LIFE magazine Meet ermina Karim Aug/sep 2011 journalism, NYC and the Chamber Urban Farming deals! PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID PERMIT 113 SANTA ANA, CA + a day in the life
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A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away I had no doubt that I was destined to become Captain of the Millennium Falcon - that is, once Han Solo finally relinquished his command.
So, when my parents came for a visit recently with a large box in tow that was labeled “Tommy - Star Wars” I figured that the time had finally come. My mind raced with thoughts that Han Solo must have retired and these were the top secret instructions directing me to my ship. Was my mom actually a Jedi Knight who had been preparing me for this day just as I had always suspected?
Turns out, the box did not contain the news I had hoped for, and there would be no hologram message from Princess Leia pleading for my help. But, what I did find was just as powerful: my entire childhood collection of Star Wars action figures, complete with the pièce de résistance, the Millennium Falcon.
As my kids and I sat around the kitchen table that afternoon slowly unwrapping the contents a lively conversation ensued. Together, we became lost in the classic story of good versus evil; we decided whether we would rather carry a lightsaber or a blaster (the lightsaber won by a 3 to 1 vote); we discussed the best way to deal with Darth Vader and his friends (top answer: make them take a “time out”); and we debated about which we’d rather have as a best buddy, a dog or a Wookie (we decided to stick with our dog, Cannoli, over Chewbacca on this one… sorry, Chewie!).
It was an incredible scene and one that plays out in similar ways every day throughout San Luis Obispo, the Central Coast and the whole world, for that matter. Not the Stars Wars part, of course, but the sharing of various, unique family traditions that resonate from one generation to the next.
One such tradition that has captured our imagination is a new twist on an age-old activity called “Urban Farming” [see page 18]. Like the story of the Star Wars saga it is something that is shared by multiple generations, and we suspect it will only gain in popularity as others embrace the fulfillment that comes with living off the land - even if it is in a tiny backyard in the middle of town.
I would like to take this opportunity to say “thank you” to all of you for your ongoing support, your helpful feedback and well-wishes. And, to our advertisers, thanks for making this incredible journey possible. May the Force be with you!
Tom Franciskovich email@example.com
Contributions chosen for publication may be edited for clarity and space limitations.
If you would like to advertise, please contact Tom Franciskovich by phone at (805) 553-8820 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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slo life magazine | 5 6 | Q&A 8 | Notes 10 | Updates 12 | Places 24 | SLO LIFE Deals 26 | Real Estate 28 | Real Estate Panel 30 | No Place Like Home 32 | To Your Health 38 | Business 40 | Voter’s Guide 42 | Local Food by Local People 44 | Community Calendar 46 | The Arts SLOLIFE magazine 14 Meet Your Neighbor: Ermina Karim The Way We Live: Urban Farming 18 34 A Day in the Life: SLO Veg Jed D. Hazeltine LL.M. Taxation Attorney At Law Estate Planning & Trusts Probate & Conservatorships IRS Tax Controversies Personal Fiduciary Services Associated Litigation & Asset Protection 778 Osos Street, Suite C San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 805.439.2323 www.coastfiduciarylaw.com Caring, Competent Legal Representation “It has been a wonderful year with the birth of my first child. I understand now more than ever the importance of protecting the people and assets that matter most.” Currently serving San Luis Obispo County and Northern Santa Barbara County.
Perhaps no one understands our local weather as well as John Lindsey. But his real talent may be in how he is able to help all of us understand it. He is a Cal Poly graduate who spent 24 years in the Navy where he learned his craft. Our conversation was warm and friendly with a 100% chance of dry humor…
First off, John, before we get started, do you ever get tired of people asking you about the weather?
Never. Absolutely never. I knew one weather guy that I worked with a long time ago and people would ask him about the weather and he’d point at the sky and then walk away.
What’s the single most important thing to understand about the weather? Is there one thing you can point to?
The main thing that drives the weather is the sun. Water has about one thousand times the heat capacity that land does. So, when the sun shines on land it heats up much, much faster compared to when it shines on water. A way to illustrate that is to take a balloon and hold a match under it – it pops almost immediately, right? Take a water balloon and do the same thing, nothing. That’s because the water is able to absorb the heat while the air cannot. So, consequently, what happens is that the land heats up much faster and you start developing a thermal low, which is really a static low. The air warms and begins to rise. But, what happens over the ocean is you basically produce an area of higher pressure and onshore winds develop. Wind is the movement of air from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure. It all comes down to the uneven heating of the Earth’s surface due to the differences in heat capacity of the land as compared to water. That’s the driving force behind weather.
Your passion for the weather is obvious. Is this something you have always wanted to do? It’s a bit ironic because I always thought of myself as becoming a lineman for PG&E. When I was a young kid growing up in Santa Rosa I remember one time waking up at 3 o’clock in the morning and
the power had gone out during a powerful storm. There were these PG&E guys up there on the poles working on the power lines in horrible weather trying to restore electricity and I just thought that was so cool because they’re trying to help folks by getting the power back on. I’ve always thought, “Wow, I’d like to do that.”
We’re curious to know, with all the debate about climate change, have you found any evidence of it locally?
One of my jobs at Diablo Canyon was to calibrate our temperaturepressure recorders. As I was calibrating them – this was years ago before anyone was really talking about climate change - I noticed that they were always off by three of four millimeters every year. I couldn’t figure out what was going on, and I thought maybe our station was sinking a little, maybe settling a little bit. But what I realized was that the sea level has been increasing by a few millimeters each year. And I thought to myself, “Why in the
world is the sea level increasing?” That was the first time I had discovered evidence of climate change.
So, what’s your personal take on the situation?
All of the evidence is there and it is clearly happening. Just look at how plants are behaving differently and how birds are nesting earlier and blossoms are appearing earlier. It’s pretty hard to deny that the Earth isn’t warming up. So, the big debate is are we causing it or is this a natural cycle? And, to be quite honest with you, nobody can say for sure. Nobody can say with 100% certainty that this is being caused by man or by some other thing. However, I feel that we probably are contributing to it. And I also feel that it’s better to be safe than sorry. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper to tackle this problem now and get on top of it rather than waiting another decade when the consequences can be much more severe and much more expensive.
Not to mention that it would lessen our reliance on foreign oil and increase our national security.
That’s absolutely true and I know that from personal experience. While I was in the Navy I spent a couple of long cruises in the Persian Gulf and it almost killed me and it did kill a dear friend of mine. It was back in the 80’s and it was referred to as the “Tanker War.” Iran and Iraq were at war with each other and they were destroying each other’s oil tankers in the Gulf. The United States got involved to ensure the safe delivery of oil through the Strait of Hormuz. And one aircraft, an Iraqi fighter jet, mistook one of our ships as an Iranian oil tanker, but it was actually the USS Stark. It fired two missiles at our guys and the second one killed 37 sailors and wounded 21 others.
Was your friend on the ship?
No, we were crewmen on a SH-2 Seasprite (a ship-based helicopter) and we were coming in for a nighttime landing on another ship, the USS Trippe. The landing gear didn’t come down on one side, the rotors hit the deck and splintered into a million pieces and we rolled over the side of the ship splashing upside down on the water. We sunk quickly and it was pitch black. I was disoriented and close to panic because I was trapped and knew I couldn’t hold my breath much longer. Somehow a light came on. To this day I don’t know where it came from but it illuminated the cabin. I could see the door and I swam for it. Once I cleared the fuselage I inflated my life preserver. It seemed to take an eternity to reach the surface. When I surfaced one of our pilots was calling out, “Dwight, John!” My friend Lt. Dwight Greer was never found. I think about him every day.
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| Q & A
I just picked up your magazine and read your piece on Kirby Puckett and it brought great vibes to my day. Kirby worked for me as a student aid when he was attending and playing baseball at Triton College in River Grove, Illinois. His job was to wash the wrestling mats each day and also make sure the wrestling team’s laundry was cleaned and ready to go each day. Not only did he never miss a day of work, but he also showed up each day at practice to cheer on our team, which eventually went on to win a national championship. Needless to say, all the wrestlers in the room watched all of Kirby’s baseball games and shared in the delight of watching him make it big. I actually took a job in Washington state as the dean of admissions and was able to see his second series in the big leagues just three days after the Twins brought him up in California. He gave me his bat the night he went 4 for 5. Every time the Twins came to town, I would truck over to Seattle and hang with him and Al Newman and anyone else that wanted to talk about Chicago after the game!
