City of Morro Bay

The use of face coverings or masks has become one of the biggest debates nationwide during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Santa Barbara and Monterey counties have adopted a mandatory mask ordinance. But in San Luis Obispo County, it’s up to individual towns to decide.

On this episode of Issues & Ideas, emergency relief for undocumented immigrants recently became available in California, but demand outweighs the supply of cash. We’ll learn how the California NanoSystems Institute at UCSB is repurposing 3D printers to make face shields for healthcare workers. And hear about the challenges facing small farmers in California due to COVID-19. We get an update on First 5 SLO County from director Wendy Wendt; the independent public agency, created by California’s Proposition 10, uses a tax on tobacco products to fund programs for children through age five and their families. The city manager of Morro Bay, Scott Collins, talks about having to discourage vacationers due to the pandemic. And finally, we’ll learn about an award-winning book by UCSB professor emeritus Tonia Shimin featuring the art of her late father, Symeon Shimin.

Thomas Wilmer

Correspondent Tom Wilmer talks with the city manager of Morro Bay, Scott Collins, about the local government's response to the pandemic shutdown. As a popular seaside travel destination in recent decades, the economic health of Morro Bay has been dependent on tax revenue generated by hotel occupancy, retail sales, and rental income from waterfront business leases—all of which have plummeted due to COVID-19. For the first time in modern history, Morro Bay has instituted reverse tourism promotions to discourage visitors and vacationers.

Greta Mart/KCBX

Morro Bay city staff and officials held a town hall meeting this week to get public feedback on the future of commercial cannabis. Residents who attended expressed their support for cultivating both retail and manufacturing cannabis businesses in the seaside city. 

Greta Mart/KCBX

UPDATE: This week Morro Bay officials opted for a cheaper solution to the city’s wastewater treatment needs. In a 3-to-2 vote, the Morro Bay city council directed staff to pursue construction of a new sewage treatment plant estimated to cost between $123 and $136 million, That option won’t have advanced water recycling capabilities, as did another one of the council’s choices, priced at $167 million. But faced with public pushback, officials decided they could pursue phasing in water recycling at a later date. Since the estimated costs to build the facility were so high, the council also asked for a second opinion on the project’s total estimated cost.

Original story: This week in Morro Bay, city officials are weighing options for construction of the city’s new wastewater treatment plant, and staff says “substantial rate increases will be needed to pay for the new facility.”