Four more ideas for Morro Bay

August 18, 2012 

It’s not often I have a column that generates a mostly positive batch of emails come Monday morning.

So last week’s thoughts on ways to improve Morro Bay were something of an exception, in that nearly all of the feedback was upbeat and no one wanted to hit me upside the head with my keyboard.

Beyond that, many readers had suggestions of their own for Morro Bay, which, if realized in their totality, would create quite the coastal wonderland.

Here’s a look:

Pedestrian plaza: One reader wants to go a step further in improving the Embarcadero by kicking the cars out altogether, envisioning an extensive plaza/promenade that reaches from Tidelands Park to the Rock, complete with small parks, lots of seating and biking and walking trails. Even though I advocated for an automobile bridge over Morro Creek to expand access, I love this idea, too, for different reasons, as it builds on classic, pre-automobile urban design, encouraging people to exercise and gather.

If we can’t open up that route to the north, why not go further toward these gentler, non-car uses?

San Luis Obispo, for example, is at its very best on Thursday nights when Higuera Street is closed to cars for four blocks. I still wish that idea to close Monterey Street in front of the Fremont had succeeded.

Base of Morro Rock: Another reader envisions greatly expanded uses for the area around the Rock, including a playground, picnic area, beach volleyball and more.

Seeing as most of this land is now little more than a dirt habitat for cars and ground squirrels, all of these ideas offer potential for noticeable improvement.

Seriously, why aren’t there picnic tables along the bay side already? This could be done tomorrow.

Trail to the top: This idea comes from a reader who compared Morro Rock to a similar-looking monolith in the Pacific Northwest — Beacon Rock, which is on the Washington state side of the Columbia River.

Also a state park, it features an intricate mile-long trail of switchbacks, some cut into the rock itself, that climb all the way to the summit. Portions of the rock are also used for technical climbing, and the east face is closed for protection of rare species and cultural resources.

Does that not sound like the perfect blueprint for a more balanced enjoyment of Morro Rock?

We could leave three-quarters of the thing for the peregrine falcons and still accomplish all of these exciting uses.

Summit adventures: This final idea comes from a reader who literally sees Morro Rock as a jumping-off point for even more dramatic adventures than I could imagine.

Like using the viewing platform as a launching spot for paragliders.

Or connecting a zip line from the peak to the top of the stacks.

I’m all for creative thinking, but let’s not get carried away.

It might be a bit of a liability to end a zip line at the opening of a 450-foot chimney.

And anyway, in this perfect world, we’re tearing that plant down, so, you know, realistically, that’s not a long-term solution, as exciting or terrifying as it sounds.

Thanks to all for the brainstorming. Let’s keep the creativity rolling.

Joe Tarica is the presentation editor for The Tribune. Reach him at jtarica@thetribunenews.com.

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