The California Coastal Commission voted unanimously on Friday to deny a permit that would have allowed the relocation of a popular hiking trail near Avila Beach.
Property owner Rob McCarthy wanted to move a section of the Ontario Ridge trail, which starts near the Pirate's Cove parking lot and leads directly up a hillside on his property, to an adjacent property.
The proposed project would have also including fencing, no trespassing signs, three metal gates, and an overlook with benches.
At a Friday hearing, an attorney for McCarthy said that his client bought the property in 2009 with plans to build a house on it. He argued that the current trail is too steep and dangerous and its use has led to erosion. He also said that McCarthy has tried to work with the commission and San Luis Obispo County officials to find a suitable location for the trail.
However, California Coastal Commission staff said McCarthy did not have the legal authority to move the trail because the current public access easement only allows for relocation on McCarthy's own property. They also argued that relocating the trail from the ocean view side of the hill would diminish the user experience, pointing out that use of the trail was determined to date back to the 1960s.