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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ocean view goes public

A ceremony marks the transfer from private to public ownership of the 20-acre Piedras Blancas Resort

By Kathe Tanner, 10/20/2007
SLO Tribune

http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local/story/171553.html

Local residents and dignitaries gathered Friday on a spectacular bluff by the ocean to mark the transfer of a former private resort into public ownership.

The Trust for Public Land acquired the aging Piedras Blancas Resort in a $4.5 million transaction in May 2005. The 20-acre property, used for decades as a motel, recreational vehicle parking lot, coffee shop and gas station, had been listed for sale. The national non-profit’s temporary takeover prevented further commercial development of the blufftop terrace and beach between Highway 1 and the ocean, about 15 miles north of Cambria.

The nonprofit made some repairs, obtained grants and donations to pay off a loan and, in March, transferred the property to State Parks.

Ruth Coleman, director of the California Department of Parks and Recreation, urged the 125 or so people attending Friday’s ceremony to help determine the park’s future by attending a pair of meetings Nov. 14.

They should bring “a child to this place…bring someone who hasn’t been here before,” Coleman said. “We have to make sure our children know these places and love them as we do, so they will fight to protect them” in the future.

Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee, R-Bakersfield, called the site one of the “most beautiful stretches of coastline in the U.S.”

Tim Wirth of the trust called the Piedras acquisition “the missing puzzle piece in the 13 miles of the Hearst property,” oceanfront property that’s also a state park now.

The area’s scenic value was obvious under warm sunshine Friday. As waves dashed against dramatic bluffs and white-frosted rocks that give the area its name, the beacon of the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse blinked in the background.

The resort site offers safe and easy access to the beach, a rare commodity along the often-rugged terrain between Ragged Point and San Simeon. And the new park will provide another link in the California Coastal Trail.

After the dedication, Nick Franco mined the crowd for ideas.

The superintendent of the park district that includes Hearst Castle and much of the North Coast shoreline gathered suggestions for the future of the circa-1950s motel and the land around it.

Suggestions to date include primitive campsites, a hostel, parking area, trails, restrooms and picnic sites.

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