Morro Bay Life • March 2024

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Publisher From the

ay holds a special place in my heart, not only because it marks my birthday but also because it is Nic’s and my fifteenth anniversary together and twelve years of marriage. We have journeyed through this life together, learning invaluable lessons and seizing opportunities fueled by our passions. Among these ventures is our publishing company, which allows us to employ remarkable individuals who share our love for our community. The road has not been easy, but with each passing day, my love for Nic deepens. His (our) greying hair serves as a testament to our shared journey of growing old together, a life I couldn’t have envisioned being any more perfect, even on the hard

Additionally, May holds a special significance as we celebrate Mother’s Day. Among all my accomplishments, being a mother stands as the most important. It’s not just a role; it’s the most profound responsibility I will ever hold. In a world that is often filled with chaos, nurturing children who embody kindness and resilience becomes a beacon of hope. We are fortunate to live in a community we love, yet safeguarding it for the future requires raising conscientious stewards. Being their mom is and

As Mother’s Day approaches, it’s the perfect time to reflect, whether they’re biological mothers, stepmothers, adoptive mothers, or mother figures, their love, guidance, and sacrifices shape us in profound ways. This Mother’s Day, let’s celebrate these remarkable women and show them the

Here are a few ways to appreciate your mom this Mother’s Day:

Express Your Gratitude: Take a moment to express your heartfelt gratitude to your mom. Write her a heartfelt letter expressing what she means to you, recalling cherished memories, and acknowledging the impact she’s

Quality Time Together: Spend quality time with your mom doing activities she enjoys. Whether it’s going for a leisurely walk in the park, cooking her favorite meal together, or simply sitting down for a cup of tea and a meaningful conversation, the gift of your time and presence will

Create a Personalized Gift: Get creative and make a personalized gift for your mom. It could be a handmade card, a photo album filled with treasured memories, a scrapbook documenting special moments, or even a playlist of her favorite songs.

Celebrate Her Passions: Take the time to celebrate your mom’s passions and interests. Whether she loves gardening, painting, cooking, or dancing, encourage her to indulge in activities that bring her joy.

Spread the Love: Encourage your siblings, relatives, and friends to join in the celebration and show appreciation for their moms as well. Whether it’s organizing a virtual gathering, sending thoughtful gifts, or simply reaching out with a heartfelt message, spreading love and appreciation will make Mother’s Day even more special for everyone involved.

To all mothers, on this Mother’s Day, please know that your tireless efforts are deeply valued and appreciated.

We hope you enjoy this month’s issue of Morro Bay Life


Print making communities better
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Celebrate Mother’s

Putting a Spotlight on Businesses

The Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce is putting a spotlight on local businesses! Spotlight Businesses are nominated and selected by fellow business owners in Morro Bay as a standout business with exceptional ownership.

If you know of a business or non-profit that deserves a spotlight, please send your nomination to our Ambassador’s Committee for review by emailing Lynsey Hansen at

Find your shopping ideas by following us on Facebook, Instagram or

For more information contact Lynsey Hansen, Membership Director at

Business spotlights recognize Chamber member businesses that provide a consistent, positive customer experience, are actively engaged in the community and demonstrate resilience during challenging times.

Please help us CONGRATULATE these businesses on their spotlight award by visiting their establishments, purchasing their products or services, and leaving good reviews online.


congratulations Morro Bay Life • May 2024 • 3

Groups close to preserving Alva Paul Canyon

Majority of funds raised for Phase 2 of Toro Coast Preserve (TCP) Project

Local conservation groups are close to raising enough money to buy a large chunk of the old Chevron Estero Marine Terminal property and preserving it for public use into the future.

In what is being called “Phase 2” of the Toro Coast Preserve (TCP) Project, the partners in the fundraising efforts have secured the majority of money needed for the purchase of Chevron’s Alva Paul Canyon, located east of Del Mar Park.

“The 750-acre property will be purchased for $5.5 million,” reads a news release from the Cayucos Land Conservancy (CLC), which is partnering with the Land Conservancy of SLO County and Morro Bay Open Space Alliance. “The partners have conditionally secured $5 million in Coastal Conservancy and Wildlife Conservation Board grants and have begun their efforts to raise $500,000 in required community matching funds.”

Phase 1 of the TCP involved purchasing and preserving some 350 acres of the old terminal prop-

erty, including the Chevron Dog Beach, the area of Morro Strand north of the North Point Natural Area and running past the mouth of Toro Creek. The inland areas included the areas from the southern end of Cayucos to Toro Creek. Also, the county recently bought another sizable chunk of the old terminal property and plans to someday make it into some sort of regional park.

Alva Paul Canyon is drained by Alva Paul Creek, a small waterway that runs down the canyon and along the north side of Del Mar Park. Alva Paul Creek disappears underneath Highway 1, emerges on the other side at Sandalwood Avenue, and empties into the State Park Beach. Though normally an easy-flowing dribble of water, it can with heavy rains run deep and swift. In the March 1995 rainstorm, Alva Paul Creek plugged at Main Street and backed up, creating a 30-foot whirlpool on the street as the runoff slowly sucked down the drainpipe. Island Street, which backs up to the creek opposite the park, has also been flooded when the creek overflows its banks.

