Cayucos residents to discuss proposed road extension at forum

ktanner@thetribunenews.comAugust 6, 2013 

A project that proposes extending Gilbert Avenue in Cayucos — enabling the future construction of 30 homes on vacant hillside properties with spectacular views — will be discussed at a town forum at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Some say the steep slope is too unstable for such development. Others say building the road is long overdue.

The avenue is on the landward side of Highway 1; most of the properties would have views of Morro Strand State Beach and the ocean. Some people have owned their lots there for decades, according to Gary Cohn, who owns property along what is currently a roadway on paper only. In person, that paper street translates into a steep, rugged walking path.

The road extension proposal has caused quite a buzz in the small community of 2,600 residents.

John Carsel, president of the Cayucos Citizens Advisory Council, said in an email interview that discussion will focus on requirements for an environmental impact report for the road extension and the development it could allow. He added that some residents want the report “to consider all of Gilbert (connecting to Hacienda),” rather than just the road segment leading to the 30 new homes apparently proposed.

There’s a 2.5-pound feasibility report about the proposed extension of Gilbert Avenue, prepared by Wagner Engineering Associates of Grover Beach for the county. It is available at www.dropbox.com/s/p9bcx7dnchcw4yd/Full%20Draft%20Feasibility%20Study%20-%20071213.pdf.

Some Cayucos residents have serious concerns about the proposal, including the impact of earthquakes, landslides, flooding from increased runoff, drainage, more traffic and the scope of an official report about impacts to the environment.

Cayucos resident Ralph Wessel has itemized a dozen other concerns about the project, the study and the future. Among issues listed are the steepness of the parcels, runoff harming downslope properties and reducing their value, and why geologists studied the site in August, “typically our driest month” with the least risk of landslide.

Landowners say an enormous amount of work has gone into designing a project that’s doable and safe.

“We’re not a bunch of developers,” said Darrell Gregg of Goleta. “We’re retired teachers, professionals, scientists and military personnel … we’re real people who want to do the right thing” and “want to be part of the community.”

A preliminary financial assessment estimates the project would cost more than $2.4 million, to be paid for by a financing district comprised of property owners who benefit from the extension.

The feasibility report’s conclusion said building the extension “will face challenges,” including getting the project’s permit through the California Coastal Commission. However, the project “appears to be both technically and financially feasible,” the report concluded.

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