director David Wahba told Patch Oxbow never filed officially filed plans with the city.
“Everything was very conceptual,” he said.
Indeed, in October, Rolling Hills Estates City Manager Douglas Prichard wrote to Grabiel, to express concern that Oxbow officials were making an end run around regular processes and procedures by first seeking community support, which was causing “anguish” among residents.
“The city of Rolling Hills Estates prides itself on open government and a transparent process. However, the ‘behind the scenes’ manner in which your company is pursuing this proposal has raised suspicions about due public process,” Prichard wrote.
The city manager took issue with Oxbow’s plans to relocate the equestrian facility without addressing other important details, such as zoning and conformity with the city’s plan for development.
According to a timeline the city put together, Oxbow officials first approached the city about ideas for an assisted living facility a little more than a year ago. After talking with staff, the city helped coordinate a meeting between the developer and local equestrians, who had a “very negative opinion” about the project, according to the timeline.
Surprising to staff, they heard back that Oxbow officials walked away from the meeting encouraged.
From there, the tale of the assisted living facility that was never to be becomes a series of rumors that Seahorse would be moved to the closed Palos Verdes Landfill, emails from city to county officials, and residents speaking out on what they thought was going on.
The situation got so murky, the city put out a notice called the “Seahorse Riding Club: Rumors and Truth.”
In reaction to Grabiel’s recent email, Prichard put out a notice to the public:
“Those who have been following this issue know that there were a number of zoning and general plan hurdles that would have to have been overcome to change the use of this property. Apparently, this convinced Oxbow that their time and efforts were best spent elsewhere,” he wrote.