LIFE & STYLE
& REGIONAL SUCCESS
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 1
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2 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
M O D E R N • C L A S S I C • J E W E L R Y
1 1 2 8 G A R D E N S T R E E T S A N L U I S O B I S P O
W W W . B A X T E R M O E R M A N . C O M
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 3
Where in SLO?
Find your nearest bus stop and track
buses live with the SLO Transit App.
For more information, call 805-541-2877, visit
slotransit.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
4 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
Built with care.
Close your eyes. What do you see?
Floor to ceiling windows with endless vistas. ..
Smooth plaster walls with exposed beams. ..
An open space with warm, cozy woods. ..
Natural stone and reclaimed planks. ..
Modern lines and minimalistic details. ..
A home built with sustainability in mind?
We can do that.
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AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 5
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on the simple,
of Southern Mexico
A Slice of Oaxaca
hits Monterey Street
It’s a bustling Thursday night at Mestiza
and it’s engaging wait staff is operating at full tilt,
delivering a seemingly endless stream of the
restaurant’s signature Flor de Calabasa Quesadillas,
Queso Fundido, exotic street tacos, and trays filled
with shots of artisanal Mezcal and colorful craft cocktails.
Presiding over the activity is Co-Owner/
Executive Chef Ricardo “Rico” Ortega, a 14-year
veteran of Compass Health’s collection of 8 local
restaurants (including Ventana Grill, Oyster Loft, and
Olde Custom House). Ortega’s family roots and enthusiasm
for authentic Mexican cuisine have been a
driving force behind the menu. “We have tried to keep
things simple and delicious, with vibrant flavors, and
fresh local ingredients. In everything from our fresh
stone-ground tortillas, to some of the best Mezcal in
the world, we have worked hard to share the warm,
rich flavors of Mexico,” says Ortega.
Perched above Monterey Street near Downtown
SLO’s historic Mission Plaza, Mestiza sits in a lively
new culinary corridor that features Mint+Craft,
Palazzo Giusseppe, Luna Red, plus 2 new restaurants
in the upcoming Hotel SLO. Ortega explained,
“We’re excited to be part of what’s happening on
Monterey Street. It has a great feel about it right
now, and with all the revitalization going on,
it’s only going to get better.”
Signature Mezcal and Tequila based cocktails and a sunny outdoor patio are just part of
the ambiance at Mestiza, according to Executive Chef / Co-Owner Ricardo “Rico” Ortega.
Mestiza opens at 3:30 daily, Tuesday-Sunday.
Happy Hour from 3:30-5:30.
Mestiza is located above Williams Sonoma,
in the new Monterey Street Center.
Court Street • Monterey Street • Downtown Centre
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 11
Recently tapped for the job as fire chief
at the San Luis Obispo Fire Department,
KEITH AGGSON stops by to discuss drought,
climate conditions, and California’s blazes.
Now Hear This
With several albums under their belt
PONCHO AND THE WIZARDS have an
ever-growing fan base.
PADEN HUGHES heads to north county
and takes in the glowing scene of Sensario.
On the Rise
Mission College Preparatory High
School senior BRYCE HILTON combines
athleticism and academics with generosity
and care for others.
The San Luis Obispo Leadership Program
marks its 28th year. We introduce the
members who make up the current class.
Look no further for insight into the local housing
market as we share the year-to-date statistics of home
sales for both the city and county of San Luis Obispo.
With her finger always on the pulse, ERIKA FITZGERALD
dives into the nitty-gritty details of one of the hottest
trends in health: Charcoal.
Fresh from the garden and topped with goodness,
JAIME LEWIS explores the ways a salad can make a meal.
The KOSTELNIKS open the doors to their
newly remodeled Spanish-style home.
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Whether you prefer peaches or nectarines, apricots
or cherries, there’s just one problem—these gems
don’t store well. CHEF JESSIE RIVAS saves the day for
that over-ripe produce with his version of a traditional
Wine writer ANDRIA MCGHEE takes you out of the
vineyards and into the tasting rooms for exceptional
flavors worth trying.
Always in the know, BRANT MYERS shares the inside
scoop on what’s happening behind the scenes of our
Looking for something to do? We’ve got you covered.
Check out the calendar to discover the best events
around the Central Coast in August and September.
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 13
| PUBLISHER’S MESSAGE
Whenever a flu bug courses through our family, which seems to happen every few years, I am always the
last one to get sick. I’m the guy who hands out the wet washcloths and makes sure everyone has a barf bowl
between my runs down to the grocery store for Saltines and 7UP and Campbell’s Soup. Then, it’s my turn.
It was ten, or maybe eleven years ago, when I considered that death may be a better option. My stomach
revolted violently for three days straight. Once I was able to make it out of bed, I planted myself on the
couch enshrouded in our family’s “snuggly” blanket. Everything hurt, even my fingers when I flipped through
the channels until I found something worth watching.
The chipper television host had an equally chipper guest. And, “chipper” is probably not the right word
choice, as those two were in rapture; radiating joy from every pore. And all because of a blender. But, it was
not just any blender, it was the Vitamix 750 Professional Series. And it was available exclusively on the Home
With the initials HSN permanently affixed to the lower right-hand corner of the screen, I leaned in a bit, but only to the point where my guts began to
object again. After 72 hours without a meal, I was led into a trance by their “Simple Smoothie” recipe. “Now, folks, this is so easy,” the host assured. “Just
toss in whatever you’ve got laying around: half a banana, a handful of blueberries, some chocolate powder, maybe some yogurt, add some ice cubes, and
you’re all set.”
Watching them lift the drinks to their lips and sample their frozen treat drove me to the precipice of madness. With sweat beading up on my forehead, the
room began to spin as a bizarre set of competing emotions took hold. I felt both an intense contempt for those two—they were just so smug—as well as
complete fascination with their high-powered appliance, to the point where, looking back on it now, I may very well have been in some early stage of hypnosis.
One by one, the annoying duo unveiled yet another thing that can be done with the 750: “You can make an amazing tomato soup!... Ice cream,
anyone?... Protein shakes are so easy with the Vitamix, and you’ll build muscle as you commute to work!... You can make your own almond butter!... Do
you love fettuccine Alfredo? Well, I’ve got good news for you!... Tired of chopping your veggies?... Bread dough is a snap... No more buying baby food at
the store, the Vitamix has you covered!... And, here’s one of my favorites, folks: Pesto!”
Ah, man. They had to talk about pesto. Now I was on the ropes. Despite never having bought anything from a TV show—although, I have an aunt who
seems to only buy her stuff that way—I was now hanging on every word, waiting in rabid anticipation for the price to be revealed. But, the unnaturally
happy and suspiciously tanned pair kept on going, whipping up one quick meal after another—“This is so simple, folks”—and sampling their concoctions
with exquisite delight. I was equal parts frustrated and fascinated, and I wished they would stop calling me “folks.” It was making my headache worse.
Finally, they went in for the close. After the camera panned back to show all of the amazing stuff that they made right there on the set, they then
zoomed in on the Vitamix 750 Professional Series and claimed that it contained more horsepower than many lawn mowers. This thing was no joke.
“And, how much would you expect to pay for this incredibly magical machine, which will look so beautiful on your kitchen counter?” the host inquired.
“How about $3,000? $2,000? $1,500?” Now lowering his voice and his pace, “Well, what if I were to tell you that you can have all of this for just
$599.95?” I snapped out of my trance and jerked back to reality. There’s no way I was going to pay $600 for a blender. Give me a break! That’s when the
host heard my objection and answered back. “But, we’re making it really easy, folks. If you order within the next 15 minutes, we are going to throw in all
of these additional accessories worth another $599.95—it’s like getting a free Vitamix 750!” Wait, what? I’m getting the blender for free?
Still, there was no way I could justify that sort of expenditure. At the time, the kids were still crawling around on all fours and $600 was a lot of diapers.
But, we could start making our own baby food, after all. That’s when the guest chimed in to drop the hammer. After listing all of the stuff they are
magnanimously handing over—a free blender, for goodness sake—she explained that you didn’t even have to pay for it, at least not today. “If you call
right now, within the next 14 minutes, for just $49.99 we’ll ship everything you see here, plus the free Vitamix 750!” Reflexively, I hollered out with
every ounce of remaining energy: “Hey, Sweetie, can you please bring me my phone and my wallet?”
Some people take great satisfaction in paying off a car or a boat or a house. For me, it was a blender. After eleven months of “EZ Payments,” I became
the proud owner of a fully unencumbered Vitamix 750 Professional Series blender—which now sits on the top shelf of our pantry, covered in dust.
I would like to take this opportunity to say “thank you” to everyone who has had a hand in producing this issue of SLO LIFE Magazine and, most of all,
to our advertisers and subscribers—we couldn’t do it without you.
Live the SLO Life!
Get the story within the story by going to GrowWithTom.com and
subscribing to Tom’s Bombs to receive the next installment.
14 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
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AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 15
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16 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
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forget to set your friends and family up with a subscription, too. It’s the
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Complete details regarding circulation, coverage, and advertising
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
4251 S. Higuera Street, Suite 800
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Letters chosen for publication may be edited for clarity and space limitations.
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 17
| ON THE COVER
A SNEAK PEEK
BEHIND the scenes
WITH MELISSA JAMES
BY VANESSA PLAKIAS
Her office is in the Hot House downtown, and I loved seeing
all the skateboards and bicycles. Such a great way to commute
and what an awesome vibe. The place is filled with little startup
companies, and the culture of the place seemed like the
perfect launching pad. I was able to talk one of the students
into posing with his skateboard for me.
Oh, I just love this shot. It reminds me of some
vintage Italian black and white. It was so funny,
the two guys in the background were so curious
about the shoot and wanted to know who Melissa
was and how they could follow her on Instagram.
I caught a light moment when Melissa checked in with her
VP of Strategy, Andrew Hackleman, whom she refers to as
her partner. You could clearly see that they work well together.
They were sort of joking around about their office, referring to
it as the dorm room.
It was so sweet,
Melissa told me
that her daughters
were so excited
about being on
the cover, and so
she had them help
pick out her outfit.
They chose this
necklace, and you
could tell that she
was just so proud
of her little girls. Is
there a hashtag for
#bossmom? If not,
there should be.
18 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
Because you deserve the very best.
Let The Avenue guide you home.
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AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 19
| IN BOX
Take us with you!
Hey, SLO LIFE readers: Send us your photos the next time you’re relaxing in town or traveling
far and away with your copy of the magazine. Email us at email@example.com
ORCAS ISLAND, WASHINGTON
BOB and THERESA RUSH with JUDY GORDON
PAUL and KRISTIE KEMP
DORIS KELTY in Budapest, Hungary but SLO Life Magazine
also traveled with me through Austria, Germany, and
Slovakia on our beautiful cruise down the Danube River.
20 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
STERLING CASTLE, SCOTLAND
BRIAN, DIANE, and ALINA DZUKOLA
ROY and LORY GRIFFITH with grandkids
PORTO , PORTUGAL
NORTH EAST ICELAND
OLIVIA ORTIZ, KELLIE PHILBIN, and VIRGINIA ORTIZ
GULF OF MEXICO
and VICKI POBOR
CASOLE D’ELSA, ITALY
The triplets KRIS, KARLA, and PATIENCE
Celebrating 50 years of friendship!
TRICIA REICHERT’S painting group.
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 21
| IN BOX
SLO LIFE travels!
LA PAZ, BOLIVIA
MANNY and CARLY celebrating their one-year anniversary.
805 Elite Volleyball Club finished the season with a No. 13
National ranking! WHITNEY THOMPSON, KAYLA CRAFT,
BROOKE FLEDDERMAN, MACKENZIE WRIGHT, ELAINA
BOSSHARDT, OLIVIA GOODWIN, TAYLOR MACCUISH,
GRACE DEVANEY, DYLAN VAN ROOYEN, JAHNINE
RICAFRENTE, MAKENNA WOLFE
PALACE OF VERSAILLES, FRANCE
MIKE ABRAM, KIELY CROW, CURTIS and MIA ABRAM
HUAI KAEO, MAE ON DISTRICT, THAILAND
MIKE, GRACE, EMMA, JACOB, and HANNAH VAN DOREN
BUTCHART GARDENS , VANCOUVER ISLAND
MATT and KIM WORMLEY
JUDY MAY and JOE INGRAFFIA
22 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
CRATER LAKE, OREGON
MOUNT ROBERTS, JUNEAU, ALASKA
JIM and RHONDA SEYBERT
DALLAS WORLD AQUARIUM, TEXAS
KIM and CAROL BENNETTS
CORE DANCE COMPANY
MEXICAN RIVIERA CRUISE
JIM RENZI and LIZ celebrating their 80th birthdays and
their 60th wedding anniversary.
JOHN and FREDENE
Please send your photos and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow SLO LIFE on Facebook: Visit facebook.com/slolifemagazine
Visit us online at slolifemagazine.com
Letters may be edited for content and clarity.
