Planning Hot Topics

Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) Project at 1290 Embarcadero  

Vistra Energy Corp. which owns the 95-acre Morro Bay Power Plant property has submitted to the City an application for coastal development permit and conditional use permit approval for a 600MW Battery Energy Storage System project on a portion of the former Morro Bay Power Plant. The project is proposed at the location of the former tank farm site which is north-northwest of the existing Power Plant building. 

The overall project has three main components which include construction of the BESS project, demolition and removal of the existing powerplant building and 3 stacks, and adoption of a Master Plan that would change the land use description of the BESS site from Visitor Serving Commercial to General (Light) Industrial.  Specifically, the BESS project would include 3 enclosed buildings of approximately 91,000sf, 60 power conversion systems (PCS) surrounding each building to convert power, three substations with transformers, interconnection to the existing PG&E switchyard (east of the power plant building), and associated facilities. The BESS project would consist of batteries capable of storing 600 megawatts (MW) of electric energy and discharging this electricity to the grid for a minimum of four hours.

The project application and plans are currently being evaluated by City staff and the environmental review process is currently underway. Interested individuals can find more information about the project on the Department's Current Planning Projects page.

Major Vegetation Guidelines - Tree Removal, Replacement, and Protection Guidelines
The City’s adopted Major Vegetation Guidelines prohibit removal of major vegetation during bird nesting season. Annually bird nesting season runs from February 1st through June 30th where tree removal is not allowed unless imminent danger is present.

These guidelines also establish the definition of major vegetation, when a permit is required, and when replacement of vegetation is required. Generally speaking a permit is not required for the removal of less than 3 (or 2 total) trees in any twelve-month period for single-family residential homes and is only allowed during non-bird nesting season. During bird-nesting season, trees can be allowed to be removed if trees are diseased, damaged, and/or aged and pose an imminent danger to persons and/or property upon City review of an arborist report attesting to the need.  For more information on when a coastal development permit is required and other requirements, please view the guidelines here.

General Plan / Local Coastal Program (LCP) and Zoning Code Update 

The General Plan/LCP Update project, also known as Plan Morro Bay includes the update of the City's General Plan, LCP Coastal Land Use Plan and comprehensive update to the City's Zoning Code. The City Council adopted the updated General Plan and LCP Coastal Land Use Plan in May 2021 followed by certification of the LCP by the Coastal Commission in August 2021. The Zoning Code was adopted by City Council on November 22, 2022, which is now currently awaiting certification by the Coastal Commission which is anticipated in Spring 2023.

For complete information on Plan Morro Bay visit The Plan Morro Bay website includes the adopted and certified General Plan/LCP along with the draft Zoning Code map, and adopted Zoning Code.  In addition, the Final Environmental Impact Report which includes the Responses to Comments and Appendices and technical studies are also available on the Plan Morro Bay website.

Housing Element Update 2020-2028 

On August 25, 2020, The City Council adopted the 2020-2028 Housing Element. The Housing Elemenionof the seven State-mandateelements of the City’s General PlanThe Housing Element serveas a tool to review past performance anmake policy anprogram changetprovide more opportunities to achieve thhousing needof the community and addresses the City’s ability to meet the regionahousing needadeterminebthe State of California

For more information, visit our Housing Element website at or contact Nancy Hubbard in the Planning Division at or at 805-772-6211. 

Commercial Cannabis Operations Permits

The City has issued the following commercial cannabis operation permits for the below two businesses.  The permits are linked below:
Perfect Union, 1000 Quintana Road, Permit #CCO-003

Natural Healing Center, 495 Morro Bay Blvd, Permit #CCO-007

Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME, and ESG Programs

Morro Bay is a participating member of the Urban County Consortium which is comprised of the County of San Luis Obispo and the cities of Morro Bay, Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo. The Urban County is an entitlement county which receives annual, formula-based grants of CDBG, HOME and ESG funds directly from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Applications for community development activities are solicited annually every fall with public participation workshops and funding recommendations forwarded by the City Council to the County Board of Supervisors every winter. 

For guidelines and regulations, visit SLO County Planning. For more information, contact Cindy Jacinth, Senior Planner, at 805-772-6577.