Hello fellow Avilones, and happy spring to one and all. A new season in Avila Beach has begun, starting with the March 29th opening day of Fish and Farmers' Market. Julie Andrews-Scott, her crew, vendors and entertainers are poised to once again make our Promenade the place to be on Friday nights. Just a reminder for those of you who prefer to avoid vehicular parking and traffic issues that the Free Avila Trolley is available for roundtrip ease. For route schedule details visit www.slorta.com
Springtime also means that in the coming months we locals must prepare ourselves for the usual influx of beach enthusiasts, tourists, concert-goers, etc. As daily life in Avila surely becomes disrupted, we can make it easier on ourselves by staying informed of activities that will likely make it more challenging to enter or leave the beach town areas. I urge everyone to register for the Avila Beach Foundation's "Avila Alerts" email service, which is designed to notify residents of large, upcoming community events or public works that could impact our day so we can adjust our schedules accordingly. All you need to do is visit www.avilabeachfoundation.org
and look for the "Avila Alerts" registration tab. You can also stay informed of these alerts by liking our Facebook page. And, for those of you concerned about Avila Beach entrance and exit during the Amgen Tour of California bike race, I am told that all details of May 16th road closures will be posted on the Amgen website by mid-April. To learn about said closures, as well as volunteer opportunities, visit www.amgentourofcalifornia.com
Speaking of the Amgen event, I have some personal thoughts to share. I don't often use this column to provide commentary, but after having sat in on a few community meetings previously held to better inform Avila interests, I can't help but espouse. While a good many people in attendance were highly supportive of the rare opportunity Amgen brings, they rightfully expressed the importance of adequate planning and safety measures. I agree, both with the event and the essential precautions. Then there were the people in opposition of Amgen coming to Avila because of the certain disruptions and their fears that not every possible worst-case scenario could be avoided. To them I have to say that after hearing reports from County Supervisor Adam Hill and members of County staff, public safety officials, and Amgen organizers, I am satisfied that they have done their homework to help deliver the best possible outcome. Are there ever guarantees in life that nothing will go wrong? Of course not, but I am quite confident that Avila Beach will have more public safety and emergency personnel on hand than we have ever seen. And let's face it - unforeseen circumstances such as whale arrivals, busy beach weekends or even traffic accidents can have adverse effects on life in and around Avila Beach. The difference is that in those cases it takes time to rally emergency response. In the case of Amgen, everything is in place. What better place to be?? So, how about we Avilones either leave town for a day and a half, or we take advantage of this event that brings international exposure and excitement to our small slice of paradise. Relax and enjoy the moment, I say. In the spirit of disclaimer, my comments are not intended to represent the views of the Avila Beach Community Foundation or its Board of Trustees - they are simply my own.
Now, getting back to more informative matters, I thought you'd like to know that things are progressing with the Port San Luis Harbor District parking and traffic management study. A draft report by the contractor who conducted the study was shared at a special meeting on February 28th, will be presented at a meeting of the Harbor Commission on March 26th, public comments will be welcomed until April 26th, and a final draft will be presented on May 28th. With a copy of the draft report in my possession, I share with you a few "fun" facts. 1. In all of Avila Beach there is a grand total of 1,771 parking "stalls", which I take means "spaces". 1,096 of those are on-street and 675 are off-street. 2. Of the 1,771 parking spots, 85% are "no-limit", 14% are three-hour time limited, and 1% is two-hour time limited. 3. The study suggests that parking "saturation" occurs anytime 85% or more of the identified parking spots are taken. I think we all agree that parking issues are a concern every summer, particularly on weekends and during special events. Some "radical" suggestions/solutions to the issue appear in the report, such as installing metered parking, selling discounted parking passes to business owners and employees, selling seasonal/monthly parking passes, issuing one on-street parking pass per residence, offering satellite parking, transit service, etc. Let's face it, our town is growing up and experiencing the requisite growing pains. I encourage anyone with concerns and ideas to attend the May 28th meeting. Visit www.portsanluis.com
for more information. That's it for now, fellow Avilones. See you at the beach!!! Oh, I almost forgot. If you have yet to do so, stop by for a look through the new, free public viewing telescope on the Avila Pier. I hear it's getting rave reviews on Facebook. Thanks again to Richard and Kathy Zacky for working with the Avila Beach Community Foundation and Port San Luis to bring this new feature to Avila. Checkout our website
to view the pier telescope project photo gallery.
Hello fellow Avilones. Hopefully you are adjusting to your new collective title, because I sure get a kick out of saying the word "Avilone". There is much to report this month, so let me jump into the nitty gritty. First, I remind you to visit our website (or see flyer below) to learn about the upcoming Live Well Symposium, scheduled for April 6th at the Community Center. A full day of helpful tips on living a healthy life, a nutritious lunch, plus the opportunity to take advantage of some free health screenings await the first 75 people who register. Thanks to the generosity of our event partners Chevron and Dignity Health, the registration fee is a paltry $10 per person. Avila Bay Club will also be providing free chair massages and some great raffle prizes. For more details about the program, presenters and good health practices, please read Julian Varela's column in this month's issue of the "Avila Community News".
