A newly released plan to improve the Oceano Dunes District includes additions of a boardwalk, expanded parking and campgrounds, but some say the project doesn’t do enough to protect the environment.
The Public Works Plan for Oceano Dunes SVRA and Pismo State Beach has been underway for about a year but was only recently made public as it goes through public hearings and developments.
Kevin Pearce, the district’s superintendent, said the project came about as a way to address congestion issues and other problems brought up by the public.
The current version of the plan features eight key projects:
- Pier and Grand Avenue entrances and Pier Avenue lifeguard tower project
- North Beach Campground facility improvements to add new entrance and kiosk
- Butterfly Grove public access project would improve visitor serving amenities
- Grover Beach Lodge site project would add new RV dump station, new golf course entrance and parking
- Pismo State Beach boardwalk to create accessible public access along foredunes between Grand and Pier Avenue
- Park Corporation yard improvement project to add pedestrian and vehicular improvements, expand existing lifeguard and peace officer facility, as well as parking and storage improvements
- Oceano campground infrastructure improvement project would improve RV hookup area and tent camping area
- Oso Flaco Campground and Public Access project to convert about 120 acres of agricultural lease land into campground/ vehicle staging area
All these plans are being rolled into one major project.
“It will prevent future delays in identifying small multiple independent projects that stacked up against each other would create longer permitting processes,” Pearce said.
Dale Mendez, a Pismo Beach resident, often walks his dog along the beach at the Grand Avenue entrance. He said he doesn’t want to see a boardwalk, which is proposed for a 1.5-mile stretch of beach between Grand and Pier Avenue, block the view of the ocean.
“Keeping the coast line pure is golden,” Mendez said. “(A boardwalk) takes away from the coastline, the beauty of the coastline. They should keep the beach the way it is.”
“The boardwalk, I think is a wonderful idea, we asked for it,” Oceano Beach Community Association Secretary Lucia Casalinuovo said. “Especially because it’s not safe walking on our beach.”
Casalinuovo said the boardwalk would protect pedestrians from vehicles racing across the beach.
But she argues that the improvement plan fails to protect the environment.
“The PM 10 air quality issue on Pier Avenue and the mesa remain the same,” Casalinuovo said. “So the plan changes nothing.”
“The most exciting project is developed and primitive campsites with access to the riding area from a southern entrance,” Pearce said. “That’s down in our Oso Flaco area.”
Pearce said the addition of about 200 camping spaces at Oso Flaco could alleviate traffic at the Grand and Pier Avenue entrances and the current Oceano campsite.
More than 100 acres of state-managed agricultural land adjacent to Oso Flaco would be converted to camping spaces, under the proposal.
Casalinuovo said the project doesn’t do enough to encourage camping off the beach directly.
“There’s about 1,000 campsites on the beach,” Casalinuovo said. “So this is only 20 percent, it’s not enough.”
The District is currently accepting feedback and will hold at least two more public meetings on the project over the next two years.
A budget has not been determined because the project will almost certainly change over time.