Thanks for the great memory!
The pay raises are costing the city $2.5 million annually more than expected, forcing extensive cutbacks in street and sidewalk repairs, flood protection, parks and open space projects, even police protection.
Yes votes on A and B are fair and commonsense reforms; together they offer an opportunity to restore local control and fiscal responsibility.
Lauren Brown, John Ewan, April Strong Co-chairs Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility
Dear SLO LIFE,
Maraviglia San Luis Obispo
YES OR NO?
Dear SLO LIFE, Yes votes on Measures A and B would reform pension benefits and return local control to the city over what it pays its police and firefighters.
If approved, Measure A would allow City Council to negotiate reduced pension benefits for new employees. Pension costs are skyrocketing and will soon consume 20% of the budget, which is not surprising since city employees can retire at age 55 and receive an annual pension of 81% of their final pay. Police and fire have even richer pensions; they can retire at age 50, and police can receive pensions of more than $93,000 annually.
Measure B would repeal mandatory binding arbitration, which in 2008 forced the city to pay police officers raises of 30% to 57% over four years at a time when inflation was just 11%. SLO police are now paid more than Los Angeles police.
This month San Luis Obispo residents will be asked to decide issues critical to the future of public safety in our town. City Council politicians have voted to hold a special election with an agenda to drastically change our city. Eleven years ago, SLO voters spoke loud and clear when they approved the method of collective bargaining currently used by firefighters and police officers when negotiating contracts. This method of binding arbitration ensures that if the City and the members are not able to reach an agreement, critical public safety services are not interrupted. This fair process ensures that our safety as a community comes first. SLO residents were right and still are, don’t eliminate a process that works for our city and leaves our safety up to the politicians. The City Council also hopes that SLO residents will vote to eliminate their own right to vote on city employee pensions. Don’t give the politicians undue power and let them take away your vote on the services you receive. Our community’s safety is too important for politics. Please support your first responders and join nurses, firefighters, teachers and others to vote NO on Measures A and B.
Respectfully, Erik S. Baskin
President, IAFF Local 3523
San Luis Obispo City Firefighters
Thank you to all of you: Lauren, John, April, and Erik for sharing your views on this very important vote. The debate over Measures A & B has become heated at times because it touches on very important aspects of daily life for all of us here in San Luis Obispo, and will primarily affect those people we most value and respect in our community: our policemen and firefighters. On page 40 you will find our comprehensive “Voter’s Guide” where we
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have thoroughly researched the issue and share the facts with you in what we hope is a fair, impartial, and balanced manner. We feel that we owe everyone concerned at least that much, and we hope that you will take the time to read it carefully and then decide for yourself.
FUN WITH PHOTOS
Dear SLO LIFE, Great image in this month’s issue of Poly Canyon. How can I submit an image to share?
Steve Corey San Luis Obispo
Thanks for your note, Steve – we love the photo you had submitted and look forward to sharing it with our readers in the next issue! Since we do get so many questions about how to submit photos for the “Places” feature we wanted to pass along some better instructions. The best way to send us a photo is to email a low resolution version (the file size should be less than about 1MB) of your shot to us at email@example.com. Please make sure you also have a high resolution version (larger than 5MB) and that it is oriented as a landscape shot (it should be much wider than it is tall). If all else fails, call us at 805-553-8820 and we’ll walk you through the process.
Dear SLO LIFE: The end of August is always a special time for me. I get to come back to SLO! And we get to do some good as well. When I went to Cal Poly, there was no Music major, and not even
a minor until my last year there. There was, though, a personage in the form of Harold P. Davidson. He would take fifteen young men and each year would mold them into one of the best dance bands around.
There was some sort of magic with the group from, say, 1956 to 1964. We have been getting together the last weekend of August since 1967. In 1985, we moved the meeting from Fresno to San Luis. Mostly, it was a time of just getting together for a BBQ. Then things started to happen. We started to bring our instruments, and one thing led to another.
Since 2004, we have been appearing at the Madonna Inn for a three or four hour dance. We pass the hat to raise funds for our Collegians Scholarship Fund, and, in fact, we have our scholarship winners play with us. Madonna Inn is happy - it is one of their busiest nights - the Music Department is happy, and we who are in our 60s and 70s now get to turn 21 again for a magical weekend. We have alums come from as far away as Boston and Montreal to play with the group. The pull is that strong…
If you want to hear some good music, dance to some good tunes, and have a great time, come join us at the Madonna Inn on Saturday, August 27th.
Jim “Gil” Gillivan Walnut Creek
Sounds like a hoot, Gil, thanks for letting us know about the event. We’re marking our calendars for the 27th and will look forward to seeing you there!
slo life magazine | 9
easy ways to join the conversation
edited for content and clarity. To be considered for publication your letter must include your name, city, state, phone number or email address (for confirmation purposes).
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After being featured on the cover of SLO LIFE Magazine, local author Jay a sher (Meet Your Neighbor, June/July 2011) blogged, “I’ll admit, it’s been fun to walk around town and have people recognize me and come up to chat. Because of one answer I gave in the interview, a guy at the gym admitted that he has Vanilla Ice on his iPod. Very few people will admit that!” Jay’s second book, The Future of Us, is in production now and on schedule to hit bookshelves at the end of November.
After 39 years on the job, d ave Garth (Q&A, June/July 2011) was sent off into retirement in style with a packed house cocktail party at the Madonna Inn. Said Garth, “I may be going away for a while, but I’m never going to leave.”
sU zanne Linde LL’s recipe for buttermilk scones (Local Food by Local People, June/July 2011) was a reader favorite. Although we originally reported that Scone Sunday at the Sanitarium happens once a week, it actually takes place once a month. Check in with
Another magical season is now in the books for our own hometown s an LU is B LU es (The Boys of Summer, June/ July 2011). And what a season it was as the Blues, once again, finished up at the top of their division.
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slo life magazine | 11
| Places starry Night
Park hill road
Late one night, Paul Bolger, a local photographer, was heading home after dropping off a friend. Somewhere on his drive down Park Hill Road between Pozo and Santa Margarita, Bolger looked skyward to see The Milky Way dancing tantalizingly close to the rolling hillside. The photographer pulled over and hiked around in the darkness with his camera and tripod finally settling on a spot that would give him the proper view. After two hours of trial and error, Bolger finally caught the perfect image by setting his camera to a 45-second exposure which allowed him to also catch a shooting star as well as the ambient light (resembling a sunset at the top of the hill) of nearby Santa Margarita. Says Bolger: “I focused on the telephone pole because it lends perspective and brings the photograph home to Earth.”
Do you have an amazing photo? Go to slolifemagazine.com to share it.
Meet ermina Karim
In this installment of our “Meet Your Neighbor” series, SLO LIFE Magazine sits down for a conversation with new SLO Chamber CEO, Ermina Karim. She grew up in the Midwest while maintaining close ties to her parents’ native Bangladesh, studied journalism in Chicago, worked on Wall Street, and traveled the world extensively. Ermina lives in San Luis Obispo with her daughter, Aliza. Here is her story…
Let’s take it from the top, where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Rockford, Illinois. Home of the rock band Cheap Trick, and it had a great clock museum at one point. My parents immigrated to the United States from Bangladesh. My father was a Rhodes Scholar and he was completing his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. While my dad was there he got a job teaching English at a small college in Rockford. My parents really loved the little community, so when my dad finished his Ph.D. they moved there. He passed away not long ago, but my mom still lives there in the same house where I was born. My mother stayed at home with us until we were old enough to go to school. She was a librarian and my dad was a professor, so we had a sort of academic upbringing.
Were you raised speaking your parents’ native tongue in the home?
My parents spoke both English and Bengali in the home, probably more English than most first generation families do, mainly because my father was an English professor. For a long time he was the only non-native head of an English department in the United States university system, so we were a bit unusual in that way.
What was your childhood like?
Every summer we traveled. My parents weren’t wealthy but the whole reason my mother worked was to save money for all of us to travel. And that became very instilled in me and being able to see the world at an early age gave me a different educational experience. I knew there was a lot more than Rockford, but it also made me really appreciate my hometown, too.