To be considered for publication your letter should include your name, address, phone number, or email address (for authentication purposes).
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 23
“That’s America’s Top 25” favorite pizza
joints from New York to California
according to Yelp reviewers—and Petra
Mediterranean Pizza & Grill in SLO
made the cut this year. How’d they do
it? The website 24/7 Tempo says it’s the
restaurant’s unique pizza selection that
wows customers, including a gyro pizza
and a Greek feta pizza. Owner Todd
Aburashed says, “You have to have a lot of
love and care; you have to be generous.”
A soon-to-be-patented device small enough
to hold in one hand, yet a potential source
of light for the more than 1.6 billion people
in the world living off the grid. The impact
of the MISO, short for “Multiple Input
Single Output DC-DC Converter with
Equal Load Sharing on Multiple Inputs,”
could be profound, according to Cal Poly
professor Taufik who developed it with
former student Owen Jong. MISO combines
the input of multiple low-power electricity
sources into one stronger output source. “In
the developing world,” Taufik says, “a little
electricity goes a long way.”
The percentage of incoming Cal Poly
students who identify as members of a
minority, making this the most diverse
class in the university’s history. That’s
2,609 out of 5,769 transfers and firsttime
freshmen enrolling for Fall 2019,
including Hispanic/Latino, African
American, Asian American, Native
American, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander,
multi-racial, and undocumented students.
24 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
peace and joy
to be given a
Northern Chumash Tribal Council
Chairman Fred Collins speaking in
support of the California Coastal
Commission staff ’s recommendation
to phase out off-highway vehicle access
to Oceano Dunes State Vehicular
The newly-reduced price of a piece of
California history: Nitt Witt Ridge in
Cambria, also known as the “Anti Hearst
Castle.” Still on the market in July, six
months after being listed for sale at the
original asking price of $425,000. The
eccentric structure (considered by some a
remarkable piece of folk art) is California
State Landmark 939.
BB Guns, Batons,
& Brass Knuckles
Among the many items event-goers could
not bring into the California Mid-State
Fair that opened for 12 days beginning July
17th. All visitors (except law enforcement)
who hoped to attend the mutton-bustin’
or vinegar competitions, see the Fabulous
Thunderbirds in concert, or enjoy the
carnival rides for free on opening day (a first
in the 73-year history of the fair) also were
screened for ammunition, knives, Mace, and
handcuff keys among multiple other no-nos.
The number of deaths at the Oceano Dunes
year-to-date, making it the most lethal on record.
The value of clothing, jewelry, and home
goods made by artisans from around the
world that HumanKind has sold during
the decade it has been open in downtown
San Luis Obispo. The shop on Monterey
Street, which operates as a nonprofit,
celebrated ten years of “fair trade”
shopping and inspiring change in July.
is evident in
of this great
And now it’s on a two-story,
32,000-square-foot instructional building,
too. Cuesta College’s seventh president,
Dr. Jill Stearns, honored its second
president, Dr. Frank R. Martinez, during
a recent naming ceremony for the first
structure to be built on campus with
Measure-L bond funds passed in 2014.
The 96-year-old Martinez joined the
college as vice president in 1964, became
president in 1977, and retired in 1988.
Registered borrowers in the County of San
Luis Obispo Public Libraries database,
a number that has grown from around
1,400 when the system was founded 100
years ago. The number of branches also
has grown from one in 1919 to fourteen
in 2019 covering 3,000 square miles from
Cambria to Nipomo. SLO LIFE
True Community Banking is Here
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San Luis Obispo • Paso Robles • Goleta • Santa Barbara • Montecito
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 25
Around the County
San Luis Obispo High School switch-hitting shortstop Brooks Lee turns down
multiple $3 million offers from Major League teams, honoring a commitment to play
college baseball for his father, Cal Poly coach Larry Lee. The younger Lee was invited
to tryouts with the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Arizona Diamondbacks
in the final days leading up to the Major League Baseball draft. He hit .405 as a
senior shortstop in the spring, going 32-for-79 at the plate with 13 doubles, two
home runs and 25 RBIs. He struck out just nine times in 92 plate appearances and
led the Tigers to a 23-5-1 overall record. Lee was considered by many to be the top
high school prospect from California in this year’s draft.
Think there are more businesses leaving San Luis
Obispo County than migrating in? Think again.
According to a first-ever evidence-based report
released by the Economic Vitality Corporation that
details business migration patterns in three counties,
in SLO County, more companies are coming rather
than going, and “the net economic impact of sales
and the value of jobs for the businesses coming is
higher than for the businesses leaving,” explains
EVC President Michael Manchak. A major takeaway
from the report is that the discussion about values
and places to do business can now move from the
anecdotal to actual numbers.
The SLO County Grand Jury identifies the shortage of affordable housing on
the Central Coast as an urgent problem after reviewing local city ordinances and
interviewing government officials and others in the private sector. The Grand Jury’s
report begins, “The majority of homes in San Luis Obispo County are affordable
to someone, but certainly not by those supporting our service economy, driving a
bus, or teaching in a public school.” Among its findings? The supply of rental units
available to low-income families is insufficient. Among its recommendations?
Increase developer in-lieu fees to realistically support the cost of inclusionary
housing units or eliminate the in-lieu fees altogether and simply require lowincome
The California Employment Development Department releases statistics
showing San Luis Obispo County’s unemployment rate hit an all-time low of
2.4 percent in May 2019. With more jobs available in the area—200 more, in
fact, since the previous month, mostly in the hospitality services sector—fewer
people in the county are looking for work. The previous record low of 2.5
percent was set in May 2018. The county rate is lower than the national average
of 3.4 percent and the state average of 3.5 percent.
The economic impact of the closure of the Diablo
Canyon Power Plant will be significantly less than
previous estimates of $1 billion per year for ten
years, according to a state-commissioned study
released during a public forum in San Luis Obispo.
Researchers at UC Berkeley, who authored the
report, say the economies of SLO County and
northern Santa Barbara County will experience a
net economic loss of $77 million annually for the
decade following the plant’s shutdown in 2025,
because decommissioning expenditures and a recently
approved settlement package will offset a majority of
economic losses attributable to the closure.
26 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
The County District Attorney’s Office charges the wife of SLO County Clerk
Recorder Tommy Gong with embezzling more than $32,000 from the Atascadero
High School Band and Pageantry Booster Club. Sherry Gong faces three felony
counts of grand theft by embezzlement for allegedly stealing the funds between
July 2017 and April 2018, while she was treasurer of the organization. Her husband,
whose job is to maintain the integrity of County elections and records, is not
implicated in the charges. Gong said he didn’t know about the theft until his wife
was contacted by police.
Downtown SLO announces it will not move forward with a Property-Based
Improvement District (PBID) tax proposal that would have brought in $400,000
to clean streets and provide added resources to San Luis Obispo’s downtown area.
While enough signatures were collected from area business owners to allow the
proposal to go to the City Council for consideration, the group’s Board of Directors
decided the issue had become too divisive.
A major three-month-long road construction and
repaving project begins in San Luis Obispo on South
Broad Street, from Tank Farm Road to just south of
the airport. In addition to roadway improvements, the
project includes striping to improve safety for bicyclists.
Funded by a local revenue measure, a one-half percent
sales tax approved by city voters in 2006, and again in
2014 to preserve essential community services, it also
contributes to the 2019-21 major city goal of sustainable
transportation. Information on traffic impacts is available
by calling the South Broad Street Resurfacing Hotline,
Following more than six hours of testimony at a meeting held in San Luis Obispo,
the California Coastal Commission rejects a staff recommendation that would
phase out off-highway vehicle access to Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation
Area. While commissioners say they are concerned about the impacts of off-road
vehicles on air quality, sensitive habitats, and endangered species, they are giving
California State Parks a year to complete a “Public Works Plan” to address future
operations, which is subject to the Coastal Commission’s review and approval.
Later that day, a motorcyclist became the fifth person to die in 2019 at the Oceano
Dunes, which was followed by a sixth death a few days later.
The San Luis Obispo City Council directs staff to
update the city’s public art policy to preclude erecting
monuments depicting specific historic individuals on
public property. The decision comes on the heels of a
controversial proposal to put a privately-funded statue
of President Theodore Roosevelt in Mitchell Park. Some
questioned the choice to honor Roosevelt, rather than
a person more closely associated with the City. Council
members agreed it made sense for San Luis Obispo to
celebrate ideas and ideals instead of individual persons.
City staff will draft new public art guidelines for a future
council vote on the issue. SLO LIFE
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 27
PHOTOGRAPHY BY VINCENT SHAY
Life for Vincent Shay revolves around the ocean. And
that has always been true. Ever since Shay’s father
loaded the family into the station wagon so he could
transfer jobs from one nuclear reactor to another—
San Onofre to Diablo Canyon—the ocean has been
a powerful draw. So much so, that nearly every day, that is where you
can find Shay. For the past ten years, he has been outfitting tourists
and locals alike with rentals at his business, Avila Beach Paddlesports.
Together, with his wife, Emily, the two have carved out a corner adjacent
to the boat launch in Port San Luis, where they share the love of the
ocean by teaching newbie paddlers what to expect in the water. The
question he receives most often from his customers before helping them
shove off from his dock is: “What about sharks?”
Shay’s face registers disappointment when he admits that he has never
seen a great white in person and marvels at the fact that none of the
other thousands of people he has sent out to the San Luis Bay have
either. “But, they’re out there,” he says, “and they always have been.” The
word “stoked” is commonly associated with surfers, who report feeling
especially joyful, satisfied, and grateful after riding some particularly
epic waves. If there ever was a living and breathing embodiment of that
word, “stoked,” it would be Vincent Shay. The only time he could be
described as something other than fully stoked is when the conversation
turns negative and fearful as it relates to the ocean’s apex predator, the
great white shark.
Always on the lookout for one, and continually stressing the importance
of sharks to the environment in conversations with his customers, Shay
keeps one eye out on the horizon, hopeful to find a distinctive triangleshaped
dorsal fin. Gazing seaward on a winter’s day earlier this year, as
he strolled along with his wife along the Capofaro Creek mouth, near
Ragged Point, a flock of seagulls caught his imagination. From the time
he was 17 years old, he had been capturing moments just like this one
on an old film-based camera. On this day, he was toting a Canon 7D
Mark II outfitted with a shark-ready telephoto lens.
Gauging the light, he could see this was going to set up in the most
perfect way. Clicking the shutter setting down to a low-speed and
steadying the camera sniper-like, Shay drew a deep, quiet breath.
Waiting. And waiting. Then it happened. Something spooked one gull,
which spooked another. Soon the entire flock was launching itself from
the creek mouth, and Shay was there clicking through it all. The result
is the composition you see here, which went through minimal postproduction,
commonly referred to as “Photoshop,” as light and water
and movement combine to tell the story—the story of the sea. SLO LIFE
28 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 29
Not quite six months into his new job as the San Luis Obispo Fire Chief,
KEITH AGGSON dropped by the office for a conversation that ranged
from emergency preparedness to how he met his wife. Here is some of
what he had to say…
Tell us, Keith, where are you from? I grew up
here. We lived on nine acres in the Atascadero
area. Back then, you were playing a sport, or
you were out in the creek fishing, or you were
hunting with BB guns. I was super fortunate to
grow up in that environment. My parents are
just hardworking; a blue-collar family. I’m the
first in my family to get my bachelor’s degree
and do something different. They have always
been in the trades. My father did framing and
concrete. I did a lot of construction growing
up. It’s backbreaking work. We had a neighbor
who was a firefighter and he encouraged me to
check it out. So, while I was still in high school,
I was able to take some basic fire classes at Allan
Hancock and, as soon as I graduated, I was able
to start working in CAL Fire’s seasonal program.
And, what was your first “real job?” I became
a reserve firefighter in Atascadero, and went
to the fire academy and paramedic school, and
became full-time there at the age of 20. I got a
ton of great experience, lots of emergency calls.
One of the funniest was a call we received for a
goat stuck in a tree. We normally don’t retrieve
animals from trees, but we said, “Okay, we’ll
go have a look.” I’m not kidding, this goat was
legitimately 45 feet up in that oak tree. I’ve never
seen anything like it. So, we sprayed some water
at him with the hose and got him mad enough
where he started to climb back down on his own.
But, I’ve been called out to some really massive
fires. And the interesting thing is we keep being
told, “This is the biggest fire you’re ever going
to see in your entire career—you’ll never see
anything like this again.” Sure, enough, they
keep getting bigger.
