Parking gets easier in Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach native Nicholas Trundle thought his eyes were playing tricks on him when he drove into downtown a few weekends ­ago and noticed that a large, vacant dirt lot was once again open for parking.

For months now, the lot has been fenced off, closed to the numerous vehicles that pack the city during holiday weekends.

But when Trundle, now a Long Beach resident, came back to visit friends and surf, he was surprised to find the lot open again — just for the weekend.

Upon further investigation, he wrote in an email to The Tribune, he learned the responsible party was a local business owner, a “modern-day parking Robin Hood” as he put it.

The business owner, Kathy Cortez, said the lot closure has decreased foot traffic along Cypress Street where her boutique, West Coast Attitude, has been located since 2006.

She decided before the Presidents Day holiday weekend to see if she could do something about it.

The vacant lot, now owned by Pizmo Beach Investments, is up for sale. Cortez contacted Chris Richardson of Richardson Properties, who contacted the owner and worked out a short-term agreement to open the lot for the long weekend.

But that was just the beginning.

Cortez has since contacted a dozen neighboring business owners along Cypress Street, who agreed to pool some money to cover insurance and maintenance costs to open the lot on certain dates over the next three months.

“In this economy and gas (prices) being so high, it’s really nice to be able to give back to our visitors,” said Cortez, wife of former Pismo Beach police Chief Joe Cortez. “They come into town and stay in our motels and shop. This is our way of giving back to them.”

The lot will be open for free parking from March 24 to April 15, and again for Memorial Day weekend, May 26-28.

That will likely be welcome news to many potential visitors, such as Trundle.

“That’s pretty cool man, the fact the citizens are uniting to open the lot back up,” he said.

Cynthia Lambert and Gayle Cuddy write the South County Beat column on alternating Wednesdays. Reach Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.