Where would you travel?
Every other summer we would go to Bangladesh to see family. And a lot of my relatives lived abroad as well in Europe and in the States, so everybody would converge in Bangladesh during those summers. At that time there was no television there, so we had a lot of time to use our imagination. Since there were not a lot of extra things, the whole summer I’d read the same book over and over. My parents also had us doing journal keeping and poetry.
Did you ever feel out of place growing up?
Rockford had a large Caucasian population and a large AfricanAmerican population, but there weren’t many people from the Indian Subcontinent. That was probably one of the first lessons in my life in terms of how to interact with all types of people and find commonality.
I went off to college in Chicago at Northwestern where I studied journalism and economics. I’ve always been really inquisitive, so that was the perfect choice for me. If you want to know more about others and want the authority to ask those questions you become a journalist. I also majored in Economics because I had a lot of interest in developing countries, especially after spending time in Bangladesh. Rockford was a very basic, standard Midwestern town. But, from an early age being exposed to a very different way of living, and seeing the poverty that existed, and thinking about where cultural emphasis is, and what people value as a society - it was just very different. When I was in high school and throughout college I did a lot of United Nations work in Bangladesh. I had worked on projects like developing water delivery systems, and helping women; there were a lot of projects that focused on women. And that was my interest, but I also loved the journalism side.
Any experiences from college stand out in your
My junior year I went to New York to intern for CBS Television. I was involved in a news show with Mike Wallace. When I got to New York I kind of found my fit. I absolutely fell in love with the city. And I felt it fit me and my tastes. I knew that it was where I wanted to be so I went back to Northwestern for my last year in school and I made it out to New York a week before graduation.
How does your love for fast-paced NYC jive with embracing the SLO Life? We have different chapters in our lives. And the one that I am in now is certainly different than the one I was in at that time. I was in New York from the time I was probably 22 to around 31 and it suited me then. It was a classic situation where you grow up in smaller town and you want to be exposed to different things and have your horizons expanded.
What did you do for work?
I took a job with an investment newsletter that Dow Jones published called IDD, Investment Dealers Digest. I was hired as their IPO
| Meet your neighbor
continued on page 16
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left FAMiLy Aliza, Ermina and her mother center t r Ave L Ermina exploring the mountains on The South Island of New Zealand right CHEERS Ermina and Dave toast to the passing of the torch
[initial public offering] reporter. So, I went in and covered finance but I didn’t know anything about the IPO market when I got there in June. By August Netscape went public and that blew open this huge flood of IPO’s and the whole financial world turned its attention to this market. It was a crazy time, a confusing time. The IPO reporter suddenly became an important source of information as everyone was trying to sort it out. So, here I am, two months out of college and I had people calling me to get information about IPO’s. Practically overnight I’m being quoted in The New York Times, I was on CNN every Friday, on the Lou Dobbs show. Two months earlier I knew nothing, I didn’t even know what “IPO” stood for. That tells you a lot about financial journalism at the time [laughter]. It was a period when things were happening very quickly and everyone was trying to figure it out.
You also did a stint in investment banking, correct? I accepted a job at CreditSuisse. It was the peak of the market in 1999 and they created a position for me to come in and help market IPO deals. I did that for about four years. It was an interesting time, but it was definitely challenging because I came on right when the IPO market started crashing and the dot com bubble burst.
What was it like working at an investment bank? Was it a good fit? Well, it’s hard to say yes to that question because the answer is actually no. I’ve been very fortunate in all of my employment experiences to have worked with some great people and have a lot of fun. What I look for in a job is something that is stimulating where I’m learning - like a journalist. I enjoy change. But, I also define a work experience by having a lot of fun. That’s really important to me. And how I define fun depends on the people I’m working with. I don’t think that culturally it was a good fit for me. It’s very hierarchical and there’s an expectation that you not only work 22 hours a day, six days a week, but the way that people are treated is pretty poor. There’s a low value in how you interact with somebody else. They just don’t treat people with respect. It wasn’t something I could have done for a long time, I wasn’t a lifer. It just wasn’t for me.
but the money was good, i’m sure…
That’s why people put up with the poor treatment along the way. But, if that isn’t a motivator for you then it doesn’t matter what the paycheck looks like. Beyond your basic needs and your ability to live okay we all know that there are many ways to earn a living and that isn’t of value to me.
Everyone can clearly recall what they were doing on the morning of September 11th, 2001. Tell us about your experience. I actually had a doctor’s appointment that morning and I remember coming out of the subway to a stunningly beautiful day. As I was walking to work there were sirens and firefighters rushing down Broadway near the office and I could see fire in the sky. When I stepped into the office - this was before the second tower was hit - everyone was glued to the televisions on the trading floor. My previous employer, IDD, was located in the World Trade Center and I had a lot of friends working there and many of their children were in the daycare below. I was frantically trying to call them but couldn’t get through. After the second plane hit we were told to get out of there, go home. I lived in Brooklyn at the time and the Brooklyn Bridge was closed so I ended up staying the night with a hodgepodge group of co-workers. It was a seminal moment in our lives and we formed a tremendous bond that I will never forget.
When did you finally make it home? I was able to walk over the bridge to Brooklyn the next morning. You could hear random radio broadcasts around town that were trying to keep everyone informed. And, where I lived, in downtown Brooklyn, we had so many losses because the first responding firefighters were from my neighborhood.
So you hung in there during those tough years after 9/11 in New York. What finally caused you to leave? My boyfriend at the time was a journalist from New York who wanted to become a wine maker. We decided to get married and travel the world together. I was ready for something different and he wanted to learn winemaking in different wine regions around the world. We spent the first 4 or 5 months in New Zealand where we lived on a small farm in a tiny community on The South Island. It was a pretty big shift for me moving from a big city. When you have your own established identity and you have a shift in your life, you get married or become a parentit’s challenging and we all grapple with those things. But, also it was a fantastic experience. Afterward we went to Asia for a bit, then to Italy for a few months and then, when we were finishing, it was really about his career and what he wanted to be doing.
Is that what brought you to SLO? He wanted to make pinot noir and he found a place to do it on the Central Coast. He loved San Luis and talked me into moving here. I came
16 | slo life magazine
...although I didn’t think I had roots here, they were starting to grow. And that’s now what I feel, I feel rooted here.
here sight unseen. We drove cross-country for the move. I remember pulling into town for the first time - it was March of 2005 - and it was a very wet winter that year. I thought, “Where are we? This can’t be California.” It just didn’t look like the California that I had imagined, you know, Hollywood and all those things. It was much more unspoiled and authentic and it didn’t look like L.A. When we moved here, he went to work at a winery and I became pregnant. In my third trimester I pretty much had enough of doing freelance work and being by myself, so I called the Tribune because I had heard that they were looking for a business reporter and they were generous enough to hire me even though I was about ready to give birth.
How did you get involved with the Chamber?
I was contacted one day in 2007 by the Chamber to tell me about an open position they had there. They were looking for a Director of Governmental Affairs and they thought I would be a perfect fit and asked me if I would be interested in learning more.
The SLO Chamber of Commerce consistently ranks among the top chambers nationwide. What makes it so special?
The Chamber is a reflection of the community we’re in. It’s the same reason why we have more non-profits per capita than anywhere else. Just look at the name of your magazine, SLO LIFE, it all ties into what people here value. And we’re all highly aware of protecting it and nurturing it. Recognizing that it’s a jewel and asking, “How do you engage in the community?” and the Chamber is a great vehicle for so many people to do just that. There’s a sense that you can actually accomplish something and affect change.
how do you mean?
For example, last year I was picking up my daughter from school and her teacher said, “Ask Aliza what her parents do for work.” And I was kind of afraid of what she might say – you never know with a four year old. Anyway, she said that “daddy plays with the grapes” and I thought, well,
that’s fairly spot-on [laughter]. And then I asked her what I do and she said, “Mommy makes San Luis Obispo a better place for me to live.” It was at the time of Measure H, so she saw me putting out signs around town and she went with me to have t-shirts printed, but it made me think about all the people who are so involved in truly making San Luis such a great place to live.
When you were a little girl spending a long, hot summer in Bangladesh with your family, reading some book over and over again, did you ever catch yourself daydreaming about becoming CEO of the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce?
