Avila Beach Life • August 2022

Page 1



Summer in

Avila Beach

Rolls On Avila Beach Foundation News & Views pg 3










2 | Avila Beach Life — AUGUST 2022

Making Communities Better Through Print™


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A V I L A B E A C H L I F E N E W S . C O M


Hayley & Nicholas Mattson editor@13starsmedia.com

ver the last month, we enjoyed some of the fantastic events in July, starting with the 4th of July annual Cayucos Hometown Parade and Sandcastle contest; the streets were filled, and smiles were on every face. And even though the evening was chilly and the fog rolled in, the fireworks finished off a wonderful day full of love for our country and independence. We were sorry to miss the Annual Avila Beach Pancake Breakfast and Dog Parade this year, but we heard it was a huge success! See Mary’s column on page 4; she tells us all about it and who the winners were. Circus Vargas was back in town, which has become a family tradition to attend every year. If you have not attended one of their shows, I encourage you to do so when they return; it is sure to be an excellent time for the entire family and just gets better every time we go. Another community and family favorite is the California Mid-State Fair; what I love the most about the Fair is watching it all come together. The amount of people, time, and effort that goes into producing the Fair for the County each year is quite impressive. A terrific job to everyone involved, dedicating their time and effort to bring us “The Biggest Little Fair Anywhere.” A true staple of what our community is all about. If we have learned anything over the last few years, it is that home matters and nurturing the community that surrounds our homes. Over the years, we have volunteered our time and effort to multiple nonprofit and school event committees and sat on Boards for the Chamber and other nonprofits because we believe that is where the real change happens. Many will say that the heart of the community lies in the hands of the selfless volunteers that spend their time unpaid putting on the much-loved events our communities thrive and depend on. These committees do not happen by chance, and for most of them, they are a group of individuals who love where they live, believe in our history and tradition, and value what we have here. For that, I will be forever grateful to everyone who showed up before me and taught me to do the same — give of my time, invest in our community, and teach my children to do the same. In turn, we will create a life well-loved and one we can pass on for generations. “The purpose of life is not to be happy, but to matter – to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you have lived at all.” Leo Rosten


Summer in Avila Beach Rolls On

Rick Cohen

avila beach foundation


reetings, fellow Avilones. Summer in Avila Beach rolls on as usual, even as turmoil both home and abroad dominates the conversation and lives of many. Gasoline prices remain historically high, inflation is still not under control, mass shootings pepper the headlines, Russia is still the bully, politics could hardly get any worse, COVID just won’t go away, and airline travel has become a joke. Dang, it’s difficult to find the proverbial silver lining, isn’t it? Yet, we must carry on with our lives and do the best we can. One item of particular interest

to our community is the recent discourse about the possibility of Diablo Canyon extending its permit to operate in spite of current decommissioning plans. PG&E, over the past couple of years, has made clear their goals for closing down operations, but government leaders are now seeking a reversal over fears that without Diablo Canyon, there will not be sufficient electricity produced by alternate sources to meet the needs of our state. As you might suspect, anti-nuclear environmental groups are firmly against the continuation of the plant, so things will get interesting as this plays out. The ramifications of closing Diablo Canyon are many, including the loss of a valuable tax base that supports the local economy and a large employee base that provides financial aid and volunteers to numerous nonprofits, including several in Avila Beach. Stay tuned for more information from local news sources. Next up, I am pleased to report that the “Foundation” is gearing up for what will be our

third Avila Beach History event. This is something that was originally on the planning docket for 2020, but the pandemic came for a visit, thus halting progress. Our event planning committee is meeting this summer to bounce around some ideas for this third iteration. For longtime locals and “newbies” alike, there seems to be no shortage of interest in the history of our beachfront town. We have some ideas to mull over but would welcome any thoughts YOU readers may have as to the content or topics of the looming gathering. Send your ideas to me at avilafoundation@gmail.com. While participating in the July Avila Valley Advisory Council Zoom meeting, I was again reminded of the valuable information shared about events, activities, services, and policies related to life in Avila Beach. For those of you interested in staying abreast of what’s going on, I encourage you to visit the websites of: the Avila Valley Advisory Council (avac-avila. org) to access meeting minutes to view reports from county