Why is that? What’s happening? It’s the
climate; it’s the drought; and over the last
125 years we’ve been putting fires out and not
allowing them to burn through to clean the
forest out like Mother Nature intended. So that’s
why I think we’re seeing more of these highenergy,
rapid-burning, rapid-propagation type
of fires. At the same time, people are building
farther out into the interface areas. And, I know
that people say it can’t happen here, but that
is what they said in Santa Rosa, too. I have
a close friend who lives there; he’s a division
chief, and says, “If someone would have told
me my house would burn down from a wildfire,
I would have said, ‘You’re crazy.’” A couple of
years ago, he lost his home, and so did his
in-laws, in the Tubbs Fire, which, at the
time, was the state’s worst fire. We have
some commonalities here in San Luis
Obispo and an interface fire, which is
what happened up there, and with homes
that are built closely together and with, at
times, strong winds and dry conditions, it’s
something we need to think about.
What can be done to lessen the odds?
Believe it or not, it’s usually the landscaping
around homes that is the issue. Having an
appropriate amount of landscaping and keeping
it trimmed back and away from your home is
the number one thing you can do. Beyond that,
everyone should have a 72-hour kit with enough
food and water for three days. You should have
a plan for how to evacuate quickly, and a plan
for where to go. My wife and I keep a bag that is
ready to go at all times with a little bit of cash, a
couple credit cards, and some food and water—
and also, something most people forget about,
which is copies of all your identification. This
is especially critical for a small business. Many
of them never fully bounce back from a disaster
because they lose so many of their valuable
documents and so much important data that
may not have been stored in the cloud.
You mentioned your wife. Tell us how you met.
It was about ten years ago; we were both single.
We were all at a restaurant eating dinner after a
fire. I saw her walk in—she was with someone
who I recognized from my gym—and I thought,
“Man, I sure would like to meet that girl, find
out who she is.” So, I’m trying my best to not be
a creepy stalker as I asked around at the gym,
“Hey, who was that?” A day or two later, I get an
email through Facebook. It was from someone
I didn’t know who was trying to track down
my younger brother for his class reunion. We
emailed back and forth, and this goes on for
something like five or six weeks. Finally, it dawns
on me, and I ask her, “Were you that girl that
walked into the restaurant a couple of months
ago?” And, she said, “Yep, that’s me!” [laughter]
Turns out that she had gone to high school with
my brother. I said, “Hey, you’ve got to let me take
you to dinner.” We’ve been together ever since.
She’s a super supportive, amazing person.
30 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
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AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 31
| NOW HEAR THIS
PANCHO & THE WIZARDS
“Play before you get good, because by the time you get good, you’re too old to play.” —Joey Ramone
BY SHAWN STRONG
32 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
From the Stones to Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder,
and Janis Joplin, some of the world’s most
phenomenal musicians began their musical
careers early in life, quickly developing their
skills and taking the musical world by storm seemingly overnight.
The remarkably talented Tristan Wildey seems suited to follow
the same trajectory, spending the last four years building a
dedicated following, while honing an already impressive natural
ability for songwriting. Wildey’s group, Pancho and the Wizards,
has benefited from a rotating roster of fantastic local musicians,
but under the young musician’s steady leadership, the Wizards
have cultivated an impressive catalog of music that is undeniably
Hailing from Arroyo Grande, Wildey spent his teenage years
playing with friends at house parties and the like. Despite growing
up with a family that wasn’t overly musical, the budding artist was
drawn to music early on. An avid crate-digger, Wildey has been
cultivating a solid vinyl collection since his teens. This appreciation
for music has yet to dissipate and has come to influence his current
style. Drawing from a pool of punk and garage rock that is deep as
it is wide, Wildey’s music is reminiscent of a number of well-known
acts like Iggy Pop and the Ramones, while avoiding genre clichés
and remaining distinctive. Not only does the young musician carry
an impressive arsenal of musical influences with him, his notable
perspicacity concerning the intricacies of audio production is
readily apparent, after even a short discussion with him. Without
doubt, it’s these two traits that allow Wildey to develop such a
specific tone in his work, unmistakable in his live performances and
On the origins of Pancho and the Wizards, Wildey reminisced on
the casual attitude he took when approaching the idea of showcasing
his work. Without being too serious, the Wizards were simply
a way to gain perspective on the credibility of his songwriting
and musicianship. After four years of steady growth and positive
reception, there was obviously something going for the 18-year-old
vinyl-hoarding punk rocker when he decided to plug that amp in
and start recording. As the sizes of shows continue to increase, income begins
to flow in, and band confidence rises, the Wizards hope to build on the
upward momentum, while also maintaining the informal nature of the group.
That being said, recognition seems unavoidable for the band, as a recent
collaboration with local brewery giant Firestone-Walker spells some welldeserved
exposure for this talented group of musicians. With the financial
and artistic support of the brewing powerhouse, the Wizards look forward to
a physical release of their latest album “Cemetery” sometime during the fall
of this year. A first for the band, this pressing hopefully marks the beginning
of a series of albums that will boost the group’s ability even further.
Outside of music, Wildey maintains a busy personal life working several
jobs while also pursuing a degree in communications. With one semester
left before graduation, Wildey already boasts a certificate in audio
engineering and has been working closely with audio engineers and
record producers throughout the county on projects of his own, as well
as those of fellow bands. When questioned about post-graduation plans,
Wildey was undecided yet optimistic about his future. While staying local
and continuing to play with the Wizards is obviously enticing, Wildey
expressed interest in possibly moving south to continue his education,
while also exploring new music scenes and expanding his sound. On the
other hand, the musician was equally amused
by the idea of staying with the Wizards and
launching a tour throughout California.
Considering all business aspects of Pancho and
the Wizards are currently managed entirely by
Wildey himself, a tour would be a momentous
undertaking to say the least. However, the everdetermined
Wildey says he’s ready to make it
happen should the opportunity present itself.
With so much going for the group already,
both options seem entirely attainable. In either
case, make a point to see the Wizards as soon
as possible, either locally or wherever the
young musicians find themselves in the coming
months. Otherwise, turn on the radio because
chances are you’ll be sure to hear them crashing
over the airwaves any day now. SLO LIFE
Los Angeles born, SLO County
raised, SHAWN STRONG’s
passion for the local music
scene and artists that have
created it, fuels his writing and
drives his commitment to living
the SLO Life.
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 33
FIELD OF LIGHT
BY PADEN HUGHES
It’s been over a decade since my parents
and siblings moved to the UK, and each
time they return to the Golden State
for family reunions, there is always one
comment you can count on hearing
them say, “It’s so good to be back
home in the land of gentle rolling hills
studded with gnarled oak trees.” I know what
they mean. I spent a gap year in Europe before
starting at Cal Poly and I remember the sense
of belonging that swept over me when I drove
through the golden California hills.
Sometimes it takes a new perspective to help
you reconnect with the beauty of the scenery
you walk in daily. The most recent person to gift
me with a fresh look at California’s beauty was
Bruce Munro, an internationally acclaimed artist,
who transforms landscapes into canvases of art.
Specifically through his Sensorio installation,
which he designed with solar-powered orbs on
stems that glow and subtly morph into bright
colors. The result is hypnotizing.
Munro has long had a dream of bringing his art
around the world. Sensorio in Paso Robles is his
largest installation to-date. Covering several acres,
with over 58,800 stems to fill the space, this art
form is unlike any show or exhibit we typically
see in our small corner of the world.
It was delightful to experience the installation
while marveling as it changes colors and shapes
with the landscape. It felt surreal, almost like
walking into another world. It brought my
childlike imagination to life and I felt as though
I might have entered the imaginary place of
Alice in Wonderland. It’s not just the orbs
themselves, but the network of them that was so
captivating—like a tangle of brain neurons and
synapses. You could easily lose yourself in the
design and experience and allow your mind to
wonder at all manner of complexities in life.
The best way to experience this art form is to time your
arrival just right. As I mentioned, I love the California
hills and oak trees, and I have always loved our sunsets.
When I was a child my mom would point to a colorful
sunset and announce, “The fairies are making cotton
candy.” In fact, my favorite time of day to experience
Sensorio is right before the sun sets, so the magic of the
changing colors can transport you. That’s exactly when
we pulled into the parking lot, strolled into the exhibit
area, and first glimpsed the illuminated countryside.
The sky was on fire with orange and pink, darkening
the silhouettes of ancient oak trees, while the rolling
hills were illuminated by solar blooms in vibrant
colors. It really stops you in your tracks. My inner child
rejoiced to see the fairies making cotton candy in the
sky and that Munro had matched their magic with his
own vibrant rendition in the landscape beneath.
Location & Price
Sensorio is located off of Highway 46 East. More
specific directions are available online, as well as ticket
pricing information. Tickets can be bundled with VIP
dinner on the terrace overlooking the scene. If you’re
not hungry for dinner, but want to toast to the region,
beer and wine are also sold before entering the exhibit.
The Field of Light will be here through the first week
of January 2020.
While there were not
a lot of children there
when we visited, the
exhibit would enthrall
all ages. It can get windy,
so I advise bringing a
jacket and wearing layers.
Finally, tickets are sold
for specific time slots
during the evening hours,
so plan accordingly. This
helps keep the foot traffic
down so viewers are not
overcrowded. SLO LIFE
PADEN HUGHES is
co-owner of Gymnazo
and enjoys exploring
the Central Coast.
34 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 35
| ON THE RISE
This seventeen-year-old Mission College
Preparatory High School senior is bounding
toward a bright future.
What extracurricular activities are you involved in? I play baseball and basketball,
I am Mission Prep’s ASB President, and I am an Eagle Scout.
What awards and recognition have you received? Mission Prep Scholar Athlete of
the Year, Eagle Scout, elected Freshmen and Sophomore class president, nominated
to be a leader for MCP’s senior class retreat, and Mission Prep ASB President.
What is important to you outside of high school? When I was in middle school, one
of my best friends and I created a Wiffle Ball tournament to benefit Jack’s Helping
Hand. Through the donations from the event, we have been able to help build the
Jack Ready Imagination Park in Nipomo. I’m really proud of how the tournament has
grown over the years, and the fun memories we have had in the process.
What are your hobbies? I love to go backpacking, camping, fishing, and finding
cool spots on the Central Coast to drive my Jeep.
What has influenced you the most ? The sacrifices that my family has made for my
sake inspires me the most. They have worked harder than I could ever imagine so
that my sister and I can have the opportunities we have had. This commitment to
selfless dedication is something that I try to embody.
What is your favorite memory of all time? During Thanksgiving, many of my
closest relatives come to our house. Last year, right before dinner, about 50 of us
were standing in our living room, and I had the opportunity to say a few words
about how thankful I was for the people in that room. I cherish how generous,
loving, and passionate my family is—they truly inspire me.
What do you dislike? Tomatoes in a burger. It just doesn’t make sense to have fruit
with ground beef and cheese.
If you could go back in history and meet anyone, who would it be? Because
of how his innovative mind helped structure our nation, I would want to meet
Benjamin Franklin. I want to know the mindset that allowed him to be so
successful in such a broad range of disciplines.
What about college and career? I am still figuring out where I want to apply, but
I know that I want to study engineering in college because I am fascinated by how
science and industry can change so many lives for the better. No matter which
field I end up in, I want to be in a career where my work has a direct impact on the
welfare of those around me.
Where do you see yourself in ten years? Regardless of which part of the country
I attend college, I see myself coming back to live on the Central Coast and
beginning my professional career here. This area is where I want to raise my kids
and start a family.
What do you want people to know about you? I want to be remembered for both
my work ethic and generosity. SLO LIFE
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36 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
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| MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR
PHOTOGRAPHY BY VANESSA PLAKIAS
On Highway 36, somewhere between Denver and Boulder, with the tumbleweeds bouncing
along the high plain, someone on a northwest-bound tour bus asked an intriguing question:
“Hey, what if we all worked together on this?” By “this,” that person was referring to the
scheduled closure of Diablo Canyon and the expected multimillion-dollar annual hit to
the Central Coast economy that it is forecasted to leave in its wake. The “we” addressed in
that question was a collection of government-types, chamber of commerce representatives,
various people from advocacy groups, and local business leaders. As with many big questions
such as this one, no one recalls who posed the question in the first place, but one thing is
for certain, MELISSA JAMES was right in the middle of it. And she continued to agitate
for an answer when she returned home to San Luis Obispo, moving it forward until the
logical next step became the formation of what is now known as The Hourglass Project.
Now, as its President & CEO, she spends her days thinking about the future of the Central
Coast, while taking concrete steps to ensure progress toward a vision that includes a larger
economic pie for those who want to live here, work here, and own a home here in this
collection of small towns on the California coastline, this place we call home. Here is her story…
38 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 39
40 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
kay, Melissa, let’s talk about your
background. Where are you from?
I’m from a little town in Northern
California called Loomis; it’s between
Sacramento and Tahoe. Their motto
is “A small town is like a big family.” I
grew up there, lived in the same house,
attended just two schools, K-8 in one Oand high school in the other. I’m the middle child; I have two sisters. We
had horses and kind of lived a rural, country lifestyle. I hung with the guys
a lot, so there was this whole group of friends, a bunch of guys and girls,
too, but I had really close guy friends, so I was kind of rough and tumble.