[laughter] I can honestly say that the thought never crossed my mind. San Luis really fits me, but it took me a while when I first got here. When I moved here I really struggled quite a bit with thoughts of, “Is this the right place for me?” I was working from home, freelancing and I really didn’t know anybody. It was probably about seven months after working at the Chamber when my sister passed away and I received cards from so many people, some people I just met briefly once or twice. But they extended themselves in such a genuine way. They made me realize that, although I didn’t think I had roots here, they were starting to grow. And that’s now what I feel, I feel rooted here. I’ve had to grapple with some important decisions, like, at one point, should I move Aliza to be closer to her dad, who was at the time working in the Bay Area. But I thought, “No, this is my place. This is the place for me, and it’s the right place for my daughter.” So that makes me feel very invested in what I do day-to-day because I’m emotionally invested in San Luis, our community.
What other lessons has living in SLO taught you?
I’ve learned that you find the family that you want. And, that has really come about in the last couple of years living here.
It’s been great getting to know you, Ermina, and we wish you all the very best in your new role at the Chamber. Thank you very much. I enjoyed our conversation, as well. SLO LIFE
slo life magazine | 17
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There is nothing new about agriculture - humankind has been planting seeds in the ground for thousands of years. But, there is a new trend gripping the Central Coast as tiny backyards are being transformed into miniature working farms. Some families are nurturing themselves almost entirely from the earth behind their homes. In a few cases, neighbors have banded together to develop informal working cooperatives and exchanges to share in the bounty. To be sure, there is something undeniable, and incredibly satisfying about providing for oneself. Yes, “Urban Farming” – which is loosely defined as “providing sustenance off the land in a non-rural residential setting” – is here to stay, as a whole new generation is embracing the concept with an energy not seen since the advent of the “victory garden” nearly 70 years ago. We were invited into the backyards of some Central Coast Urban Farms and were amazed by the creativity, style and ingenuity that we found.
| THE WAY WE LIVE
Two years ago, Shelly Boismenu and her husband Jed Hazeltine, made an incredible discovery under their 40-year-old home on Fixlini Street: it was fig tree. The couple promptly uprooted the struggling 6” sappling and transplanted it in their garden where it now towers over their home at 22’ feet tall. Once a part of a fig orchard in the area, the little tree had been clinging to life with almost no light and no water. Observes Boismenu, “I’ve learned that things that belong grow really fast, especially plants that are native to the area.”
Boismenu, a local therapist, who hails from a long lineage of gardeners in Upstate New York, has transformed her backyard into a beautiful, but purposeful urban farm complete with a wide variety of edibles. Although her family is able to consume most of the produce, when they do end up with an overabundance she finds willing trading partners in the neighbors who often offer up plumbs, lemons, and eggs in exchange. Lately, the yellow, purple, and green pole beans have been a big hit.
Along with canning, Boismenu recommends freezing. Last year she had a bounty of tomatoes, which she packed and froze. She used the frozen tomatoes throughout the year as a substitute for store bought canned tomatoes in recipes that call for them - dishes such as spaghetti sauce and chili.
slo life magazine | 19
When talk turns to the Morro Bay Guerilla Farming Club, Taylor Newton’s pace picks up and his words come pouring out, each one seemingly faster than the last. The non-profit club takes an unconventional approach to city beautification - they do it for free. Recently, the mostly “at-risk” youth who volunteer at the club have rehabilitated the landscape in front of the police department, cleaned up sidewalk weeds at the Embarcadero, and spruced up around the local library. Because of them “random trees” around town are watered, sidewalk weeds are pulled, and native plants are restored. Additionally, Newton Cultivation - a nursery owned by Newton that doubles as the home to the Guerilla Farming Club - includes a bird rescue, bee hives, and a massive snapping turtle that lives in an old reclaimed hot tub. Says Newton, “What we do is urban gardening to the extreme.”
stepson, Nate, is five-and-half years old and my husband and I thought it was important
teach him about where food comes from and to also try to be sustainable,” explains Jennifer Moonjian. It turns out that little Nate is quite the up-and-coming farmer as he is responsible for feeding the chickens, as well as collecting their eggs. And all the hard work builds a mighty appetite in the youngster. Says Moonjian, “Usually, when it gets really quite in the house I can find Nate outside in the garden eating the tomatoes and strawberries - he loves being in the yard.” Currently, the family is getting a healthy serving of zucchini “with just about every single meal” since it is a bit of a bumper crop this year, which has been good news for friends and neighbors who have shared in the bounty.
20 | slo life magazine | THE WAY WE LIVE
Newton (far left) with a few of the Guerilla Farmers
Missy’s daughter, Gia, happily joins in on the backyard harvest.
Missy Reitner-Cameron loves her neighbors so much that she married one of them. Reitner-Cameron and her husband, Mark Cameron, who is also her immediate next door neighbor live in a collection of adjoining backyards in San Luis Obispo that they affectionately refer to as “The Compound.” The couple, along with five other neighbors, are deeply committed to their shared garden which produces a variety of fruits and vegetables too long to list. While the garden provides ample bounty for everyone to share, it seems that the camaraderie is just as much of a draw. And everyone brings something to the party. One of the neighbors, Ian Farmer, owns a business called Goatscape, which, just like it sounds, uses goats to clear away unwanted vegetation. He once put three of his goats in The Compound to clear some growth and he has generously shared the goat waste which
A chance encounter with a magazine editor set off a chain of unforeseen events, which has one Morro Bay neighborhood block in a race against the clock. The group has entered Sunset Magazine’s “One-Block Diet” competition which culminates with an end-of-summer block party made up entirely of home grown food and drink. Each of the eight families involved has taken on a specific task including raising chickens and goats, cheese making, beer brewing, oyster farming, and, of course, gardening, lots of gardening. “Team Beach Tractors”the name the neighbors have adopted for the contest - find themselves locked in a competition that is heating up against nine other entrants. To be sure, this is “mostly about fun and bragging rights,” John Diodati, one of the neighbors, explains. The winning team gets $500 and will be featured in an upcoming issue of Sunset
by Michael Shiers
22 | slo life magazine | THE WAY WE LIVE
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was a time when Doug Marks had ten beehives in his backyard in Atascadero. He had so much honey that he would sell the excess. Today, he is down to one hive that produces plenty for his family and leaves some leftover for gifts during the holidays. For the most part, the insects are docile and keep to themselves by spending their days visiting flowers up to five miles away. Marks reckons that he spends a total of four to five days per year tending the bees, which includes the two days it takes to collect and store the honey.
slo life magazine | 23 There
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24 | slo life magazine
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slo life magazine | 25
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There has been a lot of talk lately about real estate inventories. As in, “inventories are still too high and need to come down for prices to go back up.”
While inventories are something that you may think of as belonging in a store or going on a shelf somewhere, understanding how the quantity of housing available affects the overall market is a key element that the experts use to judge where the market it is heading.
The math is simple and it really is a classic supply-and-demand situation: the more housing that is available (supply), the more likely it is that there will be fewer people for those homes (demand).
During the last housing boom, many more homes were built than there were qualified people available to buy them. In other words, supply and demand got out of whack. It wasn’t long ago that our country was embroiled in a construction frenzy with new housing starts popping up daily [you can learn more about this phenomenon with our Book Review on page 38]. While strict zoning and growth regulations kept the Central Coast somewhat protected from overbuilding, you can look to our neighbors to the east in the Central and San Joaquin Valleys to find some of those consequences of growth. As farmland was paved over in favor of tract homes and strip malls, a steady stream of new buyers entered the market, many of them were first-time homebuyers from Southern California and the Bay Area. As lending standards tightened and fewer of those buyers qualified for financing, suddenly supply started outpacing demand which is where we find ourselves today.
This dynamic was no more apparent than in the City of Stockton, which some real estate watchers consider the “epicenter” of the housing collapse. Today, Stockton is dealing with a massive glut of inventory, which, of course, continues to put pressure on real estate prices to drop further. And it’s not hard to understand why… imagine that you are going to buy a home in Stockton. Every neighborhood is filled with many empty homes with “for sale” and “foreclosure” signs out front. As you begin to negotiate for one home that you like, you find another home that is just as nice, but has been sitting for quite some time. You go back to the first home and say, “Hey, I like your home but I can buy another one just like it for a lot less.” The owner then drops his price to entice you to buy. This scenario will play itself out again and again until most of the excess inventory is sold (keep in mind, a healthy real estate market will always include some extra inventory as people move around).
