Citing safety issues the Concerned Citizens for Avila (CCA), a proactive group of residents committed to protecting Avila’s natural environment and prioritizing safety and accessibility for residents and visitors, started a petition to halt further development in the beach community until new rules are established. At the time of writing this article, CCA had collected nearly 2,000 signatures from residents and visitors.
“We want the Board of Supervisors to know that this is a regional issue, not just an Avila issue because people come from all over,” said Betty Hartig with Concerned Citizens for Avila.
Before policies can be voted on and enacted, California State requires local governments to create a general plan that ideally represents the community’s desire for its future. Responding to the public’s voice, the County created Envision Avila, a work program and community workshop series designed to inform and develop a new comprehensive Community Plan for Avila and its surrounding properties.
Avila is classified as a district and not a city. Therefore the area is under the supervision of San Luis Obispo County. The petition for the moratorium is designed to produce public awareness and sway the Board of Supervisors to hold off on any development until policies are updated, which could take years. The fear is that the before the new policies are installed, companies will attempt to expedite the approval of their projects, thus avoiding possible restrictions. The County is currently creating a general plan; however, the release of the report has been delayed multiple times. Hartig said that there are a number of projects have been submitted to the County for consideration.
“We are also concerned that it is rather ludicrous to have all these large developments proposals that can go forward before the general plan update is completed for Avila Beach,” said CCA board member, Carol Goldberg.
One of the major obstacles to further development according to retired Judge and CCA Board member, Martin Suits, is Avila Bay Drive, a winding two-lane road that is the only way in and out of Avila. Widening the road to accommodate a larger population is a daunting task with one side butted up against a mountain and the other boarded by a creek. Suits said that in a meeting with the County Public Works Department he was informed that to widen the road just at one particular turn would cost $8 million.
The group maintains concerns that the narrowness of Avila Bay Dr. would not allow safe egress from the area in emergency situations and adding developments increases the traffic and population which would only exacerbate the situation.
By Mark A. Diaz