News Briefs 6-16-2022

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.

June 17, 2022

Hearst Donation to French 

A $500,000 donation from Steve and Barbara Hearst could save lives throughout the county.

French Hospital Medical Center (FHMC) received the donation for their Beyond Health campaign. The funds will support the hospital’s current $150 million expansion project for “Your New French Hospital,” which includes the addition of a new Patient Care Tower featuring single patient rooms, as well as a new heliport.

Hearst, the great grandson of William Randolph Hearst, made the initial contributions that enabled French Hospital to establish the Hearst Cancer Resource Center (HCRC) in 2008. Since that time, Hearst has continued to provide significant support for the HCRC, including hosting the FHMC Foundation’s annual Share the Hope fundraiser and providing leadership on the Foundation’s HCRC Advisory Committee.

In addition to the Hearst Heliport, the expansion project for “Your New French Hospital” will include:

• 56 new private patient rooms, bringing the total licensed bed count to 180 making it the largest hospital in San Luis Obispo County

• The new Stan and Barbara Clark Neonatal Intensive Care Unit – a 16-bed unit with state-of-the-art private family oriented rooms

• An additional 10 Intensive Care Unit beds, bringing the total to 21- all private rooms

• New front entrance, lobby and dining area

• Swanson Family Chapel – a new interfaith chapel

• Healing spaces including Harold Miossi Garden Terrace and the Mary Lou Couch Mediation Room and Serenity Garden

• Expanded space for imaging, labs, pharmacy, food preparation, and more

• Enhanced and advanced technology and services

 A four-story 85,000-square-foot Patient Care Tower will be built to accommodate the growth, with construction on the parking area to start in early 2023. The expansion is planned for completion in 2025.

The FHMC Foundation also received a $250,000 grant from the Hearst Foundations to support the Beyond Health campaign.

Parking Fees to Double in SLO

Expect to pay more to park in SLO next year. The San Luis Obispo City Council recently approved public parking rate increases in order to build a fourth parking structure. Those rates are slated for the books in July of 2023.  

Parking Rates:

• 2-hour street parking in the main downtown core will be $4 per hour (up from about $2) 

• 10-hour street parking in the outer downtown area will be $3 per hour (up from $1.50) 

• Structure parking will be $3 per hour or a maximum daily rate of $12 (up from $1.50 per hour or $6 maximum daily)  

Additionally, some parking fines will increase this summer to deter parking after a session has expired, parking within an intersection, and parking on the roadside of a vehicle parked at a curb. Programs for people who work downtown will continue unchanged (e.g., 10-hour meter permits and free bus passes).  

City officials say the adopted public parking rate increases are attributed to unprecedented cost increases in the construction industry, increased costs for borrowing money, lost revenues during the pandemic and the need to demonstrate to funding entities the City’s plans for maintenance and preservation of existing assets.  

For years, the City has collected parking fees in the Parking Fund, saving up $13.9 million for this project, and expected to save even more until the pandemic hit. With the March 2020 shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Parking Fund did not collect an expected $4 million 

For more information on parking rates and increases, visit 

SLO Judge On His Way to State Appellate Court

Judge Hernaldo J. Baltodano, 45, of San Luis Obispo, was nominated for a state appellate court by California Governor Gavin Newsom. 

Baltodano has served as a Judge at the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court since 2017, where he was the Supervising Criminal Judge from December 2020 to September 2021. 

The next step is confirmation of the appointment by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, which consists of Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Attorney General Rob Bonta and senior Presiding Justice of the Second District Court of Appeal Arthur Gilbert. He will serve as an Associate Justice of the Second District Court of Appeal, Division Six in Ventura.

Baltodano earned his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. He and his wife, Erica Flores Baltodano, founded Baltodano & Baltodano LLP. Together they handled complex civil cases on behalf or hotel, restaurant and agricultural workers as well as nurses and mid-level executives, his bio says, 

On June 30, Baltodano is expected to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Martin J. Tangeman. He will earn $257,562 annually. 

New Events Replace SLO Triathlon

New events and expanded recreational activities will replace the SLO Triathlon, which was canceled during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We can’t thank the SLO Triathlon community enough for supporting 40 years of this event,” said SLO Parks and Recreation Director Greg Avakian. “After careful analysis of declining SLO Triathlon participation and consideration of our new 20-year blueprint for Parks and Recreation services, we made the difficult decision to replace this single event with several new low-cost and no-cost public events and we’re expanding recreational activities and opportunities that focus on stewardship and help build community.” 

New activities and programs include:  

• New Super Rec Saturdays at the SLO Swim Center, which includes a full day of recreational swim with superhero themes over the summer season.  

• Fit ‘N’ Fun Camp at the new outdoor Fitness Court at Emerson Park  

• Monday Meet Ups and other recreation in the parks events this summer  

• Expanding sports and fitness clinics for youth  

• New five-week summer sports camp at Laguna Middle School 

• An expanded Spring Concert Series at the Historic Jack House  

For new or expanded activities and events planned for this summer, download the Summer Activity Guide at  

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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