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Bob Jones Trail extension gets money to move ahead

Cyclists enjoy the Bob Jones Trail in Avila Beach. County supervisors on Tuesday approved money to move forward with plans for an extension from Ontario Road to the Octagon Barn.
Cyclists enjoy the Bob Jones Trail in Avila Beach. County supervisors on Tuesday approved money to move forward with plans for an extension from Ontario Road to the Octagon Barn. The Tribune

Cyclists and walkers are a step closer to a Bob Jones Trail extension that will link the trail’s parking lot on Ontario Road to the Octagon Barn in south San Luis Obispo.

On Tuesday, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved allocating $317,700 from the Avila-to-Harford Pier Pathway project to the Bob Jones Pathway project for construction documents and right-of-way consulting services, which will allow the county to now solicit proposals for the next phase of planning. The Avila to Harford project has been postponed for unrelated reasons.

The money comes from mitigation funds from a PG&E project and from mitigation funds to compensate for lost recreation benefits due to spilled oil in Avila — not from public facilities fees, which Supervisor Lynn Compton has argued should go to Nipomo.

The action is welcome news for an enthusiastic hiking and biking community anxious to see a decades-old idea materialize.

Not everyone supports the plan, however, and the county may find itself in a battle with property owners along the planned 4.4-mile route.

“The current proposed route essentially turns Clover Ridge Lane into a trailhead and parking lot, and grossly disregards the rights of the current property owners and residents,” said “unwilling property owner” Ray Bunnell in a letter to supervisors.

The county Parks and Recreation Department will likely release a request for proposals by the end of May from companies interested in doing the work of drafting blueprints, engineering bridges, surveying the easements, and acquiring appraisals for land along the path.

The county will have to negotiate with about a dozen impacted private property owners. The Parks and Recreation Department does not have the power of eminent domain.

Monica Vaughan: 805-781-7930, @MonicaLVaughan

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