Locals open their wallets to support Pismo Preserve plan

The 900-acre Pismo Preserve offers breathtaking views.
The 900-acre Pismo Preserve offers breathtaking views. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Correction: The Pismo Preserve property is owned by PB Coast View LLC, a Delaware-based corporation, not by Brad Wilde. Wilde serves as a spokesperson for PB Coast View and declined to provide more information about individuals involved in it.

When Richard Alberts learned about the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County’s plans to buy 900 acres northeast of Pismo Beach in late January, he couldn’t stop thinking about it.

“I thought I sure would like to do something to help out, to get that thing going,” Alberts said of the nonprofit’s goal to open the area, called Pismo Preserve, to the public by spring 2015.

So Alberts, 76, offered to match all donations up to $10,000. The response was immediate — Land Conservancy Executive Director Kaila Dettman said the challenge was met in less than a week.

Since then, donations have been rolling in at a steady clip. Two other donors heard about Alberts’ pledge and put up $10,000 and $5,000, respectively, toward dollar-for-dollar match challenges, Dettman said.

More recently, the Kon Tiki Inn in Pismo Beach put up a $20,000 challenge grant; anyone who wants to contribute toward that matching grant must do so by April 15.

The owner, PB Coast View LLC, a Delaware-based corporation, is offering to sell the property for $10 million. The conservancy needs to raise an additional $1.7 million to cover other expenses.

The money needs to be raised by July 1 for the Land Conservancy to close on the purchase by Aug. 1.

The conservancy expects to receive $8 million from two state agencies, $2 million from local government sources, and $1 million from local foundations.

But the Land Conservancy is relying on receiving about $700,000 in smaller donations from residents and business owners to help complete the sale. To date, the conservancy has received about $170,000 in small donations and pledges, Dettman said.

“The community support is really compelling,” she said. “We’re seeing donors giving more than they normally would to make this happen.”

If plans for Pismo Preserve move ahead, hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders would have access to more than 10 miles of existing ranch roads and trails that meander the property and offer dramatic views of the Pacific Ocean.

“It’s a tight timeframe,” Dettman said, “but it means that we get to move on this project quickly and make it happen for the public.”

When asked if he might hike one day on the Pismo Preserve, Alberts said he has some physical limitations, “otherwise known as old bones.”

But the San Luis Obispo resident felt he reached his goal of helping to kick off the conservancy’s effort.

“I’m guilty sometimes of thinking my $5 won’t help,” he said. “But we all come together and chip in, yes it does help.”

Learn more about the Pismo Preserve fundraising effort at http://lcslo.org/project/pismopreserve/.

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