The Morro Bay City Council directed staff on Jan. 28 to explore budget options and the benefits of relocating the existing visitor center to a recently vacated storefront on the Embarcadero.
In a recent Google review of the visitor center, user Omar Toured posted, "Great visitor center! So glad we stopped by for 10 minutes before our time spent in Morro Bay."
The existing center, operated by the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce, is located on 695 Harbor St., outside of the main downtown streets and visitor-serving area.
According to the staff report, the city of Morro Bay contracts with the chamber to provide this service for an annual payment of $50,000, serving roughly 5,000 visitors.
The new location option—575 Embarcadero at the ground level—would cost $1,650 a month and would have a five-year lease. It has an ADA-compliant restroom and is near on-street and off-street parking.
City Councilmember Dawn Addis asked what the top benefits of the location were aside from having the center in a visitor-serving area.
"I think that's No. 1," City Manager Scott Collins said. "The next would be the restroom, and the next would be the proximity to the other tourist-serving areas. That's sort of the end of the Embarcadero that could use some investment, marketing, and attention."
If chosen, the center would potentially be staffed with one employee during normal business hours, with additional staffing on summer weekends.
Jennifer Little, tourism manager for Morro Bay's Tourism Business Improvement District, said the district is open to putting forth $50,000 a year for the center.
The city would allocate about $21,000 for the initial opening costs, and ongoing operations are estimated at $45,000 annually beginning in the 2020-21 fiscal year.
Staff will further review the location opportunity and bring the issue back before the City Council later in February. Δ