Biz Buzz: San Luis Obispo on ‘Wall Street Journal’s’ best places list

San Luis Obispo has topped another list of “best places” — the latest nod coming from the Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money magazine, which ranked the city among the best places in America in which to retire.

The article notes the city’s “distinct civic personality,” telling readers how San Luis Obispo was the first to ban smoking, and “the town prohibits drive-through restaurants within its limits.”

With the good comes the bad, or at least, the not-so-good: The article quotes the median price of a two-bedroom home at around $355,000, and noted that’s “not cheap” by national standards.

But Smart Money indicated how San Luis Obispo is much cheaper than Santa Barbara, a city that might have made the list except for its median home price of $771,000.

The weather, presence of Cal Poly and nearby wine regions tipped the scales and put San Luis Obispo on the list.

Also making the cut, St. Augustine, Fla., where the median price for a home is $115,000 and Bellingham, Wash., where nearby attractions include Puget Sound and Snoqualmie National Forest. The median home price there is $267,100.

— Stacy Daniel

Solar company wins 6 federal jobs

San Luis Obispo-based REC Solar has been awarded six new federal projects.

Five of the projects are with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and one is for the U.S. Forest Service.

REC Solar will design and install five solar arrays on VA hospitals in California, Arizona and Florida. The Forest Service installation will be located in Los Angeles.

The company will also install arrays on two municipal utilities, one located in Hayward, the other at the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative grid in Hawaii.

The solar electric provider specializes in array design and installation. The projects are expected to be completed by December 2011.

The value of the contracts was not disclosed by REC.

The company employs 650 people nationwide; 230 of them are in San Luis Obispo.

— Stacy Daniel

Have a buzz tip?

Submit news and notes items for Biz Buzz. E-mail: