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Save Price Canyon launches a ballot initiative 

After months of planning, members of Pismo Beach activist group Save Price Canyon officially announced that their ballot initiative designed to preempt overdevelopment in Price Canyon will likely be headed to the city’s November ballot.

In a conversation with New Times, Save Price Canyon representatives outlined the main thrust of their initiative: to preserve and maintain the natural resources, water supply, and scenic vistas of Price Canyon (Planning Area R) for the benefit of Pismo’s residents, visitors, and economy.

“We want to maintain the quality of life which people moved here for in the first place,” said member Sheila Blake.

If adopted, the initiative would amend the Pismo Beach General Plan by changing the land-use designation of the Price Canyon area (which is officially county land, but in Pismo’s sphere of influence) from “Recreation and Open Space” to “Watershed and Resource Management,” a new designation the initiative would create.

That designation would allow only certain types of low-impact development in the area, including limited residential structures, agriculture, farm stands, schools, parks, trails, and public buildings. These constraints on potential development would only apply when land in Planning Area R is annexed into the city, and could only be amended or repealed by popular vote for a 30-year span.

The initiative is largely a response to such planned mega-developments in the Price Canyon area as Spanish Springs, which carried plans for extensive housing, two hotels, and a golf course. Elements of the Spanish Springs development were partially approved by the Pismo Beach City Council last year before a Save Price Canyon referendum prompted the same council to rescind its decision mere months later.

“Many people have said that our group is anti-development or NIMBY, but we’re just opposed to massive development that would be bad for our community,” said member Marcia Guthrie.

The group submitted the initiative measure to the city on Feb. 6, received a title and summary response from City Attorney Dave Fleishman on Feb. 21, and plans to post public notice of the initiative on March 6.

Save Price Canyon member Richard Foster said the group must obtain 777 signatures (15 percent of Pismo Beach registered voters) by May 1 in order to get on the Nov. 4 ballot.

If the initiative succeeds in obtaining the necessary signatures, the measure can either be put to a vote on Nov. 4 or preemptively adopted by the City Council, Foster said.

Save Price Canyon members told New Times that they hope for a council adoption, but that a citywide vote—with anticipated opposition from developers—is the likelier outcome.

“Our citizens absolutely have the right to circulate an initiative, and this group is now exercising that right,” Pismo Beach City Manager Jim Lewis told New Times. “If they receive the required signatures, we will go through with the ballot initiative process.”

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