Dog Beach, which was purchased from Chevron by the Cayucos Sanitary District as part of its treatment plant project, and then deeded over to the City of Morro Bay, has been pledged to remain an off-leash dog-friendly beach, the only one in SLO County so designated.

of the TCP’s three-phased effort to conserve nearly 2,000 acres of property between and behind Cayucos and Morro Bay,” the CLC news release says. “Phase 1 saw the preservation of about 350 acres of coastal land between the southern boundary of Cayucos and Toro Creek, including the bluff and dog beach.”

Phase 2’s 750-acre Alva Paul Canyon is the southernmost parcel of the Chevron property and runs east from Del Mar Park in Morro Bay. Escrow is expected to close this summer and the canyon is intended to be open to the public, have a constructed multi-purpose trail system and become a key part of a much larger SLO County Park.

Phase 3 won’t happen for some time.

“The final Phase 3 of the Toro Coast project is expected to be completed in 2030-32 and involves the acquisition of the 700 acres between Phases 1 and 2, which includes the Chevron Shore Plant and the ridge above,” the CLC release continues. “After this final acquisition is made, the entire nearly 2,000acre property will become an SLO County Park.”

That shore plant and the hilltop area that used to be an oil storage tank farm have both been subject of environmental cleanups after old oil spills were discovered during the decommissioning process that started shortly after the plant closed in 1999.

from the San Ardo and Oildale oilfields to Bay Area and Southern California refineries for some 70 years, and overall, had a pretty clean record with only one significant oil spill, which occurred on the hilltop tank farm and ran down the hillside. That spill never made it to the ocean.

Another old spill was discovered underneath Highway 1, apparently from leaky loading lines that run under the highway, beach, and seafloor. That was classified as old weathered crude, and deemed not in danger of moving towards the ocean.

And so-called cutter stock, used in San Ardo to loosen the thick crude so it can be pumped out, was discovered at the shore plant. That spill was cleaned up long ago.

So what’s to be done with all this land?

“The conservation partners intend the future park to serve the public by preserving the rural setting of both communities by protecting the spectacular inland views from Highway 1 and the beach,” the news release reads. “The park will also provide public camping, a trail system and safer access to Dog Beach.”

Standard Oil built the marine terminal in 1929 and closed it in 1999.

It should be noted that at this time, there are no concrete plans for future developments on the Toro Coast Preserve. Any future uses of the properties will no doubt be brought to the public for discussion.

“The acquisition of Alva Paul Canyon is Phase 2

Standard Oil, and later Chevron, tankered oil

For more information, visit

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This photo shows 750-acre Alva Paul Canyon, which sits east of Del Mar Park in North Morro Bay and stretches eastward. This map from the Cayucos Land Conservancy website shows the Toro Coast Preserve Project’s phased acquisitions: Phase 1 is in yellow, Phase 2 in orange, and Phase 3 in blue. The green areas are properties Cayucos Land Conservancy has preserved. Photos courtesy Cayucos Land Conservancy
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City seeks DHS grant for firefighters

Fire chief seeking nearly $1 million to hire two full-time firefighters and more expenses

The Morro Bay Fire Department is seeking federal monies to pay for two more firefighters in a program under the Department of Homeland Security.

Fire Chief Daniel McCrain asked the City Council in March for permission to seek nearly $1 million to hire two full-time firefighters and cover their salaries and benefits for the next three years.

McCrain said the grant application seeks “funding under the ‘Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant’ from the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency for the hiring of limited term firefighters. This application would be for two firefighter positions to increase daily staffing to five firefighters.”

The SAFER Grant would pay $158,000 for year one; $165,000 for year two; and $172,000 in year three for one firefighter, and for two it would be between $317,000 and $345,000 annually. The total grant application asks for $994,000 for the three-year grant period.

Also, McCrain said the city doesn’t have to put up any money from its coffers for the grant. The federal and state governments have several grant programs to help out fire departments, especially those in small, rural communities, and from a number of agencies. It’s common for small departments to apply for such grant monies.

“The most well-known grant programs are the Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency (DHS/ FEMA) SAFER and Assistance to Firefighter Grant (AFG). The primary goal of the SAFER Grant is to enhance the safety of the public and firefighters with respect to fire-related hazards. This is done by providing direct financial assistance to eligible fire departments, nonaffiliated emergency medical services organizations, and state fire training academies. This funding is for critically needed resources to equip and train emergency personnel to recognized standards, enhance operations efficiencies, foster interoperability, and support community resilience.”

Morro Bay’s difficulty funding its fire department to appropriate levels isn’t unique.

“This year’s SAFER Grant has set the highest priority to assist departments experiencing staffing levels significantly below the ideal staffing level required to comply with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards 1710 or 1720,” McCrain said. “For this grant

cycle, FEMA has allocated $360 million for this program and anticipates awarding approximately 300 awards.”

