Increased Development is Imminent
  •  San Luis Obispo County leads the state of California in the percentage of new multi-family & single-family building permits (92% increase) Source: Beacon Economics, Central Coast Economic Forecast November 2013
  • “Employment, rapid growth, water quality and supply, and the cost of living all topped a list of concerns for San Luis Obispo County residents surveyed as part of a report released December 2013.” Source: December 2013 front-page article from The Tribune: Newspaper of the Central Coast
  • “Every day America loses 1,200 acres of fertile farmland to development – and with it goes the land we need for local food, safe habitat for wildlife, and the next generation of family farmers.” Source: American Farmland Trust 2015

New residential and commercial development in the wrong places will negatively impact scenic vistas, displace wildlife, disturb beneficial ecosystem functions, and drastically change our rural character and unique sense of place. We have a golden opportunity, right now, to permanently protect San Luis Obispo County’s most vital lands before they are changed forever.

Economic Vitality Relies on Local Lands
  • San Luis Obispo County agriculture contributes a total of $1.87 billion to the local economy, provides 20,645 jobs, and makes $45.9 million in indirect business tax payments, which represents 10% of the county’s entire annual $450 million budget. Source: Economic Contributions of San Luis Obispo County Agriculture, 2013
  • Outdoor enthusiasts contribute at least $200 million each year to our County’s economy. Source: Estimations based on data from the Outdoor Industry Association
  • Tourism is currently the number one industry in San Luis Obispo County with visitor spending totaling $1.2 billion in 2011. The travel and tourism industry provides 15,570 jobs and generates $405 million, which produces $79 million of direct tax receipts supporting San Luis Obispo County. Source: Visit San Luis Obispo County in partnership with the U.S. Travel Association

The leading economic industries in San Luis Obispo County are agriculture and tourism. Both of these industries are directly reliant on the health, vitality and protection of our region’s natural
lands. During the recent “Great Recession”, these land-based industries helped our region weather the economic storm and stabilize markets that saw extreme dips in other part of the state and nation. Investing in the permanent conservation of local lands directly supports the long-term sustainability of agriculture and tourism in our County.

Current Water Shortages Indicate a Future Crisis
  • San Luis Obispo County will be at extremely high risk for water shortages by mid-century as the result of rising global temperatures. Source: 2010 report by Tetra Tech for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

 Water-intensive land use conversions combined with increasingly severe climate change impacts are putting the homes and livelihoods of San Luis Obispo County residents at risk. Conserving natural lands, restricting intensive development, and preserving healthy watersheds are the most effective ways to ensure water quality and availability.

Our Community Demands More Open Space
  • SLO County residents identified hiking trails (55%), bike paths (53%), and natural areas (47%) as the top three priorities for new public recreation opportunities. Source: 2013 ACTION for Healthy Communities Report

Those who regularly use hiking trails and dedicated bike paths in San Luis Obispo County know how busy and heavily impacted these recreation areas are, especially on holidays and weekends. Regional open space managers are struggling with how to balance the protection of natural resources with the abundance of trail users that end up “loving open spaces too much”. There is an opportunity right now to create more public open space areas to accommodate the growing group of outdoor enthusiasts that are attracted to our region’s network of parks, trails, and scenic lands.

This Nation is in a Health Crisis
  • If every person spent 20 minutes walking or hiking each day, we could eliminate the nation’s obesity epidemic.   Source: Center for Disease Control
  • Availability of open space and recreation areas, especially those that offer free unrestricted access, encourages healthy active lifestyles. In addition, land conservation has repeatedly shown its value in protecting drinking water quality and air quality – essential components of a healthy living environment.
Government is Looking to Nonprofits to Fulfill Community Services
  • Local and state governments have either drastically reduced or eliminated new open space acquisitions, primarily due to long-term cost concerns and lack of funding to maintain existing facilities.
  • California State Parks has a backlog of overdue maintenance throughout the 280 state parks, beaches, and historic properties that hovers around $1 billion. Source: KCET News, January 2014
  • Prioritizing land conservation leads to significant cost savings for municipalities and taxpayers. Fewer public services are needed in areas where creeks, trees, and open spaces are conserved. Improved water quality, air quality, and flood control reduce government management costs and minimize infrastructure maintenance. Source: “The Economic Benefits of Parks and Open Space,” Trust for Public Land, 1999 & 2009

Nonprofit land trusts like The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County are fulfilling program services and meeting community demands that government agencies no longer can provide. Despite restrictions to state and federal funding, local land conservation efforts have significantly and continuously expanded over the last five years.

LCSLO is the Premiere Land Conservation Organization Dedicated to San Luis Obispo County
  • Global and national conservation power-houses including The Nature Conservancy, American Land Conservancy, and Trust for Public Land used to have local offices and focus on conservation priorities in San Luis Obispo County. Today, no national organization is working proactively on new land conservation in San Luis Obispo County.

In the last decade, The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County has emerged as the only land trust dedicated to the protection of local landscapes. Previously, larger land trusts operated on a business model that harnessed easy-to-come-by state funds for conservation projects. In today’s current climate of extremely competitive government funding, it is difficult if not impossible for a national or international organization to secure the required local matching funds from private donors in smaller towns and cities (Instead, they focus on bigger metropolitan areas). Without an effective land trust like The Land Conservancy, places like San Luis Obispo County would struggle to balance the needs of land conservation in the face of growing development pressure.

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