Cayucos Veterans Hall: SLO County Supervisors Approve Loan

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The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors has approved a $ 3.5 million loan to help restore the Cayucos Veterans Memorial.

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Efforts to restore the Cayucos Veterans Memorial were given a huge boost on Tuesday when the San Luis Obispo County Supervisory Board approved a $ 3.5 million internal loan.

Supervisors voted 4 to 1 to help fund the rehabilitation project, which is currently estimated to cost around $ 5 million.

Now the project can move forward, with the contract being launched as the county and community members seek additional grants.

At Tuesday’s meeting, community members spent about half an hour during the public comment section urging supervisors to approve the loan.

“How amazing they care about this place is,” said supervisor Bruce Gibson, calling the restoration efforts a “project that you can support with your head and your heart.”

Supervisor John Peshong called the shuttered room a “community gem.”

“I can’t wait to get started,” he said.

Cayucos Veterans Hall needs repairs

Originally known as the Cass Warehouse at Cayucos Landing, the Cayucos Veterans Hall dates back to 1872, according to the site’s website.

The Cass Warehouse was one of a series of buildings in downtown Cayucos in 1875 that included Captain James Cass’ store, lumberyard, house, wharf, and pier.

In 1920, the warehouse was acquired by the state of California, according to a 2017 warehouse structural assessment by San Luis Obispo County.

Located at 10 Cayucos Drive, near Cayucos Pier, Cayucos Veterans Hall has been a popular venue for everything from government meetings to weddings, fundraisers, parties and barbecues for decades.

The main part of the building has been closed since May 2016 due to unsafe conditions and structural issues discovered during routine maintenance

For a time, the Cambria Lions Club, which manages the facility, was allowed access to the patio, kitchen, and bathrooms, which were additions to the original structure.

But the entire room has been completely banned since late June, when it was reported by the California Office of the State Fire Marshal.

The Cayucos Veterinary Room Restoration Committee worked to save the dilapidated structure.

How will supporters pay for the restoration of the vets room?

According to Gibson, San Luis Obispo County staff, and various Cayucos leaders, the county’s 30-year tax reduction reserve fund loan is to be paid back through grants, community fundraising, and renting the building. , once it is once again open to the public. .

The county has already received a grant of nearly $ 2 million for the state’s Proposition 68 funding program project.

Gibson and county employees say they are confident the California Coastal Conservancy will approve an additional $ 300,000 grant in December.

“If you don’t approve (the loan),” Nick Franco, San Luis Obispo County director of parks and recreation, told supervisors at Tuesday’s meeting, “we still have to do something” because the building marked in red is dangerous.

“It won’t cost less, and if we don’t move now, the subsidy we have will be jeopardized,” because there is a deadline for the county’s engagement, he said. “Returning a grant is never a good idea. “

Greg Bettencourt, chairman of the Cayucos Vets Hall Committee, said the group already had firm pledges for $ 340,000, with more fundraising efforts to come.

He also said the Cayucos Lions Club had pledged $ 115,000 for the project.

On Tuesday, Breck Smith of the Lions Club and others listed some of the many clubs and organizations that have historically used or had their headquarters there. They also mentioned a wide range of site-based activities, many of which have been suspended or significantly reduced due to the venue’s closure.

“There are millions and millions of memories to be made out there,” Smith said.

According to a letter submitted by Toni le Gras, visitors to Cayucos contribute around 14% of the total transitional occupancy tax for the county, even though the tourist-oriented community constitutes around 2% of the county’s total population.

Franco said the restoration project would result in “well, much improved facilities… with an ocean view” and a wide terrace between the building and the shore.

According to a letter submitted by Toni le Gras, visitors to Cayucos contribute around 14% of the total transitional occupancy tax for the county, even though the tourist-oriented community constitutes around 2% of the county’s total population.

Supervisor Debbie Arnold cast the only dissenting vote on Tuesday, indicating that she had supported the project from the start.

However, she said, similar situations are “playing out across the county.”

“I don’t feel comfortable with the financing… that is in addition to the county-wide debt service,” Arnold said.

For more information on the Cayucos Veterans Hall restoration project, visit restorecayucosvetshall.org.

This story was originally published November 17, 2021 9:00 a.m.

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Kathe Tanner has written about the people and places of SLO County’s North Coast since 1981, first as a columnist and then also as a journalist. Her career has included stints as a bakery owner, public relations manager, radio host, trail guide, and jewelry designer. She has lived in Cambria for over four decades, and if it happens in town, Kathe knows it.

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