According to the fire department’s strategic plan, last updated in 2015, “our community will be best served with two, three-person engine companies. This staffing model would create less dependency for off-duty personnel to respond from home while meeting the need to respond to medical aids with the ability to contain a structure fire in the room of origin. By increasing our daily staffing from four to five personnel on-duty daily we are taking a measured step closer to the optimum level of service outlined in the above-mentioned reports.”

The voters in Morro Bay have twice approved sales taxes — Measures Q in 2006, and E-20 (2020) at 0.5 and 1 percent (1.5 percent total) — mainly to support public safety in the police and fire departments. But the fire chief doesn’t think the city can sustain it.

“While it would be acceptable to request enough personnel to get to the recommended daily staffing level of six Firefighters,” McCrain said, “that large of an increase in personnel would be unsustainable at the termination of the grant period. By taking smaller steps toward that goal, we improve safety and efficiency without creating a situation where we cannot sustain the personnel when funding expires.”

There should eventually be money coming in from a major energy project being sought by power plant owner Vistra that should also mean money for the fire department.

The department is in the process of having a consultant go over the project’s environmental impact report, to come up with a list of needs the fire department and police will need to have in order to cover what is being planned as the largest batter energy storage plant in the world (at 600 megawatts capacity).

There’s a big difference between the ideal staffing under the National Fire Prevention Association standards and Morro Bay’s reality.

17 firefighters if responding with a ladder truck.

“Currently, our fire department operates with 13 full-time operational personnel and runs nearly 2,200 calls annually from one fire station. The average response from Morro Bay Fire is currently four paid firefighters with two on one engine and two on the rescue or second engine.”

In summer, McCrain said the department hires seasonal firefighters “to allow for mutual aid, support bringing our daily staffing to five firefighters during the summer. By adding two SAFER firefighter positions, we would increase our daily staffing to five personnel on-duty year-round and increase to six on-duty during the summer, allowing for two fully staffed apparatus.”

The department used to rely on reserve firefighters, essentially on-call personnel who train and test with the regulars and fill in for vacations, injury, or illness. But the requirements for reserves have been steadily increasing, and the departments had issues with keeping them around for a long time now.

“The reserve firefighter program has been successful for many years in Morro Bay, but we have witnessed a dramatic decline in qualified candidates due to training obligations, state training mandates and the limited availability to respond to incidents off-duty,” McCrain said. “This has been a trend throughout San Luis Obispo County with all fire departments. In fact, Morro Bay’s is one of the last city fire departments in SLO County to still operate a reserve firefighter program.”

Right now, they fill in with off-duty, full-time personnel that respond from home (or wherever they happen to be) when the call goes out.

“With the change of our reliability of reserve firefighters and the limited full-time personnel responding from home, today we must rely on auto aid and mutual aid response from our neighboring communities,” McCrain said.

“Automatic aid requests bring only one fire engine, one ambulance and one chief officer from neighboring agencies for a staffing level of five.”

McCrain said, “NFPA standard 1710 states a department should provide 16 firefighters on scene within eight minutes 90 percent of the time for a fire in a single-family residence with the first engine arriving on scene within 4 minutes, or

If the city is successful with its grant application, the money would be awarded from June to September.

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Friends buy beach rescue vehicle

Polaris is latest equipment the Friends Group has funded for the Harbor Department and Patrol

This summer, Morro Bay’s already busy beach lifeguards will have a new emergency vehicle to get around with on the sand.

The Friends of the Morro Bay Harbor Department recently completed a fundraising project to buy a new Polaris UTV (Utility Task Vehicle), more commonly called a 4-wheeler, for easier access to the beach.

“This vehicle will make it much easier to navigate on the beach,” Harbor Director Ted Schiafone told Morro Bay Life, “as well as the ability to get around traffic on the Embarcadero if needed for an emergency.”

The Polaris is the latest of a number of essential equipment for which the Friends Group has raised money in support of the Harbor Department and the Harbor Patrol. Others have included a new sand wheelchair, new night vision equipment for nighttime rescues on the water, and more.

Last year’s massive storms that rolled through here revealed the need for a better way to get rescuers down to the beach.

“If you recall, after the high surf storms in late December, all roadway accesses to our beaches were blocked by debris,” Schiafone said. “Our rescue trucks could not have been able to get onto the beach had there been need for a rescue. However, the UTV would have easily navigated those conditions.”

The fundraiser had a goal of $40,000 and they reached it easy enough. The new Polaris, which has already been ordered and is expected to arrive in town this month, has some special

equipment included in the package.

Baseline cost for a Polaris Ranger Crew XP 1000 — Desert Sand vehicle is $22,000. The Harbor Department’s model has extras included, like tip-out glass windshield, full-sized roof, mudguards, roof rack, and upgraded body panes, among others. Schiafone said they would need more equipment for it to be fully functional for their needs.