Many real estate forecasters suggest that the weak housing market nationwide will not pick up its pace significantly until we have found parity again with supply and demand. The famous investor Warren Buffett says that “there are still a lot of empty homes that need to be purchased before we can turn the corner.” Of course, foreclosures compound the problem as they add to the existing housing inventory, so there is a bit of a spiral that still exists and much inventory still to work through.
Fortunately for us on the Central Coast and in San Luis Obispo in particular, we have largely escaped this dynamic [you can track these trends in “the numbers at a glance” below] and, as a result, our housing markets tend to fare much better than most of the rest of the country.
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the numbers at a glance Comparing the last four months to the same period last year (03/01/10 - 06/30/10 vs. 03/01/11 - 06/30/11) SOURCE: San Luis Obispo Association of Realto R s | real estate Housing Inventories SLO LIFE • • • • • 1. Total Homes Sold 2. Average Asking Price 3. Average Selling Price 4. Sales Price as a % of Asking Price 5. Average # of Days on the Market Home Price $100,000 - $500,000 2010 2011 +/39 41 5.13%
key to understanding real estate market trends
1.05% $414,114 $406,487 - 1.84% 95.29% 94.53% - 0.76% 76
$500,001 - $1,000,000 2010 2011 +/57 61 7.02% $668,624 $662,036 - 0.98% $631,644 $642,213 1.67% 94.44% 97.01% 2.57% 78 95 21.79% Home Price $1,000,001+ 2010 2011 +/6 9 50.00% $1,799,200 $1,371,556 - 23.77% $1,586,500 $1,196,111 - 24.61% 88.18% 87.21% - 0.97% 116 286 60.34%
slo life magazine | 27 Luxury Living in Downtown San Luis Obispo Garden Green Condos 1323 Garden Street, San LuiS ObiSpO Center of downtown, within strolling distance to all downtown locations including the Mission, shopping, Farmers Market, and countless other urban amenities! The Concept: after nearly 5 years of testing and design by multiple award-winning San Luis Obispo architect, thom brajkovich, Garden Green Condos are now available for pre-sale. One unit is pre-sold, and only two units remain available for the discriminating buyer; or both units can be seamlessly combined together. The Features: italianesque exteriors with triple pane windows and concrete window surrounds, private garages, private elevators, extensive interior millwork, concrete floors with optional radiant heating, HVaC, custom cabinets, wood flooring, custom kitchens and baths, large decks and much much more. SLOLUXURYCONDO.com Wes burk 805.801.7061 garden green condos @ Over 25 Years of Experience We Beat Big Box Store Pricing Unmatched Customer Service Excellent References Cabinets In-Stock Granite & Quartz Countertops All Types of Floor Coverings Call Tim Stapf for Free Estimates 805.801.6907 3596 Broad Street, Suite 104 San Luis Obispo www.CentralCoastFlooring.com 2 Convenient Options: •Visit Our Showroom by Appointment • •Our Mobile Showroom Will Come To Your Home Nights & Weekends!• Ce NT r A l COAST Fl OO ri N g
1) Planning - Hire a landscape professional to layout a master plan for your landscape. A seasoned landscape designer or landscape architect can layout, make cost effective and aesthetic material selections, and even help you devise a construction schedule of tasks that you or a professional landscape company can complete.
2) Adding Impact - Spend money on larger tree and/or shrub species for a more mature look and feel to your landscape. It adds instant gratification and scale to a yard in a quicker period of time. Also by adding larger plant material you are concentrating on a quality versus quantity approach.
3) Take a Phased Approach - Divide your landscape project into phases and pay as you have money available. This is great because it allows you to evaluate your progress and “tweak” your plans before going to the next project phase.
4) Divide - Plant perennials and groundcovers that can be divided as the landscape matures. As plant material grows larger and becomes dividable, transplant the divided material to cover larger and more expansive areas of your planned out landscape, thus resulting in no material costs, just your time and labor.
5) Compost - Start a compost pile using yard waste and food scrap. This compost can be turned into mulch thus saving the cost for expensive fertilizers throughout the year. Turn compost into the soil a few times a year to stimulate and supplement plant material with the necessary nutrients for healthy growth.
By creating an environmentally-friendly garden you can dramatically cut your maintenance costs in the future. Regarding costly water usage, we’ve been lucky to not have to deal with a severe draught in a while, but in our arid West, this is something that we always have to be concerned about. For example, instead of a standard turf lawn, go with a California Native grass meadow that uses a quarter of the water and you don’t have to cut it. With no need to cut the grass regularly, savings can be found with reduced maintenance. Also, for the environmentally interested, lawn mower engines are tremendous polluters, so mowing less means less pollution as well. And, to further reduce your water costs, plant other native and California-friendly plants endemic to our area and from other Mediterraneantype climates around the world. Install a ‘smart irrigation’ automatic control system that knows to not water when it is raining and adjust seasonally. Remember to buy and support local products from local businesses. Local purchases will help keep your shipping costs down due to less trucking and less pollution while helping sustain the local economy. Creating an eco-friendly garden provides habitat for bio-diversity which helps sustain human life; a savings beyond money.
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toDD DaViDSon Sage Ecological Landscapes & Nursery
| r E a L ES tat E How do you get the most bang for your buck when landscaping? ask t
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| No Place like home
By Jeanette trompeter, KSBy newS
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It’s called the Gibraltar of the Pacific, and if you have traveled Highway One along the Central Coast, you know it well. Or, do you? We’ve done a little digging into the history of Morro Rock. And, once again, we found more proof that there is No Place Like Home.
It’s a monument to our past. The massive, magnificent Morro Rock is one of the volcanic growths along the Central Coast known as the Nine Sisters. It is also the one most people know by name. It’s a landmark of the little seaside community that bears its name, and a focal point for mariners at sea and fascinated tourist who pass through our area.
It was Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who named the rock “El Morro” in 1542. It became a state historical landmark in 1968.
At one time Morro Rock was completely surrounded by water, but now pieces of the rock make up the breakwater that makes it much safer for boats to get in and out of the Morro Bay harbor.
The causeway that now leads out to the rock was built so blasting crews could have easy access to this granite source. For some 60 to 70 years, crews blasted away at parts of Morro Rock to create smaller rocks that were then used as building material. You can find pieces of Morro Rock today in downtown San Luis Obispo churches, the Avila breakwater and in the foundations for homes up and down the Central Coast.
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It is more than just a massive mound of granite in the bay; it is a nesting area for all kinds of California birds, including gulls, pelicans and falcons.
You can no longer climb its rocky peaks as was once encouraged decades ago. But you don’t have to, to marvel at its significance to this stretch of coastline.
Eventually, people starting taking notice of its diminishing dimensions. “You know, people got really concerned about how much rock was being taken out of there and said sooner or later we have to protect this place as a landmark or there won’t be anything left,” says Rouvaishyana, of the Morro Bay Museum of Natural History.
It may be hard to imagine, but Morro Rock was once much larger than it is today. Though volcanic in origin, there was no big eruption or explosion 23-million years ago that created Morro Rock, but it came to be through a process called intrusion over many years. Basically there were layers of softer rock with cracks. The molten lava bubbled and squeezed up through those cracks and the softer rock eroded away. Rock “plugs” were then left behind and Morro Rock is one of those.
Morro Rock is made up of what’s called dacite, which a form of granite. It’s much harder than sandstone, and much harder than shale, but not quite as hard as the granite you find in the Sierra Nevadas. It is great material for building, which is why this mammoth rock has not always stood undisturbed.
Thankfully there is plenty of it left. And it serves as a backdrop to a natural playground worthy of spending some of your time. It is a place where the waves, the wind and wildlife provide worthy entertainment. It’s important to do more than drive by this scenic monument – be sure to get out and explore the natural wonders that surround it.
Known by mariners as the Gibraltar of the Pacific, she seems to me more like the “Mona Lisa of Morro Bay.” Everyone who sees her for the first time wants her picture. And like the Mona Lisa, she looks different from every angle.
But no matter what direction she’s catching your eye, she always offers up magnificent proof that there’s No Place Like Home.
