Joetopia

SLO County still No. 1, despite what Salinas, Hoboken and Hicksville might think

Joe Tarica
Joe Tarica jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

It’s a delight to bask in the glory of a place like San Luis Obispo County, which always seems to be landing on one best-of list or another.

Last week, a comprehensive two-year survey by Gallup-Healthways placed us at No. 10 nationwide for overall well-being and satisfaction among metropolitan areas of any size, and No. 4 according to those criteria when compared only with other small cities.

Of course, this is nothing new, although how we lost out to Salinas, which came in at No. 2, is beyond me. I think someone may have misplaced a decimal point somewhere.

Anyhow, despite coming in eight spots below a patch of foggy farmland that’s not Monterey, San Luis Obispo is still the Central Coast city to beat, having been crowned the happiest town in the greater known universe, as we have been told empirically over and over again.

When a major polling company spends upwards of 24 months talking to some 246,000 people and determines the same thing, it almost seems as if we should be retired from these competitions. It’s not fair anymore. Isn’t there a Best City Walk of Fame someplace where we can etch San Luis Obispo’s name in bronze for all eternity?

Then we can let some other burbs get a shot at building up their self-esteem.

Charleston, W.Va., could certainly use some after it came in dead last in the Gallup-Healthways index, despite, according to TripAdvisor.com, being “the historic, sophisticated capital of West Virginia and home to a variety of exciting cultural and recreational attractions.”

Somewhat off-message, however, of the three top photos I found on TripAdvisor’s Charleston page, one was of a hotel room toilet that tipped over after the base rotted out, and if that’s the best cultural and recreational attraction they have to offer, I think I’ll just stay put. Poor Charleston.

The Gallup-Healthways poll wasn’t the only one looking to sing San Luis Obispo’s praises in recent weeks.

We also got a notice from a website called ShopOnMain.com happily alerting us that SLO had been nominated in a competition to name the best small-town shopping in America.

Even if we don’t win this one, don’t feel bad, because what we apparently lack in shopping, we more than make up for in ... pizza!

At first blush, you’d agree Higuera Street can stand toe-to-toe with anyone, and like all of our other prized superlatives, this shouldn’t even be a question.

But when I went to see how SLO was doing in this contest, lo and behold, I discovered it was nothing more than an exercise in ballot-stuffing, where anyone — even Salinas — can enter.

At the time of this writing, Waynesville, N.C., was leading the balloting with 2,697 votes, which is 2,687 more than San Luis Obispo. SLO was tucked ignominiously between Franklin, Tenn., with 12 votes, and Leonardtown, Md., with 9, but still had 10 more than Salinas. Ha.

Nevertheless, these numbers are unacceptable. Memo to the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce: Time to get to work, guys.

All the rest of you, vote at BestShoppingOnMain .com. We should be able to take down Waynesville by this afternoon, right?

But even if we don’t win this one, don’t feel bad, because what we apparently lack in shopping, we more than make up for in ... pizza!

Yep, another recent number-crunching exercise, this time by the good folks at FindTheHome .com, revealed recently that San Luis Obispo has the greatest per capita density of pizza joints of any city in California.

Allegedly, we have 5.7 places at which to order a pie per 10,000 people.

But before you get too cocky, we’ve still got a ways to go for the national title, as we’re trailing the likes of Hoboken, N.J., with 6; Hicksville, N.Y., with 7.2; and Scranton, Penn., with a whopping 9.9, which tells you a little about what there is to do in the town best known as Michael Scott’s stomping grounds in “The Office.”

Frankly, I was rather surprised by this title, because everyone knows that Atascadero has the most pizza places per square foot of any town on the Central Coast.

But then I read the fine print on this data, and it only includes cities with populations of 30,000 people or more, except for Alaska and Vermont, whose floor was lowered to 5,000, because no one lives in Alaska or Vermont except sled dog mushers and maple syrup producers, respectively.

According to the latest census data, Atascadero’s population is 29,134 and thus ineligible.

But watch out, SLO. Once a few more folks relocate over the Grade, that pizza title is toast.

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