“While this UTV is custom ordered with many important off-road features, there are some additional custom items that need to be added so that it can handle beach emergencies and rescues, such as the ability to carry some medical equipment and transport a person on a backboard,” he said. “Those items will be added after we receive the UTV.”

Total cost for the one the city ordered is $35,888. These vehicles take some getting used to in order for the city’s emergency crews to be safe on them.

And just as with the PWCs (Personal Water Crafts), used to make rescues in the surf, the Fire Department will be involved too.

“Our Harbor Patrol officers and lifeguards will go through training with our Fire Department on all the necessary safety and protocols for emergency operations,” Schiafone said.

The norm has always been for the Harbor Department to transport fire paramedics to the scene of an emergency, be it a drowning on Morro Strand or an overturned boat on the Sandspit.

The two departments conduct joint training for such emergencies, and sometimes include other agencies like State Parks Rangers, Highway Patrol (helicopter), and Coast Guard.

The Harbor Department has always used pickups to access the beach, letting air out of the tires for better maneuverability on the sand. The Harbor Department’s truck used for this needs to be replaced.

“The 2003 F250 Ford pickup truck used for Beach Lifeguard response has reached its useful life,” Schiafone said. “The Harbor Department has not had sufficient funds to purchase a replacement vehicle.”

A big three-quarter ton truck probably isn’t the best vehicle for an emergency response to the beach.

“Large pickup trucks are not the best vehicles for beach use,” Schiafone said. “They are difficult to navigate traffic backups on the Embarcadero during emergency response and have blind spots for driving around crowded beach activities.”

A vehicle the size of the Polaris could easily fit onto the bike path of the Harborwalk should traffic become snarled on Coleman Drive, blocking access to Morro Rock parking lots, where many emergencies happen.

“UTVs are more agile on the sand, more cost effective in operations and maintenance, and much safer to operate on crowded beaches,” Schiafone said. “The Friends of the Morro Bay Harbor Department have raised over $250,000 for harbor improvements. When they learned we were looking into options to replace a vehicle, they jumped into action and began a fundraising campaign for a new UTV.”

In the flyer for the UTV fundraiser, the Friends said, “This isn’t just a vehicle; it’s a commitment to

the well-being of every soul that sets foot on our sands, ensuring that our cherished beach remains a haven of joy, relaxation, and security.”

“We are so thankful to the Friends of Morro Bay Harbor and their donors in helping the Harbor Department with this important equipment,” Schiafone said.

For more information about Friends of the Harbor Department, see their website at

One of the group’s big fundraisers is coming up at the end of June. The Annual Morro Bay Marine Swap Meet is set for 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 29, at the Maritime Museum located at the north end of Front Street and The Embarcadero (look for the giant submarine).

Local residents will bring in all things nautical — fishing poles, rods and reels, nautical art, marine electronics, boat gear, lifejackets, surfboards, and more, in the most unique swap meet you’ll see anywhere. The Marine Swap Meet is also done in conjunction with the Maritime Museum and the Morro Bay Youth Sailing Foundation.



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The Friends of the Morro Bay Harbor Department recently completed a fundraising project to buy a new Polaris UTV (Utility Task Vehicle), like the one shown here, for easier access to the beach. Contributed Photo
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Monte Young Tennis Fencing scheduled for repair

The City has hired a contractor to begin work on the Monte Young Park fencing around the tennis courts in early May. The fencing was badly damaged during the windstorms on February 4 of this year, with portions on the fencing leaning into the park. City crews quickly closed the tennis courts due to safety concerns. Once started, the work is expected to be complete within two weeks.

Comment period for the Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) Draft EIR is open

Vistra, the owner of the Morro Bay Power Plant property, has submitted an application to the City of Morro Bay to install a 600-MW BESS on the power plant site. The BESS site is 24 acres, while the project area includes a total of 43 acres. In addition to the installation of a BESS, the project includes demolition of the power plant building and stacks. Also, as required by the City’s General Plan, the project includes a Master Plan for the redevelopment of the site. The Master Plan would change the land use designation and zoning of the 24-acre BESS site from Visitor Serving Commercial to a combination of Industrial-General and Industrial-Light.

The Master Plan will cover all 107 acres of Vistra-owned land, divided into five areas for planning purposes:

1. The BESS Site (former tank farm)

2. The Power Plant Area

3. Lila Keiser Park and Morro Creek Area

4. Scott Street Hill Area

5. Embarcadero Area

Now that the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the project has been published, the public comment period has been opened and will remain open through Tuesday, May 28. Comments can be submitted by sending an e-mail to besscomments@ In addition, the City’s Planning Commission will be accepting comments during their regular meeting on May 7 (6 p.m. at the Vet’s Hall). Members of the public will be able to make public comment at the podium in-lieu of writing to the City.