Next, if you have yet to see it, I invite you to visit the new public viewing telescope near the foot of the Avila Pier. Yes, it has finally arrived and is now available for all to enjoy. To my knowledge, this is the only such beachside free viewing telescope on the Central Coast - yet another feature unique to Avila Beach. I again offer my thanks to Richard and Kathy Zacky for donating the telescope, and to our friends at Port San Luis for helping to facilitate its placement and installation. Don't forget to read the dedication plaque honoring the departed Reed Smith, a friend of the Zackys and noted advocate for the coast and its inhabitants.
Remember a few months back when the threat of tsunami-like waves reached the Central Coast? Residents and businesses close to the beach received reverse 911 calls as part of the emergency evacuation procedures that day. The topic of reverse 911 surfaced at the February meeting of the Avila Valley Advisory Council, when the Sheriff's Department commented that such automated phone calls are only placed to landlines, not mobile phones, unless those numbers are registered. If you wish to register your mobile phone for the reverse 911 automated service, visit the SLO County Sheriff's website to do so, at www.slosheriff.org
Here's some news for those of you who have been waiting for a progress report on the Pirates Cove Cave Landing trail project. According to County Parks representative Shaun Cooper, the first step is formal acceptance of parcel #5 from San Miguelito Partnters. Following that the plan is to improve the parking area, construct a trail consisting of decomposed granite, and place vault toilets on the premises. It appears that the new trail would start at the parking lot, extend to the bluffs at the lower tip, and provide a stairway to the beach. If all goes well, construction will begin this summer. So as not be confused with the other nearby development up at the old tank farm as presented by Chevron, you may want to visit the "Avila Point" website for updates - www.AvilaPoint.com
. Now throw into the mix the proposed Wild Cherry Canyon trail project that could connect Montana de Oro to Avila Beach, and we envision a series of paths that would be nothing short of spectacular! Contrary to rumors that the Wild Cherry Canyon project is dead, P.G.&E. representative John Shoals tells us that things are still moving forward.
As for the biggest thing to hit Avila Beach since, perhaps, Diablo Canyon, get yourselves ready for the May 16th arrival of the Amgen California Tour bike race. County Supervisor Adam Hill reported at the February AVAC meeting that Avila will host the finish of stage 5 of the race, which begins that day in Santa Barbara at 11:00a.m., with riders expected to arrive in Avila around 3:30-4:00p.m. Amgen California consists of 16 teams of 8 riders each, making 128 in all. The impact on Avila will begin on Tuesday the 15th with the arrival of TV trucks, placement of street barriers and set-up of the finish line staging area. Crowd estimates range from 5,000-10,000 depending on who you talk to. While many locals still express concerns about that number of people descending upon Avila all at once, we are told by members of the planning committee - which seems to include every public safety agency in the County - that measures will be in effect to help ensure a controlled environment. A special meeting took place on February 20th - after the deadline for this issue of the "Avila Community News" - to gather further community input. Volunteer opportunities exist for those who want to be part of this international event. For more information about Amgen, visit www.amgentourcalifornia.com
Speaking of volunteer opportunities, San Luis Bay Estates resident Saul Goldberg could use a few hands to help with his project to place plant identification markers along the Bob Jones Trail. For fans of foliage, these markers will enhance the experience of those who enjoy a casual and educational stroll along this wonderful trail. Plus, I'm told that with the simple wave of a Smart Phone over the sign scan box, you can be delivered to a website that further explains the plant identified. Let me know if you want to help Saul and his crew. And thank you, Saul, for bringing this opportunity to our attention. As always, I encourage you to stay informed of, and involved in, matters of Avila. I welcome your comments and ideas - firstname.lastname@example.org
Some late breaking news! The new Avila Beach Postmaster has arrived. Her name is Cindy Baker-Kobliska, and comes to us from the San Luis Obispo branch, where she worked for 7 ½ of her 15 years with the postal service. Cindy was raised in Portland, and is delighted to be here in Avila Beach. She invites you stop by and say "hello'. That's about it for now, fellow Avilones. See you at the beach!
Hello, friends and neighbors. A new year is upon us, which typically launches well-meaning personal resolutions and belief that the next twelve months will be better than the last. We recover from the celebrations of the recently concluded holiday season and look forward to a return to normalcy. From me to you - may 2013 be a truly magnificent year!
The Avila Beach Community Foundation Board of Trustees is pleased to report that we are once again supporting a variety of local organizations and projects that won grant awards during our recent cycle. For the coming year the "Foundation" is investing a grand total of nearly $57,000 in organizations and activities such as the Avila Beach Community Center, People's Self Help Housing's Lachen Tara Apartments supportive housing services, the Achievement House Avila Beach summer clean-up program, the Port San Luis Mutt Mitts project, the San Luis Obispo Film Festival's Avila Beach venue, development of a new website for the Save Our Schoolhouse project, the Avila Beach Junior Lifeguard's summer program, free rides on the Avila Beach Trolley, the Cancer Well-Fit program at the Avila Bay Club, and continued home delivery of the Avila Community News. Our Trustees believe financial assistance of this nature helps the 'Foundation" meet its mission to enhance life in Avila Beach.
