Greetings, fellow Avilones. June is upon us, and life as we knew it before the pandemic is beginning to return. We have all been celebrating the achievement of SLO County reaching the orange level of reduced restrictions on our movement and activities thanks to far fewer COVID cases. Vaccination rates are continuing at a respectable pace as folks are seeing the benefits attached. As for Avila Beach, activity at our shorelines has been rocking for several months and will likely explode over the summer. Be prepared for lots of traffic and competition for parking spots.
There may be some slight relief ahead once the free Avila Trolley begins operating. See more on this further down.
Every so often, I sit at my computer and wonder just what the heck to write about in my next column. This marks one of those moments. Thinking out loud, let me begin with a little history about the “Foundation’s” e-newsletter and Avila Beach print publications. My tenure as executive director of the Avila Beach Community Foundation began in January 2009. One of my first challenges was coming up with ways to build awareness and get more attention to the existence and work of the “Foundation.” The organization had been here since 1998, had funded a great many projects, but done so with limited community knowledge. Fortunately, there existed a monthly print publication produced in Pismo Beach, intended for Avila Beach residents and visitors, called the Avila News.
I approached the publishers and negotiated a deal whereby the “Foundation” would be one of the featured article contributors, and at the same time pay to have the newspaper direct-mailed to all Avila area households and businesses.
As I’m sure you know, print media has been struggling for many years, as the digital world tightens its grip as an information provider. Facing mounting costs, the original Avila News publisher decided to get out of the business and sold to another local news source. We maintained our previous arrangement for a while until that publisher threw in the towel.
Then followed by a third publisher, and not so long after the fourth and current publisher—13 Stars Media—which renamed and began publishing in September 2019 the present Avila Beach Life monthly newspaper. So here we are today in spite of a sometimes rocky and uncertain existence. This is my 145th column written since that first one in February 2009. I don’t know if that makes me an accomplished writer or just a hack with a byline…LOL. For those who prefer to read the digital version of my column each month or catch up on past columns, you can subscribe to the “Foundation’s” e-newsletter by visiting our website – avilabeachfoundation.org.
At the conclusion of my first paragraph, I made mention of the free Avila Trolley. Well, I just got off the phone with the agency that operates the Trolley (SLORTA) and was told that service will be launched on Jul. 10 and run on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., through Sept. 26. It will travel from the Pismo Outlets to Fat Cats at the Harford Pier. Before the pandemic struck, this service typically began each year in April, timed with the start of the Avila Farmers’ Market season, and ran through October. The 2021 schedule may vary as the season progresses, and the full route schedule can be found on the SLORTA website at slorta.org/schedules-fares/avila-trolley/
Piggybacking on the history theme of this month’s column, I want to add that the “Foundation” has been in agreement with SLORTA for many years, whereby we provide a matching grant that enables the Trolley to offer free rides for all. This grant, which now stands at $3,700 annually, represents a partial subsidy of the overall operational costs. Though not mandatory, riders are encouraged to throw in a buck or so to help keep the Trolley on the road, which helps reduce vehicular traffic and offset scarce parking spots.
Many of you are following the situation at Cave Landing, which had become a growing encampment for the homeless. Following an outcry by locals frustrated by dilapidated conditions and lack of adequate oversight, the County finally stepped in to mitigate the problem and invited other area human service agencies to participate in serving and relocating the encampment residents.
We learned at the May meeting of AVAC that shut down, clearing, and cleaning of the site took place on May 12 and 13. This is just the first phase of the rehab project that will include a welcome upgrade that should allow visitors to once again enjoy this unique piece of property.
Stay tuned for progress reports. That’s it for now, fellow Avilones. See you at the beach!