Greetings, fellow Avilones. September has arrived, the kids are back in school (in-person and/or online), and summer officially ends on the 22nd of the month, though I doubt we will see much of a reduction in the number of visitors who flock to Avila for at least another month or so. We are also about to celebrate Labor Day, that time each year when many mothers give birth. Just kidding, I wanted to see if you are paying attention. Are you aware that the first Labor Day holiday was celebrated in New York City on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882? Following the deaths of 13 workers during the Pullman Strike in June of 1894, President Grover Cleveland made reconciliation with the labor movement a top political priority, and Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894. It was created by the labor movement and pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers.
As a “labor” of love and appreciation, I want to thank our friends at Pacific Gas and Electric Company for their recent grant to the Avila Beach Community Foundation. And a special note of gratitude to local PG&E Public Policy and External Affairs representative Eric Daniels for his support and advocacy. With this grant, PG&E joins the “Foundation,” SLO County District 3 Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg, and Chevron in a partnership that finances a contract with a non-profit agency, PathPoint, to provide beach area clean-up services for the high tourism season. PathPoint work crews focus on removing sand and debris along the beach boardwalk, curbs, and planters on each side of the Promenade—areas not usually maintained by SLO County.
Next, let me introduce the “Foundation’s” newest member of our board, Debra Pritchard. Debra was elected to a 3-year term as a Trustee during our July board meeting. As a recent transplant to Avila, she has lived in other parts of the state, country, and world during a diverse career path that included a three-year stint with the Peace Corps in the Philippines. Debra, who arrived in Avila just as the Pandemic was taking off, has also lived in New York, Houston, and San Francisco, having achieved successes along the way. She and her Covid-pooch “Twix” can be seen almost daily on the dog beach. Her passions are protecting wildlife and the environment, serving as a mentor to youth, travel, and biking to the beach. Welcome, Debra!
I don’t ordinarily use this space to promote non-Foundation activities, but we recently approved some sponsorship funding for an event coming to Avila on Oct. 16 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Avila Beach Community Center. Titled the “Avila Beach Children’s Business Fair,” this project encourages kids to develop a brand, create a product or service, build a marketing strategy, then open for business in this one-day marketplace. For more information, visit childrensbusinessfair.org/avila-beach.
Some of you more involved Avilones have been following the County’s years-long project to complete a new Avila Beach Community Plan through a series of Envision Avila workshops, most recently held via “Zoom” on Aug. 5. I am somewhat surprised that only 40 or so locals logged in out of 1000+ households. What does this mean? Lack of interest in the future of Avila? Didn’t know the workshop was scheduled? Tired of a process that advances so painfully slow? Whatever the case, among those Avilones who have been active, one major topic of concern always discussed is emergency evacuation routing, as it was at the Aug. 5 workshop.
Chiming in that night was a local retired fire captain (John) who stated that the best strategy in case of a wildfire is to head to the beach. I have met, or become aware of, a great number of retired firefighters now living in Avila, which seems to be a magnet for those who spent their careers in fire services. Several have stated the same thing —“head to the beach in case of wildfire evacuation.” It makes sense when you consider the gridlock that awaits on the 101 for those able to escape Avila. Perhaps there should be some discussion about the preparation of routing and staging/landing areas for locals who heed that “head to the beach” advice. Parking, supplies, medical services, temporary emergency shelter, etc., could be part of the plan, rather than just having hundreds of us gathering in disorganized mass at the waterfront escape zone. Your thoughts?
I would like to share with you an example of SLO County Public Works responsiveness to a problem I reported at the July AVAC meeting. It concerned the somewhat recently created right-hand turn lane at the corner of San Miguel Street and Avila Beach Drive, designed to improve traffic flow for those leaving town. I had seen cars parked along the curb in the right turn lane, thus rendering it useless in those instances. My suggestion was that the curb along that lane be painted red to ensure no vehicle parking allowed. I am pleased to report that Public Works has indicated that they will indeed comply with that request. We will be “seeing red,” but in this case, it’s a good thing. Our thanks to the County powers that be. That’s it for now, fellow Avilones. See you at the beach!