Before I get much deeper into this column, let me introduce you to the "Foundation's" Board of Trustees for 2013. Our incoming President is Julian Varela, who steps into the role that outgoing President Mike Ritter so effectively filled the past six years. Michael Ginn is our new Vice-President, Boyd Horne steps into the Treasurer position, and Maridel Salisbury is our new Secretary. Rounding our board for 2013 are Immediate Past President Mike Ritter, Bill Gerrish, Carolyn Morton, Lucinda Borchard, Chris DeWeese, Percy Jones, Justin Hodges, and we welcome Stephen May, newly elected for a three-year. These folks are YOUR friends and neighbors, so please thank them for being involved, and share with them any ideas you may have to improve our community.
I have to say that the past couple months have been chock-full of a dizzying array of activity and information. Chevron is moving forward with efforts to develop the old Tank Farm (now referred to as Avila Point), Port San Luis is inching ever closer to turning Harbor Terrace into a must-see destination, the proposed and long-awaited Wild Cherry Canyon project to connect Avila Beach with Montana de Oro is once again gaining steam..............and oh, have you heard about the famous Amgen Tour of California bike race possibly concluding right here in town!! The latter was the premier topic of interest at December's meeting of the Avila Valley Advisory Council. The house was full and, in my estimation, pretty much evenly divided on loving/hating the idea. Proponents are elated about the prospect of Avila gaining attention for hosting an event of international acclaim, and opponents wonder just how - in some estimates - up to 20,000 people will fit in our town that can become gridlocked on the average summer holiday weekend. County Supervisor Adam Hill is heading up the committee of representatives from public agencies that will ultimately determine the feasibility and ability to accommodate the Amgen event. Stay tuned - better yet learn more for yourself about each of the aforementioned Avila Beach topics by visiting websites and talking to organizers.
Those of you who know me recognize that my mind sometimes works in mysterious ways - typically how I amuse myself, if not others, with my "play on words". My most recent veer off the path of the straight and narrow was pondering possible nicknames for us Avila Beach inhabitants. Residents of our state are often referred to as "Californians", in Los Angeles you have the "Angelinos", further south we have the "San Diegans", etc. For us, I'm thinking........"Avilites, Avilones (like abalone), Aviliniens, or Avilucions. Anyone out there have a beach town nickname idea of your own? Send me an email at email@example.com and we'll try to get something going. Perhaps even in time to make some souvenir tee-shirts for the 20,000 Amgen Bike tour visitors. Here's one for you. Is the person at Amgen responsible for public relations known as their "spokesperson?" That's it for now. I'll see you at the beach.
Hello, friends and neighbors. By now, I hope you have completed a good deal of your holiday gift shopping, so as to beat the crowds that will soon clog big box store parking lots and other favorite spots. As usual, the "bah humbug" in me cannot wait for the season to arrive and depart so normalcy can return. Speaking of "departing", it is with a great deal of sadness that we say "goodbye" to Avila Beach Postmaster Kim Simpson, who transferred to the Arroyo Grande branch. After 9 ½ years on the job here in Avila, most of us came to know Kim as a friendly and helpful person - quick with a smile and hearty laugh. October 6th was Kim's final day, as he left Avila in the capable hands of Mary and Julie. With 30 years of postal service under his belt, Kim anticipates reaching retirement in another five years. Best wishes, Kim, you will be missed.
A few more words concerning the future of the Avila Beach Post Office......like many small branches throughout the country, ours teeters on the brink of remaining financially viable, reliant on the amount of business it generates. My understanding is that every two years smaller branches like ours are reviewed to determine whether business hours need to be reduced or eliminated altogether. To help avoid even further cuts to operating hours for the Avila Beach branch, I urge all area residents to buy their postage and mail their packages locally. The prospect of having to always drive to SLO or Five Cites to conduct postal business does not appeal to me......how about you?
With a glimpse into the future, Chevron hosted a community open house on November 8th. Representatives from both Chevron and RRM Design shared their vision for what has been a vacated Tank Farm since the end of the oil spill clean-up era. Roughly 75 residents from the Avila Beach and Valley areas attended the open house. We were introduced to a conceptual rendering of what could become of the property and project now called "Avila Point". Presenters spent a fair amount of time addressing in advance what they suspected would be concerns surrounding open space, community access, project vision and character, sensitivity to history and environment, etc. From my perspective, it looks like an attractive and practical use of some pristine land now just sitting there, being wasted. I invite you to visit the "Avila Point" website - www.AvilaPoint.com - to learn more about the project proposal. Chevron welcomes feedback and promises to keep the community informed as things progress.
