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Local officials explore possibility of Oceano merging with City of Grover Beach

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Posted at 1:48 PM, Apr 18, 2023

A leadership shake-up could be in the works for the town of Oceano.  

Supervisor Jimmy Paulding is exploring the possibility of Oceano joining the City of Grover Beach, which could bring more resources and local control to the area.  

From struggling to fund fire and emergency services to ongoing flooding issues and controversy over leadership, the town of Oceano faces a variety of challenges.  

“We are in limbo with fire services. Come June 30 when we’re no longer part of the Five Cities Fire Authority, we’re still going to continue to have fire services, emergency medical services. Those are not gonna stop,” said Charles Varni, one of the directors of the Oceano Community Services District.

Some local leaders and community members are now discussing what would happen if Oceano asked to become part of the City of Grover Beach.  

“As the supervisor representing Oceano, I’m not advocating for or against annexation. I am interested in prompting a community conversation about the future of Oceano and how best to meet the community’s immediate and long-term needs,” said 4th District Supervisor Jimmy Paulding in a statement to KSBY News.

One of the directors of the Oceano Community Services District explains the benefits that would come with joining the city.  

“Immediately we have a city council, we have a planning department, we have police, fire, emergency services. These are all things that we’ve been lacking in our community,” said Varni. “We can have a lot of control over our destiny and our tax monies are gonna stay here. ”

Grover Beach Mayor Karen Bright says that the city council is open to discussing the issue if it is in the interest of all parties.  

The new proposal was met with mixed reaction from community members.

Some say they have no problem with how Oceano is run. “I think it’s governed OK. Maybe the county could pick up the streets a little bit better,” said Oceano Resident John White.

Others are more open to the possibility.  “I think that it would be great because Grover Beach is like four minutes away,” said Janea Williams. “I just moved out here actually, about three months ago and I like it, but I wish they had a little bit more stuff. ”

Some people are concerned that Oceano could lose its identity if it becomes part of Grover Beach.  

“This is our community, this is our town, this is our beach, these are our sand dunes. There’s a deep love and connection to it,” said Varni.

A similar merger has happened before, such as Shell Beach, which was annexed by Pismo Beach in the '60s.  

“The analogy of when Shell Beach became part of Pismo Beach and got all those benefits. They didn’t stop being Shell Beach. We’re not gonna stop being Oceano at all,” said Varni.

The annexation process would take about a year if Grover Beach and Oceano both decide to move forward.  

If more than 25 percent of registered voters in Oceano protest the measure, it will go to the ballot, meaning that voters could have the ultimate say on whether this happens.