agencies and Avila neighborhoods; Port San Luis Harbor District (portsanluis.com) to learn about what’s happening at the beach and piers; Pacific Gas and Electric Company (pge. com) to gain valuable information about community wildfire safety programs, public safety power shutoffs, etc. Also, be reminded that SLO County District 3 Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg sets up shop at the Avila Beach Community Center on the third Thursday of each month from 1 to 3 p.m. You are welcome to stop by and share your concerns about current matters with her. Have you read about the SLO County Board of Supervisors’ recent decision to provide generous compensation increases to staff in all county departments? Evidently, many employees have left the area for greater pay and greener pastures, resulting in considerable vacancies. In the “old days,” the county was able to offer below industry wages because people were willing to sacrifice some income for qual-

ity of life. Well, it appears those days are gone. According to news sources, these wage increases will cost the county an additional $5 million this fiscal year and almost $10 million the following year. Phew – that’s a lot of money. But let’s face it, with exploding home prices and rents, how else can people afford to live here? Have you seen real estate listings in Avila Beach/Valley? If you can spare a few million dollars, you might even get an ocean view. And when it comes to other high prices, I had to shake my head at a recent television commercial advertising a new Jeep Grand Wagoneer for sale with a sticker price starting at $91,000. Yes, that’s right! $91,000 before extra features! Heck, the first house my parents purchased cost only $11,000. Of course, that was in 1954, but still, $91,000+ for a Jeep SUV? Oh well, that’s it for this month. Let’s all hang in there. Better times will surely visit us before too long, but please don’t hold me to that prediction. See you at the beach!

Ugly Statement Time The first half of 2022 was one of the worst first halves in history when one combines both the stock and bond markets.* The major stock indexes were down about 20% or more and bond indexes were down by over 10%.^ Passive index investing did not work. People have become complacent and forgotten what it means to be in a long bear market. For the past 10 years it seems like every downturn was quick and rebounds were automatic. Just buy and hold or buy the dip and things were great. Now there is a real risk of a long term slog that slowly grinds away at one’s assets. When one loses 25%, one has to make 33% to get back to even. If one is taking a 5% draw, it takes about a 42% gain to recover losses. If your time horizon isn’t infinite, then those types of losses may be devastating. Maybe it’s time to figure out another way to de-risk your portfolio and possibly increase your income so you can enjoy your life now. To learn more, please visit our website and/or call for a time to review your situation (no obligation or fee). *Source: Sentiment Trader ^Source: Morningstar Direct

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4 | Avila Beach Life — AUGUST 2022

Making Communities Better Through Print™

A View From the Beach

Mary Foppiano

Avila Beach Civic Association


i All – Talk about a hard way to live by the beach… this past month, our home had to be tented for termites. I had to do this twice when I lived in Redondo Beach, and it wasn’t that bad compared to this time in Avila Beach. You never know how much you have accumulated until you have to go through your refrigerator, freezers, cupboards, medicine cabinets, and anything else that you ingest or your dogs chew on…and, of course, you always miss some things like gum, tea bags, salt shakers, etc., no matter how careful you think you are. Then you need to find a place to stay with two active dogs

and come home two days later to undo what you just packed. It was like moving into a new home by the time you go through all the crates you backed. The one saving grace was wonderful next-door neighbors who let you move everything into their garage and freezer. Should you need to embark on this endeavor, I would be happy to go over the dos and don’ts and how to make it fun. After all, what could be more fun than finding boxes in the back of your pantry that expired in 2015! What a wonderful way to kick off this year’s 4th of July holiday is with our annual Pancake Breakfast and Doggie Parade. The breakfast was thoroughly enjoyed by community members and visitors, especially the fresh strawberries donated by Okui’s Strawberry Stand. Volunteers for the festivities were Raul Cavazos, Sylvia Remmenga, Mary Matakovich, John Janowicz, Allie Thornton, Ethan Ferral, Sandy Smith, Tory Killian, Alan Reed, Mike Hoffman, Tom Payne, Gary and Aaron Hamel, Sandy and Deborah Keller, Vicki Book, Cindy Baker Kobliska, and Cheryl

Best in Show: Anna and Grace O’Malley with Peanut and Poppy with Leo DeLuca. Contributed Photo

