News Briefs 5-6-2021

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.

May 6, 2021

County Celebrates Mental Health Month

The County of San Luis Obispo Behavioral Health Department is celebrating May Mental Health Awareness Month by hosting a series of community wide events that promote self-care, resiliency, and recovery. The month has historically helped reduce stigma, build wellness, break down barriers to treatment, and has strengthened our local community.

One out of every five Americans will experience a mental health challenge in their lifetime. Taking care of one’s mental health has never been more important than after a yearlong battle with COVID-19 that has left Americans with increased rates of isolation, anxiety, and depression. Maintaining good mental health and reaching out for help are two things the County wishes to make easier this month through a series of community events.

“There is so much conversation happening,” said Behavioral Health Director Anne Robin. “Our community members have been extremely resilient this last year. Throughout the pandemic they have focused on remaining physically healthy, and many are now turning their attention on how to stay mentally healthy as well. It’s inspiring to see so many open conversations about mental health and recovery.” The Behavioral Health Department is partnering with several organizations in May to promote mental wellness.

The second annual ‘Mental Health Resource Drive Thru’ takes place May 21, at Transitions Mental Health Association from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. The drive thru will provide residents with mental health care packages and information on how to receive mental health support. The department will also provide mental health care packages at select SLO Food Bank Distribution sites in May.

Behavioral Health is also collaborating with San Luis Obispo County Office of Education to host a virtual ‘Investing in Youth Mental Health Town Hall’ on May 13. Youth who attend will learn about mental health resources available to them. A mental health poetry contest is now open and winners will present their submissions live at the Town Hall. SLO County youth are encouraged to submit poetry entries as well as Town Hall panel questions online before the event. Community members and mental health advocates can show their support for Mental Health Awareness month by visiting and/or by following Behavioral Health on Facebook and Instagram. The website includes information about all the May Mental Health events as well as offers downloadable resources and activities meant to inspire the community to take care of their mental health.

Woods CEO Celebrates Two Years

Woods Humane Society’s CEO Neil Trent, who celebrates two years with the nonprofit dog and cat adoption center this month, has spent more than three decades facilitating the humane treatment of animals amidst major crises, so he was as prepared for the pandemic as could be. From war-torn Bosnia, to drought-plagued Australia, to tsunami relief efforts in Indonesia, Trent has gone around the world to aid animals in times of critical need. Luckily for the homeless animals of the Central Coast, Trent was here to provide that crucial expertise and perspective which helped Woods to pivot and maintain its adoption, veterinary, and community programs throughout the chaos of the last year. The organization enacted safety measures and operational changes so that it could remain open, continue its life-saving work, and find homes for thousands of dogs and cats in 2020.

“When the pandemic started I had real misgivings about how we would survive without our fundraising events,” Trent said.

Under his guidance, Woods was able to swiftly transition to virtual platforms for its two main events in 2020, and will do so again on June 12 for a virtual gala and auction, “There’s No Place Like SLOme,” which Trent will host. “We have appealed to the community, and they have been there for us. It is that vital volunteer and donor support that allows us to continue to raise the bar for the highest possible care and welfare of dogs and cats—even in a pandemic,” he said.

Trent has seen the full spectrum of animal welfare over his career, which he began as an animal inspector for the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) in the United Kingdom. He still vividly remembers the first dog he rescued at the RSPCA, a German shepherd named Pippa who weighed only 32 pounds, when Trent scaled the barbed wire fence and busted into a locked barn to save her in an animal cruelty case.

From the RSPCA, Trent moved on to work in more large-scale, global efforts. He was the Regional Director for the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and Executive Director of the Humane Society International, the international arm of the HSUS, where he led rescue and relief efforts as well as worked with local governments in far-flung places like Ethiopia, to change their policies of cruel and inhumane treatment of animals.
When he came to Woods two years ago, Trent said, it was a welcome return to that initial passion ignited by Pippa of making a difference, one-on-one, for one dog.

“I consider myself very fortunate to be a part of this team and to use my experience and skillset to continue the growth of the organization and to improve the lives of even more animals.”

To support Woods Humane Society’s ongoing mission, visit Tickets to the fundraising event “There’s No Place Like SLOme” go on sale on May 12, 2021 at

Tree Cutting Law Reminder

As the sound of chirping baby birds fills the springtime air, Morro Bay residents are being reminded of the City’s tree ordinance and the restrictions on cutting down or even pruning trees during bird nesting season.

The City sent out a reminder of its “major vegetation” (tree) ordinance that prohibits “the removal of major vegetation during bird nesting season. Annually bird nesting season runs from February 1 through June 30, where tree removal is not allowed unless imminent danger is present,” the City notice reads.

The ordinance spells out when and for what reasons trees can be removed at this time of year. “During bird-nesting season,” the City said, “trees can be allowed to be removed if trees are diseased, damaged, and/or aged and pose an imminent danger to persons and/or property upon City review of an arborist report attesting to the need.”

There’s a permit required. “Generally speaking, a permit is not required for the removal of less than 3 [or 2 total] trees in any 12-month period for single-family residential homes and is only allowed during non-bird nesting season.”

Tree protections are included in the Coastal Act under “major vegetation,” so if one needs to do this, they need a coastal development permit from the City.

The City Planning Division will answer questions readers might have about removal of trees or other major vegetation. Call (805) 772-6261.

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