Next, here is a preview of upcoming Avila Beach Community Foundation business. On December 10th our Board of Trustees will meet to determine recipients of grants for the coming year. The annual selection process is one of our most important tasks, as tens of thousands of dollars will be allocated towards projects that complement or enhance life here in Avila. At the same meeting, elections will take place to determine board officers and Trustees for 2013. A few positions are up for renewal, and a new candidate is up for election to an initial three-year term. I will announce the full board in the January issue of ACN. In an earlier edition I mentioned plans for the Foundation's Live Well Symposium II, which looks as though will take place in April. Our 2011 Symposium was well attended and drew rave reviews. Keep an eye out for registration details after the first of the year. Also, I am pleased to inform you that we are moving forward with the project to place a public viewing telescope on the Avila Pier, courtesy of Richard and Kathy Zacky. I suspect it will be installed by early spring - perhaps sooner.
Last but not least, please don't forget that it's not too late for you to invest in your favorite Avila Beach organizations and projects. Year-end donations ensure you tax credits and a feeling of fulfillment by supporting this special area in which you have chosen to live. As always, I am happy to speak with you about setting up a donor-advised fund at the Foundation, from which you can draw upon at any time to support local projects of your choice. This is a no-fee service provided by the Foundation because we want every dollar to count. That's it for now. I wish you a very joyous holiday season. Travel safely and cherish your time with friends and loved ones. I'll see you at the beach!
Hello friends and neighbors. My how things have quieted down since the tourist and special events seasons have come to an end. I look at the near empty parking lot adjacent to the post office and marvel at how different it appears without a full complement of vehicles. And now with the holiday season rapidly approaching, I’m sure a good many of you are getting geared up for visits with relatives and others close to you. It’s a special time of year full of good spirit, goodwill and festive gatherings.
I would be remiss as a non-profit executive director if I don’t remind you that the holiday season is also the time of year when donor giving reaches its peak. For some it is the spirit of helping those less fortunate, others contribute to life enrichment programs, and even the looming tax deadlines play a role in year-end giving.. Whatever the reason, generosity throughout San Luis Obispo County is impressive and far reaching. Your Avila Beach Community Foundation is one place where you can invest in the present AND future of this truly wonderful spot anytime during the year. As you know, the Foundation allocates tens of thousands of dollars annually to support local organizations and projects that contribute greatly to the Avila Beach lifestyle. Whether to help keep the doors of the Community Center open, furnishing the doggie poop bags that help keep our beaches clean, subsidizing the free rides on the Avila Trolley, paying for home delivery of the monthly Avila News, sponsoring exhibits and providing scholarships for the Sea Life Center, arranging for the purchase of six new, commercial-grade trash containers along the beach boardwalk seawall on both sides of the Promenade, hosting Town Hall forums and educational symposiums, and so much more, the Avila Beach Foundation plays a major role in the community.
Are you aware that the Foundation has invested more than $2 million in Avila Beach over the past twelve years? Some through grants, some through matching gifts, some through our emerging community needs and opportunities fund, and some through donor advised accounts. Please keep reading so I can share the simple ways in which YOU can participate in the health and well-being of Avila Beach. Through our Emerging Community Needs and Opportunities Fund
, you can make a donation in any amount, and the sum is pooled with like donations from others in the community. As requests come in for small projects support, we can tap these pooled funds accordingly. In the coming year we will also place more emphasis on developing additional Donor Advised Accounts
, like the one opened by Richard and Kathy Zacky that will soon result in a new public viewing telescope being installed on the Avila Pier. The beauty of this kind of donation is that you can set up the account, receive all entitled tax deductions that year, and recommend the ways in which those monies are allocated as long as the account stays active. NONE of the funds donated go to Foundation operating costs - just to projects that meet our mission and enhance life in Avila Beach. Help us preserve Avila Beach for future generations. Please call me at 595-4095 to explore donor options and benefits.
Okay, now that I’ve completed my due diligence, it’s back to other community business. I wish to share with you an overview of the Avila Circulation Study presented by SLO County Traffic Engineer Ryan Chapman at the October meeting of the Avila Valley Advisory Council. Primary topics of the “study” and Ryan’s report include transportation improvements, roadway widths, special events policy, Avila Beach Drive Bridge seismic retrofit, Port San Luis Parking, San Luis Bay Drive exit at US 101, Avila Beach Drive exit at US 101, and a pedestrian walkway from Avila to the Harford Pier. While I don’t have the space here to summarize each component of the study and report, I can direct you to the website that does contain details. To view this report, which is only a few pages in length, visit – www.slocounty.ca.gov/PW/Traffic _ Studies.htm
Shortly after you receive this issue of the Avila Community News, the Avila Beach Community Foundation Board of Trustees will meet to determine grant awards for funding of organizations and projects for the coming year. We received a record number of applications this year, with requests that totaled over $112,000. The Foundation won’t be able to accommodate the funding needs of all applicants, but that does not mean any are unworthy. Need always exceeds available resources, and the burden falls on service-providing organizations to foster community wide interest and support. The opportunity to make a difference is an intrinsic benefit that many enjoy. That’s it for now friends and neighbors. I’ll see you at the beach.
