Visitors to Pirate’s Cove, the small beach located between Avila and Shell Beach and best known for the nude beachgoers, may have to put on their bathing suits next time.
San Luis Obispo County Parks took the first step to acquire Pirate’s Cove Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors meeting where they issued a notice to the public of their intent to turn the secluded beach into a family-friendly spot.
“This is our first formal step in making that happen,” said Peter Jenny, parks manager of the department of general services from the parks division.
Pirate’s Cove, which consists of 3,100 feet of coastal shoreline, is privately owned by San Miguelito Partners, a California Limited Partnership. However, the owners have not tried to keep the public out; clothed and unclothed, they continue to use the beach.
San Luis Obispo County Parks plan to improve access to the beach trail and increase monitoring by ranger staff. They hope this will create a safe, public-access beach and decrease illegal activity, including alcohol and drug use, which they claim is an issue.
“We think we can fix a lot of that if we make it a public beach,” Jenny said.
Because it’s currently private, it is not illegal to be nude while at Pirate’s Cove. Thus, the Board of Supervisors must pass an ordinance that states it is illegal to be nude at that beach if they want to change the rules.
“If it becomes public, I think they should (pass a law), but if it remains private, then no patrolling,” architectural engineering sophomore Victor Ramos said. “I guess you can’t really control that.”
San Luis Obispo County Parks’ first stated goal is to provide a safer path to the beach. As of now, the only way to access Pirate’s Cove is either by use of a boat or kayak, or entering the parking lot and walking down a narrow path, which is currently crumbling.
“It is not considered a safe access to the beach,” Jenny said. “We won’t take possession of the beach until we build the stairway.”
The California Coastal Commission must grant San Luis Obispo County Parks a permit to begin construction on the new stairway. Even then, it will be difficult to secure the necessary funding to complete the access improvements.
San Luis Obispo County Parks will not purchase the land until they have finished work on the stairway. If someone were to hurt themself on the eroding path, they could easily sue the county, said Jenny.
“We don’t want to own it yet,” he said.
Since San Luis Obispo County Parks will not own the beach during the stairway construction, they will make a deal with the current owners. An irrevocable offer to dedicate in perpetuity, which cannot be revoked, will allow the county to build without interference.
The deal to finalize the purchase of Pirate’s Cove will take approximately two to three years.