SLO LIFE Magazine Aug/Sep 2019

slolife

LIFE

SLOmagazine

LOCAL TASTE

WINEMAKING

HEALTH

TRENDS

SAN LUIS

TRAVEL

LOCA

EVEN

GET

REA

AUG/SEP 2019

SLOLIFEMAGAZINE.COM MEET

NTRAL COAST

LIFE & STYLE

ON THE

RISE

ACH

OME

ARM

ESH

HEAR

THIS

MELISSA JAMES

ECONOMIC VITALITY

& REGIONAL SUCCESS

AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 1


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AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 3


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4 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019


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Mestiza focuses

on the simple,

authentic flavors

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.

805.592.3201 mestizaslo.com

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


| CONTENTS

30

32

34

36

48

Q&A

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.

Family

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.

Profile

The San Luis Obispo Leadership Program

marks its 28th year. We introduce the

members who make up the current class.

68

72

78

Real Estate

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.

Health

With her finger always on the pulse, ERIKA FITZGERALD

dives into the nitty-gritty details of one of the hottest

trends in health: Charcoal.

Taste

Fresh from the garden and topped with goodness,

JAIME LEWIS explores the ways a salad can make a meal.

56

Dwelling

The KOSTELNIKS open the doors to their

newly remodeled Spanish-style home.

12 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019

86

88

92

96

Kitchen

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

cobbler recipe.

Wine Notes

Wine writer ANDRIA MCGHEE takes you out of the

vineyards and into the tasting rooms for exceptional

flavors worth trying.

Brew

Always in the know, BRANT MYERS shares the inside

scoop on what’s happening behind the scenes of our

local breweries.

Happenings

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.


2019 Beautiication

Award Winner

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

Shopping Network.

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!

Vitamix

Tom Franciskovich

tom@slolifemagazine.com

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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SLO LIFE

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CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

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Erika Fitzgerald

Paden Hughes

Jaime Lewis

Andria McGhee

Brant Myers

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CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

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Jennifer Olson

Vanessa Plakias

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Vincent Shay

CONTRIBUTIONS

Have some comments or feedback about something you’ve read here?

Or, do you have something on your mind that you think everyone should

know about? Submit your story ideas, events, recipes, and announcements

by visiting us online at slolifemagazine.com and clicking “Share Your Story” or

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16 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019

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SLO LIFE Magazine. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole

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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.

SLO LIFE

18 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019


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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 info@slolifemagazine.com

ORCAS ISLAND, WASHINGTON

AGRIGENTO, SICILY

BOB and THERESA RUSH with JUDY GORDON

BARCELONA, SPAIN

JACQUELINE CARR

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY

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

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS

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

MARY WHEELER,

MARYA MALINOWSKI,

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

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA

MANNY and CARLY celebrating their one-year anniversary.

SPLIT, CROATIA

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

The DELBERGS

JIM and RHONDA SEYBERT

DALLAS WORLD AQUARIUM, TEXAS

INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA

KIM and CAROL BENNETTS

CORE DANCE COMPANY

MEXICAN RIVIERA CRUISE

NORWAY

JIM RENZI and LIZ celebrating their 80th birthdays and

their 60th wedding anniversary.

JOHN and FREDENE

Please send your photos and comments to info@slolifemagazine.com

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


| BRIEFS

TOP 25

“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.”

MISO

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.”

45%

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

“We want

peace and joy

to be given a

chance.”

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

Recreation Area.

$284,300

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.

6

The number of deaths at the Oceano Dunes

year-to-date, making it the most lethal on record.

$2.8 million

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.

“Frank’s imprint

is evident in

every facet

of this great

institution.”

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.

65,820

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


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AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 25


| TIMELINE

Around the County

JUNE ’19

6/2

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.

6/24

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.

6/20

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

housing construction.

6/21

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.

6/28

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


JULY ’19

7/8

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.

7/9

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.

7/15

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,

(805) 783-7858.

