'Eco-Tourist’ Campground Gets Initial OK
The Half Moon Bay (Calif.) City Council has endorsed one step toward a project to build a campground and recreational vehicle park catering to “eco-tourists”— vacationers who flock to areas with unspoiled fauna or flora.
On March 18, the council unanimously approved the first step of a zoning change for a plot of unused farmland, according to the Half Moon Bay Review and Pescadero Pebble. The land is scheduled to change from an agricultural designation to another aimed at enticing visitors to the area. A second hearing on the proposal is scheduled for the council’s April 1 meeting.
The council’s decision followed similar unanimous approval from the city’s planning commission. The commission will get another look at details of the proposal before any construction is allowed. But so far the commission has endorsed the plan, noting in its report that the former agricultural properties surrounding the city are “best used” as recreational and commercial sites to draw in visitors. Nurserymen’s Exchange spokesman Don Mendel said the garden-wholesale company stopped using the land in 2005 “after several consecutive years of losses.”
Applicant Cameron Palmer said the rezoning was three years in the making. He noted several benefits of what he will call the “Birds of Paradise” campground during a brief presentation before the council, including the potential to draw more transient occupancy taxes into the cash-strapped city.
“I do think in the end we will have an eco-tourism campground we can all be proud of,” he said.
According to project outlines submitted to the planning commission in December, the campground will include 55 RV sites and 20 cabins for rent. Designed around an avian theme to draw avid bird watchers, the campsites will be named after coastal birds, and the campground will feature a bird-watching center, a “Crow’s Nest” (general store) and a “Birdbath” (swimming pool).
Palmer also owns the Cameron’s Restaurant & Inn nearby.
City parks commissioner Sofia Freer spoke in favor of the project. “We need visitors to come here because they appreciate what the area has to offer,” she said, noting the potential to draw birders to an area that is widely known for its habitat.
Although the council gave unanimous approval for the campground, the project is far from finalized. The city council still needs to decide whether to approve an ordinance to rezone the property at its next meeting on April 1. After that, the project will need to be reviewed by the California Coastal Commission.