April 2, 2024
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Tri-county area shows resilience in the face of a storm


One of the remarkable things about the Central Coast is the way that organizations pull together to help their communities in tough times.

Among the areas hit hardest by flooding, road closures and personal tragedy is San Luis Obispo County. That’s why it was gratifying to see that as it celebrates its 25th anniversary, the Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County has been among the first to activate an emergency relief fund to help disaster victims recover.

Dating back to the late 19th Century when it was among the first communities in California to set up a Red Cross chapter, SLO County has been a leader in philanthropic endeavors.  The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County was founded in the late 1990s to provide a vehicle for community fundraising, joining a well-established network of organizations that exists across the region, the state and the nation.

Under the leadership of CEO Heidi McPherson, the Community Foundation has taken steps to advance that reputation into the 21st Century, helping to reinvest some $66 million back into communities across the county.

With strong leadership at the Community Foundation San Luis Obispo, the Santa Barbara Foundation and the Ventura County Community Foundation, the region can respond effectively and creatively to unforeseen events.

We’d also like to commend those organizations that opened shelters, taking in folks displaced by the recent storms. In SLO County that includes the Paso Robles Event Center and the Church of Nazarene. In Santa Barbara County, the Wake Center at Santa Barbara Community College, the Veterans Memorial in Carpinteria and La Colina Jr. High School opened their doors. In Ventura County, it was Ventura College that stepped up with a relief facility.

Well done.


There’s nothing like stress to tell a region that its infrastructure is falling apart. If there is a lesson or two to be learned from the recent heavy storms, it is that Highway 101 continues to need work even as expansion efforts are underway in the Santa Barbara-Ventura corridor.

In southern San Luis Obispo County, the Marsh Street exit into the city of San Luis Obispo has proven to be one of the weakest links in this 200-mile-long commercial artery.

More work will be needed elsewhere, particularly in the Paso Robles area.

The region is already benefiting from efforts to widen Highway 101 through Santa Maria and in areas of south Santa Barbara County and West Ventura County that were prone to flooding in the past. The Ventura River crossing on Highway 101 held up well in the storm but it is potentially another weak spot.

And don’t get us started on broadband. With virtually everyone working remotely during the worst days of the storms, the region’s lack of a “broadband for all” strategy was clearly evident. It is particularly important to make sure that support staff and employees who can’t afford it, have adequate access to high-speed internet.  

Yes, the state is doing some belt-tightening. And that will trickle down to the county and local levels. But spending on crucial infrastructure is too important to be put off for another day.