7/11

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.

7/16

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


| VIEW

SEAWARD

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


| Q&A

FIRE CHIEF

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.

SLO LIFE

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

their own.

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

studio recordings.

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


| FAMILY

FIELD OF LIGHT

at Sensorio

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.

Insider Tips

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

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT

Bryce Hilton

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

Know a student On the Rise?

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36 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019


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AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 37


| MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR

REGION

RISING

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

makes sense.”

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

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– 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

torture ourselves.

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


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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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| PROFILE

CLASS 28

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

Leadership SLO’s

first class—Class 1—

and the program’s

Executive Director,

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.

Allie Burnett

Senior Director of Gift Planning

Cal Poly

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.

Brooke Burnham

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.

Mike Casey

Business Development

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.

Dusty Colyer-Worth

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.

Jill Dagion

Operations Manager

Invata Intralogistics

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.

Que Dang

Director of Student Equity &

Success Centers

Cuesta College

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


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AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 49


Art Dominguez

Chief Nursing Officer

Sierra Vista Regional

Medical Center

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.

Rob Down

Vice President

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.

Tessa Espinoza

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.

Lauren Finley

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.

Sheryl Franciskovich

Creative Director

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.

Holli Hargrove

Volunteer Coordinator

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.

Daniel Gilman

Risk Advisor

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.

Erica Inderlied

City Clerk

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.

Shannon Jessica

Senior Civil Engineer

Wallace Group

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.

Jayan Kalathil

Marketing & Communications,

University Development

Cal Poly

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


Anthony Knight

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.

Haley Lehman

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.

Rachel Maiorino

Chief Operating Officer

Downtown SLO

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.

Patrick McGrath

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.

Lauren Meers

Development Manager

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.

Yukie Murphy

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.

Shawn Minton

President/Broker

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.

Julia Oberhoff

Principal/Landscape Architect

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.

Ray Riordan

Senior Strategist

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

of diversity.

Sarah Risley

Nuclear Training Accreditation

Supervisor, PG&E

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


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AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 53


Kris Roudebush

Marriage & Family Therapist

Self-employed

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

loving human.

Matteo Schettino

Operations Manager

Talley Farms

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.

Michelle Shoresman

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.

Sabrina Pratt

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

Non-profit Consultant

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 Souza

Owner

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.

Andrea Soderin

Broker Associate

Richardson Properties

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.

Tracy Timmons

Special Events Coordinator

French Hospital

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.

Phyllis Wong

VP of Mortgage Lending

Guaranteed Rate

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.

Berry Worden

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


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| DWELLING

MODERN

PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID LALUSH

56 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019


SPANISH

AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 57


T

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


www.idlershome.com

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


E X P EC T B E T T ERSM

LOS OSOS

www.125HOWARD.com

Luxury living. Magnificent soaring views. Attention has been paid to detail, finish, and quality. 4 bedrooms, 4 fireplaces, 4 bathrooms, large living spaces and an

abundance of magic. This property reflects art in architecture at its best and is like a creative retreat for the heart, soul, body and mind. Open floor plan filled w/

natural light. Large kitchen with beautiful bay views, travertine flooring, Jerusalem stone counters w/ iridescent green glass pinwheel back-splash, solid oak

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,

Hollister Peak and the Santa Lucia mountain ranges. Bonus spa room that is fashioned after the Ritz Carlton in Cannes France. Added bonus: large art studio.

SAL RUIZ, REALTOR ® , LIC. #00865841 805.235.7825

SHELL BEACH

Enjoy ocean views from this 3 bed, 3 bath opulent

home in prestigious Rancho Pacifica. Attention to

detail is evident with the feel of a Tuscan villa -

beautifully appointed with hand-scraped wood

and travertine flooring, expansive windows, chef’s

kitchen with Thermador professional appliances

and granite counters, home theatre system with

media closet, 3 fireplaces, wine cellar.