Hello friends and neighbors. Fall is upon us and soon we will be heading into the holiday season. Doesn't it seem that just moments ago we were enjoying a spectacular Avila Beach summer? I don't know about you, but I'm not ready yet for shorter days and colder temperatures. Oh well, at least we don't live in Alaska, the Midwest or back East where weather is an everyday challenge.
Have you seen the six new trash containers that line the beach boardwalk railings on each side of the Promenade? I am proud that the Foundation played a huge role in making that happen, and I hope Avila residents and visitors alike will find it easier to dispose of their litter, or pick up behind those who don't share our commitment to maintaining a clean community. Please take a look at the nice photo collage in this publication showing the arrival of the containers, and the generous donors and partners involved in the project. Our thanks go to Custom House/Mr. Rick's, Hula Hut/Beachcomber Bill's, Avila Fish and Farmers' Market, Anne Brown Family, County Supervisor Adam Hill and Legislative Aide Susan Devine, Howard Carroll, and SLO County Parks. We appreciate your community spirit!!!
I think this is a good time to let you readers know about a couple projects in the works by the Port San Luis Harbor District. Previously I mentioned their efforts to address parking and traffic management problems, and that an RFP had been issued seeking a contractor to complete a first phase study. Port Manager Steve McGrath has provided the following update on this project. "It's no news to any that parking is a big issue in Avila. As you know, the summer crowds, the success of Fish and Farmers' Market and even visiting whales have huge impacts on the community. On the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, the firm retained by the District to develop a parking management plan, TPG Consulting Inc., began the process of data collection. Starting at 6 a.m. at the harbor, and then in Avila at 9 a.m., people were out counting and tracking the parked cars. This process will occur three more times and will tell us where and when the cars show up, and how long they stay. This data will then inform the preliminary recommendations from TPG. Subsequent to review of the September data collection, management will meet with TPG to establish future dates for surveys in October, discuss a schedule for community outreach and review potential options and recommendations to address the complexities of parking at the harbor, and in the community." Steve also reported at a recent meeting of AVAC that the Harbor Terrace development project continues. The trailer park has been closed and the eight residents, one of who is full-time, will be relocated within a year. Thank you for the updates, Steve. These are matters of great interest to those of us who live in Avila.
For those of you - primarily San Luis Bay Estates residents - who have been patiently waiting an opportunity to once again park their golf carts at the golf course and more easily access Avila Beach town, here is the latest. The general manager who was hired in August was assigned the task by golf course owner Rob Rossi. GM and I were going to meet in early September to discuss options but, lo and behold, GM didn't work out and is no longer employed at the golf course. So, I spoke with Mr. Rossi, who told me a new operations manager will be arriving in October, shortly after which the matter will be revisited. I will keep you posted as things progress.
While I don't want to make any promises, I will tell you that steps are being taken to place a commercial-grade telescope on the Avila Pier. A donor has stepped forward (Richard and Kathy Zacky) to provide funding, and it appears that Port San Luis staff are in favor of installing and maintaining the telescope. We are still working out the details, and will likely have more information by the time you read this column. Wouldn't it be cool to peer far out into the ocean and surrounding landscape to see things not possible with the naked eye? What do you think about this project?
Last but not least, I know that the Avila Beach Foundation Board of Trustees is excited about the upcoming, October 15th hearing of applicants seeking grants for next year. This is our annual opportunity to learn about the successes of previous year grantees, their goals and needs for the coming year, and from applicants that have identified new projects to help make our community even more enticing. Grant awards will be determined in November. As always, I invite you to visit our website - www.avilabeachfoundation.org - to learn more about what we do, and how you can participate in our mission. That's it for now, friends and neighbors. I'll see you at the beach.
Hello friends and neighbors. Here we are at mid-summer in Avila and things are “cranking”. One of the more commons sights this time of year for beach-goers is the 200 or so red-clad junior lifeguards and instructors on the sand, in the water and on the kayaks. The Avila Beach Junior Lifeguards program has been financially supported by the Avila Beach Foundation for many years, and is one of our most visible project partnerships. We are very proud of Russ Edwards and his crew.
Speaking of Foundation financial support – individuals and organizations are now invited to submit proposals for funding of 2013 projects. Our grant application is now posted on the Foundation’s website, and can be downloaded by visiting www.avilabeachfoundation.org
. Fully completed applications are due by 5:00p.m. on September 28th, 2012. Eligible grant applicants will be invited to verbally present their projects in October, and awardees will be announced in November. Feel free to call me if you are new to the process and have some questions…….595-4095.
