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Trash cans 

It's not the naturists leaving the garbage behind

Having spent many days at Pirate's Cove, I don't ever recall seeing a Shredder there ("Trash talk," Sept. 14). One would think that an ambulatory piece of talking office equipment dragging itself up the beach would stand out. But no, no sighting.

I get the feeling that most who write about Pirate's have never been there.

There's a trash problem, yes. I'll get to that. But first I want to get to some problems that aren't.

The Shredder shreds, and likes to be funny. I know this. Dangly bits around a Shredder are irresistible targets. Ha-ha-ha.

But some clarification for those who haven't actually been to the beach: Naturists, by definition, revere nature. If you can find a naked person who leaves trash behind—even other people's trashI'll eat my sandals. These people take care of this place as though it were a sacred temple. Because to them, it is. So enough of linking clothing-optional with trash.

Secondly, there is an ongoing effort to label Pirate's a "hot spot for criminal activity" (The Tribune, "We're dodging glass, feces, and ditches at Pirate's Cove. ... ," Sept. 9). Let's compare Pirate's with Pismo Beach. As I mentioned in my speech before the Coastal Commission in 2014 during our appeal of the development, there were 74 criminal incidents at Pirate's Cove over the prior year. During the same time period, there were 1,965 criminal incidents in Pismo. In other words, there was more crime in a single day in Pismo than in an entire month at Pirate's Cove.

People drink in Pismo. We know this because there are a ton of bars in Pismo. They drunk drive and get into fights and commit rapes and property crimes. It's terrible! Shouldn't we be closing Pismo at night?

But Pismo is clean! you say. Yes. You're right. Pismo has trash pickup and trash cans. From the same speech: "If we look in the paper and see that the county has proposed to come pick up trash at Pirate's, I don't think anyone would fight them on that. We've been asking for garbage pickup and cans. That would be fantastic." All of those at Pirate's Cove, the county, the tourists, and all the angels in heaven, agree with trash cans and pickup. Why on Earth is this so hard?

A recent editorial in The Tribune offered that SLO Supervisors should camp in the parking lot some night "and watch the lawless destruction of a treasured resource firsthand."

I'd welcome that. Because what they would find is a peaceful stillness, refreshing sea breeze, and a blanket of stars unobstructed by the blinding glare of artificial lighting. There just isn't murder and mayhem happening at Pirate's after dark. A study found that half of the trash accumulates at night. That means half accumulates during the day. That, in statistics, is called a wash.

I think people want to attribute all the trash to some specific group, or to some specific hour because they want a simple solution and someone to blame.

It's harder than that. And simpler than that.

First, understand that it isn't the majority of visitors causing the problem. Or even a sizeable minority. It is perhaps one of every 30. It's almost never locals. Locals know each other, police each other, and hold each other to account. The problem is people from elsewhere.

Statistically, one in every 30 people you meet is a psychopath. That's a fact. They don't care. They ain't never gonna care. They enjoy causing problems. So unless you have an Asshole Detector, I'm afraid that you're SOL in solving every problem.

But there are solutions: The county has said that they can't afford to patrol the Cave Landing parking lot. What they mean is that they can't afford a $100,000 patrol car with two officers inside who each make $169,000 a year, equipped with an arsenal adequate to conquer Cuba.

Pirate's doesn't need all that.

Do this: Buy a light green 2004 Jeep Cherokee. Put a decal on the side that says "Parks Department Patrol." Put two guys in it with green uniforms and patches. Give them walkie-talkies and flashlights. Teach them to yell, "Hey!"

"Hey!" yelled by a guy with a patch and flashlight will scatter 98 percent of troublemakers to the wind. Got a real hard-ass? Pretend to talk into the walkie-talkie. Gone.

Park the truck at the trailhead. Have them walk the trails. Be a presence. Lots of people would love the job of hiking Pirate's. They'd do it for a pittance.

The county demanded full night closure. This is a violation of natural human rights. It isn't your beach, it is our beach. "Closing" nature because you can't figure out how to manage it sets a dangerous precedent. The Coastal Commission agreed with us.

Coastal Commission staff suggested that the parking lot be closed at night, leaving the parking spaces along Cave Landing Road legally open. We agreed that this was a reasonable compromise. The drunken partier doesn't want to carry a ton of booze across an open parking lot. But it leaves access for hikers.

Have I mentioned trash cans?

I feel badly that the problems persist as they did the day we won our appeal.

But—as one of the commissioners noted—you don't solve a trash problem by pouring 200 tons of hot asphalt on top of the Cove. The trash that mars it can be picked up. Once it's developed, its character is lost forever.

Dinosaur Park is wonderful. But Pirate's is Pirate's: Raw, unblemished, suffering no permanent stain from the hand of man. It should stay that way. One undeveloped place to pass down to our children just as it was when we found it, and as it was 10,000 years ago. Δ

Sean Shealy is the founder of Friends of Pirate's Cove. Send comments to the Shredder.

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