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Pismo wrestles with pier bathroom placement

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After narrowing their choices to two options and polling the public on their preference, the Pismo Beach City Council scrapped both to explore other alternatives on where to place new bathrooms as part of a multi-million-dollar project to renovate its pier.

With the two initial bathroom placement options creating acrimonious division between some city residents and local hoteliers, the council voted 3-2 on Feb. 20 to direct staff to look at keeping the new bathrooms in relatively the same area as the current ones, and adding additional facilities on two nearby streets.

"It's important to resolve this one way or the other," said Mayor Ed Waage.

In January 2017, the council began reviewing options on where to place the new bathrooms, narrowing their choices down to two by the end of the year. One option would have placed a bathroom facility at the northeast corner of the pier's parking lot and another at its south end. The second option would place two bathroom facilities on either side of the pier's entrance.

The first option drew criticism from officials at Nexus Development and other individuals connected to the city's hotel and tourism industry. They worried that the bathrooms would block the views from some rooms at the nearby Inn at the Pier and planned Vespera hotel, creating a negative experience for tourists.

"I fear for the people who get stuck with the hotel room looking at the bathrooms and the negative comments they might make on social media," said John Sorgenfrei, whose company TJA Advertising does marketing for the Pismo Beach Conference and Visitors Bureau.

While Sorgenfrei and others supported putting the bathrooms at the pier's entrance, several Pismo residents came to the meeting to protest it, stating that it would ruin the view of the pier, which the city is spending an estimated $8.7 million to revamp.

"I've not spoken to one Pismo Beach resident who wanted bathrooms framing the pier," said former Pismo Beach planning commissioner Kate Shurson. "Instead of being the clam capital, Pismo could be the crap capital."

An online poll conducted by the city showed 326 of 480 respondents favored the second option. However, a majority of the council declined to approve either option and voted to direct staff to explore alternatives, including demolishing the old bathrooms and building new ones northeast of their original locations as well adding additional bathroom facilities on nearby Addy Road and Main Street.

Councilmember Erik Howell, who voted with Councilmember Sheila Blake against the motion, questioned whether the vote resolved anything, characterizing it as pushing the issue farther down the road.

"This sounds to me like no decision at all, frankly," Howell said. Δ


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