The purpose of this Planning Commission meeting is simply to receive comments; no decisions of any kind will be made on May 7. All comments made during the public comment period will be reflected and responded to, as appropriate, in

County News Briefs

the Final EIR. Remember, this is an opportunity to comment on the information and analysis provided in the Draft EIR. General comments for or against the project are discouraged at this time as no decisions will be made before a Final EIR is published. Interested in what the future holds for the power plant property? Members of the public can also participate in a workshop in support of the Power Plan Master Plan. The workshop is scheduled for Wednesday, May 8, at the Vet’s Hall at 6 p.m. The workshop will include information about each of the five areas of the property, outlined above, and will seek further input from the public on appropriate future uses. This will be the second workshop held by the City, in addition to a survey that received over 600 responses. The results of the survey can be found on the City’s website.

BESS Project Timeline: Members of the public are interested in the City’s timeline for processing the BESS application. Once a Final EIR is published, and the Master Plan is completed, the project can be scheduled for review by the Planning Commission. The first possible date for a Planning Commission hearing has been identified as August 6. However, a public hearing can only be scheduled for this date if the Final EIR has been published and work on the Master Plan completed.


Atascadero man sentenced to 70 years

District Attorney Dan Dow announced on Tuesday, April 23, that Christopher Wayne Clark, 47, has been sentenced to 70 years to life in state prison for his guilty plea to five counts of child molestation on two separate children.

The crimes occurred in Atascadero during two periods of time, between 2001 and 2005 and again between 2010 and 2012, when he repeatedly victimized two separate children under the age of 14.

“The survivors of these terrible crimes suffered in silence for many years — waiting for the day that this predator would be held accountable,” said Deputy District Attorney Kimberly R. Dittrich, who prosecuted the case. “Today their courage in reporting, and fortitude in seeing this through, has resulted in accountability and the stark reality that the defendant will spend the rest of his life in prison where he can never abuse another child.”

The case was investigated by Detective Ronnie Overacker of the Atascadero Police Department with the assistance of Senior Investigator Herminio Rodriguez of the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation.

Construction starting for the Lift Station #13 and Force Main Replacement Project

The City of Atascadero has begun work on Lift Station #13 and Force Main Replacement project that includes replacement of Lift Station #13 (located on El Camino Real near San Ramon Road), approximately two miles of force main along a new alignment on Santa Cruz Road and Traffic Way, and pavement rehabilitation of approximately 1 mile of Traffic Way between Carrizo Road and Chico Road.

This project is an important improvement to the city’s wastewater collection system, upgrading an existing lift station and force main that are nearing maximum capacity. Construction began April 9 and is anticipated to be completed early Spring 2025. The project contractor is Hartzell General Engineering Contractor, with Construction Management and Inspection services provided by Filippin Engineering. Installation of the new force main will begin on Monday, April 22, and will be completed using directional boring, which reduces the need to trench through the roadway surface and minimizes traffic impacts. Work will begin at the south end of the project near the intersection with Orillas Way, and then proceed north.

• Traffic will be reduced to a single lane during boring operations on Traffic Way between Orillas Way and Potrero Road. The lane reduction will be within the limits of the current work zone which is limited to one block at a time.

During boring and roadway reconstruction on Traffic Way north of Potrero Road, it is expected that Traffic Way will be closed one block at a time to through traffic to allow for expedited construction and reduced overall impacts. Detour routes will be in place.

• Residents and businesses on Traffic Way will be allowed access to their driveways throughout the project but may experience delays during certain periods of construction.

• Pavement reconstruction of Traffic Way between Chico Road and Carrizo Road is included as part of this project and is scheduled to take

place during the school summer break.

For project information and construction schedule, please click on the following link: project/liftstation13


PG&E; Diablo Canyon Decommissioning Engagement Panel Announce New Members Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and the Diablo Canyon Decommissioning Engagement Panel (DCDEP) today announced the appointment of two new members to the DCDEP and the reappointment of one member.

The panel provides community input to PG&E for the eventual site-specific plan for the future decommissioning of Diablo Canyon Power Plant (DCPP) and spent fuel management upon decommissioning. All operating nuclear power plants in the U.S. have a plan for eventual decommissioning efforts of their facilities.

The new appointees—David Houghton and Linda Vanasupa— will begin their three-year terms in May of 2024. Dena Bellman has been reappointed. Additionally, Tom Jones, PG&E’s Senior Director of Regulatory, Environmental, and Repurposing, will now serve as the PG&E representative on the panel and Susan Strachan, SLO County’s Decommissioning Manager, will serve as an Ex-Officio representing the County.  DCDEP members will now include:

•  Dena Bellman, Pismo Beach

• Gerry Finn, Paso Robles

• David Houghton, San Luis Obispo

• Jessica Kendrick, Atascadero

• Patrick Lemieux, San Luis Obispo

• Michael Lucas, Morro Bay

• Linda Seeley, Los Osos

• G. Bruce Severance, Grover Beach Frances Romero, Guadalupe Kara Woodruff, San Luis Obispo

• Linda Vanasupa, San Luis Obispo

• Chuck Anders, (Facilitator)

• Scott Lathrop, San Luis Obispo (Ex Officio)

• Susan Strachan, San Luis Obispo County (Ex Officio)

• Tom Jones, Atascadero (PG&E)

As part of a highly competitive process, currently, seated panel members, PG&E representatives, and a representative of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) conducted in-depth reviews of applications from community members who broadly reflect the diverse community

viewpoints in proximity to DCPP. Since its creation in 2018, nearly 300 community members have submitted applications for panel membership.