Website: www.212Foothill.com

LINDA BUTLER

REALTOR®, LIC. #00597458

805.801.5914

SAN LUIS OBISPO

Features a delightful living room with fireplace

and built in bookshelves with ample storage.

Newly painted deck. The kitchen is in great

condition and has lots of cabinet space. The very

large master bedroom looks up to the beautiful

Irish Hills.

Website: www.1490-3Descanso.com

STEVE INGELS

REALTOR®, LIC. #01121033

LYNN COOPER

BROKER ASSOCIATE, LIC. #00273080

805.305.8882

805.235.0493

SAN LUIS OBISPO

Let's talk about upgrades! New roof in 2018,

interior and exterior painted, fully remodeled

kitchen, three remodeled bathrooms, new

flooring throughout and custom hand made light

fixtures. This 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom, 1,731 sqft

corner lot home is turn key.

Website: www.tourwizard.net/480s9/nb

KIM WURSTER

REALTOR®, LIC. #01018025

KURTIS WURSTER

REALTOR®, LIC. #01931796

805.441.2112

805.441.1419

Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Haven Properties

441 Marsh Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

805 Main Street, Morro Bay, CA 93442

805.592.2050

BHGREHAVEN.COM

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

“Modern Spanish.”

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

architectural photographer

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

REAL ESTATE

BY THE NUMBERS

laguna

lake

tank

farm

cal poly

area

country

club

down

town

foothill

blvd

johnson

ave

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

2018

30

$803,350

$793,862

98.82%

22

2018

8

$882,000

$872,527

98.93%

23

2018

15

$974,780

$934,681

95.89%

19

2018

12

$1,278,240

$1,236,165

96.71%

48

2018

42

$794,205

$777,521

97.90%

42

2018

24

$928,675

$922,433

99.33%

24

2018

31

$909,403

$904,789

99.49%

35

2019

38

$782,534

$773,418

98.84%

25

2019

16

$793,790

$787,688

99.23%

20

2019

16

$1,054,806

$1,018,805

96.59%

32

2019

17

$1,547,529

$1,492,647

96.45%

87

2019

30

$762,453

$743,969

97.58%

51

2019

26

$927,750

$876,631

94.49%

33

2019

33

$819,561

$800,454

97.67%

27

+/-

26.67%

-2.59%

-2.58%

0.02%

13.64%

+/-

100.00%

-10.00%

-9.72%

99.10%

-13.04%

+/-

6.67%

8.21%

9.00%

0.70%

68.42%

+/-

41.67%

21.07%

20.75%

-0.26%

81.25%

+/-

-28.57%

-4.00%

-4.32%

-0.32%

21.43%

+/-

8.33%

-0.10%

-4.97%

-4.84%

37.50%

+/-

6.45%

-9.88%

-11.53%

-1.82%

-22.86%

*Comparing 01/01/18 - 07/24/18 to 01/01/19 - 07/24/19

SOURCE: San Luis Obispo Association of REALTORS ®

SLO LIFE

68 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019


July 2019 December 2019

(Projected*)

May 2020

(Projected*)

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.

