A California Highway Patrol officer investigates the median on Los Osos Valley Road that a hit and run driver tore through last weekend. Photo by Pandora Nash-Karner
A local community benefit group is looking for donations and possibly volunteers to repair a project that’s completion was years in the making in Los Osos, but was damaged in a car collision.
On July 1 just before 11 p.m. an allegedly drunk driver slammed into the median that runs on Los Osos Valley Road parallel to the Ralph’s shopping center causing thousands of dollars in damages.
“The driver was arrested for driving under the influence,” California Highway Patrol Officer Robert Willoughby told Estero Bay News declining to give the name of the woman behind the wheel. “[The crash report] says it was a major collision, there were no injuries to report. It was a hit and run. It was a female; she left the scene and then came back to the scene.”
The non-profit Celebrate Los Osos was behind the 2021 project that revitalized the median that leads into Los Osos.
“The driver took out the first sign tossing it at high speed about 75 feet,” said Celebrate Los Osos President Pandora Nash-Karner. “The driver then bent and knocked over three other signs, completely destroyed a cork oak tree — pulling it out by the roots — that volunteers planted in 2008—and kept driving on the median pulling up irrigation lines, ripping out plants, and large decorative boulders as if there were pebbles, and only slowed apparently when hitting a second oak tree, damaging the bark down to the cambium.”
Early estimates put the cost at $4,670, a number that could increase following the extent of the damage to the irrigation lines where the car drove that may not be fully known until the water has run several cycles.
“Even if the person’s insurance pays for the damage, it may take a very long time for it to pay,” said Nash-Karner. “In the meantime, it must be repaired. We will ask for donations to do that. If insurance eventually pays for the damage that money will go to future projects.
There is no way the person’s labor can repair the damage, that will take highly skilled professionals.”
In 2021, labor on the project to beautify the median was completed with the help of volunteers. It was one of many several attempts to make what many consider the town entrance aesthetically pleasing.
“For visitors, entrances—an expression of the identity of a place—change the viewer’s impression of the place they are approaching or passing by,” said Nash-Karner in a previous interview. “The quality of the view and the overall visual perception of the environment speak volumes to the visitor. A long median with large barren and dead areas, torn-up irrigation lines, few live plants and struggling oak trees doesn’t invite a visitor to stop, explore and stay and certainly is uninspiring to residents. The median is the entrance to the local retail area and should make a positive statement.”
The project that transformed the almost barren median involved installing irrigation equipment for reclaimed water in the 1100-ft median, planting hundreds of drought tolerant plants as well as distributing a huge pile of topsoil and another one of gravel. It was a team effort with more than 100 volunteers made up of government officials, service organizations, business owners and community members on a Saturday in October. The non-profit, with help from Earthscapes, a Los Osos residential and commercial landscape design firm, had worked for two years redesigning the 1100-foot median.
At that time funding totaled $11,820, which came from a San Luis Obispo County Infrastructure Grant and $5,800 from County Public Works to go toward new plant materials and the new irrigation system. Celebrate Los Osos agreed to pay the reclaimed water bill and Central Coast Earthscapes would maintain the area.
Readers who want to donate to fix the median project or learn more about Celebrate Los Osos, should go to celebratelososos.org
“Celebrate Los Osos has worked its magic since January 2008,” Nash Karner said. “But we can only be magic because of two things: Volunteers and money. Every project Celebrate Los Osos has ever done was accomplished by volunteers. And 100% of every dollar — donated goes to new projects and maintaining existing ones. The act of giving is a powerful way to make a difference in the world. Your donation of time and money, no matter how small, can help support projects in Los Osos that make a difference, one project at a time.”
Checks can also be mailed to Celebrate Los Osos, 350 Mitchell Drive Los Osos, CA 93402
This setback won’t deter Celebrate Los Osos and the many volunteers who make the projects possible.
Volunteers are still needed on July 15 for the annual boat creep prevention at Cuesta Inlet. For the past fourteen years, volunteers from Celebrate Los Osos have worked with the property owners, county code enforcement, Supervisor Bruce Gibson, the sheriff’s department and their dive team, and the California Highway Patrol to clean up the inlet area. They have removed over a ton of litter, refloated sunken boats, attempted to find owners, and towed away orphan boats. Boats have increased from 286 in 2010 to now nearly 700.
Celebrate Los Osos volunteers will inspect each boat at the inlet starting at 9 a.m. Readers that want to volunteer for the Cuesta Inlet cleanup can contact Ellie Malykont at: Volunteer@CelebrateLosOsos.org.
Other projects on the table include repairs of Utterly Osos, the paddle-boarding cow-bear that chills out at the bay in Baywood; restoration of the welcoming signs on Los Osos Valley Road and on South Bay Boulevard designed; and completion of the wayfinding sign in Baywood.
The group is also looking for historically accurate information for an interpretive sign at the Red Barn in Los Osos.