The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors told staffers on Jan. 29 to stop the studies it commissioned to look into buying several parcels with the purpose of extending the Anza Trail through Edna Valley. The halt came after some public-interest land-flipping by local entrepreneur Eric Meyer, who has already scooped up one of the parcels the county was looking at, issued a non-exclusive easement to the SLO Lands Conservancy, and sold off the balance to a neighboring landowner.
All three parcels comprise long, narrow strips of land running parallel to Highway 227. Meyer decided to put some of his personal money on the line after realizing a private buyer could carve out the easement more easily than the county could.
“I don’t think they can be that creative,” Meyer said, referring specifically to the county’s obligation to operate under state procedural statutes.
Meyer explained that he came up with the plan to privately create the trail easements after hearing 1st District Supervisor Frank Mecham’s concerns that a public buyout of the parcels would take funds away from parks projects serving low-income areas. Meyer placed the remaining two parcels in escrow before discovering that the sale price proved too steep. He expects he can manage a similar encumber-and-flip transaction, but worries about taking a bath on the deal without some public support.
Several supervisors, as well as the SLO County Bicycle Coalition, pledged to assist in shoring up the grant funding to secure the remaining easements, which would run about 15 feet wide. According to county parks official Curtis Black, the easement could accommodate a bike trail, but not a full multi-use recreation trail unless neighbors agreed to an expansion.
The ongoing project to run the Anza Trail through San Luis Obispo County is part of a multi-jurisdictional effort to re-create the immigration route of pioneering Californios who journeyed from Mexico to San Francisco in 1775.