Morro Bay residents petition to end camping along waterfront


The future of waterfront RV and tent camping in Morro Bay is up in the air.

There are three locations on the Embarcadero that offer waterfront camping with nearly two dozen total spots up for grabs. It started as a pilot program in September of 2020 amid a lot of uncertainty during the pandemic. Since then, Harbor Director Eric Endersby tells KSBY it’s raked in roughly $175,000 in gross revenues.

A group of three community members, however, created a petition to do away with the concept altogether.

“To bring in RVs and park in the parking lots right in the middle of your tourist area isn’t quaint,” said Betty Winholtz of Morro Bay. “It just kind of ruins the ambiance.”

Those behind the petition (Betty Winholtz, Carole Truesdale and Jim Curnutt) say it boils down to four reasons why future camping should be prohibited along the Embarcadero, Coleman Drive and the Morro Rock parking lots. This includes protecting natural beauty, preventing visual and physical degradation, precluding competition with local businesses and state campgrounds, and preserving day-use parking.

“This is a community. We started out as a fishing village and the quaintness is what drives people here,” said Carole Truesdale of Morro Bay. “Preserve the sensitivity. Preserve the natural resources. We have to be natural stewards of this land.”

More than 1,000 signatures have been collected for a potential ballot measure that would essentially ban camping at these spots. Last month, the three residents turned in the signatures and now they’re waiting to validate them.

“We only need 820 and then next week, we’re going to go down to the County Clerk-Recorder’s Office and actually go through signature by signature and make sure we have the sufficient number,” Winholtz explained.

If there are sufficient signatures on the petition, the city council could elect to enact their initiative or put it on the ballot possibly for the June Primary.

“I’m just fighting for the citizens. We have to have a voice. We have to be heard. People can’t just arbitrarily do things. I mean, we were sideways with this. This was supposed to be a temporary thing,” Truesdale said.

We did not come across any campers that were utilizing the spots on Tuesday. The city says it’s accepting reservations through February 28 and it’s all done online.

With the program still in the pilot phase, the Harbor Department says its application to make the program permanent is expected to go before the Coastal Commission in March.


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