SLO County APCD Countywide Clean Air Rooms Program

The SLO County Air Pollution Control District (SLO County APCD) is announcing the 2024 Clean Air Rooms Program. This program will provide approximately 390 high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) purifiers on a first-come, first-served basis to income-eligible residents across San Luis Obispo County.

Over the past several years, SLO County residents have seen increased exposure to wildfire smoke and particulate matter from blowing dust. These fine particles can affect respiratory and cardiovascular systems and are especially harmful to people with pre-existing conditions, young children, elderly, and pregnant women. During a wildfire event or blowing dust event, the best protection for your health is to stay indoors as much as possible, and when smoke is present – the need to keep indoor air clean is especially important. In a well-sealed indoor environment, HEPA devices can reduce particulate matter by more than 90 percent.

The SLO County APCD is excited for the opportunity to serve the community with this program and reduce potential health effects from harmful exposure to particulate matter.

To qualify, residents must complete an online application and provide the following:

• Documents showing proof of residency in SLO County (utility bill, driver’s license, other official mail). Please note - only one device will be given out per address.

• Income-eligibility documents. This can be done by numerous methods and a complete list is available on the SLO County APCD website at clean-air-rooms.php. Applicants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, and following application approval, they should receive their air purifier right to their home within 30 days.

If you are unable to access a computer or mobile device to complete the application, you may visit the SLO County APCD office at 3433 Roberto Court for assistance. Additionally, the website to complete the application can also be accessed by local libraries across SLO County.

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Visit Morro Bay

Bringing out the best in our small town

Embracing Morro Bay’s salty ocean air is something for locals and tourists alike. The taste and smell means home for many, but is even more so the definition of a vacation for tourists. Visit Morro Bay (VMB), previously Morro Bay Tourism Business Improvement and District (MBTBID), engages the salty slogan. Understanding the ebb and flow of tourism, VMB works hard to sustain the local lodging businesses and the City of Morro Bay as a whole.

In 2009, the local lodging community united in agreement to self-assessment in which funds would fulfill goals that they otherwise couldn’t do on their own. VMB, a 501c(6) nonprofit, was formed to manage the MBTDBID funds.

With 20 years of working in SLO County, Michael Wambolt became VMB’s executive director in 2021, after serving as the director of sales of Visit SLO CAL.

“Our overarching goal is to build awareness and to drive demand to Morro Bay as tourism destination,” Wambolt said. “We do this through marketing, promotion, sales, and event sponsorships.”

VMB is a Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) which serves to attract tourists and support its businesses. VMB “is here to maximize the economic opportunities that tourism brings to stimulate economic growth,” Wambolt explains. Sharing in the effort with Wambolt are Tourism Administrator Liz Gilson and Tourism Coordinator Mariana Garcia.

VMB’s vision is to be a place where travelers can escape and immerse themselves in everything Morro Bay has to offer. Wambolt

said their mission is to “elevate Morro Bay as a timeless coastal destination through world-class marketing and promotion, innovative strategies to strengthen our local economy, and a commitment to preservation and authenticity.”

Focusing on the lodging community and the city, as well as helping local nonprofits, the nonprofit promotes Morro Bay tourism at large. This involves the tourism’s economy, which includes lodging, activities, and restaurants. “We tell the story of our amazing town,” Wambolt noted.

The group’s current desire is to bring awareness of Morro Bay’s tourism brand in their closest markets, which includes Central Valley, Bay Area, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Orange County, and San Diego.

“For the first time ever, we will be working with international representation in the United Kingdom and Germany,” Wambolt shared. “This representation will give us boots on the ground

The VMB website will be going through an update in the coming year, and the group’s members plan on attending trade shows to obtain direction for lodging, activities, and restaurants.

VMB helps tell Morro Bay’s story, connecting businesses with tourism, which then benefits the economy and city at the same time.

“You will be seeing our 1969 VM Bus around

(From left) Tourism Administrator Liz Gilson, Tourism Coordinator Mariana Garcia, and Executive Director Michael Wambolt of Visit Morro Bay work to sustain the local lodging businesses and the City of Morro Bay as a whole. Photo by Blake Ashley Frino-Gerl Morro Bay Life • May 2024 • 9


2024 San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Awards: Honoring the lifesavers

Iam proud of all those who work here at the Sheriff’s Office. Many times, the good work they do often goes unnoticed by the public. And that’s fine; we aren’t in this profession for the praise. But even so, in this column, I wanted to let you know about some of those folks who are being recognized for their selfless acts of courage, bravery, and lifesaving skills. We recently held an awards ceremony to honor those people who have gone above and beyond.

