When asked what makes their community special, some Oceano residents were succinct in their answers: Diversity. Friendly. Agriculture.
But explaining what they envision for the future of their community took a little more time.
“A vibrant commercial district with lots of walking, and biking opportunities to commute around town,” one resident wrote on an index card during a community workshop this summer.
“Oceano should be the golden nugget of the coast of California,” wrote another.
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Dozens of people took part in recent meetings aimed at creating a concise vision with specific improvements for certain parts of Oceano, including the downtown area along Highway 1.
If accepted by the community and endorsed by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, the community revitalization plan would allow staff from the county Planning and Building and Public Works departments to seek grants toward putting specific proposals in place.
Some of the money could come from the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments, the county’s regional transit agency, which has allocated federal and state funds to street improvements in Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach, and to build boardwalks in Pismo Beach.
“We have put money in a lot of jurisdictions that have adopted plans, and Oceano is ripe,” council Executive Director Ron De Carli said. “If they complete a plan and the county and the community support the plan, as we program money, they’re in a very good position to be very competitive for funding.”
Residents got a chance to review the preliminary plan during a meeting in Oceano in July. It includes numerous proposals that may or may not move ahead, including improvements to attract more customers to local businesses along Highway 1, such as signs, additional street lights and sidewalks along the west side of the street.
Other suggestions include celebrating the community’s agricultural history with an open-air farmers market and creating a plaza near Highway 1 (Front Street) and Beach Street.
A few community members offered feedback. One person wondered whether trolley service could be extended to Oceano. It currently runs between Avila Beach and Pismo Beach.
Jo Dennison of Arroyo Grande said Oceano needs to be more walkable and offer a variety of shops to entice tourists and their wallets, similar to Arroyo Grande’s Village.
“If people come to visit, they want to take their friends somewhere they can park and walk around,” said Dennison, a member of the county’s Commission on Aging.
The plan should be finalized by October and go to county supervisors by the end of the year.