San Luis Obispo County has three options to manage the growing public safety issues at Pirate’s Cove, according to the County Parks Department.
▪ Make minimal improvements while maintaining its rustic character, with permanent trash and recycling containers, improved signage, a leveled parking lot, and parking restrictions during nighttime hours.
▪ Don’t develop it at all but increase staff, with two sheriff’s deputies for patrol and two rangers for trash collection and graffiti removal; add a dumpster.
▪ Sell the land and use the money elsewhere, such as the Ontario Ridge trail.
The Board of Supervisors will consider what to do with land on the bluffs south of Avila Beach, also known as Cave Landing, at a meeting Tuesday.
They will hear a report back from two supervisors who met with the California Coastal Commission to forge a path forward for the county land that is home to poorly maintained trails, a bumpy dirt parking lot, and a host of public safety issues.
The county acquired the land in 2008 with the intention to develop it. Among the plans at the time were to construct a bike and pedestrian trail, pave the lot, improve drainage, build a restroom, benches and picnic tables, and add garbage cans and signs, with posted hours closing the park from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily.
The California Coastal Commission rejected most of that blueprint, however, finding in part that closing the park at night and providing only 70 parking spaces is inconsistent with shoreline access policies. It did approve the trail, associated signs, trash cans, bike racks and benches, but county supervisors withdrew the permit application and no project went forward.
Since then, calls for service to the area have only increased, according to a new public safety report with statistics from multiple agencies.
Most calls for help from the Sheriff’s Office and the Harbor Patrol were during the day.
The sheriff reported a steadily growing increase of calls in the last few years for things like fires on the beach, injuries, sex in the parking lot and drug overdoses. They received 133 calls there in 2015, 182 in 2016, and 144 this year as of October.
Cal Fire reported a jump in calls starting in 2016, when they increased to 31 from 20 in 2015. They responded to 22 calls this year as of October.
Port San Luis Harbor Patrol reported a majority of their responses took place between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. and included reports of drug activity, a brush fire, and a broken ankle.