Editorials

A restroom will not ruin Pirate’s Cove — it’s a bare necessity

What people are saying about trash and nudity at Pirate’s Cove near Avila Beach

Pirate's Cove is San Luis Obispo County's only nude beach. But it isn't the nudity that people complain about most. It's the trash.
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Pirate's Cove is San Luis Obispo County's only nude beach. But it isn't the nudity that people complain about most. It's the trash.

When you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go, right?

So it’s beyond us why anyone would oppose the idea of installing a restroom at the Pirate’s Cove parking area.

But apparently, that’s what happened, and as a result, an improvement plan headed to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday does not include a restroom.

The plan is definitely a step in the right direction. It includes graffiti removal, increased patrols by law enforcement, improvements to the parking area, the addition of interpretive signs and installation of vandalism-resistant trash cans.

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Pirates Cove027
Signs of the lack of restrooms are often seen along the main trail down to the beach at Pirate’s Cove. Laura Dickinson ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

Conspicuously absent from the list: a restroom.

This is a big mistake — one we hope the Board of Supervisors rectifies.

Look, it’s one thing to poop behind a bush when you’re roughing it out in the isolated wilderness, but Pirate’s Cove does not qualify as isolated wilderness.

Visitors should not have to relieve themselves behind a rock, in the scrub brush or out in the ocean. Nor should they have to look at the grossness that others have left behind, as this Yelp reviewer was forced to do: “... If you go on a warm afternoon or evening, be prepared for trash, drunks, bongs, condoms, people peeing along the path, and the icing on the cake: human feces.” (Full disclosure: More recent reviews noted that trash was not a problem.)

So why no restroom?

Apparently, the idea was pooh-poohed because some people thought that was too much development.

Others wanted a flush toilet, which would be too expensive.

Plus, there were concerns that a restroom could be a magnet for crime.

We’re sorry, but we believe basic sanitation trumps all those objections.

If the county is going to allow public access, it should provide the public with rudimentary facilities, like trash cans and a restroom.

It is true that the upkeep of Pirate’s Cove is a challenge. It isn’t as accessible as other beaches, such as Avila or Pismo.

It’s also the county’s only clothing-optional beach, and has been for decades. That makes it susceptible to attracting creeps who hang out on the top of the cliff with binoculars. It also means that some people — probably lots of people — give Pirate’s a wide berth.

But those who do want to enjoy one of the premier properties on the Central Coast are entitled to the same basic amenities the county provides at other parks and beaches.

We aren’t talking about paving and striping the parking area, building a trail with handrails and installing Coke machines.

We are calling for an adequate number of trash cans and regular garbage pickups. Regular patrols by the Sheriff’s Department. A surfaced parking lot (rock, not asphalt).

And, first and foremost, a restroom — even if it’s a couple of Porta Potties.

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