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The award-winning KCBX Newsroom works to bring you local stories that represent our Central Coast listeners and supporters.

KCBX News began covering stories in February, 2014. The first on-air newscast happened during All Things Considered on March 3, 2014. KCBX added local news content to Morning Edition in September, 2014.

In the years since, KCBX News has had local stories featured on NPR and The California Report.

Central Coast warning over PG&E phone scam

May 28, 2014

The San Luis Obispo District Attorney's office is warning Central Coast residents about a phone scam currently being reported by local businesses and law enforcement agencies.

The callers are claiming to be with PG&E and say their trying to collect on a past-due power bill.

The caller says that payment must be made by using a pre-paid Green Dot money card. PG&E issued a consumer warning two months ago regarding this same scam.

The DA's office says anytime you're asked to pay with a pre-paid cash card, consider that it might be a scam.

Remedial Action Plan, Avocet 2007

The City of San Luis Obispo Planning Commission will review a 332-acre project along Tank Farm Road at Wednesday night's scheduled meeting. The acreage is actually on county land, but the city has influence over the area. 

Chevron wants to develop the land after large portions of crude oil contamination are cleared. 

The plan includes turning more than three-quarters of project into open space. The remaining land would be used for a business park and other commercial uses. The plan also calls for reserving space for a park of up to 15 acres.

Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) addressed Congress on Wednesday evening, slowly announcing the names of each of the victims of Friday's murderous rampage in Isla Vista.

The Central Coast congresswoman pledged to do all she can to prevent this sort of tragedy in the future.

She then called on members of congress to join her in remembering all of those affected with a moment of silence.

The man convicted of hitting and killing 27-year-old Mallory Dies last December as she crossed a street in Santa Barbara was sentenced to 20-years-to-life in prison Wednesday morning in a Santa Barbara County courtroom.

32-year-old Raymond Morua pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated as part of the plea agreement he made with prosecutors last month. He also admitted to fleeing the scene.

He received 15-years-to-life for the manslaughter charge, and an additional 5 years for fleeing.

'Not one more' rings loud at UCSB memorial

May 28, 2014
Jordan Bell

The memorial service on the UC Santa Barbara campus Tuesday was a somber occasion, except for the moments when the estimated 20,000 attendees filling Harder Stadium—mostly students—chanted a phrase coined by Richard Martinez, father of slain 20-year-old Christopher Michaels-Martinez.

“One more time, are you with me?" said Martinez. "Yea, not one more!” the masses responded three different times.

Central Coast sends help for fighting Hunters Fire

May 27, 2014
Twitter user @Barnett Parker via Carol Barrentez

Crews and equipment from Cal Fire stations in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Monterey Counties are helping efforts to control the Hunters Fire burning in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Mariposa County.

Each of the three Central Coast counties has sent roughly the same number of resources; five engines and 18 to 20 firefighters.

At 1300 acres and just 20 percent containment (Tuesday afternoon numbers) the Hunters Fire is the most serious active blaze burning in California.

Tourism tax dollars on the rise in Santa Barbara

May 27, 2014
Flickr member MamaOT

The tourism industry in Santa Barbara—or at least the lodging portion of it—is on the upswing with more than $1.4 million collected through the city's Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) in April. That's a 23 percent increase from the same period last year.

Santa Barbara's fiscal calendar ends in June, and so far the TOT  is on target to exceed growth of more than 10 percent, year-over-year.

So far the city has collected more than $13.6 million for the fiscal year.

Peter Klein, Five Cities Fire

A stretch of Los Berros Road in Arroyo Grande opened to traffic in both directions Tuesday evening around 5:30, after being shut down for most of the day as crews worked to clean up a semi-truck roll-over crash.

The problems started just before 9:00 a.m. on Los Berros between Falcon Crest and Century Lane. The driver was unable to negotiate the road's curves, according to Five Cities Fire. The cab portion of the semi came to rest on Los Berros with the two trailers twisted off into the brush almost 10 feet below the road surface.

Navigating Cambria's water crisis to avoid disaster

May 27, 2014
Jason Lopez

Cambria could run out of water as early as October. Residents are aggressively conserving, which means refraining from watering outdoor plants and flushing toilets with water in buckets placed in showers to collect greywater. 

The Cambria Community Services District is moving quickly to get an emergency water treatment facility built to extract brackish water from the San Simeon Creek aquifer, clean it and inject it back underground, where it can then be pumped to customers taps.

Wikipedia user: Coolcaesar

All classes are canceled Tuesday on the UCSB campus in an effort to give the campus community time to grieve for the six students who were killed Friday in Isla Vista by 22-year-old Elliot Rodger.  

