The open space that surrounds the city of San Luis Obispo is such a natural part of our environment that it’s easy to take it for granted. Like the ocean, the clean air and the mild climate, the greenbelt is so endemic to the area that it’s hard to imagine life without it.
Yet the greenbelt isn’t a happy accident. It has been acquired deliberately and painstakingly, piece by piece, dollar by dollar, over the course of many years.
Now, the city has the opportunity to add another “link” in the chain — the 90 acres of scenic hillside property above Johnson Avenue. Called the Goldtree Vineyard Tract, the property is just outside the city limits. At one time, it was proposed for limited residential development — the landowners tried to have the land annexed to the city — but the city denied that proposal in 2006 following a public outcry.
The owners then tried to build under the county’s auspices, but were told that the property, which had long ago been divided into six separate lots, was actually one single, large lot.
The Filipponi and Twisselman families then entered into negotiations to sell the bulk of the parcel to the city, though they intended to retain a buildable, 5-acre piece for future development.
Very recently, however, the landowners offered to sell that portion to the city as well.
The city’s natural resources manager, Neil Havlik, was initially doubtful that the city would be able to afford it, but the families generously agreed to sell it for $60,000. That’s a bargain, considering that a 3-acre parcel in the same area was priced at $199,000.
All told, the entire 90 acres will cost the city slightly less than $250,000.
Even so, there has been some grumbling about the cost. That should not deter the City Council from moving forward with the purchase, which would come out of Measure Y revenue — the proceeds from the half-cent sales tax increase.
We believe this would be money well spent. While these are difficult times for every city government, this is an excellent opportunity to acquire a resource that will outlast any road or bridge or public building.
Consider, too, that the open space surrounding the city is a key asset that continues to make this one of the most desirable locations in the nation. The greenbelt is a magnet for hikers, mountain bikers, photographers and nature lovers, but even those who never venture up a trail benefit from the sense of openness and scenic vistas that it provides.
The Goldtree Vineyard Tract is another key piece of property that will only enhance the city’s network of open space, in addition to providing the opportunity to add to the system of public trails.
We commend and thank the property owners, Herb and Diane Filipponi, Darrell and Nola Twisselman and Ken and Rosemar y Twisselman, for their generous, communityspirited offer to make the land available at aprice the city can afford.
That’s truly agift that will keep on giving for generations to come.