Stepaniak. Following the breakfast, was our family fun Doggie Parade that had 124 entrants, our largest parade to date. Our wonderful judges were Steve Kobliska, Vicki Johnson, Aimee Crispen, dog groomer extraordinaire, and Kat Yeung, Cuesta Emeritus yoga teacher at the Community Center. Petco Arroyo Grande once again donated yummy dog treat bags to all our puppies. Our Grand Marshall was Officer Stephanie Pipan and her partner,

Zeus, from Cal Poly. The winners of our Costume Contest were: • Best Costume: Michelle Smith with Scarlett and Paisley • Best Dog/Owner Look Alike: Henri Ramberg with Sally • Best Holiday Look: Lucy and Amelia Vohra with Winnie • Funniest Costume: Stephanie Baird with Mack • Best in Show: Anna and Grace O’Malley with Peanut and Poppy with Leo DeLuca The winner of the terrific doggie

treat basket donated by Karen Blue was Susan Cane with Enzo and Trixie. Additional doggie treats were donated in memory of Willie Chambers. Upcoming events include our annual Avila Apple Festival, which will be held on Saturday, Sept. 24, from 3-5 p.m. in our Avila Beach Community Center Healing Garden. There will be wine and beer, and cider tastings, small bites, entertainment, and a silent auction. If you want to purchase your tickets, donate a silent auction item, or just get involved in our fundraiser to support the Community Center and our programs, contact us at (805) 627-1997, avilabeachcc@ gmail.com, or avilabeachcc.com. Another fun event is the Family Movie Night Under the Stars at the Central Coast Aquarium on Saturday, Aug. 6, with doors opening at 7:45 p.m. Tickets are $7/adult and $5/child 12 and under. They have a concession stand on site and suggest you bring low-back chairs and blankets. For more information, contact them at (805) 457-5357 or centralcoastaquarium.com.


Patrica Martin By MARY FOPPIANO For Avila Beach Life


atricia Martin grew up in downtown San Luis Obispo and raised her children in the Squire Canyon area of Avila Beach for almost 20 years. She is an artist with an MFA in Fiber Art. She teaches weaving in her private studio (website: patriciamartinartis. com). She taught art/fiber skills to elementary school-age children from kindergarten through middle school and to adults. As a frequent walker on our beach, the I Must Be a Mermaid Community Project 2022 speaks to her concerns about keeping the beauty of our coastline and marine life free of plastics for all who enjoy our beach, including her new grandchild. Each year, 11 million pieces of plastic make their way into our oceans. Avila Beach and the I Must Be a Mermaid Community Project 2022 showcases and removes some of the plastic children’s toys left behind on our beach each week through the project. Starting the week before Memorial Day and ending the week of Labor Day, mermaid purses are filled with broken plastic children’s toys that have been discarded on the beach. Mermaid purses are a nickname for a swell shark egg sack, but as a mermaid’s purse, they start the conversation about how what we leave behind affects the ocean and our beaches through conversation

and community actions. Each week at Avila Beach Farmers Market (Fridays from 4 to 8 p.m.), the community is invited to make a mermaid purse by embellishing a small jute bag, walk along the beach, fill the purse, and hang it on the grid at the corner of San Francisco and the promenade (no fee). Participants have the choice of displaying the mermaid purse or taking their mermaid purse to talk to others in their community. With parental approval, a photograph of the maker and mermaid purse can be posted on Instagram, using #I.must. be.a.mermaid_avilabeach. I Must Be a Mermaid Community Project emphasizes “material ecology” and how what we use at the beach affects our oceans. A “zine” exchange about mermaids, oceans, plastics, and Avila Beach in comic book style is also planned. The first exchange will be July 1 (August 5, September 2) during Avila Beach Farmers Market. Anyone of any age, with any drawing ability, may participate in the exchange, and it is free. You draw, color, and/

or design an 8-page comic book, make 10 copies of it, and bring it with you. There is a template available, or you can make your own. At the exchange, you will meet with others who draw, design, and want to tell a story about mermaids, oceans, plastic, and Avila Beach and trade these original “zines.” The last element of I Must Be a Mermaid Community Project is the creation of a sculpture from the children’s toys collected through this project. The design and size of the sculpture will depend on the volume of material collected as well as the color and type of toys available to be used. It will, however, reflect


