Pismo Preserve gets another big boost



For the second time in a month, enthusiastic citizens in green shirts packed a local government meeting and, for the second time, they went home happy.

After receiving $1.1 million from the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors on May 20, the Pismo Preserve project locked up $900,000 from the city of Pismo Beach on June 17.

The Land Conservancy of SLO County is leading the Pismo Preserve project, an effort to buy 900 acres of privately owned land overlooking Pismo Beach and Shell Beach. The land would be transformed into public open space with 10 miles of trails accessible to hikers, equestrians, and cyclists.

After two hours of public comment and discussion, the Pismo Beach City Council voted unanimously to grant funds to the project. The substantial crowd of supporters in attendance responded to that decision with a hearty round of applause.

After debating over the precise amount and nature of the allocation, city councilmembers agreed to draw $575,000 from the general fund, $200,000 from a fund supported by hotel stay assessments, and $125,000 from the city’s park development fund.

Though the Land Conservancy asked for up to $1.1 million from Pismo Beach, Mayor Shelly Higginbotham said allocating that full amount would be “a stretch.”

Land Conservancy Executive Director Kaila Dettman told New Times that the Land Conservancy is still looking for $1.5 million from local government, businesses, and the general public to meet its $12 million goal.

“We’re hoping to secure the funding by the end of July or early August at the latest,” she said.

According to Dettman, the Land Conservancy requested $800,000 from the Central Coast Regional Water Control Board, which is scheduled to consider the request on July 31—though the outcome of that is uncertain. She added that the city of San Luis Obispo is also discussing a potential Pismo Preserve allocation.

Additionally, the Pismo Preserve received $40,000 from the city of Arroyo Grande on June 10 and $5,000 from the city of Grover Beach on June 16.

“The community has really rallied, but it’s not a done deal yet,” Dettman said.

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