Jeanette Trompeter, KSBY News anchor and reporter, hosts the “No Place Like Home” series every Thursday evening at 6pm.
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Allergies are a fact of life in and around San Luis Obispo. And, while most people think of springtime as the allergy season - this time of year on the Central Coast (late summer through early fall) has become known to allergy sufferers as the “second wave” or the “fall flare-up.”
According to local allergist, Dr. Arthur McLean, a combination of late season allergens, dust mites, and the common cold (rhinovirus-c) can lead to an allergic “perfect storm.” McLean cites the Chinese Elm tree as one the biggest culprits for this late season phenomenon.
At their essence, allergies are an overreaction by the immune system to some sort of foreign substance (allergens) that is determined to be a threat by the body. While this physiological reaction is crucial in the case where the substance is truly harmful (think bacteria or a virus), it becomes problematic when it is something harmless, like simple tree pollen.
It’s been a busy year so far for Dr. McLean, who claims that “this spring was one of the worst years in terms of allergies locally” because we had two relatively wet winters followed by a dry, windy period, which greatly increases the amount of pollen coming from our unique Coastal Live Oak trees, for example.
Symptoms of allergies can vary greatly, and are often mistaken for a simple cold or flu. The common ones, such as sneezing and itchy eyes are relatively easy to identify, but a sore throat, headaches, or difficulty breathing can be mistaken for other ailments. For those that suspect they may be suffering from seasonal allergies, most health care professionals will suggest first that you try to identify and then avoid the allergen, which for most of us is just not possible. Treatments may range from a simple over-the-counter daily allergy tablet, to a high-powered shot administered by your doctor.
There are some interesting alternatives that do show some promise, however, such as eating honey from a local source. We were intrigued when we spotted someone selling local honey from a roadside stand here in town recently. So, we stopped to inquire about the claim on the sign that read, “Cure Allergies.” The honey salesman did make a persuasive argument based on sound logic which rested on the concept that immunity is built up over time as very small amounts of pollen allergens are introduced through the honey, a process called immunotherapy.
There have been no peer-reviewed scientific studies that have conclusively proven whether honey actually reduces allergies. Almost all evidence regarding the immunizing effects of eating honey is anecdotal. But these reports have proven persuasive enough for some people to try to fight their seasonal allergies by eating honey every day.
At least one informal (unfunded) study on allergies and honey conducted by students at Xavier University in New Orleans produced positive results. Researchers divided participants into three groups: seasonal allergy sufferers, year-round allergy sufferers and nonallergy sufferers. These groups were further divided into three subgroups with some people taking two teaspoons of local honey per day, others taking the same amount of non-local honey each day and the final subgroup not taking honey at all. The Xavier students found that after six weeks, allergy sufferers from both honey consuming groups suffered fewer symptoms and that the group taking local honey reported the most improvement.
The study was never published, but the anecdotal evidence in favor of honey as an allergy reliever continues: several of the study participants asked if they could keep the remaining honey after the experiment was concluded.
But, medical research says otherwise. According to a study conducted by the University of Connecticut and published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in 2002, no improvement was found over those that ate local honey compared to the control group.
We also found a skeptic in Dr. McLean, “I love the taste of honey and it’s probably a good alternative to sugar or other sweeteners for many people, but it’s probably not the best way to treat allergies.”
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allergies the honey cure?
by Demitria Castanon
We spent one day following Dan Melton and Rachael Hill, the partners behind SLO Veg,
“One of the most difficult things for me is getting the timing right. The produce is not always ready when you are.” A visit to Bautista Farms in Arroyo Grande yields good news. The lettuce is gorgeous and ready for harvest. Hill, who had been concerned about the weather, is ecstatic.
Hill begins her day with a group of local business owners, who get together once a week before the business day starts, to bounce ideas off one another, share new leads, and collaborate on projects. Today she announces that her company has added fresh fish delivery to their service.
Next, Hill races up the Coast for a stop at Canyon Ranch Farms in Cayucos to inspect a new crop of red choi with owner and farmer, Katie Otis. According to Hill, “The red choi has an extraordinary taste that our customers are going to love.” Hill kneels down, breaks off another piece, holds it to her nose and takes one more taste before declaring that she’d like to buy all of it. A quick negotiation with Otis takes place, and the deal is closed with a hug.
34 | slo life magazine | A D Ay In the l I fe
All of us know that small businesses are responsible for so much of the vibrancy and diversity of our local economy. And we have all heard tales of the ups-and-downs of the small business owner, but what is it really like to live a day in the life of one?
to find out
Melton has been spending the morning packing totes at the shop with two employees. A steady stream of local growers stop by with their loads of produce. As they roll in they are greeted by a clipboard-wielding employee who receives and inspects the produce while making last minute notes.
After spending all morning at the shop, Melton heads to the Church of the Nazarene gym where he heard that a
The partners sit down for a meeting over lunch at Gus’s Grocery where Hill excitedly shares the news about the lettuce and the red choi purchase. Melton inquires about the progress of some other produce and the two begin planning out next week’s tote selection. The conversation then turns to scheduling and marketiing. According to Melton, “We’re always out in public, talking with people, so these lunch meetings allow us to take a small timeout and recharge for the rest of the day.”
Melton and Hill then head over to Cal Poly farms where they help pick garlic and wash carrots. A couple of students jump in to help. While there, they bump into another visiting farmer, whose produce they have been considering carrying in their totes. “These relationships are really important because we have to understand how the food is grown so we can share that information with our customers,” says Hill.
Melton settles into his favorite seat at Blackhorse Coffee on Higuera Street. Prior to starting SLO Veg, he spent seven months at this very spot writing the business plan. Occasionally, he admits, he’s now spending some of his time writing a screen play. Today, he is putting the finishing touches on a licensing deal for their “Farm to Fork” brand, which will allow two recent Cal Poly grads to start a SLO Veg-type business in the San Diego area with Melton’s help and on-going support.
Melton and Hill are regulars at the Thursday Night Farmers’ Market where they learn from local farmers about how crops are progressing and get the scoop on new produce being planted. “We are always looking to rotate the produce in our totes and these conversations are a great opportunity to stay ahead of the curve,” explains Hill.
For the next couple of hours, Hill and the SLO Veg employees are buzzing around making home deliveries. According to Hill, “This is the best part of what we do - we love seeing happy customers... A lot of thought and planning goes into making these routes efficient, as we do everything we can to keep our carbon footprint as small as possible.”
Hill rushes home to prepare for a dinner party. “Baking is my all time passion,” she reveals. The guests are scheduled to arrive in a half hour and her daughter has already set the table. Hill, who almost never follows a recipe, makes a last-minute alteration to one of the dishes adding a handful of red choi.
36 | slo life magazine
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The Big short
The Big Short is an alarming tale told by master storyteller, Michael Lewis, who is probably best known for the book The Blind Side, and lesser known for such works as Liar’s Poker, Moneyball, and The New New Thing, among others. Lewis’ talent is in taking an event or phenomenon – usually dealing with difficult-tounderstand financial matters such as the inner workings of Wall Street, Dot Com stocks, or the management of professional baseball – and making them accessible to the layperson by focusing on one obscure component. In The Big Short, Lewis tells the story of the few people who made vast fortunes on the demise of the housing market.
In financial circles, to “short” something means to bet against it by speculating that its value is about to drop. This story profiles the managers of three small investment groups as they scramble to short the housing market starting around 2005 – far before the crash. Their research in all three cases leads them to the cozy relationship between Wall Street and the ratings agencies, those firms that judge the value (or riskiness) of certain investments. This relationship created what Lewis calls “the doomsday machine.”
What the three savvy investors found was that Wall Street was buying up sub-prime mortgages (loans to “high risk” home buyers with low-credit worthiness) as fast as they were sold by banks, other mortgage lenders and brokers (those who made the loans to home buyers). The loans individually would normally carry the lowest credit rating (sometimes referred to as “junk,” such as “junk bonds”), however, something “magical” took place once they were packaged up into bonds (a collection of many hundreds or thousands of individual home loans bundled together) and
then divided up again into “tranches” (a fancy Wall Street word for the splitting of a bond or some other financial instrument) and resold to unsuspecting Wall Street customers (pension funds such as CalPERS, university endowments, and other public institutions were big buyers of these bonds). The guys on Wall Street somehow convinced the rating agencies to give these investments AAA ratings (the highest, best level, meaning they were also the safest and most unlikely to default).