Jake is the Pet of the Month!



ake joined Larry and Cindy Jett, his forever family, about four months ago. They had the good fortune and blessing of finding Jake at the Monterey Bay Lab Rescue, who were tremendously helpful in helping them find their dog. He is a smart, delightful, playful, protective, all-boy adolescent and a perfect match for their family! Jake is a lab of many gifts, but retrieving is not one of them. If they throw a ball and ask Jake to “Get It!” he will gaze at them with his soulful eyes as if to say, “What’s in it for me?” Little fetching results, but his personality is a great substitute. He loves to travel and has accompanied them to the Grand Canyon, Sedona, and Zion National Park. More adventures are ahead for their great companion as he has beautifully assimilated into their family. They are heartily grateful for this robust, zestfully sweet chocolate lab named Jake!


Please send your pictures and a short paragraph about your pet to avilabeachcc@gmail.com Thanks, and introduce us to your furry friend next month!

how Avila Beach is in the forefront of stewardship of our oceans. I Must Be a Mermaid Community Project will be an initial point along our California beaches for the recognition and appreciation of our environment. The project opens conversations for future programs benefiting both wildlife and our coastline. I Must Be a Mermaid Community Project is a program to promote public awareness of our beach and the ocean through a community Participation art installation. This project is made possible with a grant from the Avila Beach Community Foundation with, a generous donation the Rossi Foundation and Mike and Shirley Ritter. Contact Patricia Martin for more information at: patwovenm@ gmail.com, (805)441-8257, or #i.must. be.a.mermaid_avilabeach.

AUGUST 2022 — Avila Beach Life | 5

Point San Luis in the Early 1960s: Memories of a Coast Guard Wife

kathy mastako


The children living at the Point San Luis Light Station, January 1962: L-R: Karin Dewey, Alan Doell, Calleen Settle, Denise Karp, Sherill Settle, Ellen Doell. Standing: Lorrie Dewey. Photo courtesy of Freeda Settle.

Going away dinner for the Settle family, January 1962. L-R: Ellen Doell, Bob Doell, Sandy Doell holding Alan Doell, Gloria and Lorrie Dewey, Rodger Dewey holding baby Karin Dewey, Denise Karp, Dona Karp, Allan Karp, Freeda Settle, Sherill Settle. Photo courtesy of Freeda Settle.

Richard, Calleen, and Sherill Settle, 1961. Photo courtesy of Freeda Settle.

Board Of Directors Point San Luis Lighthouse Keeper

hat was life like at the lighthouse for the wives of the Coast Guard members stationed there? In the end, it likely depends on who you ask and, too, whether or not the road to the lighthouse had yet been laid. For some, it was paradise; for others, a prison. For Freeda Settle, it was the latter. “It was almost like being in jail.” Freeda lived at the light station before the advent of the road. She and her husband Richard F. “Rich” Settle were stationed at Point San Luis from October 1960 until January 1962. It wasn’t until later in 1962 that the Coast Guard began negotiations with the surrounding landowners for a right-of-way, allowing a road to be built from Port San Luis to the light station that would pass through their properties. The road wasn’t finished until 1964. Rich graduated from Central Union High School in Fresno in 1956 and joined the Coast Guard right away. Rich and Freeda were high school sweethearts; they married in 1957 when Freeda was just 18. Three weeks after their marriage, Rich was assigned to isolated duty in Alaska and then, a year later, to ship duty on a Coast Guard cutter — first out of Long Beach and later out of San Diego. Four months after their first child was born, they were transferred to the Point Arguello light station, near the city of Lompoc and Vandenberg Air Force Base. They were there about nine months when, bowing to his parents’ pressure to come home, Rich left the Coast Guard, and the couple returned to Fresno. But Rich had no luck finding work in Fresno, so he re-enlisted. Because he’d had light station duty before, the Coast Guard wanted to send him to another lighthouse. But Freeda balked. At Point Arguello, they had lived in one of the houses dating back to the early 1900s. “The windows were so bleached by the sun that they were white, and there were holes in the walls,” she recalled. So Rich told the Coast Guard his wife wouldn’t live at another light station. (At the time, lighthouses were family stations; you had to be married to be assigned there, and wives had to accompany their husbands.) As it happened, the Coast Guard was finishing the construction of a new duplex at Point San Luis at the time, having torn down the original Victorian duplex dating back to 1890. As an incentive for Freeda to accept lighthouse duty, Rich was offered Point San Luis and quarters in the new duplex. Freeda allowed herself to be persuaded. The couple lived in the right side of the new duplex with their 16-month-old daughter Sherill; officer-in-charge Rodger Dewey and his family lived in the left side. Down the hill, in the cinderblock duplex built by the Coast Guard in 1948, were two other Coast Guardsmen, Allan Karp and Bob Doell, and their families: No one lived in the old Keeper’s house. “It was used only for storage. Mice had eaten away at the floorboards. You were told it was not safe. We kind of ignored it. There was a lot of vegetation that grew around it. I never went in,” Freeda said.

