Supervisors allow plan for Nipomo's Dana Adobe to move forward

The Dana Adobe
The Dana Adobe Special to The Tribune

After more than a year of delays and negotiations, plans to turn the historic Dana Adobe in Nipomo into a cultural center are ready to move forward.

San Luis Obispo County supervisors Tuesday unanimously gave the green light to the Dana Adobe Nipomo Amigos to begin getting the necessary permits to develop the adobe site with a visitor center, outdoor amphitheater, Chumash interpretive area with exhibits and displays.

The group had planned to begin the improvements last year but encountered delays when concerns were raised by the Chumash tribe, which necessitated the preparation of an environmental impact report. On Tuesday, supervisors approved the EIR and changed several land-use designations of the site to make the project compliant with the area’s planning framework.

The main concern has been the large number of Chumash archaeological sites on the 30-acre adobe property on South Oakglen Avenue. Most of the construction on the site will avoid the archaeological sites and for those that are impacted will have steps taken to them.

Fred Collins, tribal administrator with the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, said the plans still do not do enough to protect Chumash sacred sites. He asked that the plans be redrawn to further avoid those areas.

Specifically, the Chumash interpretive center and part of a hiking trail would be placed on an archaeological site, but construction of these would not involve significant grading or other disturbances.

Surveys of the site showed that it was occupied at various times by the Chumash as a short-term camp site because animal bones and Pismo clam shells as well as tools related to hunting were found there.

Supervisors disagreed with Collins, saying the project’s environmental documents give adequate protection to Native American sites. They also praised the Dana Adobe as one of the best preserved sites commemorating the county’s early history.

“The EIR goes above and beyond,” said Supervisor Caren Ray whose district includes the site. “It holds Chumash culture in reverence.”

The adobe is the historic home of Capt. William Goodwin Dana, who settled on the site in 1837. The home grew over the years and eventually reached 13 rooms when it was complete in 1851.

Marina Washburn, executive director of the Amigos group, said she hopes to get the final permits for the improvements from the Planning Commission by the end of 2014. Construction will take about a year.