You know, you’re out at the lake and always trying to keep up with the
guys, trying to do what they’re doing. I was really social and loved hanging
out with my friends, loved getting involved in everything. But I would say,
I was one of those all-in high school students: senior class president, peer
helper, team captain. I did cheerleading and volleyball and swimming and
all the activities. I really got some mileage out of high school.
And what about college? As I was getting set to graduate, I was planning
to go to San Diego State. I was already wearing all of my San Diego State
gear; I was ready to go. But, one of my teachers, his name was Mr. Davis,
and he was my economics teacher, he kept telling me I should go to Cal
Poly. He was a Cal Poly alumn. And I had also been accepted there, but I
didn’t want to go to another small town. I wanted to go to San Diego and
experience something different in a big city. Then, I went on a road trip
with a girlfriend and we stopped in San Luis Obispo. It just felt so much
more familiar and more like home to me, still different and a new college
experience, but when I went down to San Diego, it just felt like this sea
of people that you get lost into; and, as I actually started thinking about
living there and going to school there, I decided that I really liked the San
Luis Obispo community, and it was where I fit instead.
What did you study? I studied social science and also got a minor in
psychology. I was convinced that I was going to be a high school teacher,
or a school counselor, so I did peer helping and loved that. And then, I
thought I was going to someday be a high school principal. I left high
school wanting to create those types of experiences that I had for other
kids. I obviously kind of shifted along the way. That’s not what I’m doing
right now. I actually married a teacher, but after graduating from college, I
spent two years in Hungary where I was a missionary in Eastern Europe.
I was a student at a bible college for about six months, and then I became
an intern and I led college teams throughout Eastern Europe, small
mission trips through 20 different countries. I really loved the experience
of helping. I’m very people-oriented, and I wanted to be serving people in
Eastern Europe that needed help.
And who were these people exactly? Usually they were in orphanages
and were really poor, or they were impoverished types of populations, but
I soon found my fit where I was the head of the girls’ dorms. It’s kind of
like an RA position, where there’s something like 60 college students, all
young women, and I had this mentorship role. And I found that I loved
it. I loved exposing them to new experiences and doing the missions, but
what I really loved was the one-on-one mentoring relationships. So, I told
myself, “I’m going to be a counselor and I’m going to go get my MFT.” It
was a really good experience, and I thought I was going to do it forever.
But, I decided to come back and go back to school, and when I did, I came
back to the Central Coast. I worked for a time, actually, at Calvary Chapel,
maybe for a year, then a friend of mine told me that the office where she
worked for Sam Blakeslee, who was then a state assemblyman, needed
someone to come in to help do casework for a six-month stint.
What was that like? I started at the lowest level, as a caseworker where
you’re doing constituent services, which fit for me because I was into the
helping-people-type stuff. I really liked it. And it was a real education
about how government works, because somebody comes in and has some
problem, and you’re like, “Okay, I’ve got to help this person. I have no
idea what to do, but I need to figure out how to do it.” And, from there,
you learn how state government works; you have to navigate all of the
various agencies, and then you figure out how the policy works. After
a while, I was promoted and became a district representative, or a field
rep, where you’re going out and starting to do more of the community
stuff and representing the assemblyman in the community. And then, I
got promoted again when he moved to the senate. I became the capitol
director. I was pregnant with my first daughter at the time, and my
husband and I, we moved, actually, up to Loomis. I thought, “You know
what, we’re starting a family. I’m going back home. This all kind of
How was it working at the Capitol? I worked in Sacramento until Sam
retired from the legislature, and then I worked for a while after that at
a consulting company, actually a polling company. I had this nostalgia
for being back in Loomis, but I was commuting an hour each way. I felt
like when I wasn’t working, I was sitting in traffic. It just wasn’t making
sense for our family. That was around the time that Sam was back in
SLO launching the Institute for Advanced Technology and Public
Policy at Cal Poly, which is how I ended up back here. Ironically, I was
five months pregnant when we moved up to Sacramento, and I was five
months pregnant with my second when we moved back to the Central
Coast. [laughter] So, yeah, it’s kind of like a think tank at Cal Poly, and
they looked at big issues in energy, open government, and education,
and the goal of the institute was to work at the nexus of industry around
the private sector, academia, and government to try to find technology
solutions to big public policy and societal challenges.
That sounds really interesting. It was; it really was. I was on the
start-up team and did that for maybe three years at Cal Poly, but I
really missed the people impact, the one-on-one contact, so I went
back into community-facing roles, first with the Economic Vitality
Corporation and then the SLO Chamber. This was a few years back
when the planned closure of Diablo was announced. A lot of people
were saying, “We need to be thinking proactively about how we’re going
to move forward out of what we know will be a big hit.” It was from
that place that I began working with a group that came to be known as
the Hourglass Project. I would say that it really started to gel during a
trip that we put together at the Chamber to visit Denver and Boulder.
We called it an Economic Vision trip, and the goal was to bring a cross
section of leaders from government, from elected officials, from the
private sector and non-profits to go on an exploratory learning trip. We
wanted to have a look at communities that have vibrancy and economic
prosperity so we could learn some things and apply them back home.
And, out of that trip, came this concept of regionalism.
Why is banding together as a cohesive Central Coast region important?
So, the question we ask is, “How do we plan for the future? How do we
prepare for the future?” One of the things we’ve realized is that a lot of
times, we just talk about it. We talk about our problems. “We have high
home prices and low wages,” or whatever we see as the problems. But, it >>
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 41
doesn’t always move past talking about the problem and into solutions.
So, collectively we’ve coined this idea here. We like to say: “We get stuck
admiring our problems.” So, it was decided that we need to be able to
bring the right people together to drive some action and take some steps
if we want to change the future in some way. So, regionalism is actionoriented
and often private-sector led. For the most part, there’s economic
development that happens across the Central Coast in smaller siloed
pockets, but there’s not a unified private-sector voice or perspective. There
are public/private partnerships, and there are chambers of commerce that
definitely have brought a private sector perspective, but they’re focused on
one local community. So, what we’re looking to do is to identify the things
that are working and then bring people together to collectively put them
into practice for the benefit of the entire region.
Other than wine and tourism, where do you see opportunity here?
I would say we have a lot of amazing assets, but there are two in particular
that I would highlight. And I would say they’re not just Central Coast
assets or even just California assets, but national assets really. And that
would be Vandenberg Air Force Base and Diablo Canyon. Right now,
SpaceX launches from Vandenberg, but when you think about the
potential for private-company space exploration launches that could be
done out there and all those jobs that go along with those missions, it
adds up. There was a recent study by Bank of America that saw the private
space exploration industry growing to $2.7 trillion within 30 years. That’s
trillion with a “t.” For us, that can mean high-wage jobs, quality careers,
and high-growth companies that could pop up all around the Central
Coast as part of that industry. We’ve got a lot of potential in this area.
And, I would say Diablo is similar. They have a desalination plant, and
they have all this existing infrastructure, energy infrastructure; and we’ve
been an energy producer on the Central Coast for the state for decades
with Diablo, and there’s no reason why we can’t continue to be that. Not
with nuclear, but there are conversations about renewables, such as solar
and wind. There are all kinds of regulatory barriers and other hurdles, so
it’s not something that’s going to happen tomorrow, but offshore wind,
for example, could happen and we have the infrastructure at Diablo to be
able to plug that power into the grid. There’s no reason why that couldn’t
happen. So, when we ask ourselves, “What are the jobs of the future?
What does an economically vibrant, prosperous community look like
for the Central Coast?” Those two areas, Diablo and Vandenberg, will
absolutely be a big part of that answer.
What motivates you about this forward-looking work you do? My
family, my two girls, are my motivation. They are five and seven years
old now, and I think about 20 years from now, when my kids are 25 and
27; that’s the time in which they’ll be entering the workforce, and I can
see if everything stays stagnant where it is now, I think it’s very likely
that my kids will go somewhere else to go to college and won’t have the
opportunity to return, to work here. That’s not an unlikely scenario. I want >>
42 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
Graham helped me buy my first house. He is upfront with you on what to expect and breaks
down the process to help you understand. Extremely knowledgeable and trustworthy. If I ever
buy another house, he will be the first number I dial.
graham @ ccreslo.com
805.459.1865 | CalBRE #01873454
3196 South Higuera Suite D, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
– Graham Wintzer, Paso Robles
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 43
them to have the opportunity to work here and have a home here. This is
the community that we’re raising our family in, and I want them to have
those options. And, so, coming into this job now as CEO, I’m obviously
full-time and I’m putting my heart into the work I’m doing, but I had
a big perspective shift for what it means to be a mom and what makes
a good mom or a bad mom. And with my kids, one of the things that’s
been neat about the experience is they’re getting to see me in this new
role, and so, like, “Yeah, Mom’s the boss or Mom’s the leader,” and they
see me speak at places, and for them, just being five and seven, they’re
soaking it up with all kinds of questions. And when they’re 25 and 27,
I’d love for them to be able to be leaders in whatever they’re doing or to
know that they can.
And, what’s it like to be a working mom on the Central Coast? There’s
a lot of working moms here on the Central Coast because you often
need two incomes to survive, to make living here affordable. And being a
working mom is something I think about a lot, making sure I am keeping
a good balance and doing a good job as a mom and doing a good job
at work. It’s definitely a balance because you have a lot of expectations
to do all the things at once. You just put a lot of pressure on yourself as
a mom because you want to be a really good mom, and there’s so many
different opinions about what that means from the very beginning: “Are
you going to have an epidural or not? Are you going to breastfeed or not?
Are you going to feed your kids solids?” Before they’re even born until
the questions become, “Are you going to put them in public school
or private school? Are they going to day care or are they not?” Every
decision, every mom researches and thinks about and agonizes over
and makes the call; and you can feel like if somebody makes a different
decision than you, it’s a judgment on your decision and vice versa. We
You had mentioned a perspective shift… You know, for me, I realized
that just because you’re a mom doesn’t mean you’re an expert at it. We’re
all learning as we go, and every kid is different, and the choices that you
make have to work for your family. But, I think, moms, we carry a lot.
And then, when you’re a working mom, you have your pressures and
demands at work, and you have the stuff that’s happening at home, and
you’re always carrying all of it all the time. You’re never not a mom, even
when you’re at work, and not that it’s necessarily a mom or dad thing,
but I do think moms carry it in a different way than dads do. For the first
six months of my daughter’s life, she came to work with me every single
day to the Capitol in Sacramento; literally, she slept under my desk, and
I carried her around. When I had my second daughter, she came to work
with me, as well. And, I mean, had I not had those types of opportunities
with a more flexible, family-friendly work environment, I would have
stopped working and it would have been a totally different direction
44 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
Drought-Tolerant, Lifestyle Landscapes
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AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 45
ecause I couldn’t see a way in which I could be both at the same time. So,
I think about what other moms have to go through when they have young
ones, and if they don’t have those same types of opportunities, you know, it
can make it really hard to fit the pieces together.
How does living in San Luis Obispo contrast with your experience in
Sacramento? I’m sure if we stayed in Sacramento, I would have earning
potential two to three times what it is here. The pay for teaching is
relatively the same, so it hasn’t affected my husband’s job much; but when
we made the choice to move here, it was in 2013, and we were looking at
houses in the Roseville/Loomis area for $200,000. And so, we took our
income down by half and took our home cost up by three times, right?
And rational people say, “You’re crazy. That move doesn’t make sense,” but
it made sense for us. We want to live here. We want to raise our family
here, and we are going to invest. We were going to make an investment
in how we want to raise our family and the experiences we wanted
them to have, but it’s definitely not easy. For a lot of people and a lot of
families trying to make it on the Central Coast, it’s challenging, especially
when you’re thinking out a ways ahead about college and weddings and
retirement and all those things that are down the road. You may not be
experiencing them now, but you need to be planning for them.
How does the future look from where you sit? You know, one of the
things that really stuck with me when we were in Boulder was a comment
from the guy who planned Pearl Street there. He said, “The fear, looking
ahead, is that it’s going to be too rich, too white, and too old, and that you
lose your community when it becomes that way.” So, as we think about a
vibrant community and a vibrant economy, you have to create opportunity
for more people. Sometimes economic development seems like this weird
concept. Economic development—what does that even mean? It can be
really sterile, like you’re just trying to grow the bottom line. But the way
we’re looking at it from the perspective of The Hourglass Project is that
it’s about growing more than just the bottom line. It’s about inclusive
economic growth and ensuring that you’re growing your economy for
more and more people to benefit, and to lift people up out of poverty, and
create a vibrant middle class, and grow the economy for those that live
in it. Not that it’s easy, but that has to be your North Star and what your
focus is. And, at the end of the day, it really is about people. SLO LIFE
46 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
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AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 47
Each and every year, for 28 years, the San Luis Obispo-based non-profit known
as Leadership SLO welcomes a cohort of three dozen participants hailing from
all corners of the county with backgrounds ranging from law enforcement to
engineering, bakers to bankers and everyone in between. The ten-month program,
with an alumni network of more than a thousand, focuses on further integrating
its participants into the community through day-long programs focused on
one aspect of the county’s inner workings, with themes ranging from farming
and sustainability to law enforcement and the arts. At the culmination of their
year together, each class embarks on the completion of a “legacy project” where
something is done to better the community, for example working to construct a
portion of Johnson Loop Ranch trail. This year’s class, just like all of the others to
come before it, is comprised of a diverse collection of individuals, all with unique
hopes and dreams and backgrounds. Here is a tiny snippet from each of them.
