Penny Borenstein, County Health Officer, announces move into the red tier and loosening of restrictions

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY — The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors met for a regularly scheduled meeting on Mar. 2 at 9 a.m.

The Board started with approving the consent agenda, which was approved 5-0.

The next item for discussion was the COVID-19 update from County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein. Borenstein explained the accelerated progression into the Red Tier and what new changes that brings, including all schools of all grades being opened. 


“Obviously, COVID is still with us, but I’m here with a lot of good news,” stated Borenstein.

Borenstein went on to say that there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of cases. While still high, they are nowhere near the spike of just a month ago. In addition, the positivity rate has come down to 3.2 percent. The number of individuals in the hospital is 19, which is the first time in a while that it has been below 20. Read more about this in “SLO County Moves to Red Tier Effective Mar. 3”

Additionally, she spoke on the current numbers of vaccinated individuals, the process to get on the list, and that some pharmacies were now able to offer vaccines, currently only in Arroyo Grande, but as more vaccines become available, she expects to see this increase.

Following this, the Board moved on to submittal of the Fiscal Year 2021-22 County and State Budget update and the Infrastructure and Facilities Five Year Capital Improvement Plan. These presentations can be viewed on the county website.

After closed session, the Board returned to hear the Water Management Amendment 18 to Water Supply Contract between the State of California Department of Water Resources and San Luis Obispo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District.

This amendment would give more flexibility to the county in how they want to use any additional water over the allowed holding while still requiring that every use would have to come before the Board to be approved.

Peschong stated his concerns on behalf of his constituents, “We really have gone out of our way not to allow water banking. If I can cut to one thing, this is what I worry about. [The verbiage of the amendment is] not strong enough to let the state know this is not the place they can store water underground.”

Supervisor Compton acknowledged the difficulty of the water issue, “it is a difficult issue for me, but my district needs this…it’s needed in my area… I don’t have other sources of water. I don’t like this, I think there is some wiggle room, but my district needs this. If I voted against it, I would be voting against my district and my people. I’m not happy about it, and I do understand Debbie’s [Supervisor Debbie Arnold] concerns.”

After much deliberation and hearing from the public, Supervisor Arnold made a motion to not approve the amendment, which did not have a second. 

Supervisor Gibson then put a motion to approve, which went to a vote of 3-2, with Supervisors Arnold and Peschong voting against.

The Board then went on to hear appeals on two different conditional use permits.

Mike Kyle, owner of Flying Caballos Ranch in San Luis Obispo, appealed the planning commission’s decision to cap events at 25 per year, with a conditional use permit of five years. 

After hearing from the public and looking at other event venues in the area to see what the standard of event allowances was, the Board ultimately voted to partially uphold the appeal, allowing 45 events per year, with a 12-year permit.

The next hearing was an appeal by Peter Byrne of the Planning Commission’s approval of a request by Steve Olson for a Conditional Use Permit to allow construction of a winery facility on Kiler Canyon Road, West of the City of Paso Robles.

The concern of the permit was regarding the additional traffic on the road, as well as the hours of operation to the public. The adjacent wineries in the area are limited to four days a week for tasting, with this facility approved for seven days a week.

The Board made a motion to approve tasting five days a week, Thursday to Monday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and by appointment only on Tuesday and Wednesday. The vote was upheld 5-0. 

The next board meeting is set to be Mar. 16 and the agenda can be found on the county’s website.