California State Parks is looking for more feedback on several projects proposed for Pismo State Beach and the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, and despite minor changes to the initial proposals, one idea remains controversial: a campground near Oso Flaco Lake.
At a public meeting in Arroyo Grande on Dec. 10, State Parks presented three updated project proposals conceived based on meetings with locals and stakeholders starting in 2017. The project ideas are aimed at "enhancing recreation" opportunities locally, while protecting the environment, according to Gloria Sandoval, deputy director of public affairs for State Parks.
"It's a balance we have to ensure at all our State Parks," she said.
The potential projects included improvements to the Monarch Butterfly Grove in Pismo Beach, the creation of an ADA accessible boardwalk connecting Grand and Pier avenues, and the addition of a campground near Oso Flaco Lake.
The potential project at Oso Flaco Lake is controversial. Environmentalists say the lake and surrounding area serve as a habitat to a number of species, while the off-highway vehicle riding community argues that the additional RV and tent camp sites are necessary in light of cuts to hundreds of acres of riding area and beach camping space in the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area.
Several similar concepts were initially released in February and tweaked based on community feedback, but the Oso Flaco proposal has hardly changed.
The project would include a campground complete with sites for RVs and tents, cabins, and hiking and biking sites. The Oso Flaco Lake boardwalk would be extended, Oso Flaco Road would be widened to allow for increased traffic and RV access, and a new entrance kiosk and multi-user campfire area would be installed. A lifeguard tower would also be added, along with restrooms, increased parking, and vegetation buffers.
The only addition to the proposal since February is a habitat restoration area on the east side of the park.
Environmentalists and some community members at the Dec. 10 meeting weren't happy with the project, but Sandoval said that's why State Parks is asking for feedback.
"No decisions have been made," she said.
The three projects are part of State Parks' larger public works plan, a long-range land use management plan that outlines possible projects for improved access and recreation that will have to be approved by the California Coastal Commission.
State Parks employee Petra Unger told attendees at the Dec. 10 meeting that the agency hopes to have its draft public works plan completed by the summer of 2020 and approved by fall 2020, but only after analyzing feedback on these projects.
"We want to hear what you like about what's proposed," Unger told attendees at the meeting, "and, you know, what don't you like?"