Those interested in joining may apply by visiting leadershipslo.org
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JENNIFER OLSON
CLASS ACT: SANDI SIGURDSON
As a member of
first class—Class 1—
and the program’s
Sandi Sigurdson bids
farewell this year.
Throughout her tenure
over the past decade,
Sigurdson has served
as a surrogate mother to those making
their way through what often results in
a transformative and sometimes lifechanging
process. With a quick wit and
a wicked sense of humor, it has been her
uncanny ability to know just when to offer
a soft shoulder to cry on or a swift kick in
the butt—and sometimes both—which has
propelled Leadership SLO to new heights
on her watch. Sandi Sigurdson will always
be remembered as a leader among leaders.
Senior Director of Gift Planning
I feel fortunate that my career
offers me the opportunity to
contribute to Cal Poly and our
extended SLO community. In
my spare time, I do art projects
with my daughter, have family
dinners, and try to fit in a happy
hour with friends. And I’m an
excellent hula hooper.
VP of Marketing
Visit SLO CAL
When I was 19, my family took a
European vacation that would have
rivaled National Lampoon: five
countries, three robberies, and a trip
to the embassy in Brussels for new
passports. I love working in tourism
and have recently made personal
travel a higher priority. Someday I
even hope to live overseas for a while.
Manager, Digital West
I have done a few years of big
wave surfing, ocean rescue,
done some remarkable surf
trips, spent several years living
on my bicycle, and raised a
child to become a fine young
adult. My dream now is to
build a home to leave as a
legacy for my daughter.
Visitor Center Manager
SLO Chamber of Commerce
I went to the Gemological
Institute of America. I still make
jewelry for fun. I also enjoy
painting in my spare time. I’m kind
of a gamer nerd, so I love getting
together with friends for some
old-fashioned table top games.
And, I like to dabble in mixology
and craft some amazing cocktails.
I was raised in Belmar, New Jersey
and was the first in my family
to graduate college. Although
my career is business focused, I
am fascinated with nature, and
graduated with a BS in Biology and
minor in Chemistry. I look forward
to traveling, building a family of my
own, and a strong career.
Director of Student Equity &
I am a refugee from Vietnam
and came to the United States
at three years old. Culture,
family, and food are central to
my life. I hope my two boys
grow up with a strong sense of
identity and voice.
48 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
SUSTAINABILITY ISN’T A CHECKBOX
It is a way of thinking and acting. We advocate
for solutions that maximize our planets resources
in order to preserve our natural spaces for future
generations to explore.
Hank and Georgia explore the super bloom at Carrizo Plain.
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 49
Chief Nursing Officer
Sierra Vista Regional
I used to act, and was a dancer
in a music video for the singer
Coolio; I did a commercial; was
on the show “ER;” and did a TV
show for Discovery Channel.
Although I am an RN now—just
like my mom—I would love to be
back to acting at some point.
Earth Systems Pacific
Mostly, I love spending time with
my family and coaching. I dream
of traveling more. I have been
to Nicaragua with the Cal Poly
Engineers without borders a few
times and aided in construction
of a health clinic there. I hope to
make my daughter proud and
see her find happiness.
Senior Director of Strategy
& Engagement, Cal Poly
My mom and dad met on “The
Dating Game” TV show in 1971,
got married seven months
later, and are still married. I’m
the offspring of one of the
original reality TV couples. I
love to play guitar, and my
dream is to follow an executive
career path and retire early.
Associate Creative Director
AMF Media Group
A few years ago, my boyfriend
and I decided to take a long
road trip through the states to
visit the National Parks we had
always wanted to see. We took two
months off of work, sold all our stuff,
moved out of our apartment, packed
our car full of camping gear, and hit
the road. It was a crazy adventure.
SLO LIFE Magazine
I was a classic latchkey kid growing
up, and the second I got home from
school I’d lace up my roller skates
and circle the block so that I could
visit all of my neighbors. My life
changed forever the day a UC
Outreach counselor reached out to
me, and I became the first one in
my family to go to college.
Animal Services, County of SLO
I spent years practicing law in
Alabama only to change careers.
I now work in animal welfare.
It’s been quite a journey. In my
free time, I enjoy hiking, spin
classes, reading, travel, and I
also volunteer. Someday, I hope
to complete a triathlon.
Morris & Garritano
My wife and I have a little one,
he’s just two years old, so I
don’t have a lot of free time.
But, when I do, I love to go
backpacking, camping, cycling,
running, and snowboarding.
Someday I hope to hike all 211
miles of the John Muir Trail.
City of Pismo Beach
I paint, and would do just that if
it paid the bills. I love to cook—
specializing in vegan food, lately.
I hike, camp, and practice yoga
frequently. I enjoy gardening and
reading; and I’m also a Simpsons
fanatic who is known for having
an encyclopedic knowledge of
the show and its characters.
Senior Civil Engineer
I love being outside and traveling—
camping, backpacking, road tripping.
I once had the opportunity to mentor
a group of Cal Poly Engineers
Without Boarders students on a
month-long journey to a remote
village in the Himalayan Mountains
in India. It was extremely challenging
and completely life-changing.
Marketing & Communications,
I recently returned to SLO—my
hometown—with my family after 23
years away. I never really expected
to move back, but eventually, after
a lot of traveling, I never found a
place I wanted to live long-term
and raise a family, other than right
here in San Luis Obispo.
50 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 51
Director of Emergency
Management, Cal Poly
The most remarkable journey I
have taken in life is becoming a
father. Seeing life through my
daughter’s eyes over the past five
years has been a truly priceless
experience. Her exceptionally
positive and kind personality
makes me want to be a better
person every day.
Control System Technician
City of San Luis Obispo
Before moving to the Central Coast, I
worked near Shaver Lake where I got to
fly on the company helicopter to some
of the most beautiful locations, and drive
some of the craziest back roads. That
experience living in that small mountain
town with only 300 people was an
amazing journey and something that
shaped who I am today.
Chief Operating Officer
I used to think I wanted to be
the modern day Martha Stewart,
however, this has evolved as I
continue to reflect on what brings
me happiness. I love bringing people
together, whether it is my family,
friends, or the community. My dream
is to spend my life creating moments
and opportunities to do more of this.
Water Resource Recovery
Facility Operator, City of SLO
Sustainability has long been my jam: I left
for New Orleans after SLO High where
I used limited supplies and maximum
creativity to have some effect post-
Katrina. Shortly thereafter, my wife and I
were broke, bike-riding college students
running a zero-waste household. I now
have a career transforming hazardous
waste into renewable resources.
The Land Conservancy
A surprising number of adults call
me “Meerkat.” I have a very loud
laugh that isn’t well controlled in fun
environments. My family and I quote
movies in almost every conversation
we have with each other, which
my dad and my uncle experienced
growing up and brought the
tradition into both of their families.
Director of Marketing & Communications
for Student Affairs, Cal Poly
Both my parents were heavily
influenced by World War II. My
mom lived in German-occupied
France and has vivid memories of
soldiers taking over her home in the
middle the night. My dad and his
family were relocated from Seattle
to an internment camp in Wyoming.
They both lost everything.
Minton Insurance & Financial Services
After high school, I worked for a
Hollywood movie producer and got
to work on several films. I worked for
him for five years, and was able to
travel to some fascinating locations
to shoot. I love to golf and spend
time with my friends and family.
Someday, I’d like to flip houses and
develop commercial properties.
Ten Over Studio
When I was in high school, I
attended a summer program in
Colorado that changed my life.
At the time I was extremely shy
and introverted and it gave me
a safe place where I learned to
not only trust myself, but also
others. It definitely shaped who
I am now.
San Luis Obispo Tribune
A two-week mission trip to
Cambodia five years ago was my
life-changer. Also, I spent six years
working in Watts and Oakland
managing businesses in the inner
city. It was interesting being in a
minority, and that experience was
crucial in understanding the value
Nuclear Training Accreditation
When I was in college, I started
a company selling candles. I sold
all my inventory within a year and
turned a profit, all while being
a full-time student and working
full-time during the summer.
My dream now is to someday
become an author.
52 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
smart, eclectic, art to live on
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(at the corner of Grove Street, across from Pepe Delgados)
Open Monday - Saturday 10-6pm
Forge a Natural
805-215-0511 lic.# 887028
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 53
Marriage & Family Therapist
I’ve been a fire fighter, EMT, life
guard, and park ranger. I completed
fire school when I was 16 years old.
I love biking, backpacking, hiking,
racquetball, swimming, travel, and
going on adventures. I want to be
an asset to my community and
be remembered as a kind and
My life changed completely
when I decided to move to
the United States. I decided to
leave everything and everyone
I knew for a new life and new
opportunities. Someday, I would
like to have an opportunity to be
able to travel more often to Italy
to see my family and friends.
Division Manager Health Care Services
County of San Luis Obispo
I was raised by my single dad from
age 6 when my mother passed
away at 31 from breast cancer. I
completed an Ironman in her honor,
raising money for breast cancer
survivors. I have spent time in Africa
twice, in Senegal with Peace Corps,
and in Zambia with USAID during
and after grad school.
Owner & Artistic Director
Central Coast Comedy Theater
In 2014, I brought my love for life,
adventurous spirit, and lifetime of
work experience in the comedy
industry from Chicago here to the
beautiful Central Coast. Some of
my favorite things are backyard
cookouts, fine cocktails, and my cat,
Butters. I’m a water baby and I enjoy
beach days laughing and playing.
Julie Sinton Pruniski
I grew up on a cattle ranch
that has been in my family for
over 140 years, and it is a huge
piece of who I am. I learned so
much from growing up there—
how to make decisions, and the
importance of open space. I
attended Shandon High School
where my graduating class was
only 27 kids.
Megan’s Organic Market
Inspired by Jack Kerouac, I
hitchhiked across the country with
my first love when I was 22. We
had near death experiences, fled
from religious zealots, were blessed
by benevolent criminals, endured
frigid winter weather, and came to
know the vastness of the good that
people are capable of.
People call me Drea, and it
sometimes comes as a surprise
that I grew up in the country
where I raised pigs and sheep for
FFA. Last year, I ran the Boston
Marathon and someday I hope
to return to Europe to visit the
place in Switzerland where I was
an exchange student.
Special Events Coordinator
My bucket list includes writing a book,
marriage, and a Bernedoodle, but also
a lot of traveling. I make a point to
travel somewhere new every year. This
year, an African safari. Eventually, I’d
like to see baby turtles hatching, a hot
air balloon ride, Greek island hopping,
lots of national parks, castles in my
motherlands—Ireland and England.
VP of Mortgage Lending
I’m a proud child of immigrants.
My parents immigrated to
Canada from Hong Kong in 1977.
As a result, I grew up with two
primary languages, Cantonese
and English. I love reading,
hiking, and spending time with
my kids; also I have many, many
stupid human tricks.
Client Service Manager
Ad Club Advertising
My mom had me at 17 and one-year later
she met the man who would become
my adoptive father. When I turned
16, we hired a P.I. to find my biological
father. Two years later, after building
a relationship and meeting my newly
discovered siblings, I walked my mom
down the aisle and gave her away to my
biological dad, who I call “Pops.” SLO LIFE
54 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
Call: (805) 548-0800
Text: (805) 440-9945
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Your Central Coast Lighting Experts Since 1926
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 55
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID LALUSH
56 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 57
oward the end of her first semester at Cal Poly, Megan
Kostelnik found herself falling in love. This was not just
a schoolgirl crush; this was for real. And it was unlike
anything she had felt before. Looking back now, it is
difficult to tell precisely when the feelings began bubbling
up to the surface. At first, there were the usual warm
fuzzies, which were followed by a heartbeat that felt as if it
were misfiring, then it was something deeper, much deeper.
It’s a feeling that poets, singers, and painters have been
attempting to describe for many years, perhaps since the
beginning of time. Inseparable from the human condition,
love paints a shiny hue for the eye of the beholder. And, yes,
Kostelnik was in love. But it was not with a person. It was
with a place—San Luis Obispo.
Life in and around San Jose was all Kostelnik had ever
known. Her family had been there for four generations,
reaching back to a time when fruit trees reigned supreme
and getting into high-tech meant buying a new tractor.