Let me start with the lifesaving awards. We handed out several of these awards to correctional deputies for incidents involving inmates. In several of these cases, the correctional deputies were able

to save the life of an inmate who had sadly tried to commit suicide in the jail. We also had a number of cases where an inmate had ingested illegal narcotics in their jail cell and overdosed.

If it weren’t for the quick actions of jail personnel, these inmates almost certainly would have died. Whether it was providing emergency aid, performing CPR or administering Narcan to reverse the effects of the overdose, correctional deputies were able to save many lives in the jail. One of our correctional deputies was able to save the life of an inmate by performing the Heimlich maneuver on an inmate who was choking on a piece of food. Correctional deputies are trained for just these types of emergencies. The goal is the overall health and safety of those who are in our custody as well as those who work in the jail.

We also handed out Distinguished Service Medals. Let me tell you of one such incident which showed our deputies going above and beyond the call of duty. In the early hours of December 28, 2023, dispatch received reports of a vehicular pursuit initiated by Pismo Beach Police that ended in Avila Beach, which is in the Sheriff’s Office jurisdiction. The

suspect in this case jumped out of his car and broke into a hotel room in Avila Beach. The suspect entered the room and told the three occupants of the room they could not leave. This was a rapidly evolving situation that began to turn into a worst-case scenario of an armed subject with multiple hostages. The first deputies to arrive on scene began by trying to locate the room. By this time, the suspect was now declaring that the occupants of the room were now his hostages.

The deputies were able to make their way into the room and confronted the suspect who had a large shard of glass in his hand. The suspect began to stab himself in the neck. To avoid the suspect harming the hostages, one deputy took immediate action and pushed the suspect against a wall and onto the ground. The suspect was immediately taken into custody. No hostages were hurt. And no deputies were injured in this encounter. The main goal of a hostage situation is to ensure the safety of the hostages and that is exactly what happened with the quick response of the deputies.

These are but a few instances of the exemplary work of our deputies. It’s work that often goes

unnoticed by the public. But I thought you should know. And that’s why we hold awards ceremonies like this. I am indeed proud of all those we honored. I hope you are too.

Celebrating the Educational Community

San Luis Obispo County celebrates the success and demonstrates appreciation for many talented educational employees throughout May. Our California’s Day of the Teacher arose from legislation co-sponsored by the CTA and the Association of Mexican American Educators in 1982. Since then, every year in May, we honor instructional excellence in our schools, community colleges,

and universities. National Teacher Day is Tuesday, May 7. In 1986, California Senate Bill 1552 (Campbell) established the third week of May as Classified School Employee Week in order to recognize the vital contributions of classified employees. The California Department of Education encourages an annual recognition of school administrators on May 1 to celebrate those serving in leadership positions within our schools.

This year, the Educational Employees Credit Union has joined forces with the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education and is hosting a series of thank-you activities throughout the county to recognize employees serving education. Thank-You activities include tickets to Libretto in Paso Robles, San Luis Blues Baseball, OperaSLO’s Beauty and the Beast, and the Great American Melodrama in Oceano. With all the challenges our educational organizations face, opportunity and promise still abound in our local schools. Celebrations such as these serve as brief moments to acknowledge how valuable our employees are and how they impact generations of students.

MAY Calendar of Events

MAY 2-4



Cruisin’ Morro Bay Car Show returns for its 28th year starting Thursday evening where rare cars will begin arriving in Morro Bay for registration. Friday is Cruise Night at 6 p.m. as classic and other rare cars cruise past. The “Show & Shine” on Saturday is 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. where attendees can talk with the car owners.





Art After Dark is a self-guided art walk on the First Friday of each month that allows the community to experience visual, literary, and performing art in SLO County in galleries, non-profit organizations, and other businesses. For information, visit art-after-dark

APRIL 27-28



Enjoy early tamale shopping on Friday, May 3, with live music and fireworks to kick of the tamale festival from 5:30-8pm. On Saturday, May 4, from 11am-7pm, there will be a variety of delicious traditional,

gourmet and sweet tamales from local restaurants (as well restaurants from across California), margaritas (and a host of other adult beverages), merchandise vendors, live music, award for “best” tamale, and tamale eating and pet costume contests. For more information, visit






In collaboration with the Cambria Historical Society, the annual event raises awareness about the challenges faced by bees and other pollinators. This free event features a silent auction, informative speakers covering topics like backyard beekeeping and gardening for pollinators, a photo exhibit showcasing the beauty of bees and butterflies, and kid-friendly activities including the Buzzy Pets parade.

MAY 11





About 250-300 cars will be parked in and around warbird airplanes and down the taxiway. There will be great family

Almost all of us have experienced the transformative power of effective school employees firsthand. Over my forty years serving in the field, I have encountered many exceptional teaching and non-teaching school employees. These support staff members and educators are passionate about their service and demonstrate genuine care for the students in charge. Dedicated professionals inspire us to explore ideas, think deeply, accept the challenge, and embrace rigor. Hollywood films portray some of our colleagues, such as Anne Sullivan, Jaime Escalante, and Erin Gruwell, on a grand scale of the big screen. However, thousands of our support staff and faculty are truly unsung heroes who faithfully serve daily. I encourage everyone reading this article to take time and thank those who serve the students enrolled in our schools throughout San Luis Obispo County.