Have you ever wondered that in the event of an earthquake, tsunami, or nuclear power plant accident from where would Avila Beach and Avila Valley residents get information about emergency evacuation? Well, Ken Thompson, a member of AVAC who takes special interest in this topic summarizes what he learned while attending the Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee meetings held in Avila Beach on June 19 & 20 as follows. “Avila resident Michael Ginn talked about how the Diablo Canyon Power Plant interfaces with local emergency agencies and community organizations. Ron Alsop, SLO County Office of Emergency Services, furnished answers to some of the public’s questions. To provide you with the answers and the “Facts & Data” you need, videos of the June meetings have been produced and can be viewed on your computer at website - http://www.slo-span.org/media.php?slo=1#DCISC
. I suggest that you “fast forward” through the administrative sections at the beginning of the video until you get to the pertinent presentations”. Thanks so much for passing along this information, Ken. It’s nice to know you are looking out for us.
Once again the Foundation has benefited from local interest in what we do. At our July board meeting, Skylark Meadows resident Percy Jones was elected to our Board of Trustees. Percy and his wife first found and fell in love with Avila Beach in 1997. They moved here in 2003 with their two sons. Percy is currently a Fire Captain with the Los Angeles City Fire Department. Visit the Foundation’s website to view Percy’s bio and photo. Welcome, Percy! Also stepping up to the plate were Indian Hill residents Ray and Ann Feeser, who made a personal donation to the Foundation’s Emerging Community Needs and Opportunities Fund
. Their gift was matched by Ray’s employer, The Boeing Company. Your generosity and thoughtfulness is much appreciated, Ray and Ann! I hope others in the community will be inspired to contribute as well to our fund that helps enhance life in Avila Beach.
Are you ready for another update on the long-awaited beachfront trash bins project? Well, I am glad to report that the order for six bins has been placed, along with the dedication plaques recognizing those who have helped pay for them. Our gratitude to project sponsors Old Custom House/Mr. Rick’s, Hula Hut/Beachcomber Bill’s, Avila Beach Fish and Farmers’ Market, County Supervisor Adam Hill, Anne Brown & Family, and Howard Carroll. And special thanks to Curtis Black of SLO County Parks and Susan Devine from Supervisor Hill’s office. As of this publication we don’t have an exact delivery date, but we hope they arrive soon.
With the little space I have remaining, I feel compelled to share my recent experience as a volunteer at the recently conducted Central Coast Wine Classic, organized by the well-known Archie McLaren. Held at the Avila Beach Golf Resort, this first-class event has gained widespread recognition for excellence. In my role as auction bid recorder for the fourth time, I remained amazed at the amount of money people spend on wine – rare, collectible or reputable – art, and dinner parties. The auction crowd consists mostly of folks from out of the area who, in addition to supporting the weeklong CCWC, no doubt spend lots of money at area hotels, restaurants and shops – a good thing for our local economy. On top of that, CCWC shares event proceeds with non-profit organizations in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, so it’s a win/win all around. Congratulations on another successful event, Archie! That’s it for now. I’ll see you at the beach.
Hello friends and neighbors. I hope you are enjoying the summer and all its trappings. Things are in full swing throughout Avila Beach and the Valley as locals and tourists alike flock to our area. To begin this month’s report, I’d like to provide you with some updates on ongoing projects that were featured in last month’s column. First, my apologies for the delay in the placement of commercial trash bins along the beach boardwalk on the east and west sides of the Promenade. With four project partners sharing responsibility - all on different schedules - it has taken longer than we hoped. As I pen this column on June 18th, it appears we are only days away from actually placing the order for the receptacles, which means they should be on their way soon.
Next, I wish to thank Avila Beach Foundation Trustee Boyd Horne for attending a recent meeting conducted by the Port San Luis Harbor District regarding parking and traffic management in and around Avila Beach. Following is Boyd’s summary of the meeting……………”The meeting was called to order by Steve McGrath, Harbor District Manager. Also attending the meeting were representatives from the SLO County Parks Department, Public Works Department, Avila Beach Community Services District, Council of Governments, Avila Beach Civic Association, Avila Beach Advisory Council and Avila Beach Community Foundation. Due to the area’s increasing parking and traffic management issues and challenges, the SLO Council of Governments has awarded a grant of $50,000 to conduct a study and make recommendations for both short and long range solutions and mitigations. The resulting consensus of those in attendance is for the possible establishment of a Parking District under the authority and control of a board to be created through a joint powers agreement of the three governmental jurisdictions (Port San Luis, ABCSD and the County), with involvement from other constituencies. The next step is to contact LAFCO (Local Agency Formation Commission) regarding feasibility and requirements.” Wow – that’s quite a mouthful, and leads me to believe this won’t be quick turnaround project. However, the topic is of great concern to so many of us. I will do my best to keep you readers informed of progress as it occurs.
Moving along, the Foundation recently received some good news and some not so good news from our friends at Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The good news is that we were awarded a $5,000 grant from PG&E – a portion to support our Avila Beach History and Heritage presentation series, and a portion to be pooled with the Foundation’s Emerging Community Needs and Opportunity Fund
. This “Fund” consists of money that is available to support small projects and address community needs that may pop up outside of our annual grant making period. It also has fewer grant making restrictions than does the money comprising our endowment as established by the UNOCAL beach clean-up settlement.