And, to be sure, it was a good life. But the place had
grown, and with it, so had the pace. The go-go Bay Area
had an undeniable buzz to it, a palpable energy, and it was
intoxicating to operate in the hub of a fast-growth software
company, but once her children came into the world—first >>
58 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 59
a son, now seven years old, and then twins, a girl and a boy,
now four years old—things started to change. Everything
that would be counted as a “pro” on the ledger before the
kids arrived seemed to migrate toward the “con” column.
But, mostly, it did not feel like home anymore.
It probably did not help that things started to feel a little
cramped in the 1,200-square-foot rental house. Although
the busy family of five would have loved a bit more room
to stretch out, Bay Area home prices orbited somewhere in
the low stratosphere. Everything changed one day, however,
when Kostelnik’s husband, Erik, received a phone call. He
was a co-founder of a software company called TextRecruit,
which is where the couple both worked, and he had put
in obscene hours talking venture capitalists into making
an investment in the firm. One thing led to another, and
on this fateful day, he learned that the company was being
acquired. They were being swallowed by a bigger fish, which
was incredible, life-changing news because it would allow
the young family to, among other things, plant some roots
for good. That is about the time that Kostelnik revealed to
her husband that she had fallen in love in college, and those
feelings for San Luis Obispo never abated. >>
60 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 61
The Kostelniks returned to the town, seeing everything
through new eyes. They had vacationed in Avila Beach
previously and were drawn toward the ocean. They started
poking around, checking out different neighborhoods,
and looking into schooling options until they found what
seemed to be a made-to-order home in the Avila Valley.
It was the first and only home for sale that they actually
stepped into, and they knew right away it was the one.
The high ceilings and doors were an immediate indication
that they were on the right track—Megan is six-feet-tall,
and Erik is six-six. But, it was the location of the home
and the “community feel,” which had been advertised as
“Montecito-style” that had them sold. A competent minor
league outfielder could throw a baseball and hit Bellevue-
Santa Fe from the front yard, which meant the kids could
walk to and from elementary school. And the sand and the
surf are a bike ride down the Bob Jones Trail away, and time
there, they knew, would bring the family closer and melt
away the residual hustle and bustle from the never-ending
Silicon Valley grind.
Everything about the house was gorgeous, but the Kostelniks
wanted to make it their own; they wanted to put their stamp
on it. So, they reached out to San Luis Obispo-based >>
62 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
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cabinets with glass insets, vaulted ceilings and recessed lighting. Master bedroom has its own suite and features gorgeous views of the bay, golf course, sand spit,
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Features a delightful living room with fireplace
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Newly painted deck. The kitchen is in great
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Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Haven Properties
441 Marsh Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
805 Main Street, Morro Bay, CA 93442
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 63
architecture firm Ten Over Studio to inquire about a
remodel. One thing led to another, and soon they had their
vision on paper. “Lighten and brighten” were the guiding
words for the project. The Saltillo tiles and heavy wood
accent were beautiful and exactly what you would expect
to find in a Spanish-style home, but they felt heavy and
dark—the opposite of light and bright. They had to go. So,
with the architectural renderings in-hand, the Kostelniks
hired Jeff Pittman as their construction project manager
and John Tricamo Construction as the contractor, both of
San Luis Obispo, to go to work. And go to work they did.
Within a span of 60 days, the lightning-fast update was
completed. By the end of last summer, the Kostelniks were
moving into their new home, which they describe now as
According to Megan Kostelnik, who served as the interior
designer, “I wanted it to feel clean and cozy. It’s big; a lot
more space than we were used to, so I did not want it to
feel impersonal. Everything is simple but welcoming.” The
floors were replaced, everything painted, new countertops
throughout, new tile, and many details added. A new
mantle was installed after the couple found the perfect
wood slab at Box Kite Barnyard (scraps from the piece >>
64 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 65
were used to build bathroom shelves) and the furniture
was sourced locally, as well, with the pieces coming from
either Habitat Home & Garden or Basalt Interiors. Even
the plants were found at local retailers. Shopping local
throughout the process was a priority for the couple, who
were making the transition from tourists to locals in the
process—a choice their friends back in San Jose could never
quite understand, until they visited.
“It was a big decision for us to move here, to leave the
tech scene,” Megan admits. “But, it was definitely the
right choice for our family. The
kids are outside so much and
are so happy here.” Plus, as it
turns out, Erik has brought tech
along with them, as he is busy
now preparing to launch a new
software company here this fall.
The company, the couple proudly
declares, will be headquartered
in San Luis Obispo, and hopes
to make an impact on the local
economy by hiring local people—
combining Silicon Valley with
Avila Valley. SLO LIFE
DAVID LALUSH is an
here in San Luis Obispo.
66 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
181 TANK FARM ROAD . SUITE 140 . SAN LUIS OBISPO . CA . 805-543-7600
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 67
| SLO CITY
BY THE NUMBERS
Total Homes Sold
Average Asking Price
Average Selling Price
Sales Price as a % of Asking Price
Average # of Days on the Market
Total Homes Sold
Average Asking Price
Average Selling Price
Sales Price as a % of Asking Price
Average # of Days on the Market
Total Homes Sold
Average Asking Price
Average Selling Price
Sales Price as a % of Asking Price
Average # of Days on the Market
Total Homes Sold
Average Asking Price
Average Selling Price
Sales Price as a % of Asking Price
Average # of Days on the Market
Total Homes Sold
Average Asking Price
Average Selling Price
Sales Price as a % of Asking Price
Average # of Days on the Market
Total Homes Sold
Average Asking Price
Average Selling Price
Sales Price as a % of Asking Price
Average # of Days on the Market
Total Homes Sold
Average Asking Price
Average Selling Price
Sales Price as a % of Asking Price
Average # of Days on the Market
*Comparing 01/01/18 - 07/24/18 to 01/01/19 - 07/24/19
SOURCE: San Luis Obispo Association of REALTORS ®
68 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
July 2019 December 2019
Sales Price —
Single Family Residential
$540,000 $563,220 $579,553
Interest Rate 3.875% 4.375% 4.875%
Monthly Payment $2,031 $2,250 $2,459
It costs to wait
They say it pays to be patient, but not when it comes to buying a house. With rates still historically low and
uncertainty ahead, now is the perfect time to take advantage of the housing market and buy your dream home.
*Sample ‘future’ rate provided for illustration purposes only and is not intended to provide mortgage or other financial advice specific to the circumstances of any individual and should not be relied upon in that regard. Guaranteed Rate,
Inc. cannot predict where rates will be in the future. Above scenario assumes a first lien position, 740 FICO score, 20% down, and 40 day rate lock on a primary residence. APR and payment may vary based on the specific terms of the loan
selected, verification of information, your credit history, the location and type of property, and other factors as determined by Lender.
Applicant subject to credit and underwriting approval. Not all applicants will be approved for financing. Receipt of application does not represent an approval for financing or interest rate guarantee. Restrictions may apply, contact
Guaranteed Rate for current rates and for more information.
Sales prices are based on California homes.
Don’t wait! Call us today and let’s get started.
VP of Mortgage Lending
O: (805) 335-8743
C: (805) 235-0463
Associate VP of
O: (805) 335-8738
C: (805) 550-9742
VP of Mortgage Lending
O: (805) 335-8742
C: (805) 674-6653
VP of Mortgage Lending
VP of Mortgage Lending
1065 Higuera Street, Suite 100
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
O: (805) 706-8075
C: (805) 540-8457
O: (805) 329-4087
C: (707) 227-9582
Donna Lewis NMLS ID: 245945, CA - CA-DOC245945 • Dylan Morrow NMLS ID: 1461481, CA - CA-DBO1461481 • Maggie Koepsell NMLS ID: 704130, CA - CA-DBO704130 • Phyllis Wong NMLS ID: 1400281, CA -
CA-DBO1400281 • Luana Gerardis NMLS ID: 1324563, CA - CA-DBO1324563 • NMLS ID #2611 (Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org) • CA - Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight, Division of
Corporations under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act Lic #4130699
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 69
| SLO COUNTY
BY THE NUMBERS
1212 Marsh St., Suite 1
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
1212 Marsh St., Suite 1
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Paso (Inside City Limits)
Contact me today to learn
how I can help you purchase
or refinance your home.
Paso (North 46 - East 101)
Paso (North 46 - West 101)
Paso (South 46 - East 101)
San Luis Obispo
* Top 1% Mortgage Originator | Mortgage Executive Magazine
** Scotsman Guide’s Top Mortgage Originators 2018
© 2019 Opes Advisors, A Division of Flagstar Bank | Member FDIC | Equal Housing Lender
70 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
*Comparing 01/01/18 - 07/24/18 to 01/01/19 - 07/24/19
52 56 $691,448 $708,954
SOURCE: San Luis Obispo Association of REALTORS ®
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AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 71
Real-Deal Detox or Phony Wellness Fad?
BY ERIKA FITZGERALD
Irecently found myself in the oral hygiene aisle,
comparing my usual Colgate Whitening toothpaste
with a natural alternative touting the ability to
brighten my pearly whites with inky-colored
activated charcoal. A sucker for all-natural
remedies, I got to Googling and discovered all
kinds of charcoal products promising a variety of “is
it too good to be true?” health benefits.
As it turns out, ever since Goop founder Gwyneth
Paltrow proclaimed activated charcoal lemonade as
one of “the best juice cleanses,” the jet black powder
72 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
has been making its way from the Instagram feeds
of mega-influencers to the shelves of our local
CVS. Last year, San Francisco even hosted the
nation’s first-ever activated charcoal food festival
(aptly named “50 Shades of Charcoal”). Everything
from inky house-cocktails to ash gray ice cream
lined the streets, making for a less-than-ordinary
As this pitch-dark additive becomes increasingly
inescapable, the question begs: Is charcoal in any
form actually healthy? The answer: It depends. >>
ERICA FITZGERALD is a
writer and traveler with
a healthy addiction to
kombucha and kale.
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 73
NOT YOUR EVERYDAY
Before you go rub a briquette all over your face, know that the
activated charcoal in Paltrow’s choice lemonade is not the same.
In its simplest form, charcoal is the carbon left over when all the
water and other defining components are heated out of organic
materials such as wood, peat, and coconut shells. At this point, you
can use it to grill a mean tri-tip.
To become “activated,” charcoal must undergo treatment with high
temperatures and oxidizing gases that purify and pulverize it. The
result is a highly porous sponge-like powerhouse capable of soaking
up toxins and unwanted impurities through an expansive surface area.
FROM POISON CONTROL
TO PIZZA CRUST
Backed by clever marketing and curiosity-piquing Instagram photos,
activated charcoal has made its way into a myriad of beauty and wellness
products—from face creams and toothpaste to coconut water and even
pizza crust. Retailers sell it as a sort of “body detoxifier” that can cure
everything from a nasty hangover to high cholesterol.
This isn’t entirely the case, however. Activated charcoal is used as a remedy
for poison and drug overdose, adsorbing unwanted pollutants (toxins stick
to the surface) before they can enter the bloodstream. The catch? You need
to take 50 to 100 grams of activated charcoal within two hours of ingesting
a dangerous substance. This is considerably more than the 150 to 500
milligrams found in most over-the-counter supplements and foods.
Although unlikely in such small doses, activated charcoal can also
Hoover up the good with the bad, robbing your body of essential
vitamins, nutrients, and even prescription meds. This—along with other
uncomfortable side effects—is why doctors pump it back out after it
finishes poison clean-up.
So, while activated charcoal has won the hearts of yoga mat toting juice
lovers and other health-conscious consumers, medical practitioners
prescribe skepticism, citing risks that range from “a waste of money” to
vomiting and serious constipation.
MAYBE SHE’S BORN WITH
IT. MAYBE IT’S CHARCOAL.
You can eat it, you can brush your teeth with it, and—yes—you can add
it to your daily skin care regime, too.
While consuming small amounts of activated charcoal in any of its
many forms won’t necessarily “detox” your body, rubbing it on your skin
may be the golden ticket when it comes to this bizarre health fad.
Dermatologists have found that activated charcoal can help control body
odor in the form of deodorant. When it comes to stinky pits, activated
charcoal increases the surface area of the skin and gives the odor more
space to filter out. Think of it like a Brita filter for your underarms.
Unlike supplements and toothpaste, using activated charcoal on your
skin carries little risk of side effects, making it a popular ingredient for
facial masks and other topical skin treatments. When applied, charcoal
helps clear soiled skin by drawing oil, dirt, and other unwanted
particles to the surface. >>
74 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
3076 Duncane Lane . San Luis Obispo
805 549 0100
No matter what your aspirations,
Dr. Daniel will give you the smile you need
to make your dreams come true!
