Estero Bay News Briefs 11-16-2023

Written by Theresa-Marie Wilson

Theresa-Maria Wilson has been a journalist covering the North Coast and South County area for over 20 years. She is also the founder of Cat Noir CC and is currently working on a novel.

November 17, 2023

Prescribed Burns in State Parks Scheduled

There is prescribed burning scheduled for multiple San Luis Obispo County state parks beginning in November and lasting through March 2024 according to California State Park officials.

The burns are scheduled to take place in Montana de Oro, Hearst San Simeon, Harmony Headlines, Estero Bluff and Morro Bay.

People traveling near the fire burn areas may see smoke from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the day of the burns. In the unlikely event you smell smoke, San Luis Obispo County urges you to take precautions and use common sense to reduce any harmful health effects by limiting outdoor activities.

Officials recommend avoiding strenuous outdoor activity and remaining indoors as much as possible. These precautions are especially important for children, the elderly, and people with respiratory and heart conditions. Use extreme caution while driving near prescribed fire operations due to fire personnel and equipment in the area.

California State Parks in cooperation with the County Air Pollution Control District, Morro Bay Fire Department, and CAL FIRE, is conducting the burns. 

All burning is contingent on weather and air quality conditions that are favorable for smoke dispersal. Should conditions such as weather or vegetation not be conducive for burning, the burns will be rescheduled.

Public Input Changes Parking Fees in SLO

Just in in time for holiday shopping, the SLO City Council listened to a large group of residents and business owners protesting a proposed increase in parking fees. The conclusion —parking downtown will soon be free for one hour and on Sundays in the parking structures 

“The City Council discussed the public parking program last week and recognized that new parking rates and other downtown parking changes have been challenging for some community members and the business community,” said Whitney Szentesi, SLO public communications manager, in a news release. “After hearing from hundreds of community members who care deeply about the downtown, and after reviewing the status and forecast of the City’s Parking Fund, City Council decided to provide immediate relief from the new parking rates,” 

Starting Nov. 23, 2023, parking downtown will be free of charge in the following ways:

• For one hour every day in the public parking structures

• Every Sunday in the public parking structures

• During the annual downtown holiday parade starting at 6:00 PM (both on-street and in the structures)

These free parking options will be available at least through June 30, 2025.

“The decision to provide this immediate relief was possible because the City is in a better financial position than projected,” Szentesi said. “Debt financing to fund the new parking structure project was secured at a lower interest rate than expected because of the City’s strong financial management practices. This means the City will pay about $1 million less annually over the first five years of debt repayment. At the same time, the Parking Fund is projected to have a surplus of about $1 million this fiscal year.”

Council directed staff to move forward with a Parking Rate Study that will include community engagement to analyze parking demand, pricing, and user experience. 

Check Out Winter Hiking After Dark

Hiking after dark is whole new nature experience and offers a view of some of what goes on when the sun sets.

This winter, take the opportunity to experience the magic of Cerro San Luis Natural Reserve after dark. The City of San Luis Obispo Ranger Service heralds the return of the Winter Evening Access program at Cerro San Luis Natural Reserve. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the beauty of nature after sunset until 8:30 p.m., available through March 9, 2024, when daylight saving time is no longer in effect. 

The program extends access to approximately 4.9 miles for both hiking and cycling and 65 free permits will be issued daily to ensure the conservation of nocturnal wildlife and the safety of all users.  

“Community members will be able to see wildlife, typically reclusive during daylight hours,” said Doug Carscaden, ranger service recreation supervisor in a news release. “From rodents foraging, owls hunting, to bats feeding on flying insects, and raccoons seeking sustenance, the reserve comes alive at night with activity.” 

Ranger Service encourages people to observe wildlife from a respectful distance and to refrain from feeding them. 

In addition to the nighttime rules and regulations, visitors are reminded to follow standard open space rules, such as staying on established trails, leashing dogs, disposing of dog waste, no smoking, and respecting the environment by avoiding alcohol, fires, camping, littering, and amplified sound. To get your free Winter Evening Access permit, go to 

Sheriff’s Office Warns of Phone Scam

The Sheriff’s Office is warning residents of a phone scam in San Luis Obispo County. It is a familiar one, indicating it is successful from a criminal’s viewpoint. 

There have been reports recently that someone claiming to be from the Sheriff’s Office has contacted individuals to inform them there is an issue with a federal agency and that a payment is needed to resolve the matter.

“The caller ID ‘spoofed’ an actual number which made it appear to be coming from the Sheriff’s Office,” said Sheriff’s spokesperson Tony Cipolla. “The caller proceeded to use a fictitious name and badge number of a Deputy to make the story more believable.

“We want to caution residents this is a scam. The Sheriff’s Office reminds you that it is not our practice to contact residents by phone regarding these matters.”

Anyone who receives a call like this should report it to their local law enforcement agency.

It is best to inform your family and friends about this scam so they can be prepared in the event they receive a call like this.

Send your news, community and business briefs to Be sure to include the who, what, why, where and when information along with a contact person.

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