Whether this was a case of Wall Street tricking the rating agencies or the rating agencies simply being incompetent, at least from Lewis’ point of view, it seems to be combination of the two. Reading this book, you will witness the depths of greed that exists on Wall Street, as many firms knew that they were selling “junk” that was being masqueraded as AAA bonds to their customers, all the while betting against it (shorting) by buying credit default swaps, which insures the bonds in the event of a default. [Incidentally, this is what nearly brought down the insurance giant, AIG, and our entire financial system. As they had been the leader in issuing these credit default swaps, which yielded a fortune in premiums, but when the sub-prime loans started to default they became responsible for paying the bond holder for their losses. This is when, for better or worse, the Federal Government stepped in to save AIG and allow it to make good on these policies, creating another less understood bail out of Wall Street]. In other words, they did not believe in what they were selling although they pushed it like there was no tomorrow [it should be noted that when “tomorrow” finally did come in the aftermath of the financial meltdown, Michael Lewis was called to testify before Congress where he provided some of the most damning evidence of fraud by Wall Street].
When two of the people in the book realize the world economy was on the precipice - it seemed to Lewis that they “had always sort of assumed that there was some grown-up in charge of the financial system whom they had never met; now they saw that there was not.” It is impossible to read this book and not come away from it with some new formed opinions about our capital markets in general and Wall Street specifically. But, perhaps if enough of us educate ourselves to the massive shell game that had been going on, we can prevent this sort of thing from happening again.
Inside the Doomsday Machine
Measures A & B
Pension reform – Measure A
Pensions are, very simply, payments that are made after retirement when the employee is no longer working. They are considered a benefit to the employee and are generally negotiated and established far before retirement.
Pensions help attract talented applicants because, after a certain amount of time on the job, a retirement with residual income is possible.
As pensions are typically a lifelong benefit, an unknown cost may be burdened on the entity paying the pension. In the case of a government, those costs are passed on to the taxpayer.
Due to a clause written into the city charter in the 1970’s, the city council cannot reduce pension benefits except by a vote of the citizens. The amendment created by Measure A would give the council the full authority to negotiate pension changes with the unions within the framework of existing state Law. with this amendment, the city council would be able to negotiate lower pensions for new employees and higher pension contribution requirements by all employees.
ArguMenT for A “Yes” VoTe
In 2003, the city’s pension costs were $1.8 million. This year they will exceed $8 million, and future increases in pension costs are virtually certain. Today, a police officer or firefighter can retire as early as age 50 and receive up to 90% of base pay as pension. other city employees can retire as early as age 55 with no cap in their pensions - and increases are guaranteed for inflation. Instead of paying for other city services, monies are being diverted in ever increasing quantities to service these pensions.
ArguMenT for A “no” VoTe
The amendment created by Measure A takes control away from the voters and gives it to the council instead. Additionally, pensions are an important benefit in attracting and retaining employees.
Pension costs are the fastest growing part of the city’s budget and the revenues required to sustain those payments is becoming untenable. As people are living longer lives, if left as-is, it is reasonable to expect that the cost of pensions will absorb a greater percentage of tax payer receipts. At the same time, it is important to understand that the city employees are making and have made decisions based on this covenant they have with their employer.
There is a special election being held during the month of August both with wide ranging repercussions for all of us. Please study this facts, as well as represent the arguments made by both sides. If you August 15th to cast a ballot in this election. And, all ballots must be
an Luis obispo. on the ballot are two measures, A & B, guide carefully. we did our best to distill the issues down to the are a resident but are not yet registered to vote, you must do so by received by August 30th.
Repeal of Binding Arbitration – Measure B
Binding arbitration is often used to quickly and efficiently resolve legal disputes. Instead of a judge and jury, an objective, impartial third-party (arbitrator) evaluates the arguments of the two groups in conflict and makes a binding decision, which must be accepted by both sides and cannot be appealed.
It is a low-cost and fast solution compared to traditional legal proceedings, and in the case of a traditional union dispute it can award a cost-of-living increase to them without the threat of a strike which causes losses to both sides in the form of lost income to the union members and services to the community.
The arbitrator must declare one side or the other “the winner” and cannot mandate a compromise or middle ground, which tends to encourage extreme positions for the parties entering into the dispute. since the arbitrator cannot live in the area, he or she may not fully understand the full impact and ramifications of his or her decision on the community as it relates to either side.
Binding arbitration has been a part of the city charter for 11 years, and it applies only to the firefighters and Police unions and not to the other city unions. The city entered a binding arbitration proceeding with the Police union in 2008. At that time, the arbitrator ruled against the city and awarded police officers a 27.28% cost-of-living increase over 4 years and dispatchers a 32.82% increase over the same period. During those four years, the cost of living in san Luis obispo actually increased by 11%.
ArguMenT for A “Yes” VoTe since the arbitrator can only choose one side or the other and cannot recommend a middle ground or compromise agreement, binding arbitration has been a money loser for the city. The additional compensation awarded to the Police union by the arbitrator during a time of deficits has come at the expense of other city services. The cost-of-living increases awarded to the Police union make them among the most highly compensated department in the state.
ArguMenT for A “no” VoTe
Binding arbitration is an effective and efficient way to resolve labor disputes and ensure continuity of vital first-responder services to the community. since, by law, california police officers and firefighters may not strike (see “The facts” below), binding arbitration is an important collective bargaining tool for these unions. without the threat of binding arbitration, the unions will lose their leverage in these negotiations with the city.
The fAcTs concerns over future work stoppages or outright labor strikes by our local police and fire departments are not valid. Last year, The california supreme court in the case of the city of san Jose v. operating engineers Local no. 3 ruled that, while public employees have the right to strike, they cannot do so if the employees “perform jobs that are essential to public welfare.” In other words, by law they may not go on strike.
slo life magazine | 41
David S. Nilsen President & Chief Financial Advisor David Nilsen is a Registered Representative and Investment Advisor Representative with/ and offers securities and advisory services through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Advisor, Insurance Lic. #0B50436. Investment Retirement Insurance 1301 Chorro Street, Suite A San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 805.541.6500 ObispoWealthManagement.com 805.781.8156 888.439.8800 www.rescarehomecare.com TRUSTED IN-HOME CARE Respect & Care At Home • Personal Care • Compatibility Guaranteed • Transportation • Affordable Rates • Meal Preparation • State & Federal Compliant • Professionally Managed 4 to 24 Hour In-Home Care SERVING THE CENTRAL COAST SINCE 2000
here in s
fresh, Local and in Season
by Jaime lewis
I didn’t start cooking until my late twenties when I got bored with serving my husband frozen dinners. Given the glory of our local farmers’ markets, it seemed like a sin to ignore the bounty of fresh produce at my fingertips. This recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. It features fresh tomatoes, which I always buy from Peacock Farms at the Saturday morning farmers’ market. The resulting tart is sweet, delicious, and hearty without a speck of dairy or meat.
1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in water in medium bowl and let stand until bubbly, about 10 minutes. 2. Add oil, egg and salt then stir in the flour. (Egg contributes to the strengths and suppleness of the dough. If you don’t eat eggs, leave it out and add an additional 3 tablespoons water with 1 tablespoon oil.)
3. When dough is too stiff to work with a spoon, turn it onto the counter and knead until smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes. Add more flour if necessary to keep it from sticking.
4. Set the dough in an oiled bowl, turn it over to coat, cover with a towel and let rise until doubled in bulk, 45 minutes to an hour. 5. Turn the dough out. Roll it into a thin circle and use it to line a tart or pie pan or to make a free-form galette.
6. For individual tarts, divide it into 6 pieces, shape into balls, and let rest under a towel for 15 minutes before rolling them out.
