County supervisors moved forward with a plan to acquire 64 acres of land between Avila and Pismo Beach, including the infamous Pirates Cove beach. The resolution would protect the land, which is privately owned, from any significant development, and it would likely result in better trails, access, and increased public safety, but there is a catch. Included in the resolution are plans to restrict nudity at the historically nude beach.
For $1.25 million the county could purchase 37 acres from San Miguelito Partners. Under the deal, the public would also gain access to another 27 acres through an irrevocable dedication of public access to the open space, and see an expansion of the Bob Jones Bike Trail. The land mostly consists of coastal bluffs, hills, and open space, including a 3,000-foot stretch of beach, commonly called Pirate’s Cove—the county’s only nude beach. According to the staff report, one “operational issue” to be addressed before the sale is complete would be the “current clothing optional behavior of some site visitors. Consideration of an ordinance restricting such activity would also likely be included with the recommendation to accept the offer.”
No one knows exactly when the beach became clothing optional. Officially, it’s not, but some beach goers claim they have personally been baring it all at the private beach for three decades.
The beach has received some bad press in recent years, following the bust of several men soliciting sex in the parking lot area. SLO County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Rob Bryn said, following the last bust, that his department received several complaints from people who unwittingly stumbled off the dirt paths, and found themselves propositioned for sex. Litter has also been an issue in the parking lot area. Currently, there are no trash cans at the site. If the county takes control of the area, the staff report said, there would likely be increased patrols by park rangers and sheriff’s deputies.
One beachgoer seemed skeptical that the county would be able to monitor the secluded beach for nudity if the deal passes. The beach itself is only accessible by a steep path, and not visible from the parking lot. Even so, he worried that violators of an anti-nudity ordinance could somehow be considered sex offenders if they were to be busted for sunbathing.
The issue will go before the County Board of Supervisors for approval Nov. 4.