Freeda was delighted with the accommodations at Point San Luis: There was an electric stove, washer, and dryer — really, really nice. I was thrilled with it. All the furniture was brand new. There were two bathrooms, and each side of the duplex had its own laundry room. The families in the little duplex down the hill had to share a washer and dryer not near as nice as ours. In June 1961, Freeda delivered their second child, Calleen. And the other Coast Guard families at Point San Luis were having babies, too. All the children were quite young. “If your child was getting close to school age, they moved you out,” Freeda said. Freeda recalled: We would go to the commissary at Vandenberg Air Force Base and fill our trunks with two weeks’ worth of food for two families. Then we would park our car on the third pier [Harford pier] and climb down a ladder into a twenty-foot Coast Guard boat with groceries and babies in tow. Load up the little boat, go around the point to the Coast Guard dock below the light station, get hoisted twenty feet in the air, and dropped on the dock. Then we’d load the groceries into the Coast Guard Jeep or — when the Jeep broke down — into a wheelbarrow and bring them up the hill. The wives and babies walked up the hill because the groceries took up all the room. When the tide was out or if the boat couldn’t be used, they walked the trail: It was a little path about 18-20 inches wide. You got on it at the foot of the pier. We did that if we dared to stay out after dark and wanted to get home or if the boat wouldn’t come. The Coast Guard boat couldn’t be taken out at night because Dewey refused to put running lights on it. I walked the trail about half a dozen times. The men walked it a lot. They were always finding an excuse to go into Avila to get the mail. There was a tiny grocery store there and one bar. While other Coast Guard wives I’ve spoken with remember their lives at Point San Luis with fondness, Freeda does not: Couldn’t do this, couldn’t do that. Couldn’t go anywhere at night, couldn’t go to a movie because you couldn’t get back home. Monthly inspections. And that foghorn day and night. I just couldn’t take it any longer. If you wanted to move to another station without the Coast Guard ordering it, you had to pay your own way. And so we did. The Settle family moved up to a Coast Guard station in Port Angeles, Washington, in January 1962. The other families at the station — the Deweys, Doells, and Karps — threw them a going-away dinner, an evening captured in a photograph that is, unfortunately, badly damaged by time. After his Coast Guard service ended, Rich Settle attended Southwestern Bible College in Phoenix, Arizona, and was ordained a Baptist minister in 1969. Rev. Settle died in 2003. Freeda lives in Arkansas. The author wishes to thank Calleen Settle Spigner for her help in obtaining these photographs from her mother.

6 | Avila Beach Life — AUGUST 2022

Making Communities Better Through Print™


Shake, Rattle, and Slither By BETTY HARTIG For Avila Beach Life


here are numerous hiking and walking paths within San Luis Obispo County, including Avila’s Bob Jones Pathway. Hiking a trail is good for the mind and body. Scientific research suggests an outdoor trek is an excellent form of exercise that can have a positive effect on a person’s total well-being. Walking improves fitness, increases your heart rate, and provides a mental boost. It is important, however, to stay alert to your surroundings during a walk or hike, listen to sounds and look around the environment, stay on hiking trails, and avoid trailblazing. A loud hiss, a shake of a rattle, and a chilling slither is far from what is expected while walking, but the possibility is there. Rattlesnakes thrive in our area and can be frequently spotted on hiking and biking byways. Undoubtedly the most feared limbless reptile in our area is the rattlesnake. The sound of its rattle can make one’s knees shake. California is home to seven species of