For information about the “Fund”, please contact us at 595-4095 or firstname.lastname@example.org
. The not so good news is that one of the Foundation’s newest board members, PG&E Vice President in charge of operations at Diablo Canyon Jim Becker, is relocating to Arizona. We wish Jim and his family all the best as they open the next chapter of their lives.
And now, I must give the Foundation a pat on the back for two projects we funded this year at the Avila Beach Sea Life Center. While full credit for a successful endeavor goes to the Sea Life Center, it is important that I remind everyone that the Avila Beach Foundation doesn’t just exist, but is here to help enhance the Avila Beach lifestyle. Having just received the ABSLC mid-year grant report, we learned that 490 central coast schoolchildren were able to participate in their Scientist for a Day Floating Lab and Discovery Lab Programs
. The other project we supported was the Center’s Habitats of Avila Exhibit and lecture series. The new habitat tank was curated and installed in the spring, and is designed to showcase three different marine habitats found in Avila Bay. The lecture launched with the first of a series designed to engage the public in learning more about ocean related issues from local experts – in this case the featured topics were shark tagging, the connection between air and water, marine protected areas, and the Morro Bay Estuary. I encourage you to visit the Sea Life Center soon to see the new exhibit and register for the remaining segments of the lecture series. Check out their website at www.sealifecenter.org
My final bit of news is the result of some expressed dissatisfaction over the elimination of the free Avila Trolley stop that used to be at Woodstone Deli at the base of San Luis Bay Estates. Last month I received a small flurry of emails from SLBE residents wanting to know why the stop was discontinued. Upon consulting the Trolley operator – South County Area Transit – I learned that ridership for that stop was terribly low in 2011, so as part of an overall realignment of the route and schedule to become more efficient, the Woodstone stop was ceased. Following the “flurry” of emails, I contacted SCAT, and then facilitated an email survey to SLBE residents to help determine interest and need. Quite frankly, the number of respondents – fourteen - was far from overwhelming, but the matter is under consideration by the Trolley operator. While the Foundation provides an annual grant to keep Trolley rides free, we have no control over routing decisions. It’s in the hands of SCAT, so let’s wait to see what happens. That’s it for now. I’ll see you at the beach.
Hello friends and neighbors. To quote Mungo Jerry, a British rock group from the 1970s, “It’s summertime, and the living is easy.” That song, still played on the oldies stations during each summer season always brings back fond memories of my teenage days on the beaches in Santa Monica, Venice and Malibu. Nothing quite matches the sound of the surf, the fragrance of tanning oil, Frisbees and footballs zooming by, music blaring and barbecues grilling. Time kind of stands still at the beach, as little has changed when you are on the sand and take a look around.
How wonderful it is for us Avila Beach area residents to have such a place of memories to be made so nearby. The really fortunate ones can simply look out their windows or take a short stroll to beach heaven. Others only need hop on a bike, put on their jogging shoes, or jump in the car for a quick, easy trip to the waterfront. Yep, the “living IS easy” - most of the time. But that doesn’t mean there is no room for improvement. Once again wearing my hat as “the dude who tries to keep you informed of some local current issues related to life in Avila Beach”, I report on a couple of things now in the loop. First, let me state that the Avila Beach Foundation, Avila Beach Business Association, County Supervisor Adam Hill’s office and SLO County Parks and Recreation are still collaborating on a small project to make it easier to reduce debris on the beach boardwalk areas on both sides of the Promenade. Most locals have noticed an absence of trash bins along those sections, which becomes an unfortunate collection area for litter. Before too long you will see a half dozen architecturally-compatible trash receptacles strategically placed to make it much easier for folks to toss their trash, or to pick up that seen on the ground without having to walk an extra 100 yards or so to do the right thing.
Another beach town hot topic is that of parking, particularly those areas under the management of the Port San Luis Harbor District. As you readers know, the more popular Avila Beach becomes, the more strain we see on parking resources. I am pleased to learn that Port Manager Steve McGrath is reaching out to some Avila associations to set up a meeting to discuss, in general, “parking at the Port, transit through the community, parking management in Avila, and how best to establish a scope of work for the funding approved by SLOCOG for parking and traffic management.” I’m not certain what all that means, but will surely learn more when the meeting takes place sometime in June. I will gladly furnish an update if new information is available prior to the article submittal deadline of the July Avila Community News.
Somewhat related to the above mentioned parking issue is another project that I have been personally working on with a number of San Luis Bay Estates residents – in particular those who own golf carts. Prior to the opening of the latest Bob Jones Trail extension along the golf course, it was a common practice for many SLBE golf cart owners to drive their carts down to an informal parking area next to the water treatment plant at the San Miguel Street intersection. After parking the carts they would walk across Avila Beach Drive and head to the beach. While the Bob Jones extension was a tremendous addition, it also resulted in the closing of that golf cart parking area and the San Miguel Street crossing. I am pleased to report that golf course owner Rob Rossi is now working on a way to once again accommodate golf cart parking on his property, though nothing specific is available as of this publication. I don’t presently own a golf cart, but am in favor of anything that helps bring fewer automobiles into town. In fact, I would really like to see Avila Beach become a designated “golf cart friendly” community, and make it possible for even non-street legal carts to enter the town. This could include designated golf cart parking spots as yet another inducement to reduce the number of automobiles at the beach. Stay tuned.
