Coast Guard gets OK to build new station in Morro Bay

nwilson@thetribunenews.comJuly 11, 2014 

The Coast Guard plans to build a new 2,500- to 3,500-square-foot station in the empty space between Crills Saltwater Taffy, right, and the public restroom, left, on the Embarcadero. The restroom would have to be relocated at the Coast Guard's expense.

JOE JOHNSTON — jjohnston@thetribunenews.com Buy Photo

The U.S. Coast Guard has received the go-ahead from the city of Morro Bay to start the planning process to build a second station along the Embarcadero.

Coast Guard officials say they’ve outgrown the cramped 3,500-square-foot station located next to the Harbor Department building at 1279 Embarcadero.

For a second building, they have their sights set on two empty lease sites at 1253 and 1257 Embarcadero where they’re proposing to build a 2,500- to 3,500-square-foot structure.

The City Council voted 5-0 Tuesday to move the project forward. Now a planning process begins that includes input from the Morro Bay Harbor Advisory Board and Morro Bay Planning Commission.

The Coast Guard project will have to meet federal environmental standards; while the Coast Guard doesn’t need formal approval from the state Coastal Commission, Coast Guard planners expect to coordinate with the commission to make sure the proposed building meets its policies as well.

If ultimately constructed as proposed, the city’s Harbor Department building would be sandwiched between the existing Coast Guard station to the north and the proposed new Coast Guard wing to the south.

The primary reason for the expansion is to accommodate a growing staff of male and female officers who require separate living quarters. The Coast Guard’s existing station houses 28 employees providing around-the-clock service.

The building site is not the Coast Guard’s first choice for location. Harbor Director Eric Endersby said an option still remains on the table to connect the existing Coast Guard station with the adjacent 1,000-square-foot Harbor Department facility.

But that would require relocating the Harbor Department Office, which the Coast Guard can’t afford right now. The estimated cost to build a new Harbor Department is $400,000 to $500,000.

Another hiccup for the Coast Guard is that a public restroom is located on the proposed site where it wants to build the second wing on the south side of the Harbor Department building.

Endersby said the 400-square-foot restroom must be relocated at Coast Guard expense, possibly to a parking lot at the back of the project site. The estimated cost for a new public restroom is $175,000 to $200,000.

“The city would undertake the planning and building of the restroom, and the Coast Guard would reimburse the city for the costs,” Endersby said.

The Coast Guard hopes the new building will accommodate much needed operational housing for decades to come.

“We anticipate a long-term presence and the need for an extended lease with a minimum term of 50 years,” U.S. Coast Guard Capt. T.W. Gesele wrote in a letter to the city. “We look forward to working with the city of Morro Bay as we move forward with this project allowing the (Coast Guard) to have a continued presence in Morro Bay.”

The Coast Guard mission includes national security as well as search-and-rescue service from Point Conception in southwestern Santa Barbara County to Cape San Martin near Big Sur in Monterey County.

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