Greetings, fellow Avilones. Daylight savings has finally arrived, meaning more time outdoors and warmer temperatures enjoyed by those of us who don’t thrive in the cold dark months. And to those of you who celebrate the holiday, let me wish you a happy Easter. 

By the way, did you know that ALL chocolate-covered bunnies have been banned this Easter to help protect the species from abuse? Haha, just kidding, April Fools! Of course, we all look forward to April 15 as the deadline to file personal income taxes. 

And speaking of taxes, isn’t it super that the government stimulus checks we received in 2020, and forthcoming again, are tax-free? I hope these financial gifts are being put to good use and back into the economy to help the many charities, businesses, and their employees who have struggled of late.

In case you haven’t noticed, the long-awaited replacement of the Avila Beach Lifeguard Tower #2 mural panel was installed by artist Colleen Gnos and her team on March 5. I have written several times about the theft of the original panel, which occurred in late 2019. It was a long and arduous road to restore this beautiful artwork, but the end product looks great. Be sure to look for some photos and a related story in this month’s issue of the Avila Beach Life print publication mailed to your home. If you are new to the community, take a trip down to the beach and see both Lifeguard Tower murals. They have become a cherished Avila asset.

Next, I would like to be among those to welcome our newest SLO County District 3 Supervisor. Dawn Ortiz-Legg was chosen to replace former Supervisor Adam Hill and has been busy getting up to speed on all aspects of the job. Dawn has been present at Zoom meetings of the Avila Valley Advisory Council for a few months, and I also had the opportunity for a personal “get to know you” Zoom meeting with her last month. My initial impression of Supervisor Ortiz-Legg is that she brings a lot of enthusiasm to the position, arrives at meetings highly prepared, and is up to the task of representing Avila Beach interests, along with the other communities in her district.

You may be aware of recent concerns expressed by members of the community regarding the homeless encampment up at Cave Landing. It has certainly been a hot topic discussed at recent AVAC meetings, where representatives of various SLO County agencies have been tasked to address the situation. 

To no one’s surprise but of great consternation, there are no easy resolutions to the situation. It is said that as many as 100 persons occupy the homeless encampment, which is not equipped with any supervision, waste management, or sanitation, thus presenting a dangerous and unhealthy environment. 

Among the present obstacles are a lack of County resources, both funding, and personnel, to say nothing about the biggest hurdle being the Coastal Commission and that agency’s insistence that all public beach areas be 24-hour accessible. While enforcing restricted hours, or installing a gate during hours of closure, seem a common-sense approach to the problem that may never come to fruition. Don’t get me wrong. I have great compassion and sympathy for people lacking housing the result of poverty, mental health issues, or by choice. Better alternatives must be made available to provide safer quarters for not only the homeless but also other members of the community who just want to enjoy our public spaces. We did learn at the March AVAC meeting that the SLO County Parks and Recreation Department is pursuing grant money to help ameliorate the Cave Landing problem. 

Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

I wonder how many of you have noticed the ever-escalating value of homes in Avila Beach and our surrounding areas. 

As a sometimes hobby in times of boredom, I log onto websites showing listings and sales in Avila and Shell Beach. 

Homes don’t stay on the market very long before they are sold, especially those under $1 million, of which there are few. And the growing number of multi-million-dollar properties listed is mind-boggling. 

While I am aware that low-interest rates, the arrival of retirees, second homeowners, and relocation by professionals who can work remotely from anywhere have contributed to the scenario, I am still left in amazement by the soaring property values on the Central Coast. 

I fear that the economic divide will become even greater, and fewer young people will be able to afford to live in SLO County. I worry that downtown Avila is succumbing to the influx of vacation rental homes, packing in multitudes of visitors that can stretch our capacity and resources beyond management. It seems that the train has left the station when it comes to controlling growth. I thank my lucky stars for the 25 years my wife, and I have resided in Avila, but I feel nostalgic for the slower-paced Avila of days past. There is still much positive about life in Avila, so I guess I should stop complaining, “smell the roses,” and enjoy what we have.

In closing, I bring to you the seasonal reminder from CAL Fire Chief Paul Lee that it’s time to once again check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are in working order and replace the batteries if needed. It’s nice to have Chief Lee looking out for us. 

That’s it for now, fellow Avilones. See you at the beach!