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State funding secured for Toro Coast Preserve open space in Cayucos

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Courtesy: Cayucos Land Conservancy
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A map shows a rough outline of the Toro Coast Preserve along coastal Highway 1 between Morro Bay and Cayucos.

A chunk of coastal land between Cayucos and Morro Bay is now closer to being fully preserved as open space thanks to some recent state funding.

What was once the site of a large oil facility owned by Chevron is now the Toro Coast Preserve. The property is more than 2,200 acres nestled along either side of Highway 1.

“Well it’s pretty critical because this is an amazing land conservation opportunity,” said District 17 State Senator John Laird.

Senator Laird serves much of the Central Coast, including San Luis Obispo County. He recently secured more than $60 million in his 2022 budget for local projects.

$1.5 million is being allocated to the Cayucos Land Conservancy to help acquire the Toro Coast Preserve.

“It is a phenomenal piece of land and I went a couple of months ago with a number of local people and drove it and walked it,” said Senator Laird.

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Jordan Bell
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The Cayucos Pier

The goal of the Cayucos Land Conservancy is to promote public access and protect the rural setting of the area from running together in a kind of urban sprawl.

Greg Bettencourt, with the nonprofit, said keeping estate development off the Toro Coast Preserve furthers this goal.

“Instead of having housing, it will provide the opportunity for people — local people, but probably mostly folks from out of the area — to have access to the coast,” said Bettencourt.

He said the land preserves public beach access and will eventually provide additional public trails and camping areas.

“[The Cayucos Land Conservancy wants to] do what we can to maintain the area as pristinely as we can, while still providing regular people with an opportunity to appreciate the coast and the beach,” said Bettencourt.

Portions of the $60 million secured by Senator Laird will also go toward other Central Coast projects like renovating the Cayucos Veterans Hall and developing a rapid bus system for the Monterey-Salinas Transit District.

He also helped secure $20.3 million to help rebuild Cal Poly’s Swanton Pacific Ranch, an outdoor lab facility in the Santa Cruz Mountains that was mostly destroyed by the CZU Lightning Complex Fire in August 2020.

Funding is expected to be available in the coming months.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.