A hoity-toity Pismo?
We hope not. We like the funky side of Pismo Beach: The souvenir shops and tattoo parlors, the out-the-door lines at Splash Café, the candy shop selling translucent suckers with worms inside, the iconic concrete clams decked out in costumes for the holidays.
Apparently, plenty of other folks also like the ambiance; Pismo Beach brings in around $6 million per year in bed tax, which accounts for 38 percent of the city’s revenue. By comparison, the city of SLO took in $5.2 million in 2011-12 — 10 percent of the city’s revenue.
Given Pismo’s popularity, we agree with locals who don’t want to mess around with a downtown culture that’s worked well for decades. But as with any community, there’s room for improvement. That’s why it’s a great idea that the city is developing a vision for its downtown, and is asking its citizens to help with the planning process.
For what it’s worth, here’s our two cents:
Parking. Surface parking in the greater downtown area is tying up a lot of space that could be used for other purposes, such as concerts, food carts, street performers, art shows, a children’s playground, outdoor cafes, basketball courts, farmers markets, craft fairs, maybe an information kiosk. If the city were to build a parking structure, it could conceivably accommodate more cars and free up space for a pedestrian promenade where activities could take place.
Traffic circulation. Could be better. On busy summer days, it can seemingly take forever — which in reality is probably four or five minutes — to drive one block. Again, a parking structure would help alleviate the need to cruise around for blocks in an often futile attempt to find an empty parking spot.
That empty dirt lot surrounded by cyclone fencing next to the pier parking lot? Not the best use of such a prime piece of property, although a hotel with roof-top swimming pool and underground parking has been proposed for the site. Ideally, the underground parking would accommodate beachgoers, in addition to hotel guests.
Smoking. This may be asking a lot, but how about banning cigarette smoking on downtown sidewalks? This is a congested area, and when a couple of people are puffing away outside a bar or restaurant, that’s all it takes to foul the air.
Signage. We love the old, neon signs on some of the downtown businesses. We’re not so crazy about the sandwich signs on the sidewalk.
Entrances. City Manager Jim Lewis has tossed around the idea of adding an arch and/or a signature building to mark the entrances to the city. Good way to establish a sense of place.
Spit and polish. The sidewalks need cleaning and sealing. Banners and/or hanging flowers baskets would help brighten the streetscape and provide a more uniform appearance. And much as we like the concrete clams, some additional forms of public art would be nice.
That’s our take. Now it’s your turn. Over the coming months, the city will be hosting workshops, tours and other chances to share your ideas for the downtown.
We strongly urge anyone who cares about the future of Pismo Beach to take advantage of the opportunity.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
What’s your vision for downtown Pismo Beach? Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.