Downtown San Luis Obispo tries new approach for making city friendlier

Jun 30, 2014

Downtown San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Credit Randol White

About two weeks ago the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association's Board of Directors decided that the security guards in the heart of the city should serve as ambassadors for the community. 

There will soon be a team of these ambassadors roaming the streets to help locals and visitors find places to shop, eat, drink or relax.

Director of the Downtown Association, Dominic Tartalgia, says the guards were initially put into place because the city didn't have an adequate police presence.

He says now that it does, they don't need guards to be heavy-handed and enforcement driven. Instead, his association is looking to create a more tourist-friendly environment in the downtown core.

"It changes that perception that if we have security guards downtown with stun guns that we have criminal activity downtown that may be undesirable when the reality is that we really don't have a necessity for that," said Tartaglia.

They will soon start working on the ambassador program, hiring ambassadors and doing extensive training to help them engage residents and tourist, or deal with any illegal activities.

Tartalgia says the ambassadors will receive extensive training to ensure that they are objective in suggesting restaurants or businesses.

"It's general for across the board, whether it be what time is mass at the mission or parking or any of those things. So there's no preferential treatment for restaurants or bars or any other business downtown," Tartaglia said.