- FILE PHOTO BY HENRY BRUINGTON
- TO PRESERVE AND PROTECT: The Pismo Preserve land conservation project received a $1.1 million boost from the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors on May 20, but is still looking for $2.4 million more by July to close the deal on buying the 900-acre property, pictured here.
In an unusually exuberant San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors meeting, members unanimously approved $1.1 million in funding for the Pismo Preserve land conservation project on May 20.
The Pismo Preserve project emanates from the Land Conservancy of SLO County, a nonprofit aiming to buy 900 privately owned acres in the Pismo Beach hills and transform it into public open space.
Green-shirted supporters of the project, many of them local high school students, packed the board chambers and spoke passionately about their desire to see the project realized.
Kevin Drabinski, a senior field representative for Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, shared a love poem to the preserve during public comment, inspired by his recent visit to the land.
“Up at the top of this curvaceous crest of the Pismo Preserve, she is a friend to all the animals and a shelter to the widest array of flora and fauna,” Drabinski said. “And in her hair she wears the most delicate and tiny wildflowers.
“Pismo Preserve has got the stuff that dreams are made of,” he concluded, to raucous applause. “Keep this love story alive.”
According to Land Conservancy Executive Director Kaila Dettman, the purchase price for the land is a flat $12 million, and the nonprofit is hoping to close escrow with the property owner on Aug. 1.
“I have been amazed, grateful, and humbled by the resounding support for the project,” Dettman told New Times. “We are pretty confident that we can get this deal done, but we still need people to step up.”
The $1.1 million authorized by the board on May 20 will come from county park fees, which are collected on residential development.
District 3 Supervisor Adam Hill—whose district includes the proposed preserve—said the project was a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” and challenged other local governments (including the adjoining city of Pismo Beach) to match the county’s donation.
According to Dettman, the Land Conservancy is confident they will receive $8 million from state agencies (the Coastal Conservancy and Wildlife Conservation Board). For the remaining $4 million, Dettman is looking for $2.3 million from local government, and $1.7 million from the general public.
After receiving $1.1 million from the Board of Supervisors and roughly $500,000 from the general public thus far, Dettman said the conservancy is still looking for $1.2 million from each group by July.
“We are exploring all of our options, and everything is still on the table,” Dettman said. “There are lots of asks in the works.”