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California Coastal Commission to vote Friday on request to move popular Ontario Ridge hiking trail

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Posted at 6:54 PM, Feb 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 00:50:07-05

The long-awaited decision to relocate a very popular trail near Avila Beach will be happening on Friday.

The Ontario Ridge trail near Pirate's Cove in Avila Beach has been a favorite for many hikers but the property owner argues it can be dangerous and he doesn't want to see anyone get hurt.

After years of battle between the California Coastal Commission and the property owner, the Coastal Commission is set to decide whether to move the Ontario Ridge trail to a less steep section or leave it the way it is.

Property owner Rob McCarthy says he’s been fighting for the change for years.

“It's been, you know, coming on eight years that I've been trying to get them to let me build a safer trail for people,” McCarthy said.

Some hikers around the area said they like the difficulty of the slope.

"That's one of the reasons I did it because I wanted to go up it and see what it was about,” David Ramirez said.

The new proposed plan would wrap around the back of the hillside instead of climbing up the ocean view side.

The Coastal Commission states some of the reasons for not moving the trail: "The project raises conformity issues with respect to tribal and archaeological issues, biological issues visual resource issues and with respect to the geological hazards."

The report also said moving it could contribute to erosion or geological instability.

Avid hiker Komph Phann said she also enjoys the difficulty of the trail but understands both sides.

"I understand where he is coming from as a property owner and I see on the other end people like myself who just want a really nice hike,” Phann said.

For student Madalen Marcus, the view is what makes the hike worth it.

"It's just a great place. I'd be pretty bummed if they closed it or moved it because it is such beautiful scenery,” Marcus said.

The California Coastal Commission is set to discuss the on Friday, Feb. 12, and make a final decision on whether the trail will be moved or stay the same. To watch a live stream of that meeting, click here.