rattlesnakes. As mentioned in the previous month’s article, snakes serve a good purpose, and that includes rattlesnakes. Rodents are part of their diet; therefore, rattlesnakes help control that population. However, this reptile requires a greater degree of caution; it is venomous. The serpent’s diamond-shaped skin pattern often blends in with the environment, making it difficult to spot. Most snakes possess the ability to bite, but a venomous snake delivers venom through fangs, which are connected to venom glands. When the snake bites, the glands contract and squeeze out venom through the ducts and into the fangs. It is wise never to approach or touch a snake; give them plenty of space. In general, snakes are wary of humans. Practicing safety measures and properly identifying a rattlesnake can help avoid becoming a victim of a dangerous snake bite. There are significant differences between a pit-viper and a non-venomous snake. Rattlesnakes have a triangular head, whereas non-venomous snakes have a rounded head. Rattlesnake’s pupils are ellip-

Park Ranger Demii Grant holds a live rattlesnake in a study tube. Contributed Photo

tical. Non-venomous snakes have round eye pupils. Rattlers have two large fangs and small hooked teeth, and, of course, a distinctive rattle at the end of its tail. That rattle lets intruders know they are too close; it is a warning sound. Do not assume a snake with no rattles is not a rattlesnake. The rattle may have broken off.

Interestingly, a new segment of the snake’s rattle grows when it sheds its skin. Keep in mind snakes can shed several times a year; consequently, counting rattles is not a way to guess the snake’s age. The famous rattle sound comes from the noise created when hollow and bony doughnut-like

segments bang together. A rattlesnake can coil and strike over a distance equal to half its length. Usually, vipers are not prone to strike. Snakes can bite or strike from any position; coiling does increase the strike distance, although it is not necessary. A bite is a final effort to avoid harm. Do not provoke any snake, respectfully leave them alone, provide space and time to move away. A dead or beheaded rattlesnake can still inject venom when touched. Not commonly known, yet especially important to be aware of. Never pick up a dead rattlesnake! Another warning is that rattlesnakes can bite more than once. Note that rattlesnakes are born with functioning fangs and venom and can kill prey at birth. An additional, unfamiliar fact is rattlesnakes are good swimmers. The snake’s body is well tailored for propelling through water. A sticklike object in the water could very well be a rattlesnake; take heed. Rattlesnakes prefer to remain hidden; nonetheless, they like to bask in the sun. Rattlers can be found anywhere in the late spring

and summer, often hidden in rock crevices, under logs, or in heavy underbrush. While hiking, be mindful of where you place your hands and feet. Check out areas before you proceed. Avoid tall grassy locales and thickets where snakes may hide during the day. Keep children close by. Be mindful of your four-legged friends too. Make sure dogs remain leashed. Dogs allowed to sniff and explore along a trail can easily encounter a rattlesnake. If a rattlesnake bites you, try to stay calm to help slow the spread of venom. Call 911. Keep the bite below the heart if possible. Immediately transport safely to the nearest medical facility. The purpose of the rattlesnake topic is not to cause unnecessary fear; it is to inform readers of the diverse wildlife environment and enable safe, rewarding outdoor adventures. We are fortunate to be able to have beautiful pathways within the County to explore; just do so smartly. The abundant trails are ours to enjoy. Lace up those hiking shoes and hit the trails for a friendly and rewarding foot journey.


CALENDAR of EVENTS *Due to COVID-19 all events are tentative and dates are subject to change. Please call ahead or check online for more details.



6 - AUG 26 FRI



8:30am – 1:30pm Week-long day camps run Monday through Friday each week starting June 6; visit ampsurf.org/summer-camps






13 & AUG 27 SAT





5:30 – 7:30pm Band Line Up Includes: Aug. 5: Moonshiner Collective Aug. 12: Carbon City Lights Aug. 19: The Tipsy Gypsies Aug. 26: Truth About Seafood

For times and to purchase tickets visit pointsanluislighthouse.org Band Line Up Includes: Aug. 13: Barflyz (w/Kenny Lee Lewis) Aug. 27: Mother Corn Shuckers