Our democracy needs and demands informed citizens. Consequently, our nation’s founders strongly supported the creation of schools serving the public.

Thomas Jefferson said:

“Above all things, I hope the education of the

common people will be attended to, convinced that on their good sense, we may rely with the most security for the preservation of a due degree of liberty.” It is critically important not only for children but also for our country. Education enables its citizens to develop their full potential, which allows our democracy to flourish. It is about helping individuals learn, grow, and create a prosperous society. Public service can bring about extraordinary transformation in our society. Public servants are role models; their actions convey more than words, and our students learn from those in the educational community. Everyone who works in our schools can positively contribute to the lives of our students, especially in their formative years. Today’s teachers, custodians, bus drivers, clerks, administrators, assistants, and all other educational employees hold immense potential to bring about positive change in our society by demonstrating a duty of care. Join me in celebrating these outstanding individuals who embody the essential elements of educational excellence. It is an honor to serve as your County Superintendent of Schools.

fun including craft vendors, food vendors, Firestone Walker Beer, Eberle Wine, bounce houses and face painter for kids, raffle prizes, 50/50 drawing. Tickets are $10 for adults, kids under 12 and active duty military are free.




The 3rd annual Paso Robles Olive and Lavender Festival unites farmed olive and lavender products for all to learn, enjoy, and purchase. For information, visit downtown-event/paso-robles-olivefestival-lavender-festival-may-11th.

MAY 25





Start Memorial Day weekend with live music by Bob Benjamin, savor local food and drinks, explore family activities like rope making and butter churning, shop from local small businesses, and discover the mining exhibit at the Cambria Historical Museum.




The Golden State Classics Car Club presents about 300 cars and trucks, including muscle cars to hot rods and antiques to sports cars, from all over California to be on display.

MAY 25-27




10am-5pm, Sunday 10am-4pm

This 68th annual show offers artists and crafts people a high quality outdoor setting to display and sell their wares to an appreciative audience. Morro Bay Art in the Park is looked upon as the finest display of handmade art and crafts presented in San Luis Obispo County. 108 booths representing 125 independent artists and craft workers. There will be a wide variety of food and drink available at the festival.

MAY 27



Each year, there are devotional and ceremonial tributes following the national anthem and welcome remarks. Music follows the tolling of the bell, and the meaning of the “Missing Man” and the symbolism of the wreath are explained to the audience. Benediction

continues and everyone marches out to the pier for blessings of the wreath. The wreath is then tossed into the ocean, and the rifle salute follows.




8038 PORTOLA ROAD, ATASCADERO 11 a.m.-12 p.m.

The Atascadero Veterans Memorial Foundation is hosting the annual Memorial Day Ceremony at the Faces of Freedom Memorial at 8038 Portola Road (corner of Morro Road and Portola Road).






Annual Memorial Day program hosted by the Paso Robles District Cemetery with an invocation followed by patriotic music, guest speakers, a closing prayer, 21-gun salute from the Honor Guard, and a playing of taps.



This family friendly event features live music, vendors, a charity cruise, award ceremony and of course classic cars through downtown, the Pismo Pier and Plaza.

IAN PARKINSON SLO County Sheriff JAMES BRESCIA, Ed.D. Superintendent SLO County Office of Education
10 • May 2024 • Morro Bay Life Making Communities Better Through Print™
(From left) SLO County Sheriff Ian Parkinson, Correctional Deputy Berlynne Kucer, and Undersheriff Jim Voge. Photo courtesy of SLO County Sheriff’s Office
        Morro Bay Life • May 2024 • 11
WILL LEARN: Fundamentals of Sailing, Tacking and Jibing, Safety measures on the water, sailing with a partner and finally to sail independently by end of session. WEEKLY CLASSES: JUNE 10
Summer is just a heartbeat away The Morro Bay Yacht Club is a very special place and a wonderful opportunity for our youth to learn how to sail. It is a fun and healthy outdoor activity. It is also a great opportunity to develop life-long boating skills, racing skills, character development and most notably teamwork and sportsmanship. SOLD ∙ Represented Buyer in the BEACH TRACT 168 Kodiak Street, Morro Bay ∙ 3 bedrooms, 2bath ∙ 1600 sqft ∙ SOLD $1,312,000 SIGN UP! CLASSES AVAILABLE MORRO BAY YACHT CLUB SUMMER SAILING CAMP 2024 Visit Create some forever memories and come sail with us! 12 • May 2024 • Morro Bay Life Making Communities Better Through Print™
Sessions: Mon-Thurs from
- 3pm Youth Classes (ages 8-18) 4 days - $450 Adult Classes (ages 18+) 2 days- $250
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