Donna Lewis

Branch Manager/

VP of Mortgage Lending

O: (805) 335-8743

C: (805) 235-0463

donna.lewis@rate.com

Dylan Morrow

Associate VP of

Mortgage Lending

O: (805) 335-8738

C: (805) 550-9742

dylan.morrow@rate.com

Maggie Koepsell

VP of Mortgage Lending

O: (805) 335-8742

C: (805) 674-6653

maggie.koepsell@rate.com

Phyllis Wong

VP of Mortgage Lending

Luana Gerardis

VP of Mortgage Lending

1065 Higuera Street, Suite 100

San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

O: (805) 706-8075

C: (805) 540-8457

phyllis.wong@rate.com

O: (805) 329-4087

C: (707) 227-9582

luana.gerardis@rate.com

Rate.com/offices/CASanLuisObispo1065

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

Your

Local

Trusted

Mortgage

Advisor

**

Ben Lerner

805.441.9486

REAL ESTATE

REGION

Arroyo Grande

Atascadero

Avila Beach

Cambria/San Simeon

BY THE NUMBERS

NUMBER OF

HOMES SOLD

2018

175

207

7

95

2019

178

198

12

72

AVERAGE DAYS

ON MARKET

2018

51

42

59

71

2019

49

40

103

66

MEDIAN SELLING

PRICE

2018

$772,588

$574,499

$1,306,728 $1,459,006

$752,568

2019

$825,959

$582,581

$871,964

Cayucos

31

24

102

114

$1,129,339

$882,167

Creston

6

5

74

91

$721,000

$991,000

Grover Beach

72

66

46

56

$530,302

$542,289

Ben Lerner

Mortgage Advisor

NMLS 395723

805.441.9486

blerner@opesadvisors.com

1212 Marsh St., Suite 1

San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Mortgage Advisor

NMLS 395723

blerner@opesadvisors.com

1212 Marsh St., Suite 1

San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Los Osos

Morro Bay

Nipomo

Oceano

Pismo Beach

Paso (Inside City Limits)

98

72

180

26

85

232

89

77

162

29

73

222

35

64

52

51

71

34

37

79

62

60

83

48

$641,943

$702,887

$665,635

$498,615

$981,997

$497,284

$629,770

$734,837

$660,440

$539,086

$1,160,376

$531,111

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)

37

73

29

74

51

81

73

71

$512,814

$651,574

$491,172

$648,680

Paso (South 46 - East 101)

34

35

66

69

$770,162

$558,196

San Luis Obispo

184

216

38

40

$947,238

$900,650

Santa Margarita

8

16

106

110

$444,250

$548,156

Templeton

70

67

81

75

$777,629

$770,072

* 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

Countywide

1,607 1,585

*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 ®

SLO LIFE


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AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 71


| HEALTH

Activated

Charcoal

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

culinary experience.

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


#1

NOT YOUR EVERYDAY

BBQ BRIQUETTE

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.

Well, maybe.

#2

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.

#3

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

MAKE YOUR

TRANSFORMATION

WITH REV SLO FITNESS

LOSE WEIGHT . BURN FAT

GET IN SHAPE

MEET NEW PEOPLE

FOR MORE INFORMATION EMAIL U S

AT INFO@REVSLO.COM

#4

SQUEAKY-CLEAN OR

HYGIENE HAZARD?

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.

HAZIE AGE 66

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8420 El Camino Real . Atascadero

805.439.1881

revslo.com

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76 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019

#5

LEAVE IT

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


| TASTE

THE BIG

SALAD

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

Instagram/Twitter @jaimeclewis.

78 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019


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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,”

says Billingsly.

SLO LIFE

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


| KITCHEN

PEACH COBBLER

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


!

JESSIE’S TIP:

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.

PEACH COBBLER

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

baking dish.

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

peaches.

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

Central Coast.

AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 87


| WINE NOTES

UNUSUAL SUSPECTS

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 grower.

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


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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

their wines.

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

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90 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019


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AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 91


| BREW

WHAT’S

BREWING

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

805.543.0759

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

Does Good.

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.

thANK YOU

SAN LUIS OBISPO!

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conversations about life

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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

hefeweizen.

94 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019


AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 95


| HAPPENINGS

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

American West.

Through September 22 // americanmelodrama.com

AUGUST

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.

GREATER TUNA

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,

Far Away.”

August 24 // clarkcenter.org

LINEUP

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

downtownslo.com

96 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019


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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

2020

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

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AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 97


| HAPPENINGS

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POPS ON!

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

Boston-style Pops.

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

98 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019


AUG/SEP 2019 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | 99


Representing Your Luxury Properties Across the Central Coast

HAVEN

PROPERTIES

To learn more about our Distinctive Collection listings

visit www.havenslo.com/distinctive

100 | SLO LIFE MAGAZINE | AUG/SEP 2019

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