4 - AUG 6 SAT



12 -SEP 4 SUN



29 - AUG14 FRI







Times @bluesbaseball.com Check out the schedule and purchase tickets to the next Slo Blues Baseball State Championship game at bluesbaseball.com

7 – 8pm Morro Bay’s live theater company, is presenting Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” tickets available at bytheseaproductions.org or 805-776-3287

Thurs - Sat: 7pm Sat & Sun: 2pm San Luis Obispo Repertory Theater Presents Steel Magnolias, a live theatre production. Cost $20 - $38. For more info visit slorep.org





Arroyo Grande

San Luis Obispo

Avila Beach

Arroyo Grande





8:30 - 11am

6 - 9pm

4 - 8pm

12 - 2pm

AUGUST 2022 — Avila Beach Life | 7

GRAPEVINE “A nuclear power plant is infinitely safer than eating because 300 people choke to death on food every year”

John Salisbury



NUCLEAR ENERGY features that cost half the price and time to get into action. They produce, on average less than a third of a traditional plant, but with the modular design can be mass produced. SMRs can use passive safety features like placements underground or in a pool of water which makes them much cheaper to build. There are also projects for modular reactors with new technologies with novel fuels or cooling systems using salt or gas instead of water. These new designs hope to reduce accidents and more flexibility for intermittent power. New nuclear reactors have been designed to use fuel that has been designed to cut storage of dangerous waste from 80,000 years down to 300 years of being hazardous by using lower atomic levels in the Thorium-Uranium fuel cycle in some new reactors, and the new fast reactors continuously burn off 99 percent of long-lived actinides that are the big hazard for long-term disposal. That should help seal the deal because one of the biggest worries with nuclear plants is what to do with hazardous waste. Newer techniques in time may reduce the years to hold waste even more. China already has a 200 HW high-temperature gas-cooled reactor in Shandong that will be producing electricity at the end of the year. Two years ago, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Demonstration Program co-founded two advanced nuclear reaction demonstration plants that are expected to be completed in five years. Terra Power and GE-Hitachi are producing a 345 MW sodium (salt) cooled fast reactor with integrated storage in a retiring coal plant in Wyoming. The other plant in Washingon by X-Energy is making four 80 MW helium gas-cooled reactors with special uranium pebbles for fuel. It could also be used to make hydrogen and salinate water. The passed 1.2 trillion dollar infrastructure bill is providing $2.5 billion for the two projects. The obvious beauty of these two projects is that they are not needing to be sitting at the coast or a river somewhere but can be placed anywhere, including shut down coal and nuclear plants with their established transmission lines. Robert Hargraves in WSJ writes that nuclear power could heat your home. The turbines convert about a third of the steam heat into electricity. The other two-thirds is wasted and usually returned to the ocean or river, which I think is one of the complaints about Diablo Canyon making the lagoon too hot for some local species but inviting to others that like warmer water. I don’t see, for such a small area, that being a big deal and something neat to study, like fringes of cohabitation considering global warming. Through cogeneration, rejected heat can provide heat to buildings with pipes circulating hot water and steam into district heating systems which now get their heat source from burning fossil fuels. Why not use the excess heat as a cheap byproduct, since heating oil prices have doubled in New England from $3 a gallon to possibly $6 a gallon this winter the way things are going? New York City operates the world’s largest district heating system with buildings heated with 80 percent steam and would be a natural spot to scatter some SMRs

