Project has goals to connect Cal Poly and City of SLO with Avila Beach and Pismo Beach
SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY — Supervisors are continuing the county’s efforts in expanding the Bob Jones Trail to the City of San Luis Obispo. As discussed in the Nov. 7 San Luis Obispo (SLO) County Board of Supervisors meeting, supervisors directed county staff to work with Caltrans in further designing the project to meet the grant funding timeline.
Due to receiving campaigning funds from the Bunnell family, whose property is in direct line with the Octagon Barn to Ontario Road portion of the trail, District 1 Supervisor John Peschong recused himself from the action item. This specific portion of the project is also referred to as the Bob Jones Pathway Gap Closure Project.
Ultimately, the Bob Jones Pathway City to Sea project has goals to connect Cal Poly and the City of SLO with Avila Beach and with another planned trail connecting to Pismo Beach.
The prominent driver of the project’s continuation is safety. In 2012, a Shell Beach man died after he was hit by a big-rig truck while bicycling near the intersection of Ontario Road and South Higuera Street south of San Luis Obispo. Thirty-nine-year-old Damian Horstman was the chief of anesthesiology and vice chief of staff at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center.
His wife, Jennifer Horstman-Chase, spoke at the supervisors meeting urging supervisors to approve the “overdue route,” saying, “The roadway is unsafe not because of how it is being used, but because of how it was designed, and it will be until it is fixed.”
Currently, the project has completed the environmental studies and is in the final design phase. During the Sept. 26 meeting, supervisors directed staff to work on a plan that would avoid construction on the Bunnell property. Staff provided an option at the Nov. 7 meeting that moves the trail just off the Bunnell property on onto the adjacent Highway 101 shoulder. A protective barrier would be added for additional safety measures from the freeway.
District 5 Supervisor Debbie Arnold reaffirmed her stance on using eminent domain to gain portions of the Bunnell property.
“I heard you all today, and I’ll be just as excited when we get this problem solved, but I don’t think that eminent domain, especially when we’ve worked it out as a community way back when that we would not use it for trail establishment,” she said. “Giving property owners along desirable routes ease of mind, I just don’t think it’s time to change our mind on that when we’re midway through.”
However, Arnold did approve District 3 Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg’s motion to approve staff to move forward with the final design phase. The motion was approved with a 4-0 vote.
The next SLO County Board of Supervisors meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 28 at 9 a.m.