What’s next for Pismo Pier? Vintage trailers, slides to the beach — and a bit less parking

The end of Pomeroy Avenue in Pismo Beach was a hub of construction activity Tuesday.

Workers continued the ahead-of-schedule renovation of the pier, with large trucks moving between a gated-off structure and a staging area in the nearby parking lot.

Behind that construction, even more work was going on for the second major hotel project coming into the downtown area in recent years, Vespera on Ocean. Workers there were creating the structure for the 124-room building that is expected to open in spring of next year.

When it does, even more work might already be underway.

The city is in the midst of drafting plans that would completely redesign the pier’s plaza area, from the restrooms to how people would get down onto the beach.

The design plans are expected to go before the Pismo Beach City Council on Oct. 2, and could be fully built by next summer.

The goal is simple: Revitalize Pismo Beach’s downtown area and ultimately make it more of a destination for tourists and locals alike.

“We’re really excited about this,” Pismo Beach community development director Jeff Winklepleck said Tuesday while looking at some design renderings for the project. “Ready to get it going.”

One of the biggest changes would involve the restrooms. The City Council debated for several weeks over the best location and design for a new restroom building that would optimize function and access, with style, Winklepleck said.

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An artist’s rendering shows the new bathroom planned at the Pismo Beach pier plaza. Courtesy of Pismo Beach

The new restroom is slightly northwest from its current location next to the pier entrance, closer to the fountain.

It’ll have more stalls too. Instead of just eight stalls, there will be 19 — six family stalls, six stalls for men and seven stalls for women, Winklepleck said.

The city is also considering painting a mural on the north wall facing Pomeroy Avenue and planting some trees or bushes to somewhat mask the building from nearby businesses.

“There’s only so much you can do to it,” Winklepleck said with a laugh. “It is what it is.”

The proposed project would also push the plaza area out into what is currently a parking lot. That would make way for a stage area — not an actual raised stage, Winklepleck noted — and “flex space” for farmers markets and other public activities.

“It’s going to provide some really interesting, real fun stuff,” he said.

Though the plaza will take up some place that is currently used for cars, Winklepleck said the parking would also be reconfigured to maximize the number of spaces in the smaller space. Between removing landscaping and making all the spots parallel, rather than at an angle, Winklepleck said the lot would likely only lose about five parking spaces.

“Down the road, what the ultimate goal is, is for this all to actually be pedestrian,” he said. “But that’s still a ways away.”

Those lost parking spaces could be made up elsewhere in the downtown area, he said, once the city re-examines its street parking and fixes outdated no-parking spots.

One of the most exciting changes to the area will be on the pier itself, he said. Rather than put the old bait shop and visitor information center back on the structure once it reopens, Winklepleck said the city wants to add vintage Airstream trailers.

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One of the diamonds of the renovated Pismo Beach pier could feature vintage Airstream trailers housing the bait shop and visitors center. Courtesy of Pismo Beach

“The cool thing about these is when we need to move them for a big event — say we have something going on at Dinosaur Caves Park — we can pack up the visitors center and move it over there,” he said.

The bait shop trailer could even be renovated to include a cafe or kitchen, Winklepleck said, so that pier visitors would have a place to grab a cup of coffee or some food. A seating area on the pier is also being considered.

Winklepleck’s favorite aspect of the potential plaza redesign is sure to appeal to kids, or the young at heart: slides to the beach.

The plan calls for children’s play equipment at the edge of the plaza between the new hotel and the beach. Instead of just adding stairs there, Winklepleck wants to install some slides that would go from the boardwalk down to the sand.

“I feel like that will be one of the things that makes people go, ‘Wow,’ ” he said. “Really create that energy down there. It’s going to be fun.”

So how much will it all cost? Because the project is still in the design phase, Winklepleck said he did not yet have an estimate of the total price tag.

But the city is already discussing how it could potentially fund it.

The City Council is considering levying an additional 1 percent lodging and business improvement district (LBID) tax — on top of its existing 1 percent tax — that could help pay for the project. The tax is paid by local lodging businesses to help promote and support the industry.

On Tuesday, the council announced its intention to levy the assessment, which would generate about $1.48 million. That money could help fund the plaza improvements, as well as costs associated with connecting the the Pismo Preserve to pedestrian walkways, the Shell Beach Road Streetscape project and other larger projects in the city.

A public hearing on the LBID tax assessment is scheduled for Oct. 2.

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Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie
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