Greetings, fellow Avilones. Happy New Year, one and all! Yep, we made it through 2021, and now it’s time to venture into the unknown of 2022. Unlike so many Januarys of the past where we looked forward to a fresh start for the coming year, here we are again, for the third consecutive January, with so much uncertainty and concern for what the future holds. The pandemic lingers as we are visited by new variants of Covid, inflation is upon us, employers are having difficulty filling staff positions, and the goods supply chain backlog has left us with shortages of all kinds. But, on the bright side, we seem to be a resilient society that ultimately bounces back. So, I guardedly chant, “woohoo, it’s 2022!”

The Foundation Board of Trustees has been shuffled a bit for the new year. Stepping aside from the Presidency is Mike Ginn after three years in that seat. Mike has done a great job and will remain on the board as Immediate Past President. Moving into the Presidency is Cyndy Lakowske after three years as Vice-President. Our new Vice-President is Barbara Nicholson. Ellen Pitrowski enters her third term as Secretary, and Patrick Corrigan begins his first term as Treasurer, replacing Richard Zacky, who served in that capacity for six years. Richard becomes a Trustee At Large, along with other returnees Bev Aho, Lucinda Borchard, Joe Caradonna, Saul Goldberg, Percy Jones, Paul Prather, and Debra Pritchard. This delightful group is a pleasure to work with and feels like family to me.

Newsflash! The County of San Luis Department of Public Works recently announced that they are installing new flashing crosswalk lights—also known as beacon systems—in Avila Beach on Ontario Road at the Bob Jones Bike Trail crossing. Work was scheduled to start on Dec. 1, 2021, and conclude by April 2022, dependent upon weather. The beacon system includes warning lights and overhead flashing lights activated by new pedestrian push buttons. If you have any questions, contact Ryan Monie, Project Manager (805)781-5523, or Jimmy Tomac, Resident Engineer (805)781-4476.

A few weeks ago, some of you may have noticed a plume of smoke coming from a small fire that ignited just above the Heron Crest Development inside the San Luis Bay Estates. Fortunately, the flames were extinguished before any structural damage occurred, thanks to the rapid response by our local fire department. One of our neighbors playing golf that day captured some neat photos of the planes deployed to drop retardant that effectively doused the fire. How fortunate we are to have a fully staffed fire department right outside the gates of SLBE. There is lots of vegetation on our hillsides, leaving us in constant danger of wildfires. Let’s all be careful and vigilant.

Avilones can be an outspoken group that likes to be heard on any number of local issues. For those of you who don’t know, our SLO County District 3 Supervisor, Dawn Ortiz-Legg, takes time from her busy schedule each month to host a drop-in session right here at the Avila Beach Community Center. She invites residents of our community to stop by, ask questions, share concerns, and learn about what is happening at the county level and how it affects Avila Beach. For information on Supervisor Legg’s scheduled visits, call the Avila Beach Community Center at (805) 627-1997.

Every so often, someone asks me how much money the Foundation has allocated for grants and special projects since its inception in 1998. And every so often, I report this information via our newsletter, which I am happy to do again in this issue. Though it’s possible my numbers are slightly off due to 21 years of grant-making that began in the year 2000 and the two different bookkeeping systems used – first by the prior administration, then the newer model after I took the reins, I feel confident that the total is pretty darn close. So, are you curious? Do I hear a drum-roll? According to my calculations, to date, the Avila Beach Community Foundation has distributed just over $3.3 million in grants, special project support, and sponsorships. Not too bad, eh, for such a small organization with a humble endowment. For the newbie Avilones who are not familiar with the Foundation, it was formed in the aftermath of the infamous oil contamination discovered in the 1990s. UNOCAL, owner at that time of the property housing the storage tanks, was successfully sued for damages to the once-sleepy beach town. The remediation settlement included the creation of a $3.2 million endowment, which was ultimately placed into management by the Foundation, which was established for that purpose. Funds from the endowment were to be invested and used to help the local area recover while supporting projects and programs to benefit and enhance life in Avila Beach in perpetuity. If you want to learn more about the Foundation, visit our website at and take a look. That’s it for now. 

See you at the beach!