Photos from the Vault

Predicting San Luis Obispo County’s future in 1960

Quiet in the court room: After the seating and tables are in place, the new superior court rooms will be among the most efficient in the nation. The new angular design places the judge's bench, where Shirley Boucher stands, so the judge can see both the jury box, witness box and 115 spectators without craning his neck. Pat Oldfield takes some notes on the new "Angles" in justice. Nylon carpeting, recessed and polarized lighting, black walnut paneling, stabilized felt wall coverings and draperies are intended to help produce the effect of serenity and stateliness. (Caption wording from July 18, 1964 story on new San Luis Obispo county court annex reflects the dated assumption that the judge would always be a man.)
Quiet in the court room: After the seating and tables are in place, the new superior court rooms will be among the most efficient in the nation. The new angular design places the judge's bench, where Shirley Boucher stands, so the judge can see both the jury box, witness box and 115 spectators without craning his neck. Pat Oldfield takes some notes on the new "Angles" in justice. Nylon carpeting, recessed and polarized lighting, black walnut paneling, stabilized felt wall coverings and draperies are intended to help produce the effect of serenity and stateliness. (Caption wording from July 18, 1964 story on new San Luis Obispo county court annex reflects the dated assumption that the judge would always be a man.) Telegram-Tribune

As a rule, we’re not great at predicting the future.

Entire industries are built on the fact that we can’t be sure what will happen next. Insurance firms, stock markets, fantasy sports, sports, elections, weather forecasts and scary movies all have a degree of uncertainty about what is around the corner. And news organizations operate comfortably under the assumption that there will be a new story to tell each day.

In the 1960s there were plenty of stories to share, with a population boom and new technology. Here is a collection of predictions and milestones from the early 1960s Telegram-Tribune.

Dec. 30, 1960

Reporter Fen Truebridge wrote that San Luis Obispo grew that year by 110 acres with its annexation of the Johnson property. The city had been just under 6 square miles and was projected to grow by a full square mile with further additions of the Elks club property, Odd Fellows cemetery, the Silver City trailer park and portions of Alex Madonna’s property.

Parking meter revenue for the year totaled $54,081.

Reporter George Grey documented county growth. In a dozen years, county expenses rose 116 percent and stood at $9.2 million. During the same time the population grew from 50,000 to more than 80,000. Compared with Ventura County, where costs had soared 300 percent, the expense seemed modest.

The county was building a Veterans Memorial building, an addition to General Hospital, local health centers and a county school administration building, but there was a “staggering need” for new county buildings that had been deferred for the previous 20 years. Being mulled was a new courthouse annex, juvenile hall, jail, welfare department and corporation yard.

$6.2value of building permit for addition to Morro Bay Power Plant

Where would the money come from?

According to the newspaper, PG&E pulled the the biggest building permit in county history. The Morro Bay power plant permit was valued at $6.2 million for an $80 million dollar addition to the plant. With all the growth in the state, utilities were hard pressed to keep up.

Pacific Telephone and Telegraph announced toll calls between Arroyo Grande (Hunter exchange) and Pismo Beach (Prospect exchange) would be eliminated. Monthly rates would rise 10 cents to $4.45.

Dec. 30, 1961

County administrative officer Dixon Conrad said his office was hoping to make greater use of the county’s IBM computer system to relieve the burden of manually processing tasks. A new civil defense plan was in the works.

County clerk A.E. (Mike) Mallagh said he wanted to encourage political districts to use voting machines. County recorder Mary Hamline said the use of xerography, a new method of document reproduction, would save space needed for records.

Welfare director Ralph Wilson said his department would put an emphasis on rehabilitation of welfare recipients, hoping to make them self-supporting.

Xerography, a new method of document reproduction, was expected to save space needed for records.

A shocking 41 traffic deaths were reported on county highways in 1961. Highway and automotive design has come a long way in the past five decades.

Grover Beach moved into a brand new $44,000 “modernistic” city hall.

Gov. Edmund G. (Pat) Brown (father of current governor Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown) signed the contract for the construction of the San Luis Project. Not related to San Luis Obispo, the two reservoirs west of Los Banos were key storage in what would become known as the Governor Edmund G. Brown California Aqueduct. The $2 billion project was billed as a way to transfer Northern California water “wasted in runoff into the ocean” and send it to Kern County and Southern California.

Dec. 29, 1962

A $1 million dollar annex to the county courthouse was expected to break ground in the new year. The glass, brick and steel building on Palm Street would open in June 1964. The county created the new position of personnel officer. All county jobs were to be classified and placed on a pay scale.

Thomas Chalmers, agricultural commissioner since 1927, was retiring.

County roads were inventoried and placed on a repair schedule. Road districts were broken into six units and no longer were tied to supervisor’s district boundaries.

California became the nation’s most populous state.

According to Mel McDonald, president of the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce, the state’s population had doubled in 17 years, tripled in 31 years and increased 10-fold in 60 years. The county was on the verge of doubling its 1950 population, having grown from 51,417 to 91,300 in less than 13 years.

California population grew 10-fold in six decades

Reporter Walt Beesley said that growth in the city of San Luis Obispo “never has been described as spectacular,” noting that other cities in the state wore that mantle.

The city made its final payment on the Whale Rock water project and started construction on a new sewer plant expansion. City population was projected to be 40,000 in the next few years.

Several parts of Highway 101 in the county were to be upgraded from expressway to freeway standard, eliminating grade crossings. The first was at Los Osos Valley Road. It was expected to cost $5 million to upgrade the road between Pismo Beach and Los Osos Valley Road.

The Cambria bypass on Highway 1 was expected to cost $1.3 million.

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