42 | slo life magazine | Loca L food by L oca L peop L e
y ea S ted tart d ough with oL ive o i L Makes one 9 to 11 inch tart or pie crust, or 6 to 8 individual galette shells. 2 teaspoons active dry yeast 1/2 teaspoon sugar 1/2 cup warm water 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 egg, lightly beaten 3/8 teaspoon salt 1 3/4 cups flour, as needed GARDENS OF AVILA RESTAURANT Introducing New Chef Pandee Pearson 595-7302 | sycamoresprings.com 1215 Avila Beach Drive San Luis Obispo Farm to Table Cuisine Fresh Flavors meets Simple Sophistication New Dinner Menu paired with Local Wines • Romantic Dining Room • • Cozy Bar and Lounge • • Private Garden View Room • • Twilight Garden Patio • Open Daily for Breakfast Lunch and Dinner. Mineral Spring S r e S ort & Spa Gardens of Avila Sign photo by Mike Larson Photography
tomato and r ed p epper tart
Cooking for Everyone
By Deborah Madison Makes one 10-inch tart
1. Make the dough and set it aside to arise.
2. Cook the onions in the oil over medium heat until soft, about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. While they’re cooking, peel, seed, and finely chop the tomatoes.
3. Roast the peppers. Set aside two-thirds of one pepper and finely chop the rest.
4. Add tomatoes and diced peppers to the onions, crumble the saffron and anise seeds into the mixture, and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a little pepper. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, especially toward the end. The mixture should be quite thick.
5. Taste for salt and stir in the basil leaves.
6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the dough and drape it over a 10-inch tart pan. Trim it and crimp the dough around the rim.
7. Add the filling, cut the reserved pepper into narrow strips and use them to make a lattice design over the top. Place the olives in the spaces formed by the peppers.
8. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove and brush the rim of the crust with olive oil. Unmold the tart onto a platter and serve.
Have a recipe to share? Go to slolifemagazine.com to tell us about it.
slo life magazine | 43
SLO LIFE If you haven’t
market lately, - it’s time!
1 1/2 pounds
3 large red
Central Coast Farmers’ Harvest • Fresh Picked & Locally Grown Pesticide Free Produce • Direct Delivery to Your Home or Business • Weekly or Every Other Week Delivery Option • No Contract Required Eat Healthy, Eat Local Serving • San Luis Obispo • Avila • • Los Osos • Five Cities • • Nipomo • www.sloveg.com 805.709.2780
tart dough with olive oil
onions, finely diced
olive oil, plus
for the crust
ripe tomatoes, preferably Roma
teaspoon saffron threads
teaspoon anise seeds
teaspoon salt (to taste)
tablespoons chopped basil
Nicoise olives, halved and pitted
central coast cancer challenge august 7th laguna lake Park centralcoastcancerchallenge.com
The 2011 Central Coast Cancer Challenge is a multi-sport event, including a 22K Family Fun Cycle – to the Bob Jones Trail and back, 50K and 100K Intermediate and Advanced Cycling – Rolling Hills, Flat 5K Flat Open Space Trail Run, Thigh-burning 10K Advanced Morro Mountain Trail Run, and a Children’s 1-Mile Fun Run. They will also host a Wellness Expo and a free concert featuring The JD Project. This year’s beneficiaries are Jack’s Helping Hand and the Cancer WellFit Program, supporting local cancer patients, survivors and their families.
Broadway by the Sea august 13th @ 1:00pm chapman estate, Shell Beach operaslo.org
Celebrate summer with an outdoor concert featuring the voices of OperaSLO’s best singers performing the music of Broadway and more. Arrive early, picnic with friends, bid on silent auction treasures, stroll the gardens, observe Plein Air painters and marvel at the breathtaking views.
august 26th – September 18th SLO Little Theatre slolittletheatre.org
Winner of the 1998 Tony Award for Best Play, Art is a dazzling comedy about three men and a painting that deals with questions of male friendship, intellectual honesty, and, of course, what is or isn’t art. The three best friends debate their interpretations of art, economics, loyalty, the values of society, intimacy and human expectation and the debate shakes this trio’s 15-year relationship to the core.
44 | slo life magazine | community calendar
Presenting the best in professional entertainment at the Performing Arts Center! WWW.CALPOLYARTS.ORG
Brews & Bites
September 3rd @ 12:00pm – 5:00pm mission Plaza slobrewsandbites.com
3rd annual Brews & Bites. A celebration of local beer and music, this fest is becoming one of the favorites amongst local beer enthusiasts. This year’s Brews & Bites will feature 11 breweries as well as local musical talent.
La Guitarra California Festival
September 9th – 11th Spanos theatre laguitarracalifornia.com
The 2011 Festival is a “Celebration of Guitar” featuring 20 world-renowned artists in 16 events! With 11 concerts, 4 Masterclasses, a free lecture, dozens of guitar maker exhibits, a guitar silent-auction, and the display of the Forderer Collection of Rare and Historic Guitars - this will be the classical guitar event for 2011.
SLO Jazz Festival
September 24th – 25th downtown San luis obispo slojazzfest.org
The SLO Jazz Festival is an international music event featuring top talent from around the globe, as well as San Luis Obispo County. Multiple stages throughout downtown, including Mission Plaza, will bring together friends, family, and community. SLO Jazz Festival is a non-profit organization promoting local and world-class jazz-related music to benefit the community of San Luis Obispo.
slo life magazine | 45 SLO LIFE
WE ARE THE MUSTANGS Season, Group, and Single Game Tickets on sale at the box of ce by calling 1–866–GO STANGS or online at GoPoly.com Like us on Follow us at twitter.com/CPMustangs www.facebook.com/CalPolyMustangs Dog Training • Premium Daycare • Boarding • Grooming
FREE! 173 Buckley
SPECIALIZING IN: Gymnastics ages 8 mo - 18 yrs Cheerleading Acrobatic Gymnastics Tumble & Trampoline ages 4 - 18 yrs Dance ages 3 and up www.iflipforCCG.com 549-8408 16,000 sq ft of Fun & Fitness! Located between DMV & Trader Joe’s Does your dad like to read? Send him a subscription! slolifemagazine.com
FIRST DAY OF DAYCARE
San Luis Obispo (805) 596-0112 thousandhillspetresort.com
You wouldn’t expect someone who is 6’7” to move so gracefully in a tiny artist studio, but to “Big Mark,” as he is known, it is second nature. He has been “throwing clay” since he was a teenager and, after recently selling his t-shirt screen printing company, he has made it his sole focus. When Mark Sensenbach is not at Cuesta College, where he is employed as the Ceramic Arts Technician, he can be found “tapping, bumping, and poking” original handmade works on his pottery wheel. “I’m trying to give the form a little movement, some character. You can buy a perfect porcelain cup at Costco, but there is only one like this,” he says while hoisting a nearby handmade coffee mug. SLO LIFE
THE ARTS |
“We tripled our business last year and the only place we advertised was SLO LIFE Magazine. Since we are a small company and get to know all of our customers personally we always get around to asking them how they heard about us and, more often than not, they say that they saw us in SLO LIFE.”
- Dan Melton & Rachael Hill, SLO Veg
“A few days after my first ad ran I received a call from a soon-to-be first-time mom who wanted to know more about natural birthing. She told me that she had learned about me from my ad in SLO LIFE. Not only did she become a new patient, but I received several more from the same issue.”
- Edana Hall, Holistic Midwifery Care
“We’ve been advertising with SLO LIFE Magazine since they started out a year ago. And, in that time, we have leased out 3 large suites to great tenants and have greatly increased the leases of smaller offices. Many of those inquiries came from your readers.”
- Warren Dolezal, San Luis Business Park
“When patients come to see us they often mention our baby ad in SLO Life Magazine. It means a lot to us to have this exposure. Even baby seems happier with this new found attention.”
- Karen Scott, Karen Scott Audiology
“Not only does SLO LIFE play an important role for us in terms of marketing and reaching our desired audience, but I have to say that they also serve an important function in our community. I read it and love it and everyone else I know reads it and loves it too.”
- Todd Davidson, Sage Ecological Nursery
“SLO LIFE Magazine has literally transformed our business. We have never seen someone care so much about us and our success as they do. Because of their help our sales have increased substantially. We used to advertise everywhere, now the only place we advertise in SLO LIFE. We cannot possibly recommend them more highly.”
- Jim & Megan Mackintosh, SLO Moped
“Everyone I know reads SLO LIFE Magazine. People mention to us all the time that they see our ad. It is the ideal vehicle to reach our audience locally. No other advertising platform works as well for us.”
- Darik Stollmeyer, Rev
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