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Pismo raises stink over RV dumpsite expansion 

The city of Pismo Beach isn’t taking any crap from neighboring municipality Grover Beach. Literally.

The Pismo Beach Planning Commission voted 4-1 to deny a permit to expand the number of recreational vehicle waste dumping stations at the North Beach Campground on Dolliver Street. The additional dump stations would allow the city of Grover Beach to move forward with plans to build a lodge and conference center, which it claims will bring millions of dollars to the economies of the Five Cities area.

If approved, the permit would have expanded the number of dump stations at the North Beach site from one to four, as well as added additional parking spaces. The expansion would allow the Department of California State Parks and Recreation to get rid of three dump stations currently operating on a site at Le Sage Drive in Grover Beach, located near where the future lodge and conference center will be built. State parks, which is partnering with Grover Beach on the lodge and conference center project, requested the permit. A letter from Grover Beach to the Pismo Planning Commission characterized the approval of the dumpsite relocation as an “important component” of the project.

But both members of the Pismo Beach Planning Commission as well as some Pismo residents expressed concerns over the request. Pismo resident Bruce McFarland said the expansion would bring more traffic congestion and pollution to Pismo Beach, and that lines of backed-up RVs waiting to dump would be a safety hazard.

“This is going to be just a headache up the yin-yang,” McFarland told the commission at its Jan. 24 meeting. “We don’t need this.”

Recent storms highlighted concerns about the additional strain on the city’s sewer system the project might cause. According to city staff, the North Beach dump station has to be closed during heavy rains to avoid flooding the city’s system, which could cause a sewage spill. As of the Jan. 24 meeting, the North Beach dump station had been closed for a month due to the weather conditions.

“If all the dump holes are moved to this location, it would be the only dump facility in the area,” Pismo Beach Community Development Director Jeff Winklepleck said. “The concern is we are putting all our eggs in one basket, and this is our basket.”

Representatives from state parks and Grover Beach attended the meeting to argue in support of the project, asking the commission to consider the future economic benefits of the planned 150-room lodge and adjacent conference center, which Grover Beach City Councilman Matthew Bronson claimed could pump as much as $11 million in revenue into the region.

“We see this as one overall project which speaks to the overall economic development activities that we can support in the Five Cities area,” Bronson said.

But the prospect of future revenue was not enough to sway the planning commissioners, including Kari Bhana.

“I just don’t see the benefit for the city of Pismo,” she said.

Bhana also expressed skepticism about the need to relocate the dumping stations, asking why they couldn’t be left at Le Sage and the future site of the lodge and conference center. Dena Bellman, a state parks official who attended the meeting, conceded that the need to move the dump stations was, at least partially, an aesthetic one.

“Certainly the developer was not excited about having a dump station located near the entry to the lodge,” Bellman said. “The whole way it was developed. It was not something that could be left there.”

State parks, Grover Beach, and local developer Pacifica Companies are partnering on the lodge and conference center project, according to the Pismo Beach city staff report.

Grover Beach Mayor John Shoals told New Times that while he was disappointed with the outcome of commission’s vote, he respected the decision. He said the denial wouldn’t stop plans for the lodge and conference center from moving forward.

“It definitely doesn’t stop the project, but it does create a challenge for us,” Shoals said. “Now, we will have to look for alternatives.”

Shoals said the denial could be appealed to the Pismo Beach City Council but noted that that decision to do so was up to state parks. State parks officials did not return requests seeking comment on a possible appeal.

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