Pismo Beach development decision further delayed

Pismo Beach planning commissioners grappled Tuesday with a plan that could add an estimated 1,500 residents and change the character of a rural area north of the city.

“This is huge,” Commissioner Kate Shurson said at the beginning of the public hearing. “It’s defining. Do the people who live here really want this?”

Several South County residents who attended the meeting had an answer: “No.”

“I do not want this development,” Arroyo Grande resident Hillary Klein said. “One of the amazing things about these properties is that they are open and natural.”

The Planning Commission considered documents that would, if approved by the City Council, guide development in the Price Canyon area north of the city limits. The plan, known as Spanish Springs, could add hundreds of homes and hotel rooms.

The commission ultimately asked staff for more information on numerous items, including traffic impacts and water resources, and voted to bring the proposal back Oct. 9.

More than two dozen South County residents spoke. Some raised concerns about increased traffic on Highway 101, the reliability of the water proposed for use, and the impact on oak trees and other natural habitat.

Others had a different take. “I am convinced that it is in the best interest of the city to control and develop its borders,” said Pismo Beach resident Marilee Hyman, adding that the project is critical to city’s future financial stability.

Several others spoke in support of senior housing in the proposal as well as a plan to add an equestrian trail.

The City Council will consider the documents later.

If approved by the council, the developer could then ask Pismo Beach to request the properties be annexed into the city. That request would be considered by the San Luis Obispo Local Agency Formation Commission, which sets city boundaries and considers annexation requests.

If eventually approved and added to the city, the Spanish Springs project could add 390 single-family homes, 83 apartments or condos, 320 senior residential units, a 150-room hotel and conference center, vineyards, a nine-hole golf course, parks and a public trail to about 960 acres off Price Canyon Road.

The land is now primarily undeveloped and was historically used for grazing and other agriculture. The proposal now includes three properties on landscape ranging from valleys to steep hillsides and rock outcroppings.

While development would change the character of the area, the developers say they plan to preserve a large chunk — about 72 percent — as open space to protect views and create a buffer between new homes and other development and undeveloped rural county land north of the area.

If fully developed, Spanish Springs could employ 300 people and add an estimated 1,475 residents to the city, according to an analysis of the financial impacts of the project.