Say no to REACH’s plan to industrialize Morro Bay, protect our coastline

October 21, 2023


An open letter to REACH, a regional economic action coalition:

Recently, you invited citizens of the San Luis Obispo County to offer public comments regarding your “economic development” strategies.  I would like to comment on your plans for Morro Bay.

I am a voting resident of Morro Bay, and a proud supporter of the NoBESS movement and the Citizen’s Initiative to stop the industrialization of our town.  I oppose the offshore wind proposals and hope to see the Chumash Heritage Marine Sanctuary completely close the gap in the ocean’s protection between Monterey and Gaviota.

As a concerned citizen, I have attended many of your community meetings and have read most of your propaganda. I take issue with your misrepresentations and cheerful assessments of the “potential” our town offers to “industry”.  I see the word “industry” and understand that you literally mean “industrialization”.

As far as I can tell, none of your propaganda admits to the environmental and natural degradation that will follow the industrialization that you so positively portray. There is nothing “clean” about the clean energy plans that you would try to thrust upon us. You have ignored the wishes of the citizens who will be negatively affected by your vision of an industrialized future and its long-term consequences. We do not want to be the “collateral damage” to your profit-driven schemes.

You tout your extensive feedback from “stakeholders.”  I am a stakeholder, a property owner and taxpayer, and I don’t recall ever giving you permission to ruin my town. In fact, in early 2023, a survey circulated by the City of Morro Bay, the Morro Bay Power Plant Master Plan Community Survey, documented that a vast majority of the citizens of Morro Bay do not want the BESS facility on the old power plant site. Nor do they want their beaches and bay industrialized.

Your Waterfront Infrastructure Study Report (WISR) states:  “ . . . there are no prominent commercial or industrial ports, despite the region’s long legacy in the commercial fishing industry.”

There is a very good reason why our waterfront has not been industrialized: Our vibrant commercial fishing industry does not require the industrialization of our harbor. The current zoning, as set forth in “Plan Morro Bay” and certified by the California Coastal Commission in Nov. 2022, is perfectly suited to the current use, and we aim to keep it as such.
In this same WISR (page 57) you imply that the Morro Bay Harbor Department has “coordinated” with you to enable a “smaller” offshore wind support facility development site on our shoreline near the old PG&E intake building.

You may be forgiven for believing our residents were sympathetic to your schemes.  You were mislead by past elected city officials and civic leaders. But the tides have changed, and we clearly do not endorse your activities.

Our former mayor was voted out by a margin of 3 to 2, and others who “coordinated” with you have been forced out of their positions of influence. You optimistically state that “changes to local zoning laws may be needed to enable a development at this site . . . to support mooring of larger . . . vessels).” I would like to correct you: the zoning laws must be changed in order to heave your plans on us, and our initiative, when successful, will prohibit the rezoning of the Morro Bay beaches and the power plant site.

In plain sight, your “REACH 2030” landing page states your true intention regarding the Diablo Canyon Property, but it could apply to all of the Central Coast:  (the decommissioning of Diablo) “. . . presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to repurpose existing infrastructure and thousands of acres of pristine land and unspoiled coastline.”

I would like to emphatically state that we do not want our unspoiled coastline and pristine land “repurposed.” No, thanks!

I am suspicious of your use of the words “opportunity zones.” Do you consider that our beautiful coastal zones are underdeveloped and ripe for “optimization?” There are always unintended consequences to frenzied and profit-driven movements. Do not gamble with our future or the health of our citizens, our estuary, wildlife, economic vitality and way of life.

Do not confuse our abhorrence of your proposed development of our town as a rejection of the need for “renewable energy.” We are not opposed to renewable energy or “clean technology.” We simply feel that there is a proper place for the installation of unproven, experimental, dangerous and environmentally damaging industrial developments.

You may see the Central Coast as the “hub of renewable energy.” There are plenty of appropriate and desolate inland sites where your renewable energy ambitions will be appreciated, but the coastal areas are not among them.

You are correct about this statement:  “ . . . the Central Coast is known for its stunning outdoor attractions, including beaches, mountains, and vineyards . . .  These assets not only provide recreational opportunities and support a high quality of life for residents, but they also contribute to the region’s overall economic vitality by supporting the tourism industry. These cultural assets . . . are an important driver of economic development, supporting jobs, businesses, and tourism in the region.”  And: “Not only is tourism a substantial contributor to the local economy, but it also reflects the high quality of life that Central Coast residents value.”

Tourism is one of the leading sources of revenue for Morro Bay. Your plan for industrializing our town will jeopardize our Embarcadero, our bay, our beaches and ocean, and will severely impact our tourism, recreation, commercial fishing and our quality of life.

There are always unintended consequences to frenzied and risky movements.  It is common for corporations to capitalize on their profits while off-loading the costs on to rate-payers and small communities.  Do not gamble with our future or the health of our citizens, our estuary, wildlife, economic vitality and way of life.

Please go away.  We don’t need you, REACH.

Gail Johnson is a lifelong resident of San Luis Obispo County who is working to protect our coastline.

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All this talk of renewable energy will come with ongoing costs. We need to use less electricity and support renewable life. I have a conscience and could never support interfering with the life our coastal waters provide.

“Please go away. We don’t need you” REACH you picked the wrong town….

Our streets are too crowded as it is….

Morro Bay is way too shallow for heave industry.