SLO County Roundup

SLO County

The county’s “voluntary time off” policy has saved almost $400,000 this fiscal year, according to the county’s Human Resources Department.

According to figures released in response to a Tribune request, between July 1 and Feb. 27, 289 employees took voluntary time off.

They took 12,389 hours and saved $389,052.

Voluntary time off is a strategy under which employees take time off without pay.

It is one of several methods to save money that the county is using as it grapples with a third straight year of budget deficits. The projected deficit for 2010-11 is $19 million.

The county also has used consolidation, cross-training, encouraging early retirement, and leaving positions vacant as employees leave.

— Bob Cuddy


The City Council and Planning Commission will review plans next week for La Plaza Theatre, a downtown project that would put two theaters nearly across the street from each other.

The joint meeting to review the proposed 10-screen theater and shops is scheduled for 6 p.m., March 11 at City Hall, 6907 El Camino Real.

The public is invited to comment.

The 33,000-square-foot theater project also calls for 4,330 square feet of restaurant space and 2,350 square feet of retail shops on a parcel that formerly housed the North County Christian Thrift Store, which was destroyed by a fire.

It’s also within walking distance of the long-touted Colony Square project’s Galaxy Theatres, now under construction and expected to open by the holidays.

The study session will include a review and discussion of the La Plaza plans, proposed by applicants John Roush, owner of Park Cinemas in Paso Robles, and other partners.

Roush has said the project is something he has always wanted to do and in no way represents ill will toward Colony Square developer Jim Harrison.

After the discussion, the Planning Commission is expected to consider granting a permit for the project later this month.

— Tonya Strickland

San Luis Obispo

A public forum on preventing gang violence in San Luis Obispo County will be held March 11 from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at the Veterans Hall at 801 Grand Ave.

The guest speaker of the meeting, hosted by the San Luis Obispo County Child Abuse Prevention Council, will be Deputy Probation Officer Pedro Inzunza Arroyo.

The public will learn about types of gangs active in the county as well as local gang trends.

In addition, Arroyo will talk about risk factors that make youth vulnerable for gang involvement as well as ways to identify the early warning signs of gang involvement, including attire, gang signs, graffiti, music and related at-risk behaviors.

Time will be set aside to discuss and learn about intervention strategies for youth who are at risk of gang involvement and delinquency.

For more information, call Lisa Frasier at 543-6216.

— Nick Wilson

Arroyo Grande

The final tally is in from Friday’s free ice cream event at Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab: 1,231 free scoops, according to shop owner Greg Steinberger.

Also, Steinberger wrote in an e-mail to The Tribune, many who waited in line between 1 and 6 p.m. showed their support by buying ice cream instead of getting it for free.

The Tri-Counties Building and Construction Trades Council footed the bill for the ice cream as a show of support for the business. The shop has been picketed since October by Camarillo-based Carpenters Local 150 union, which claims a labor dispute was launched because nonunion carpenters are being used to construct interior improvements at the Doc Burnstein’s location in the Santa Maria Town Center Mall.

However, the mall is paying for the renovations, not Steinberger.

In the e-mail, Steinberger wrote: “Many thanks to the Trades Council, and the community, for their support on this successful event.”

— Cynthia Lambert