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Ocean-view campground in Avila could break ground in 2019

The Harbor Terrace campground, lodge and cabins will offer panoramic views of Port San Luis and Avila Beach.
The Harbor Terrace campground, lodge and cabins will offer panoramic views of Port San Luis and Avila Beach. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

The long-awaited Harbor Terrace campground project in Avila Beach appears to have cleared its final hurdle.

Port San Luis Harbor District commissioners unanimously approved a 50-year lease with Red Tail Acquisitions, acting as RTA Harbor Terrace LLC on Wednesday, capping off more than four decades of conceptual planning, and more recently, two years of intense negotiation.

The Harbor Terrace project will add 57 RV campsites, 53 walk-in and drive-in tent camping sites, 51 RV cabins, a lodge, swimming pool, restaurant or café, recreation facilities and other visitor amenities at a 32-acre spot near the entrance to Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. The development company is currently working on its final design drawings for the project.

“The district looks forward to providing family recreation camping while at the same time securing financial stability so as to continue improving all services benefiting the public,” Board President Drew Brandy said Thursday.

Existing uses at the property — like the fishermen’s gear storage, trailer boat storage and harbor use area — will remain there and continue to be used for port operations, according to a news release.

The project is expected to break ground in spring or summer 2019, and will take around eight months to build.

The Harbor Terrace development was first conceived in 1977 when the Harbor District purchased land for the development; over the years, the district attempted to develop the property several times, but those options were shot down, usually due to their size or character, according to a district staff report.

The most current iteration of the project was approved by the County Planning Commission in 2015, and then appealed to both the County Board of Supervisors and then the California Coastal Commission; those appeals were both unsuccessful.

But the drama wasn’t over for the hotly contested project: soon after the final appeal was withdrawn, the district’s preferred development company dropped out, and the district began to renegotiate a new bid with Red Tail Acquisitions, a development company out of Newport Beach.

The district and Red Tail Acquisitions have been working on the lease for the project since.

“There are many very exciting aspects in moving forward with the Harbor Terrace Project, one being the ability to realize a long term goal/vision for the Harbor Terrace property, as depicted in the Port Master Plan,” Harbor Manager Andrea Lueker said Thursday. “Also the site, as permitted, will provide a wide range of accommodations that cater to a variety individuals ranging from those who drive in their RV’s, to those who bicycle in with their tent for a stop on their travels up/down the coast. And of course the site will also provide revenue to support port operations.”

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie

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