Price Canyon plan forwarded to Pismo Beach City Council

This view looking south shows a portion of Price Canyon in 2011 where 961 acres could eventually be annexed into Pismo Beach and developed.
This view looking south shows a portion of Price Canyon in 2011 where 961 acres could eventually be annexed into Pismo Beach and developed. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

A controversial plan that could add hundreds of homes and hotel rooms to an area outside the city limits will now go to the Pismo Beach City Council.

The Spanish Springs proposal, which would expand a city with a sinking population and an already high vacancy rate, has numerous hurdles to overcome before it can be developed.

The Pismo Beach Planning Commission voted 3-2 in three separate motions to recommend that the Pismo Beach City Council approve documents that would guide development in the Price Canyon area north of the city limits. 

Commissioners Kate Shurson and David Jewell dissented.

“I don’t think the people of this city need or want this large project,” Shurson said.

The commissioners in support of the recommendation, however, said they were planning for Pismo Beach’s long-term future.

“The basic question is does the city need something like this?” Commissioner Eric Woodhouse said.

“You could look today and say it’s not obvious, but you have to think 10 to 15 years ahead.”

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 and parks to about 960 acres off Price Canyon Road. 

Some South County residents argued the plan would clog local roads with traffic, possibly cost the city money, and that it really isn’t needed.

A few also suggested it should be put up for a citywide vote.

“Are you really representing what the people need and want?” Dean Berto, a resident who lives outside of Arroyo Grande, asked the commission. “This is going to determine the face of the city for years and years to come.”

Several others, however, urged the commission to move forward so the city can control development at its borders, attract more tourism and revenue, and work toward its goal of becoming a world-class destination.

“This project is about good future planning,” said Noreen Martin, a local resident and CEO of Martin Resorts. It will give downtown businesses a boost and supplement city revenues, she added.

The City Council could consider the documents in late November or December.

The properties would have to be annexed into Pismo Beach before being developed.

Familiar concerns were raised Tuesday about the reliability of water proposed for the project, and traffic and environmental impacts. 

Others questioned the need for the project at a time when the city’s population has decreased and approximately 31 percent of its current housing units are considered “vacant,” with many of those used as seasonal or second homes, according to the state department of finance.

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