Specializing in Smiles
Dr. Daniel Orthodontics
1356 Marsh Street . San Luis Obispo
(805) 543-3105 . drdanielortho.com
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 75
IT’S TIME TO
WITH REV SLO FITNESS
LOSE WEIGHT . BURN FAT
GET IN SHAPE
MEET NEW PEOPLE
FOR MORE INFORMATION EMAIL U S
Activated charcoal really has squeezed its way into just about everything. Toothpaste is
no exception, promising to remove stains and bacteria through a process called adsorption
(not to be confused with absorption). In other words, activated charcoal gently exfoliates
the teeth to yield a brighter, cleaner smile. Perhaps not gently enough, though.
When it comes to using activated charcoal on your teeth, dentists remain skeptical. While
regular kinds of toothpaste have undergone decades of testing to pinpoint just the right
amount of abrasion needed to remove stains without damaging enamel, charcoal toothpaste
is relatively new and lacks the same tried-and-true testing.
The verdict: Don’t let buzzwords like “all-natural” and “eco-friendly” trick you into this
dental hygiene trend. A study published by the Journal of the American Dental Association
found no evidence that activated charcoal toothpaste works, and that using it could actually
lead to cavities and tooth decay in the long run.
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76 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
TO THE LIVER
Some restaurants have gone so far as to claim their charcoal infused pizza crusts and
burger buns aid in digestion. Hate to break it to you, but adding charcoal to your
pepperoni-topped pizza or double cheeseburger doesn’t make it any more “healthy.”
But, what about adding it to an already-healthy food or beverage?
Aside from the aforementioned fact that charcoal may actually adsorb nutrients and
vitamins, it has no known nutritional value of its own. Rather than shell out $8 for an
activated charcoal add-on in hopes of Brita-filter-like body purification, remember that the
liver has been successfully detoxifying the body… well, forever.
So, is charcoal the magical formula to optimal health and wellness? If we look to seasoned
medical professionals, the answer seems to be a firm “no.” While an occasional indulgence
is unlikely to do any harm, it’s equally unlikely to add years to your life expectancy.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Charcoal may look cool on the ‘gram, but you can’t beat a vitamin-packed green juice
from one of SLO’s colorful juice bars. SLO LIFE
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AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 77
SLO County salads go from meh to meal-worthy.
BY JAIME LEWIS
PGrowing up in the ‘80s, most of us
came to understand salads as health
eter Rabbit would live contentedly
in San Luis Obispo; Mister
MacGregor’s garden has nothing
on our fresh, leafy greens. But it
wasn’t always so.
food. In popular culture, people in leotards and spandex ate
them with “lite” dressing on the side. Despite all the hype, a
bowl of iceberg leaves and shredded carrots offered about as
much excitement as a funeral dirge.
Thank goodness things have changed in San Luis
Obispo County, where you can’t throw a rock without
hitting fresh produce, still dewy from the field.
Abundant greens, vegetables, fruit, proteins, grains, and
nuts make this a very special place to compose a robust
salad, satisfying enough for an entire meal.
I visited three stalwart San Luis Obispo eateries (plus
one bonus establishment) that offer big, meal-worthy
salads. Of course, there are many more (as always), but
these comprise a thorough education. Start here, and
you will be sated indeed. >>
JAIME LEWIS writes about
food, drink, and the good
life from her home in San
Luis Obispo. Find her on
78 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
䰀 漀 挀 愀 氀 䔀 琀 栀 椀 挀 愀 氀 䨀 攀 眀 攀 氀 爀 礀 匀 椀 渀 挀 攀 㤀 㜀 㐀
匀 瀀 攀 挀 椀 愀 氀 椀 稀 椀 渀 最 䤀 渀
䌀 甀 猀 琀 漀 洀 䌀 爀 攀 愀 琀 椀 漀 渀 ☀ 䄀 渀 琀 椀 焀 甀 攀 刀 攀 猀 琀 漀 爀 愀 琀 椀 漀 渀
㐀 ☀ 㠀 䜀 愀 爀 搀 攀 渀 匀 琀 ⸀ 䐀 漀 眀 渀 琀 漀 眀 渀 匀 䰀 伀
㠀 㔀 ⸀ 㔀 㐀 アパート⸀ 㠀 㠀 㘀 ⴀ 眀 眀 眀 ⸀ 䜀 愀 爀 搀 攀 渀 匀 琀 爀 攀 攀 琀 䜀 漀 氀 搀 猀 洀 椀 琀 栀 猀 ⸀ 挀 漀 洀
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by local artisans.
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805-570-0019 . HANSDUUS@GMAIL.COM
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 79
SWEET AS CANDY
The word “salad” originates from the Vulgar Latin term for
salted vegetables. But at Old San Luis BBQ downtown, one
of the salads on their menu happens to be sweet, not salty.
“It’s the first thing I ever got here,” says Alyssa Howarter,
the restaurant’s marketing manager, of the Strawberry
Field Salad. She serves me a plate of crisp greens bejeweled
with strawberries, dried cherries, Gorgonzola crumbles,
blush wine vinaigrette, and pecans encrusted with sugar.
“Sometimes we eat those warm from the oven,” she says of
the pecans, which are roasted with a meringue candy coating.
“Those pecans are where it’s at.”
Though Old San Luis BBQ is probably best known for their
Santa Maria-Style tri-tip, the Strawberry Field Salad has
its fans. “It’s definitely our most popular salad,” Howarter
says. She adds that it’s also popular for weddings and other
catered events that Old San Luis BBQ does. As many
ingredients as owners Matt and Danae Pearce can source
from local farms, they do, she says; for my salad, the greens
and strawberries came from Arroyo Grande.
I take many big forkfuls of the salad, enjoying the tang
of Gorgonzola and vinaigrette against sweet cherries,
strawberries, and pecans. And to drink? Howarter
recommends a wheat beer from 21st Amendment Brewery
called Hell or High Watermelon for a fruit-forward, modern
salad experience. >>
80 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
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AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 81
FRIED AND FLAVORFUL
At Big Sky Cafe in San Luis Obispo, I meet with Chef Greg
Holt, who purchased the iconic southern-style restaurant from
founder Charles Myers after cooking there since 1994. I tell
Holt I think I’ve been eating the Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Salad for a decade—if not decades—and he confirms.
“When I started with Charles in 1994, it was already on the
menu,” he says. “It’s a foundation dish.”
And for good reason. Holt explains that he marinates organic
chicken breast strips in equal parts buttermilk and eggs for up
to four days to tenderize it and keep it moist. He then dredges
the strips in flour and blackening spice, then flash fries it in
canola oil. This is the crowning glory of the dish: crisp yet
tender fried chicken.
Other pieces of the salad include a bed of mixed local lettuces,
shredded beets and cabbage, candied pepper pecans (blackened
in a dry cast iron skillet), and black eyed pea chow-chow,
sometimes called a “piccalilli,” which is a Southern salsa-like
garnish. A creamy pecan dressing rounds the whole dish out for
an effortless balance of savory, sweet, tang, and spice.
As I cut into a juicy strip of fried chicken, I remark to Holt how
simple the dish is, yet how complex it tastes. “Some of the best
foods are the simplest,” he says, smiling. >>
82 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
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AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 83
THE MEATY MIRACLE
The silver bullet of low-carb menu options, the Steak Cobb
Salad at Firestone Grill in SLO brings new meaning to the
genre. Loaded with blue cheese, onion, tomato, bell pepper,
bacon, and generous hunks of tri-tip on green leaf lettuce,
this dish packs a powerful protein punch.
Interestingly, the salad originated not as a specialty but as a
way to minimize waste in the restaurant. “We sell steak, so
when we trim the ends of that steak, we use those trimmed
bits for our salad, along with other items,” says a Firestone
owner, Hal Billingsly, whose family owns locations in
Cambria, Fresno, and Bakersfield, in addition to SLO.
Billingsly estimates the restaurant goes through 1,000 to
1,800 pounds of tri-tip per week.
While Firestone Grill, of course, prides itself on Central
Coast barbecue, it offers more than one leafy option,
including the Firestone Salad (with feta and pine nuts),
Asian Chicken Salad, and Southwest Salad, with all
ingredients prepped daily. But the king of Firestone’s
salads? “The steak cobb is our most popular salad by far,”
BONUS ROUND: Salad With A Steak Knife
If you’ve never dined at The Range in
Santa Margarita, first of all, come out
from beneath that rock: Chef/Owner Jeff
Jackson and his team are making country
culinary magic over the hill. Secondly, be
sure to get The Original Man Salad when
you visit. An homage to wedge salads of
yore, this dish comprises half a head of
iceberg lettuce, paper-thin red onions,
sweet cherry tomatoes, croutons, and
slices of bacon beneath a blanket of blue
cheese-creme fraiche dressing. With a
couple hunks of housemade bread, this
makes for a satisfying summer dinner.
And, as for presentation? The Range
serves it with a massive Davy Crockett
knife, sturdy enough for a T-bone.
84 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
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AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 85
While they are known for tasting delicious, cobblers weren’t
made to be pretty. During the 1800s early American settlers
“cobbled” together this dessert with fruit—usually canned—
and clumps of dough, then cooked it over an open fire.
The recipe has evolved over time, but the traditional sweet
flavor and rustic presentation has remained the same.
BY CHEF JESSIE RIVAS
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SOFIA RIVAS
86 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
I like to mix it up and add a few other berries like
boysenberries, raspberries, or blueberries with
the peaches. And, it is delicious served warm with
!ice cream on the side.
1 cube salted butter
1 ½ cup flour
1 cup + 1 Tbs sugar
½ tsp salt
1 Tbs baking powder
1 Tbs cornstarch
1 cup milk
3-4 cups sliced peaches
Toss sliced peaches with corn starch
and 1 Tbs sugar. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a 9x13 glass
Mix all remaining dry ingredients
together in a medium mixing bowl.
Fold in milk until just incorporated.
Pour batter over melted butter in
baking dish and top with the sliced
Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60
minutes. Cobbler is done when the
center is firm. Let rest at least 15
minutes before serving. SLO LIFE
JESSIE RIVAS is the owner
and chef of The Pairing Knife
food truck which serves the
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 87
| WINE NOTES
There is something magical about going to a vineyard, but the experience of a wine
tasting room elsewhere, on the main street or in a production facility, is an exceptionally
great time, as well. They remind me of a speakeasy that you only hear about through
friends. More importantly, their wine will knock your socks off. It is a great way to find
some exceptional wines, so keep these on your radar.
BY ANDRIA MCGHEE
Why have a winery at a production
facility or have a remote wine
tasting room away from the
grapes? You might think that
you would need to own a
vineyard to make wine. Many
wineries challenge that model
and realize that you can make
wine anywhere. You need
some machinery, a temperature controlled room, good grapes, a
winemaker, and some diligence. A winemaker can be an expert of
their skill, while the grape growers can be an expert in their field
(there’s a pun there). This gives freedom to both the winemaker and
The winemaker is able to choose the grapes that are best for the
style they’d like to make. They have many properties to choose from
on the Central Coast. The winery is not bogged down in overhead
costs of a plot of land, or costs of constructing a building in the
middle of nowhere. They can choose a
location on a convenient traffic route
for both trucks and visitors. Multiple
wineries can utilize one grower, which
cuts costs for everyone. There’s a phrase
that if you want to make a million
dollars running a winery, you should
start with $10 million. The new winery
model gets great wine in our houses
without having to lose the ranch.
All three of these wineries choose
their grapes very carefully. They have
contracts with vineyards in cooler
San Luis Obispo and warmer Paso
Robles. They all left me awestruck. The
password at the door is “I love good
wine.” They should let you in. >>
ANDRIA MCGHEE received
her advanced degree in
wines and spirits from
WSET in London and enjoys
travel, food, wine, and
exercise as a means to enjoy
those around her.
88 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
FRESH FROM OUR FARM
Variety of Seasonal Local Fresh Fruits
and Vegetables in Every Talley Box
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AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 89
Stephen Ross // 178 Suburban Road, San Luis Obispo
2018 Grenache of Rosé, Edna Valley // $25
Pinot Noir, Albariño, and Chardonnay grapes come from the Edna
Valley whereas the Zinfandel and Petit Syrah grapes that need a
little more heat and sunshine come from Paso Robles. Stephen Ross
also co-owns Stone Corral Vineyard with a couple wineries so they
can experiment and try some new grape growing techniques with
each passing year.
Being a Pinot Noir lover, I felt right at home in this place. They
do have a great range of wine types ranging from lighter to bold.
All were smooth with many layers of flavors. The Rosé knocked
my socks off. It is made from Grenache, which has a spectacular
strawberry flavor and a hint of peach. So good for the warm weather.
Croma Vera // 3592 Broad Street, #106, San Luis Obispo
2018 Albariño // $27
Just like a little hidden speakeasy, this is located between a coffee
shop and a hair salon. They make some special Spanish grape
varietals like Tempranillo and Grenache (or in Spain: Garnacha).
