Watch 32 years of SLO County growth in just seconds

Prepare to waste a few hours (or at least minutes) on Google Timelapse.

The map, actually a “global, zoomable video” shows 32 years of change across the world in seconds. It can also be used to check out a quick glimpse of how different spots have changed since 1984, including San Luis Obispo County.

According to the website, the video is “made from 33 cloud-free annual mosaics, one for each year from 1984 to 2016, which are made interactively explorable by Carnegie Mellon University CREATE Lab’s Time Machine library, a technology for creating and viewing zoomable and pannable timelapses over space and time.”

In short, it’s a compilation of satellite images from each year, mashed together using some super high tech stuff that most of us don’t understand, but can totally appreciate.

Here’s a look at five notable local spots on the map that have visibly changed over the past 30 years.


It should come as no surprise that Nipomo has grown since 1984, but being able to actually see that growth is still pretty eye-opening.

In 1980, the town population was just 5,247, according to county census data. Over the next 20 years, the population would boom, reaching 16,714 in 2010.

During that time, it would see a spate of new housing developments being built, especially in the Mesa area, numerous community parks and Nipomo High School (which can be seen popping up at the 2001 year mark).

San Luis Obispo

Though the interior of San Luis Obispo stayed mostly the same, development around the southern outskirts exploded in the past three decades.

Among those are housing and commercial projects off Tank Farm Road near the airport and Highway 227, and big commercial developments on Los Osos Valley Road.

Also, on the northern edge of the city you can see how Cal Poly has changed over the years as it added new dorms and buildings to campus.

Arroyo Grande

Another South County area that saw some huge growth over the past 30 decades was Arroyo Grande, where large developments on the north side of Highway 101 can be seen popping up on the map. Among those is the Wal-Mart shopping center, added in 1999.

If you drag the map to the left a ways, you can also see the changes at Lopez Lake, one of the city’s two major water sources.

Check out the 2014 mark, when the drought hits, and the lake visibly shrinks.

Lake Nacimiento

Though one would expect the drought to have taken its toll on this major North County water source, surprisingly, the lake doesn’t appear to have been as obviously impacted as other San Luis Obispo County lakes.

In fact, the smallest the lake has ever been appears to have been around 1989-90, when another major drought had the lake drying up.

Show of hands, when watching the video, does it look like the dragon is either (a) breathing or (b) eating a lot to anyone else?

Paso Robles

Though the early shots of Paso Robles are a bit blurry and hard to discern, after watching the timelapse several times, you can begin to spot the growth.

Most of this occurs sometime in the late ’90s on the eastern side of town, where what looks to have been farm and undeveloped land is transformed into housing and shopping developments.

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie

Take in the beauty of the Central Coast with these aerial views of Big Sur, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach, San Simeon and Moonstone Beach in Cambria, filmed in May 2016.