Opinion Columns & Blogs

Los Osos has him in its quirky grip

Hello. My name is Bill and I’m addicted to Los Osos.

My habit began innocently enough in the ’50s when I’d ride my 10-speed from San Luis Obispo out Los Osos Valley Road with the goal of getting the sweetest drink of water at the old bus shelter on Second Street.

Although I tried to fight the community’s allure, I later found myself at its mercy while pushing off from its shores for a morning of duck hunting on the bay with my grandfather.

The town deepened its pull when I started playing golf at Sea Pines, and further intoxicated me while hiking along the ocean bluffs and mountains of Montaña de Oro — or traipsing through the ethereal isolation of the seaward sandspit dunes. (And, yes, I used to ride dune buggies in those dunes before it was outlawed.)

Oh, I tried to deny the town’s wiles by reporting on her darker side, such as the Never Ending Sewer Saga and saltwater intrusion into her aquifer. But just when I thought I’d kicked my craving for Los Osos, her odd charms would grip me anew.

Those oddities can be found in the community’s distinctly odd street system where one can be driving along and come to an inexplicable dead-end at the top of a rise.

Or the roadways that simply disappear into extensions of peoples’ side yards — if not becoming mere sandy patches that have morphed into impromptu beach volleyball courts and gardens.

Its appeal could be that, as a peninsula, there’s no direct way to get through the community from San Luis Obispo to Morro Bay without having to make a left or right turn. Or the fact that the lack of streetlights in many neighborhoods allows unsurpassed nightly stargazing.

I love the fact that virtually every street ends either at the bay or a cul de sac of pygmy oaks, chaparral or Morro manzanita. Along those lines — with the exception of Second Street — I can’t think of any other coastal community that has houses, not commercial outlets, hugging its shoreline.

Those are some of the deep rhythms and idiosyncrasies that underlie my addiction to Los Osos. But the full pull of the town, what puts the unity in this community, is its residents.

Some who come to mind are Sylvia Smith, Lisa Smith, Ann Calhoun and George Kastner of the Los Osos Community Organization (“We’re LOCO!”), which raised money through community 5K races to underwrite the town’s historical murals; Emily Polk, who saved the town’s ancient oaks as the Los Osos Oaks Preserve. Or the late Rose Bowker, Yolanda Waddell, Elsie Deitz and Barbara Machado, who led the effort to buy and save the Elfin Forest from certain subdivision; the members of the Audubon Society stepping up to preserve Sweet Springs; and the good folks too numerous to mention who volunteer their time for community improvements through the loosely knit confederation called Celebrate Los Osos.

In the final tally, outlanders may scoff at this as shameless babbittry, but my addiction to Los Osos is a lifelong work in progress and, as they say, everyone’s got to have a hobby.

Bill Morem can be reached at bmorem@thetribunenews.com or at 781-7852.