San Luis Obispo Chapter

Avila Beach Resort (ABR) Entertainment Complex – Fact Summary

  • The proposed Events License together with the related Resort Development permit sought by ABR would create the largest beachfront entertainment complex on the California coast.  It would be a 325,000 square-foot, year-round entertainment and hospitality facility with five bars, seven restaurants, and nine event venues with a daily capacity of over 13,000 guests.
  • Californians and the Coastal Commission have a long tradition of supporting large annual legacy events at beach locations all along the coast.  The idea is that the impediments to beach access are one day only and beach-goers can go elsewhere for that day.  By contrast, what ABR is proposing is a 325,000 square-foot facility with 175,000 square feet available for year-round bar, restaurant, and event activities that will continually generate traffic that impedes access for beach-goers.
  • In addition to the twelve 3-5,000 person events covered by the proposed license, ABR claims the right to unlimited events of up to 1,000 attendees with no restrictions on the number or location of events. This would allow multiple events on the same day at numerous building venues and virtually anywhere on the golf course.
  • If the Resort Development Application is granted, there will be two designated concert venues (one with a guest capacity of 5,000 and one with a capacity of 1,000), seven additional event venues with guest capacities ranging from 469 to over 1,000.
  • The proposed Resort would have seven restaurants and catering facilities and six bars and lounges.  Even without any events, the resort has a guest capacity of over 4,000. See the “Hospitality Only Scenario” column in this detailed Visitor Capacity Analysis. The total visitor capacity would be over 13,000, including lodging and hospitality guests, three events at three different venues, and employees.  This capacity does not include intra-day turnover of guests at the thirteen hospitality facilities, so the visitor load could be much higher.
  • Avila has serious traffic congestion with around 12,000 visitors on non-event summer weekends.  Adding 11,000 -13,000 more on event weekends is not feasible.  This is because Avila has very limited parking and a single 3-mile long dead-end access road.  The lack of secondary emergency evacuation routes also creates a dangerous situation in the event of fire, especially since Avila is surrounded by very high risk fire hazard zones per official Cal Fire maps.  
  • Cambria has an evacuation problem similar to Avila.  If Highway 1 is blocked by fire in one direction, there is only one two-lane road to evacuate the entire town.  A recent evacuation analysis by a Cal Poly transportation engineer and a Fire Safe expert showed that it would take about five hours to evacuate the 5,000 cars expected from Cambria.  Avila could easily have that many if the ABR resort is built as planned even if it is not a big beach day!
  • Many SLO County resident have stopped bringing their families to Avila in the summer because of the traffic snarls and fears of drunk drivers and alcohol-fueled violence in the village.  Google “Mr. Rick’s Bar Fight” to see the aftermath of the Tequila Festival held at the event facility.
  • According to the final Avila Circulation Study done for SLO County, Avila traffic “exceeds capacity during peak summer weekends” and “is projected to exceed capacity thresholds during the peak shoulder months.”
  • Even in recent years, the unpermitted events at ABR created so much traffic congestion on weekends that thousands of normal beach-goers have been deterred from enjoying the diverse coastal recreation opportunities on the three-mile-long Avila Coast.  The total number of beach-goers deterred is estimated at 20,000 to 30,000 per year based on SLO County traffic count data.  This is a serious violation of the beach access rights of Californians under the State Constitution, the Coastal Act, and the California Coastal Commission (CCC) rules.
  • SLO County’s coastal zone comprises less than 1/1,000 of the land area in the county and is the only place residents and visitors can engage in coastal-dependent recreation (i.e. something that requires the ocean or beach).   Therefore, it makes sense to give coastal-dependent recreation priority over other land uses.  Californians voted overwhelmingly to enshrine this concept into law when they approved the Coastal Commission over forty years ago.
  • By contrast, there are hundreds of potential event sites in the remaining 3,600 square miles of the county with good freeway access. In addition, evenings on our coast are typically too chilly for outdoor concerts, and a location outside the marine layer (a mile or more inland) is more desirable anyway.  The locations of the County’s three large outdoor event centers attest to that.  The distance from the coast for these venues is:  Vina Robles – 32 miles; Paso Robles Event Center – 29 miles; and Stadium 805 (the newest and largest event venue on the coast in Nipomo) – 12 miles.  These venues have a combined capacity of over 32,000.
  • The proposed resort development is immediately adjacent to the beach and SLO Creek Estuary and may have serious environmental impacts on beach, bluff, aquatic, and marine habitats. 

List of Hospitality and Event Facilities (Per 2020 Permit Application)

Nine Event Venues and Capacities

  • Cove Event Site (5,000) – lawn amphitheater surrounded by hospitality facilities with private concert viewing spaces for premium ticket holders and VIP guests
  • Driving Range (5,000) – 135,000 sq. ft. lawn space with 2-level tee decks for stage, adjacent cafe, and snack bar
  • Hospitality Center (1,050) –restaurant, dining terrace, bar, decks by 2 pools
  • Outdoor Pavilion (1,000) – hillside amphitheater with permanent covered stage
  • Lodge (894) – terrace deck, bar, cafe, lounge, lobby, pool decks
  • Beach Club (874) – 2 catering kitchens, meeting rooms, banquet room, wine cellar, concert viewing decks
  • Lake Pavilion (750) – catering kitchen, indoor event space, lakeside decks
  • Event Barn (600) – catering kitchen, indoor event space, deck
  • Spa Facility (469) – roof deck with view of Cove and Outdoor Pavilion concert venues

Seven Restaurants and Catering Kitchens

  • Hospitality Center – restaurant, dining terrace
  • Beach club – 2 catering kitchens with multiple event spaces and wine cellar
  • The Lodge – café
  • Recreation Center – Snack bar
  • Pro shop – café
  • Lake Pavilion – catering kitchen and indoor event space

Six Bars and Lounges

  • Hospitality Center – bar
  • Beach club – bar, lounge
  • The Spa – lounge
  • The Lodge – lounge, bar