Drones and tanks, not houses


Camp Roberts, a military training base that covers 25,000 acres in northern SLO County, wants to get along better with its neighbors.

Working with officials from the City of Paso Robles, SLO and Monterey counties, and various other agencies, the Department of Defense recently completed a study brimming with recommendations. The Camp Roberts Joint Land Use Study looks at more than 20 “compatibility issues,” designed to point out potential conflicts between ongoing military training and surrounding development—including noise, vibrations, bandwidth, and public safety.

The aim: “Preserve the sustainability of local communities … while protecting current and future operational and training missions at Camp Roberts,” according to the study.

SLO County supervisors were debriefed on the study on June 18, with a consultant declaring one of its major achievements to be communication among the various entities.

Supervisor Frank Mecham, who served on the policy committee for the study, told supervisors the planning exercise began several years ago “on their dime” when a massive new development was proposed for the San Miguel Ranch, right on Camp Robert’s southern doorstep.

Mecham said he’s interested in exploring the idea of using Camp Roberts’ sewage treatment system to help San Miguel and Heritage Ranch.

“A joint effort would be a tremendous asset,” he said.

Camp Roberts is planning to increase the use of its drone training center, located at the McMillan Airfield within SLO County boundaries. One recommendation calls for expanding the restricted airspace above and adjacent to the camp, while another recommends restricting the height of structures such as cell towers or wind turbines.

Another section of the report discusses public trespassing, identifying recreationists floating down the Salinas River in inner tubes as a potential problem. A recommendation calls for the Sheriff’s Department to patrol the river, while another suggests blocking parking areas and “timely repair” of fencing along the river.

The study and its recommendations, which are nonbinding, can be accessed at

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