Now, back again to my role as Avila Beach Foundation Executive Director, I am more than pleased to announce the establishment of a new donor-directed community fund, thanks to the generosity of Avila residents Richard and Kathy Zacky. The Zackys maintain a primary home and business in the Fresno area, but fell in love with Avila years ago and have a second home here where they spend most weekends. Richard and Kathy are extremely community-minded and are excited about contributing to the ongoing evolution of our town. As of this publication we are still working out the details of exactly how this fund will be structured and accessible. Once finalized, this information will be available on the Foundation website. Thank you so much Richard and Kathy for sharing your ideas and your resources. I look forward to seeing just what type of projects emerge through this new initiative. I hope others in the community will follow in the footsteps of the Zackys. To learn more about establishing your own donor-designated fund, please call me at 595-4095. That’s about it for now everyone. I’ll see you at the beach!
Hello friends and neighbors. Here I sit at my computer on this rainy Sunday morning, typing my column instead of playing golf with my pals as is customary this time each week. Once again it looks like a strange season of weather variations - sunny and 80 degrees one day, 55 and cold the next, some rain, then back into the 70s a few days later. Oh well, it is what it is.
Last month I promised to fill you in on the outcome of the Foundation’s Avila Beach Town Hall Forum held in February, and share the feedback generated by our online survey of those who attended. First, let me report that nearly 100 people were in attendance. They were nourished with a fine meal prepared by Julie Andrews-Scott, treated to the most delectable ever, calorie-filled chocolate chip/macadamia nut cookies prepared by Patty Pinto, then educated by our panel of speakers representing state and local government, P.G. & E., Port San Luis Harbor District, County Recreation and Parks, and Cal Fire. Below are just some of the comments/quotes from the 30 people who took the time to complete our online event evaluation and survey
Asked about suggestions for future Forums, paraphrased responses included:
1) Engage in strategic planning - what/who does Avila want to be in 5, 10, 20 years and beyond? 2) Address parking issues and inability of locals to access downtown businesses most summer weekends. 3) Ways to improve local business and how to manage local events. 4) How to deal with irresponsible pet owners and lack of Animal Control enforcement. 5) Emergency and evacuation planning.
Asked for ideas to enhance life in Avila Beach, paraphrased responses included:
1) Find a place for a small enclosed dog park to increase sense of community. 2) Install parking meters at the water front and take away free fishing at the pier. 3) It is probably time to build a parking structure. 4) Make sure Fossil Point is developed appropriately and carefully. 5) Have a paramedic at our fire station. 6) Extend Free Trolley service to and from San Luis Obispo. 7) More collaborative efforts by all agencies in the area. 8) Observatory at old tank site. 9) Open a community garden. 10) Lower the speed limit on the road by the school all the way from 101 to the stoplight. 11) Improve the 5-way intersection at the Avila exit crossing onto Ontario Road. 12) More farmers at Farmers’ Market. 13) Telescopes on the Piers. 14) A golf-cart friendly and accessible downtown. 15) More activities directed toward younger adults (25-40).
Asked what they like most about life in Avila Beach
The responses were consistent and not surprising, like small town atmosphere, friendly people, little traffic, the beach, beautiful weather, community spirit, etc.
Asked what they like least about life in Avila Beach, paraphrased responses included:
1) Weekend and vacationers who do not respect our community. 2) Lack of easy parking during busy season. 3) Only one way in and out of Avila Beach. 4) Not enough trash pickup on the weekends. 5) No place to get gas in emergencies. 6) Lack of business collaboration and cooperation. 7) Difficulty getting vendors to deliver in our area (mostly for restaurants). 8) Excessive activities at the golf course. 9) Debris along Front Street sidewalks and gutters. 10) Business establishments reducing pedestrian ways on Front Street. 11) Too many vacation rentals changing the fabric of the community. 12) Summer traffic. 13) Proximity to Diablo nuclear power plant.
In summary, the survey revealed quite a bit more than I have space for in this column, so I tried to capture the overall sentiments shared by our fellow Avila residents and focused on a few questions that generated concerns and ideas - some we as a community can address and some are beyond our influence. A favorable 60% of the survey respondents indicated a willingness to attend small neighborhood gatherings to talk about ideas and projects we can possibly tackle together as residents and businesses invested in the greater Avila Beach area. Beginning to convene these small neighborhood discussion groups will become a focus of the Avila Beach Foundation in the coming months. For us, it is all about community engagement and community support. Working together we have the opportunity and ability to make a difference, but only through a collective involvement can this happen. As always, we welcome your input. See you at the beach.