There had been a growing homeless encampment at the Cave Landing parking lot above Pirate’s Cove but on Thursday, park rangers started cleaning up the area.
It’s the first step in turning the land into a County Park Natural Area. But before this, there was a large homeless encampment. Those who called Pirate’s Cove home, now have to find somewhere else to go.
“Recently, we received a notice in the last couple days that says 'the encampment,’ as they were calling it, has to be out by 6 o’clock tonight. If it’s not, we face arrest,” said Kurt Bretcher, who lived at Pirate’s Cove, on Wednesday.
Bretcher says he lived in the encampment at Pirate’s Cove for the past few years. On Wednesday night, he says he received a notice from the County of San Luis Obispo that he had to pack up his belongings.
“It may seem like a bunch of messed up people living a messed up life,” Bretcher said. “But in fact, we are the ones who have been looking out for this place."
By Thursday, Bretcher and his neighbors were gone. The San Luis Obispo County Parks and Recreation Department said there were usually 35 to 45 vehicles at the Cave Landing parking lot a night. By Thursday morning, only eleven vehicles remained and those people left peacefully.
“Today was the day that they all cleared out and everyone voluntarily left and it was actually a nice, no-conflict way of going,” said San Luis Obispo Parks and Recreation Director Nick Franco.
Now, the county is starting work to restore the parking lot by installing trash cans, placing boulders to protect cultural resources and installing accessible parking with an overlook area.
“So in the end, it’s going to be Cave Landing Natural Area. That’s going to be the name of it,” Franco said. “And people can come here and have a nice, safe enjoyable time at the beach and enjoy the views.”
The County has been working with the 5Cities Homeless Coalition and Transitions Mental Health Association for the past month to assist those left without housing.
Next, CAL FIRE SLO will start working to reduce the fuel load to protect the area from fires. After that, contractors are coming in to remove the graffiti.
This fall, work on the remainder of the project will begin and the project is expected to be complete by December 2021.