County Roundup

Cal Poly

The Cal Poly float once again took home the Viewers’ Choice Award at the Rose Parade, collecting 20,788 of the 50,535 votes cast online in the KTLA.com contest.

It’s the second time Cal Poly has been honored with the award, which was given out for the first time last year.

This year’s Cal Poly entry — a joint effort by students from San Luis Obispo and Pomona — also took home the parade’s Bob Hope Humor Trophy.

The float, titled “Jungle Cuts,” featured a whimsical collection of animals getting their hair styled by monkey barbers.Cal Poly won the Viewers’ Choice Award in 2009 for “Seaside Amusement,” tallying 3,219 votes out of more than 10,000 total in the inaugural contest.

This year’s float was the 62nd consecutive entry by the two campuses.

— Joe Tarica

San Luis Obispo

The City Council is expected to adopt an ordinance that may lead to more sidewalk cafes downtown.

The council voted 4-1 on Dec. 15 — with Councilman John Ashbaugh voting against — to eliminate some fees and lower others for restaurant owners who want to install such a dining experience.

The item returns for what is expected to be routine approval on the consent agenda tonight.

As part of the action, the council has decided to raise the monthly rent of the affected sidewalk space from 66 cents to $1 per square foot. That will be for first tier sidewalk cafes where barriers are put up and alcohol is sold.

The council also eliminated some expensive parking fees and some other costs that business leaders argued were an impediment to setting up such cafes.

— Sally Connell


A study of drilling related to a proposed desalination plant will not have significant environmental impact, according to a notice expected to be approved by the Cambria Community Services District board at a special meeting today.

The finding will be reviewed by the California Coastal Commission, possibly at its mid-February meeting.

Tests are needed to determine if seawater could be taken in underneath the beach south of the mouth of Santa Rosa Creek, near Shamel Park in Cambria. Beach wells are considered environmentally preferable to open pipelines as a water source.

The water would be piped to a desalination plant elsewhere.

The testing would involve the drilling of core samples and digging of test wells.

Installation is expected to take less than two weeks. Wells would be buried under beach sand.

In 2007, the Coastal Commission turned back a district request to perform similar tests near the San Simeon Creek mouth, saying that location should only be considered as a last resort.

The Santa Rosa Creek site’s advantages include that it is not a nesting habitat for the Western snowy plover, an endangered species; marine mammals do not go onto the beach there; an emergency vehicle access ramp is already in place; and it is not visible from Highway 1.

Consideration of the item is expected to begin at 12:30 p.m. in the Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St.Notice of the meeting was issued shortly after noon Monday.

An agenda packet is available at http://bit.ly/ccsddesal0105.

— Bert Etling