Pirate's Cove upgrades, Hwy. 1 project are on Coastal Commission's agenda

Pirate's Cove in Avila Beach.
Pirate's Cove in Avila Beach. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Plans to make significant improvements to a county park at Pirate’s Cove in Avila Beach and a plan by Caltrans to move inland nearly 3 miles of Highway 1 at Piedras Blancas could get final approval at a July 11 state Coastal Commission meeting in Ventura.

Commission staff is recommending that the Pirate’s Cove project be approved with minor modifications to increase public access. The main modification is a requirement that the beach and the trail to the beach remain open around the clock.

The project approved by the county called for all of the park’s amenities to be closed from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. to minimize criminal activity. However, Coastal Commission staff wants only the parking lot to be closed, thereby retaining public access to the other amenities 24 hours a day.

The public could gain access to the other facilities at night by parking on the roadway leading to the parking lot or from nearby residential areas in Pismo Beach.

The project was appealed to the Coastal Commission by local residents who want the park to stay the way it is. Planned improvements include a parking lot with 70 spaces, a 1,800-foot-long trail connecting Pirate’s Cove to Pismo Beach, a restroom and improvements to a trail to the beach, which is the county’s only clothing-optional beach.

Commission staff is also recommending approval with some modifications of plans to realign Highway 1 north of Cambria nearly 500 feet inland to avoid shoreline erosion.

Staff found that some aspects of the realignment conflict with the Coastal Act but, on balance, the project is beneficial and should be approved. Staff recommends reducing the highway’s paved shoulders from eight feet to five feet to reduce visual effects.

At a recent county Planning Commission hearing on the projects, several people said they supported the project but expressed concerns about speeding through the area.

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