around the outskirts of the city. Of course, there would be some kickback, especially from local clueless celebrity Assemblywomen, saying it is ”Frankensteam” like they have mischaracterized GMO foods (a subject I can hardly wait to write about soon). Half of the global energy CO2 emissions and demand are from generating electricity for heating buildings by burning fossil fuels. This type of project could bea game-changer. Maybe we can run a pipe over to us in Avila Valley from Diablo Canyon for a demonstration model for some kind of project needing year-round heat but would be wasted if in our homes with our near-perfect year-round weather. Something to think about. Giulia Petroni in the WSJ writes that nuclear fusion is the atomic reaction that powers the sun and stars, a lesser-known and opposite reaction to nuclear fission, which happens when two light atomic nuclei merge to form a single heavier one. That process releases huge amounts of energy, no carbon emissions, and very limited amounts of radioactivity. The fusion reaction takes place in a state of matter of hot charged gas made of free-moving electrons and ions called plasma and needs a temperature over 100 million degrees Celsius — 100 Celsius is the boiling point at 212 degrees — so that is a lot of heat needed for the nuclei to overcome their mutual electric repulsion and come together and collide. Nuclear fusion has some great things going for it because it is next to impossible to have an accident, there is no long-term waste, and you can’t make a weapon out of it. The problems are it is hard to create fusion systems that generate more energy than it consumes because of the high temperature, density, and pressure challenges needed to trigger the fusion process. There are some fusion projects underway: one in France developing a machine called a tokamak using magnetic fields to squeeze the plasma, in England using powerful pistons to compress the plasma to fusion conditions and some of the features of magnetic confinement fusion, and MIT building a smaller tokamak to demonstrate net energy in a couple of years. Then if all goes well with each of these power plants, they will be producing electricity in the early 2030s. Countries are starting to wake up and realize nuclear is a good way to go as a major part of the renewable energy package. The European Union just voted to include nuclear power and natural gas in its list of approved sustainable power

generation that limits greenhouse emissions. Natural gas produces half of the greenhouse emissions of coal and nuclear doesn’t produce any greenhouse gases. Too bad we can’t take a lesson from the EU after what they are experiencing with Russia’s stranglehold on their energy needs. Why are we putting ourselves in the same situation as Europe with so much capital and emphasis on erratic unsustainable lousy environmental windmills and solar — which have a large place, but we mostly just install them — and a major product reliance on countries that don’t like us and are our major competitors, when we can use our abundant fossil fuels to hold us, and foreign countries, over until we crank up our clean nuclear power and more homegrown green technologies that we will talk about next month? Hopefully, in the meantime, Biden doesn’t issue a slew of new Executive Orders doing just the opposite!

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fter detailing the problems with solar and windmills the last few months in this column as the answers to being the main emphasis for renewable energy, there are better homegrown sustainable ways than solar and windmills; however, they have a place to combat global warming in the pipeline. Sure, some of these only look good in the “test tube,” but many are on their way to major contributors to help solve the problem. First and foremost, nuclear energy is getting a second chance, including our own Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, which opened in 1985 and has continued to provide safe renewable energy and supplies around 9 percent of California’s energy. State, federal, and local politicians are pushing the idea of letting the aging Diablo Canyon plant stay open longer than the planned 2025 closure date. PG&E is expected to apply for part of a $6 billion federal program designed to keep present nuclear power plants from shutting down. Surprisingly, the U.S. Energy Department has agreed to loosen up permitting rules to help PG&E with the significant costs of upgrading and permitting Diablo Canyon to extend its present permit. The change of mind must be coming from electric grid officials who say even with erratic wind and solar added to the mix, the state’s power supply is in a very fragile time, starting with this summer and for years to come. Heck, we have already had four blackouts here in Avila Beach for various reasons. Throw in California’s propensity for continuing droughts; we are losing hundreds of megawatts because there is not enough water in the dams to keep the hydroelectric plants working at top production. It is pretty evident that large nuclear power plants like Diablo Canyon are expensive to build and maintain, have hazardous waste problems, and have experienced long delays in getting permits. The U.S. nuclear industry has several plants on the brink of retiring and is generating less electricity as a whole, but plant operators are optimistic that they will be able over the next three decades to double their nuclear-generated energy production. This is because of a new type of a much smaller and replicable modular nuclear reactor. These Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) can produce a few megawatts up to 500 megawatts (MW) — half of a conventional nuclear plant at 1,000 MW. A short lesson on how nuclear plants create electricity: It is a controlled fission reaction that splits uranium resulting in heating the rods, water flows by the rods directly or indirectly producing steam which drives the turbine that drives the generator to produce electricity which then supplies the electrical grid which supplies electricity to your house where you plug in your coffee maker into the wall socket. The water also cools the reactor, so a lot of water, like an ocean or river, is needed to operate a conventional nuclear reactor. Information from a collaborative article in Wall Street Journal (WSJ), SMRs are simple designs with standard parts and passive

— Dixie Lee Ray, 17th Governor of Washington, 1977-81.




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8 | Avila Beach Life — AUGUST 2022

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