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Planning Commission to consider controversial Port San Luis seatrain storage 

The SLO County Planning Commission is again considering a minor use permit application that would allow the Port San Luis Harbor District to store several seatrain containers in a downtown Avila Beach parking lot while construction continues on the Harbor Terrace camping and marine gear storage site.

Though county staff are recommending denial of the application, and some parking lot neighbors say the storage containers—which fishermen use to store equipment—block ocean views, take up parking spaces, and are unsightly, Port San Luis staff and fishermen are hoping they can stay a little while longer.

click to enlarge NON-COMPLIANT A county map shows where several Port San Luis Harbor District seatrain containers are currently being stored and how the land is zoned. - SCREENSHOT FROM PLANNING COMMISSON STAFF REPORT
  • Screenshot From Planning Commisson Staff Report
  • NON-COMPLIANT A county map shows where several Port San Luis Harbor District seatrain containers are currently being stored and how the land is zoned.

"We're as anxious as anybody to not have them in the parking lot anymore," Port San Luis Harbor Manager Andrea Lueker told New Times.

Typically the 21, 40-foot-long containers would be stored at the Harbor Terrace site, but, in anticipation of the construction groundbreaking of Harbor Terrace, they were moved in May 2019 to parking lots along First and Second streets in Avila Beach. In June 2019, according to a county staff report, the county requested that Port San Luis apply for a land use permit based on the district's "characterization" that the seatrain containers would be used for Harbor Terrace construction storage.

Port San Luis applied for such a permit in July 2019, but a few months later, county staff say they learned that the seatrains were actually being used to store the belongings of commercial fishermen—activity that requires a different kind of permit and is allowed only in specifically zoned areas—and started receiving complaints from residents about the containers.

Although Port San Luis moved all of the containers—at a cost of about $15,000—to a single parking lot it owns in November 2019, county staff say that kind of storage is noncompliant with the parking lot's land use zoning.

But Lueker said Port San Luis is only about 60 to 70 days away from completing the Harbor Terrace construction, at which point the containers will be moved out of the parking lot and back to their usual location.

"We certainly, at this point, don't want to move the containers somewhere else and then move them again up on the hill," she told New Times.

Lueker said that at the upcoming Dec. 10 Planning Commission meeting, Port San Luis plans to request a continuance of the permit consideration, which would likely delay the conversation until the Harbor Terrace project is completed and permitting unnecessary. Δ

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