The toll of bankruptcy, foreclosure and financial mayhem in San Luis Obispo County is adding up to more than $120 million.
That’s a tremendous amount of money for a county of just 250,000 residents, and the total seems destined to climb higher before things turn around.
Reporting by staff writer Stephen Nellis in the current issue of the Business Times underscores a single point: most of the money lost in the county’s season for scandal relates to the boom and bust in housing that’s afflicted the regional and national economy.
The size of San Luis Obispo County’s problem with real estate is enormous. And it’s magnified by the fact that the only other game in town when it comes to creating high-paying jobs is state and local government.
The fundamental problem with San Luis Obispo’s economy is that it has become way too dependent on government funding. Now a big shift is taking place for California, and the bucket of never-ending state money is running dry. With state jobs getting scarcer and less attractive, real estate alone won’t bring the Central Coast economy back to life.
That’s why it’s particularly important now to revisit the no-growth and slow-growth policies that have curbed the development of specialized manufacturing, leaving just a few survivors like guitar maker Ernie Ball and rifle manufacturer Weatherby.