Tuesday night, the Pismo Beach City Council will consider a request to contribute up to $1 million toward purchase of the Pismo Preserve — 900 acres of scenic open space just east of the city.
Pismo residents will be the major beneficiaries of this effort by The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County: They'll have ready access to hiking, biking, equestrian and nature trails. The park will attract visitors, generating sales and bed taxes vital to funding city services. And conservation in perpetuity will ensure that no development occurs on this gorgeous property that's a perfect backdrop for the city.
For those reasons, we encourage the Pismo Beach City Council to contribute as much as possible. We hesitate to throw out a dollar amount, but we ask the council to keep in mind how important the Pismo Preserve is to constituents: As of late May, 165 Pismo Beach residents and businesses had contributed $161,000 to the project. That's a huge vote of confidence.
Consider, too, that San Luis Obispo County was asked to contribute $1 million and went above and beyond by allocating $1.1 million in park fees to the project. Pismo Beach has multiple funds that can be tapped for this purpose, including nearly $2.7 million in unassigned general fund revenue. There are several projects that could benefit from these unassigned funds, including downtown improvements; construction of a pedestrian and bike path in Shell Beach; and rehabilitation of the old unused City Hall building at 1000 Bello St.
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All are worthy projects, but none carries the urgency of the Pismo Preserve. The Land Conservancy must raise $12 million in short order — it faces a deadline of Aug. 28 - or this opportunity will be gone.
Much of the heavy lifting has been done: The conservancy expects $8 million from state agencies — $4 million is confirmed and another $4 pending — and there's the $1.1 million allocated by San Luis Obispo County, another $45,000 from the cities of Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach, plus an impressive $500,000 in private donations.
The goal is within sight; we strongly urge the Pismo Beach City Council to help The Land Conservancy in this final push.