The name means “true colors” in Spanish because the owners
Mindy Oliver and Chris Steins are dedicated to showing off the
grape and what it becomes because of its environment. They were
lucky to snag Jeremy Leffert, who shared in their vision and love
for these types of wines. They have a winning combination of
passion, vision, and know-how.
They make big red flavors from Cabernet Sauvignon to
Tempranillo and Grenache though the Albariño pulled me in with
its citrus favors. It has good body that would please even a red
wine lover. The cool San Luis Obispo breeze mimics Riax Baixas
region in Spain, where Albariño thrives. Thank you, cool breezes!
Peloton Cellars // 470 Front Street, Avila Beach
2016 Big Ring // $39
This little gem is tucked away behind Avila Beach’s boardwalk.
Bill and Trish Kesselring have long loved cycling. The name
Peleton comes from the main group in a bike race that the camera
is usually watching, like in the Tour de France, to see how the
big group will influence the race for each day. They have folded
these two loves into each other well. Cycling takes hard work,
determination and careful planning. After my sampling, it’s
obvious that the owners have taken those same characteristics into
You can only make good wine from good grapes, so they look all
over the county for the best offerings. Just try Big Ring, a blend
of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Syrah for a big flavor of dark
cherries without the huge chewy tannin feel. Trish is usually in the
tasting room to pour you some wines they have made along their
ride on the Central Coast. SLO LIFE
TASTING ROOMS WORTH TRYING
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ONX, Tin City 2910 Limestone Way, Paso Robles
Central Coast Wines, 712 Higuera St., San Luis Obispo
Wine Sneak, 4468 Broad St., Suite 120, San Luis Obispo
90 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
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AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 91
BY BRANT MYERS
After a relatively tranquil couple of
years, the local brewing industry is
shaking up again. In a market that
had stabilized after seeing long
periods of double-digit growth
and a rapid expansion, breweries
are opening, closing, moving, and
shifting while the industry adapts to
the competitive market and elusive
culture of local brews.
Foremost in the news has been the forced closure of Bang the
Drum. Located off Orcutt Road in San Luis Obispo, this beacon
of arts and entertainment has been known for slinging their nanobrewed
beers for five years and, having one of the first outdoor
live music permits within the city, a destination for evenings filled
with the music of artists ranging from impromptu drum circles
to electronic dance parties. The move is in response to a developer
using the land to make way for more homes in the area. Bang the
Drum will have been closed by the time this goes to print, but
owner Noelle DuBois has plans to relocate once a similarly suitable location has
been scouted. Keep an eye out for any crowdsourced funding for the move and
help support this family-owned business churning out SLO-style nightlife.
The heavily-medaled Brendan Gough, formerly of Central Coast Brewing (then
Firestone, then Central Coast Brewing again) will be leaving to start his own
brewery in the building that we knew of as Tap It (then Santa Maria Brewing)
to open Liquid Gravity Brewing. He’ll be leaving the gold, silver, and bronze
at CCB along with a skilled team of brewers such as Greg Buergler and Skyler
Oatman to continue their tradition of brewing the dankest clean and hazy IPAs
that they have become known for consistently churning out. We will be sad to
see Brendan go, but we’re sure he’ll be doing great things at a new facility he can
call his own. We can’t say much for his high score on Street Fighter II, however,
as now it’s up for grabs on Higuera Street.
After running into Nate Adamski at the latest SLO Chamber of
Commerce Mixer, we found out that this former Tasting Room Manager
at See Canyon Cider is headed over to a new venture a little bit closer to
town to create SLO Cider Co. Their liberal use of dry yeast strains elevates
fermented apples beyond the cloyingly sweet sugar bombs many of us >>
92 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
Christian Science Reading Room
1023 Nipomo Street
San Luis Obispo CA 93401
What defines you?
Knowing ourselves as God does
is a spiritual view that can uplift and heal.
Thank you so much to all who attended and
supported Throw Us A Bone, Clio and Doggie
Special thanks to all players, sponsors, volunteers,
family and friends for making the event possible,
for your love and your support of Clio.
The Christian Science Reading Room
provides a quiet place for study and prayer.
Everyone is welcome.
SAN LUIS OBISPO!
Join SLO Life food columnist
Jaime Lewis for candid
conversations about life
and flavor with area eaters,
drinkers and makers.
i T U N E S
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 93
associate with cider and we look forward to seeing progress as he inches
toward an opening date slated for later this year.
The original founder of Libertine Brewing Company, with locations in SLO,
Avila, and Morro Bay, has moved on to form a family-run craft beer and wine
bar in Atascadero named Raconteur Room. Tyler Clark along with wife Shannon
Clark and their two little groms have gone up the grade to create a place all their
own. Resplendent with irreverent artwork and utilizing his connections from
years in the industry, this funky spot is located next to Traffic Records on Traffic
Way where you can find them spinning vinyl in between live music performances.
Head up there on a Thursday to hear the Turkey Buzzards prove they’re “the best
little two-piece band this side of the Mississippi” while drinking a rare Belgium
sour from Cantillon on draft, a cold IPA from Faction Brewing, or any of a
number of glasses of local wines hand-curated by the owners themselves.
Heading in the opposite direction of SLO is the newly conceived brainchild
of notable homebrewers Lee Samways and Justin Childs. Humdinger Brewing
can be found in the heart of downtown Arroyo Grande across the street
from Klondike Pizza. Still in the early stages of licensing and building, this
is shaping up to be a great location and a much-needed spot for the breweryscarce
area of Five Cities. These homebrewers are already familiar with working
on larger systems having guest-brewed beers at established breweries and we
know their years of finely-honed home recipes will translate
well to the scaling up of production. This will be another one to
keep your eye on and we expect big things from these largerthan-life
characters once they step out of the garage and into
the big leagues.
Like weddings, college, and
construction projects, things are
bound to cost more and take longer
than expected, but we’re excited to
see what’s in store for our local beer
scene. I know I’ll be supporting the
new ventures by helping to spread
the word and, most importantly, by
opening my wallet when they open
their doors. So in keeping with the
tradition I’ve come to know and love
about San Luis Obispo, let’s tap the
bar then raise our glasses and salute
the people that dedicate their lives to
making drinks so we can enjoy ours.
Slainte! Prost! Cheers! SLO LIFE
BRANT MYERS is a 14-year
veteran of the Central Coast
craft beer industry who
enjoys sharing his passion
with anyone who doesn’t
put an orange in their
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HOW THE WEST WAS REALLY WON
The history of the Wild West is filled with
outrageous stories, but few are as wacky as this.
A visit to the Arizona frontier is filled with card
games, duels, a dirty saloon, pillow fights, and
modern pop songs. It pairs witty wordplay and
physical comedy with tall tales inspired by the
Through September 22 // americanmelodrama.com
CONCERTS IN THE PLAZA
Concerts in the Plaza features
musical genres across the spectrum
from reggae to rock, blues to
jamgrass, soul, California roots
rock, and more at Mission Plaza
in downtown San Luis Obispo
every Friday June 14th through
September 13th from 5:00-8:00 p.m.
Local vendors offer food and beverages
for concertgoers. Be sure to bring
your own reusable cup or purchase a
commemorative Concerts in the Plaza
tumbler. Non-alcoholic beverages are
provided, as well. No outside alcoholic
beverages or pets are allowed and this is
a non-smoking event. All concerts are
free to the public.
What do Arles Struvie, Thurston Wheelis, Aunt Pearl,
Petey Fisk, Phineas Blye, and Rev. Spikes have in
common? In this hilarious send-up of small-town morals
and mores, they are all among the upstanding citizens of
Tuna, Texas. This long-running off-Broadway hit features
two amazing actors creating the entire population in a tour
de farce of quick-change artistry—doffing costumes and
characters faster than a jack rabbit runs from a coyote. Two
actors, 20 characters, and a barrel of laughs, y’all.
August 9 – 25 // slorep.org
STAR WARS IV: A NEW HOPE
The Central Coast Film Society is
honored to host this classic. Before
you see the end of the Skywalker
saga later this year, celebrate our first
glimpse at a galaxy far, far away with
a community screening of Star Wars
Episode IV: A New Hope, with
special guest Ken Napzok, Arroyo
Grande native and author of “Why
We Love Star Wars: The Great
Moments That Built A Galaxy Far,
August 24 // clarkcenter.org
August 2 . Damon Castillo Band
August 9 . Bear Market Riot
August 16 . The JD Project
CALI AUTO FEST
Come out for a carnival of exotic and classic
cars, trucks, off roads, and bike builds. Enjoy the
county’s best food trucks, catering, breweries,
and wineries with live music from local DJs and
bands. Cali Auto Fest will also be hosting a raffle,
along with other items from the show’s sponsors,
for Along Comes Hope, a non-profit that helps
children fighting cancer.
August 10 // caliautofest.com
August 23 . Soul Scratch
August 30 . Resination
September 6 . Mother Corn Shuckers
September 13 . Truth About Seafood
96 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019
2019 | 2020 SEASON
shows in all!
BEAUTIFUL – THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL
COLIN MOCHRIE & BRAD SHERWOOD
FLOR DE TOLOACHE
FRI OCT 11 Leo Kottke
FRI OCT 18 Thelma Houston’s Motown Experience
TUE OCT 22 Jake Shimabukuro
TUE OCT 29 Aspen Santa Fe Ballet
WED OCT 30 Las Cafeteras – Dia de los Muertos
FRI NOV 1 Jon Batiste and Stay Human
TUE NOV 5 An Evening with David Sedaris
SUN NOV 10 The Hip Hop Nutcracker
TUE NOV 12 Nat Geo Live – Ami Vitale
SAT NOV 16 George Lopez – The Wall World Tour
SUN NOV 17 Raúl Prieto Ramírez
WED NOV 20 Mandy Patinkin – Diaries
WED DEC 4 Pink Martini featuring China Forbes
WED JAN 22 Beautiful – The Carole King Musical
THU JAN 23 Beautiful – The Carole King Musical
TUE JAN 28 Emanuel Ax
SAT FEB 1 George Winston
WED FEB 5 Nat Geo Live – Steve Winter
FRI FEB 7 Metta Quintet
SAT FEB 8 A.J. Croce – Croce Plays Croce
SUN FEB 9 Waipuna
TUE FEB 11 Cirque Éloize – HOTEL
FRI FEB 28 Flor de Toloache
TUE MAR 3 The Mikado
THU MAR 12 Cherish the Ladies
FRI MAR 13 Siberian State Symphony Orchestra
SAT MAR 14 Christian Elliott – Why Be Good?
TUE MAR 17 Dorrance Dance – SOUNDspace
FRI APR 3 Lula Washington Dance Theatre
SUN APR 5 Diego Figueiredo Trio – Brazilian Nights
THU APR 9 The Illusionists – Live from Broadway
WED APR 15 TAO – DRUM TAO 2020
SUN APR 19 Loreto Aramendi
WED APR 22 Nat Geo Live – Bryan Smith
FRI MAY 8 Colin Mochrie & Brad Sherwood
WED MAY 13 An American in Paris
FRI MAY 29 The Improvised Shakespeare Company
SUN JUN 7 Waitress
SECOND SHOW ADDED!
AN EVENING WITH DAVID SEDARIS
AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 97
Dr. Arnie Horwitz
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and confused? I can help.
- Relationship Conflicts - Parenting & Self-Esteem
- Separation and Divorce - Personal Life Planning
- Grief and Loss - Career Uncertainty
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SENIOR DISCOUNT . Mon & Tues 10 to 2 . $15
1351 Monterey Street . San Luis Obispo
(805)783-2887 . clippersbarber.com
Michael Nowak and Orchestra Novo go
Hollywood as they bring movie music to
life onstage at the Alex Madonna Expo
Center. As always, the community is
invited to circle up for picnics at this indoor
September 1 // orchestranovo.com
DUNE WALK & RUN
Enjoy a 5k Run, 5k Walk, and
10k Run through scenic Central
Coast dunes. Hard-packed beach
and soft sand dunes create a fun
combination for all ages. An awards
ceremony will immediately follow
the end of the race.
September 15 // groverbeach.org
HOMES OF DISTINCTION
Guests will have an exclusive look
into five beautiful and unique homes
as the Rotary Club of San Luis
Obispo presents the 19th Annual
Homes of Distinction Tour. Each
home has a unique ambiance where
architecture, décor, and landscaping
tell the stories of their lives.
September 15 // slorotary.org
ANTIQUES & OLD STUFF SHOW
The Three Speckled Hens are proud to
present their spectacular antiques and
old stuff show at the Paso Robles Events
Center. Grab a friend (or two) and make
a weekend of it. Discover one-of-akind
antiques, vintage and re-purposed
treasures curated by some of the West
Coast’s most talented dealers. With over
150 vendors you will need two days to
see it all.
September 28 – 29 // threespeckledhens.com
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Representing Your Luxury Properties Across the Central Coast
To learn more about our Distinctive Collection listings
100 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019