Pismo Preserve project to get money from Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach

clambert@thetribunenews.comJune 11, 2014 

The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County will scoop up thousands of dollars from two South County cities to help it purchase land outside Pismo Beach — but the nonprofit still needs $2.4 million to buy the property.

Arroyo Grande council members voted this week to allocate $40,000 toward the Land Conservancy’s Pismo Preserve project, and Grover Beach leaders have agreed to spend $5,000.

In addition, the Pismo Beach City Council discussed giving between $150,000 and $200,000 to the effort during a special joint meeting with the city’s Conference & Visitors Bureau advisory board last Monday. The request will come back to the council for further discussion and action June 17.

The Land Conservancy is trying to raise $12 million to buy the property with rolling hills that offer a sweeping view of the Pacific Ocean. The conservancy envisions a permanent open space with 10 miles of trails for hikers, cyclists and equestrians.

“Once the project is final, we have some small planning to do to get a parking lot in place, but a network of trails are there,” Stacey Smith, conservation project manager for the conservancy, told the Arroyo Grande City Council on Tuesday. “You could be riding your horse on the Pismo Preserve by early spring.”

The money would facilitate the purchase of the property for $10 million from PB Coast View LLC, a Delaware-based corporation, as well as finance infrastructure improvements and establish a maintenance endowment.

The conservancy has secured $5.6 million with an additional $4 million request pending from the Wildlife Conservation Board. The nonprofit has negotiated an escrow extension to accommodate that board, which will take up the request Aug. 28 in Sacramento, according to a news release.

The remaining $2.4 million — which the conservancy hopes to receive from local governments, other agencies, and community contributions — must be secured before the end of August to complete the deal.

It is seeking more than $1.1 million from Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo and the Regional Water Quality Control Board, according to the news release.

While local officials say they recognized the value of the new property and the outdoor activities it would provide residents, city managers for Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach both recommended their councils not allocate funds toward the project, citing budget concerns.

Grover Beach’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year projects a $12,000 deficit, City Manager Bob Perrault said. The council chose to redirect $5,000 from its current budget to the Pismo Preserve (a final vote to do so will happen Monday).

“The council recognized that there is some regional value to the acquisition,” Perrault added. “Grover Beach residents will use it, I’m sure.”

Arroyo Grande City Manager Steve Adams also had budget concerns, but staff later suggested using park development funds (which come from developer fees) rather than general fund money.

Council members called allocating the full $40,000 requested by the Land Conservancy a “no-brainer.”

“We’re looking at providing comprehensive recreational opportunities for our public,” Mayor Tony Ferrara said. “And this is clearly something we can’t provide on our own, and we can’t provide it in our city.”

Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.

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