While classes will not be held, UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang is asking faculty members to make themselves available to students on campus. Counselors are also available at the Student Resource Building.

There will be a memorial service at Harder Stadium on Tuesday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. organized jointly by students, staff, and faculty. 

Oscar Flores - Twitter @oflores

UPDATE: May 26, 2014 at 5:36 p.m.  

Seven people are dead, including the suspected gunman, and several people are still recovering from injuries following a series of shootings and stabbings in Isla Vista on Friday night. One of the hospitalized victims was still in serious condition as of Saturday.

Investigators believe 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, a Santa Barbara City College student from Woodland Hills who was living in Isla Vista, started his killing spree by stabbing to death his two roommates and a third man.

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department

A 7-month-old Atascadero boy has been placed into protective custody, after the baby's urine tested positive for cocaine.

The boy's father, 26-year-old Billy Lee Remick, Junior, was arrested last Friday by San Luis Obispo County sheriff's deputies on charges of child cruelty and possession of a controlled substance.

Deputies searched Remick's apartment last week following up on a marijuana investigation. The sheriff's department says Remick had attempted to illegally ship 559 grams of marijuana to a location in New York state a week earlier.

SLO HotHouse churns out Cal Poly success stories

May 22, 2014

The SLO HotHouse tops our conversation this week with Mike Manchak, President and CEO for the Economic Vitality Corporation (EVC), regarding the latest business news and trends along the Central Coast.

Cal Poly's successful program in downtown San Luis Obispo is funded by Cal Poly and the business community. It's hosting a summer accelerator program for student startups. The venture has successfully incubated companies that have since been acquired by large corporations.

Pacific Business Times reporter Stephen Nellis has an upcoming piece on this program.

Flickr member HarmonyRae

The City of Lompoc is considering reinstating its ban on "Safe and Sane" fireworks following last week's Miguelito Fire. Council members will take up the issue at the next scheduled meeting on June 3.

The long-standing ban on fireworks was lifted last year during the lead-up to the Fourth of July holiday.

Council member DeWayne Holmdahl says he voted against allowing fireworks last year, and will vote the same way at the next meeting, should it come up for a vote.


A long-awaited project for those in North County San Luis Obispo officially wrapped up Wednesday with a ceremony on Highway 46.

The new Estrella River Bridges—just east of Paso Robles—are part of a multi-phase $265 million Caltrans project that is upgrading 15 miles of the roadway.

The stretch is being converted from a two-lane highway to a four-lane expressway between Paso Robles and Shandon.

The new bridges are 1000 feet long and 100 feet high, replacing the original bridge built in the mid 1950s.

UPDATE: Missing Atascadero boy found

May 21, 2014
Atascadero Police Department

UPDATE: Thurs., May 22, 2014 - 6:12 p.m.

The Atascadero Police Department confirmed on Thursday afternoon that 13-year-old Jeremiah Austin Valdez was located and would be reunited with his family. No other details were given at that time.

Original story: 

The Atascadero Police Department is looking for a missing 13-year-old boy who was last seen by his guardians on Monday.

Jeremiah Austin Valdez is considered "at risk" because of his age, and because he takes medication for depression, according to police.

Bryce Cosio

UPDATE: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 - 4:07 p.m.

A man wanted by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department's Gang Task Force surrendered to law enforcement Wednesday afternoon, according to Lt. Smith with the San Luis Obispo Police Department.

"Based on the criminal history, and he's known to fight with officers, and has had firearms in the past, the San Luis Obispo Regional SWAT Team was activated," said Lt. Smith. "We basically shut down the area and had all of the pedestrians move out of the area."

The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County - video still

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to use $1.1 million dollars as part of an effort to buy land that could one day make up the Pismo Preserve.

"Thrillingly we just approved $1.1 million!" Supervisor Adam Hill, whose district includes the proposed project, said in an email to KCBX.

The money will come from a fund known as the Park Public Facility Fee.

Flickr member Mike Baird

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors has ordered a report to detail how a ban on specific methods of oil extraction would affect the local economy, and any legal ramifications that might stem from implementing such a ban.

The board will meet again next month in Santa Maria to finish discussing the proposal, and whether it will end up on this November's ballot.

If passed by voters, the ban would target newer forms of oil and gas extraction, including fracking.

Pismo Beach City Council votes to allow goats

May 20, 2014
Facebook page: Goatee "The Surfing Goat"

UPDATE: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at 10:41 a.m.—

The Pismo Beach City Council voted Tuesday night to have city staff write up an ordinance to allow residents to keep up to four goats with an annual permit.

