One day, perhaps not more than 10 to 20 years from now, Pismo Beach residents and tourists could drive east — away from the beach and downtown — into Price Canyon to stay at a hotel, attend a conference or play a round of golf.
Hundreds of new residents could sleep in homes built on currently vacant land dotted with oaks and used to graze cattle or dry farm oat hay.
Pismo Beach leaders will be challenged over the next year to decide the fate of two vast developments currently located outside the city limits. If plans move ahead, some of the city’s focus could shift east, into the canyon, as it works to provide services to hundreds of new residents and visitors.
Some local residents concerned about development in Price Canyon said the city should first concentrate on improving its downtown before allowing the rural lands to be graded and developed.
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In the meantime, two other major projects located within the city could move ahead more quickly than the Price Canyon proposals. While the four developments vary in size and location, all could be “catalysts for change” in Pismo Beach, Community Development Director Jon Biggs wrote in a staff report.
Collectively, four major projects going through the city’s review process would add more than 900 homes, 425 hotel rooms, a 10,000-square-foot conference center and a 16,000-square-foot event facility to the South County beach town.
The Pismo Beach City Council received an update on the four projects Tuesday, including Spanish Springs, which will return for a vote June 18.
That development includes 416 single-family homes, 73 apartments or condos, 120 senior units, a 150-room hotel and 10,000-square-foot conference center, a nine-hole golf course, vineyards and parks over 961 acres in Price Canyon.
Much of the discussion, however, centered on another project proposed adjacent to Spanish Springs, which could come before the council in six to eight months. The property — formerly known as the Big Bird Ranch but now called Pismo Ranch — sits next to Price Canyon Road and abuts the city limits.
Preliminary plans for the 258 acres include 310 single-family homes, 60 multi-family units, a 175-room hotel and 12,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space. About 129 acres would remain privately owned agricultural open space.
The proposal also includes a 16,000-square-foot event center, which was likened to the Alex Madonna Expo Center in San Luis Obispo. That facility is more than 20,000 square feet.
A few residents questioned the need for two conference-like facilities located so close together, and pointed out that plans are also moving ahead for the Grover Beach Lodge and Conference Center, which includes an 11,000-square-foot facility.
“I’ve never seen so many gigantic things coming all at once,” resident Susan Testa said.
Pismo resident Sheila Blake, who ran unsuccessfully for the council in November, said she wondered if downtown business owners are worried about the city’s attention shifting to the canyon.
“The downtown core must flourish first, and then grow outward,” she said.
Both Spanish Springs and Pismo Ranch would have to be annexed into the city before the land could be developed.
Meanwhile, the city’s Planning Commission is expected to consider two other projects on June 25: