Michael Barros

Reporter

Michael Barros is a reporter in the KCBX Newsroom. He has a degree in journalism from California Polytechnic State University, where he spent two years reporting for the campus news outlet, Mustang Media. He spent several months as an intern for NPR's All Things Considered in Washington D.C. Michael covers breaking news for daily newscasts, and creates features for the local broadcast of All Things Considered and Morning Edition. When he's not reporting, he's probably hammocking in a forest or painting.

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In late June, a mountaintop cross in Riverside that bears the name of Franciscan friar Junipero Serra became the most recent target of those who call for removal of all Serra statues and namesakes, part of a renewed focus across the country to remove monuments associated with racism, colonialism or slavery.

A statue of Serra at Mission San Luis Obispo De Tolosa is now in storage, after being removed by church administrators around June 23.

Michael Barros/KCBX

While the Trump Administration has worked to dismantle protections for transgender people, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the Civil Rights Act of 1964—which bans discrimination in employment on the basis of characteristics like race, religion and national origin—extends to sexual orientation and gender identity.

San Luis Obispo County homelessness prevention advocates say they’re seeing an increase in elderly people seeking their services.

Rent costs in San Luis Obispo County have increased over 50% on average since 2013, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the elderly—the majority on Social Security—to keep up with the rise in costs.

Marco Bruschi

Thousands on the Central Coast have been protesting police killings of black people this week, with over five days of demonstrations in San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles. A rally calling for action on racial justice attracted thousands more Thursday evening. 

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While stay-at-home orders remain in place statewide, people experiencing homelessness have been particularly vulnerable during the pandemic. To try to help that population, in early April, California’s governor announced Project Roomkey, saying a federal agency would pay 75% of the cost to house homeless individuals in hotels and motels across the state.

But how many hotel and motel rooms are actually currently housing homeless people on the Central Coast?

Carol Tangeman

UPDATE 06/02/20 12 PM:  San Luis Obispo city officials are holding a press conference at City Hall, with SLOPD Chief Deanna Cantrell explaining why she ordered the use of tear gas at Monday night's demonstration. KCBX News will have more on this story later today during All Things Considered.

In contrast to decades of positioning itself as a travel destination, this week San Luis Obispo County started airing online ads aimed at discouraging tourism from the Central Valley and elsewhere. On Friday, county officials went a step further.

Jerry Jimenez

An estimated 44,000 Central Coast households get their tap water from wells, and many of those wells— particularly in the Salinas Valley—are contaminated with nitrates and other pollutants, so residents often drink and cook with bottled water.

But due to panic shopping prompted by the pandemic shutdown, many of those families are now struggling to find bottled water at grocery and other stores.

San Luis Obispo County officials have released a framework for reopening the county—called the START guide—emphasizing that it's a draft outline. At times contradictory, nevertheless the guide is designed to “give our business partners, our organizations, places of worship the best ideas about how they can begin planning in the days and weeks to come,” said the county’s health officer.

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It’s been seven weeks since Central Coast schools closed in-person classrooms and began teaching students virtually. The change was radical and abrupt.

Greta Mart/KCBX

18 San Luis Obispo County jail inmates have been released from custody without having to pay any bail, as of April 17. That’s due to a statewide effort to quickly reduce jail populations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But the number of inmates eligible for release is a small percentage of the jail's total population. 

JM Jaffe

LGBTQ+ rights pioneer Phyllis Lyon died on April 9 at the age of 95. Lyon and her longterm partner Del Martin were the first California couple to get married after same-sex marriage become legal in the state in 2008, due to a ruling by the California Supreme Court.

Cities and community services districts around the Central Coast are facing serious financial repercussions from the pandemic.

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The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in San Luis Obispo County has slowed in recent days, say county health officials, but they are urging people with symptoms to get tested.