Goats would be allowed in public parks as well.

The council voted 4-1, with the only one dissenting vote from council member Mary Ann Reiss. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2014—

The Pismo Beach City Council will consider changing its policy on goats within city limits at Tuesday night's meeting.

Jason Lopez

Not so long ago, the Paso Robles groundwater basin was thought to be practically limitless, at least by pro growth adherents. But times have changed, and this Central Coast wine growing region is now facing the most severe drought in recorded history. As might be expected, many are now looking for ways to protect the basin from further depletion, including a limit on further vineyard expansion.

Later this week, students attending Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria will received the largest scholarship distribution in the history of the school, totaling $478,000.

This year's total is a 56-percent increase over last year, according to the foundation.

All of the money comes from donors based on the Central Coast, with awards ranging from $500 to $10,000.

The 266 students receiving the scholarships will get to meet the very people behind each award during a dinner Thursday night.

Cal Poly Baseball grabs Big West Championship

May 19, 2014
Owen Main/ Fansmanship.com

 The Cal Poly baseball team is celebrating its first-ever championship in the Big West Conference. The title comes after a weekend sweep over Cal State Northridge in Southern California. 

The Mustangs finished the season with six straight victories, increasing the team's standings nationally to as high as No. 4 with the ESPN-USA Today poll. The team now moves into the post-season with the Division I regionals set for next week.

This will be the third time the team has made it this far, all three within the last five years, and all under Coach Larry Lee.

Central Coast sees more good jobs numbers for April

May 16, 2014

The latest unemployment numbers from the state of California show the Central Coast continues to have among the lowest unemployment rates in the state.

San Luis Obispo County's April jobless rate was 5.2 percent, while Santa Barbara County came in at 5.4.

Raymond McDonald is with the Santa Barbara County's Workforce Investment Board and cautioned that these numbers are new and will be adjusted over time, but he says it is encouraging to see numbers return to pre-recession levels.

The man who has been in charge of San Luis Obispo County's public works department for the past several years will become Oceano's new general manager this summer. Paavo Ogren is expected to begin running the Community Services District in July.

Mary Lucey is the vice president of the district board and told KCBX Friday, they're very excited to have somebody of Ogren's caliper ready to take charge.


Issues and Ideas, May 21, 2014:

Who are you voting for in the race for San Luis Obispo District Attorney? Those running include:

  • Tim Covello (on ballot)
  • Dan Dow (on ballot)
  • Paul Phillips (write in)

If you haven’t made up your mind, listen to all three candidates—two on the ballot and a third official write-in—discuss their platforms. Debate moderated by Larry Rutter. 

Wave energy, business incubators, local events

May 16, 2014


Mike Manchak, President and CEO for the Economic Vitality Corporation (EVC), a non-profit working to generate jobs, promote start-ups, and increase investment throughout SLO County.


  • Potential Wave Energy Projects are being considered for the central coast from Santa Barbara to San Luis Obispo
  • Business incubators are starting to spring up, including a new one in Goleta.
  • Business-related events coming to the Central Coast in the coming weeks.


A 32-year-old Goleta woman faces a possible child endangerment charges after the sheriff's department says she left her nine-month-old son unattended in a hot car Thursday afternoon, with only the back windows partially rolled down.

The incident was reported to 9-1-1 by somebody at Goleta's Magnolia Shopping Center, where the woman had gone into a grocery store.

The temperature outside at the time was around 95 degrees, according to the sheriff's report.

VIDEO: Pismo Pier start to Stage 5 of Amgen Tour

May 15, 2014
Courtney Winters, City of Pismo Beach

The temperature was hovering near 90 degrees as the Amgen Tour of California's Stage 5 kicked off along the Pismo Beach pier Thursday morning, well above normal for mid-May along the Central Coast.

Suzen Brasil with the City of Pismo Beach estimates some 5000 people showed up to cheer the riders at the pier and on connecting streets.

The route first took riders to Arroyo Grande for a sprint down Branch Street, then to a sizzling Santa Ynez Valley, up and over the San Marcos pass on Highway 154, with a finish finally in Santa Barbara around 4:00 p.m.

Cal Poly Student Affairs, the Mayor of San Luis Obispo, the Downtown Association, and local bar owners have all come to an agreement regarding the opening hours for local watering holes the mornings of graduation—they'll remain at 6 a.m.

Dominic Tartaglia, executive director of the Downtown Association, says the situation will be used as a way to educate students on responsible drinking. Cal Poly plans to roll out that campaign over the next few weeks.