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Weyrich pays off some of his tax debt on Carlton Hotel (The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, Calif.))

By Tonya Strickland, The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

June 06--Atascadero's landmark hotel, The Carlton, looked like it could close after it was discovered in May that its owner owed nearly $1 million in back taxes. But last week, David Weyrich saved the property from public auction by paying down some of his hefty debt.

The hotel at Traffic Way and El Camino Real has remained open and has no plans to close, Weyrich told The Tribune.

"Everything is fine," he said. "Right now my plans are to run the hotel and make it the best it can be."

Weyrich has faced numerous financial challenges involving his personal and business assets in the past five years. He's lost major holdings in local wineries, vineyards and housing developments to foreclosure and issues related to unpaid debt.

In May, Weyrich owed the San Luis Obispo County tax collector's office $903,557 in unpaid or partially unpaid property taxes for the five fiscal years dating back to fiscal year 2007-08, according to county tax records. The property tax bill also accrued 1.5 percent in interest each month it was past due.

If property taxes go unpaid for five years without the owner establishing a payment plan -- which Weyrich previously hadn't set up -- the property becomes available for the tax collector to record a power of sale and start the auction process. His deadline was June 30, according to the county.

On May 31, Weyrich paid a nearly $180,765 installment on the back taxes, according to county records.

Now he must abide by a plan that calls for a payment of at least 20 percent of the past due bill, plus any accrued interest, in annual installments through fiscal year 2016-17.

If he defaults on the payment plan, the county will launch a power of sale process to recoup the unpaid taxes plus the costs of the auction, according to the county.

Should that happen, he still has until 5 p.m. of the day before the auction to pay his tax bill in full to save the property, which includes the 52-room hotel and a ground-floor restaurant and bakery.

Weyrich has also struggled with paying taxes in the past, including failing to pay state taxes on the hotel's original restaurant, called The Carlton Restaurant & Grill. That move ultimately prompted the restaurant to close under his management and reopen under the direction of other tenants who have all come and gone for various reasons. The most recent was Colby Jack's, which closed in May.

In 2010, the Carlton was assessed at about $13 million by the county. The current value has since dropped to almost $7.1 million, according to its 2012-13 tax bill.


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