Air Reach: “I want to take the pinch-hitter** course,” my wife summarily declared. That’s because I’m allergic to bee stings. For any of that to make sense, you’ll need the back story:
Returning from viewing the eclipse in Oregon, I had barely leveled our Mooney 231 at 11,500 feet when my wife screamed, “Bee! There’s a bee!”
I quickly completed the cruise flight checklist and turned around to face a very large honey bee patrolling the back seat. Her fear, that if I got stung I might not be able to safely land the plane, was genuine.
I popped open my tiny cockpit storm window, filling the cabin with a 200 mph roar. We coaxed the bee into the front of the plane where the little honey-maker wandered lazily around until it ventured too close to the opening. Like an ant up a vacuum, nature took its course and the little guy instantly vanished.
I was left with the mental image of the little bee fluttering to a stop, two miles above the ground, marveling at his new high-altitude superpowers.
San Luis Obispo finds its own aeronautical reach dramatically extended after the county inked the latest of several historic airline service agreements. The latest opens up United direct flights to Denver. The deal follows agreements with American, Alaska and SkyWest connecting five of the biggest airline hubs in the west: Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Seattle and San Francisco, exempting local travelers from the mad Medusa ordeal of big city airport terminals.
Earlier this year, Alaska Airlines decided to bring Seattle closer with its comfy Brazilian E-170 jets, but these decisions didn’t happen in by accident, county supervisors voted to put up over $200,000 to guarantee United’s profitability on its SLO/DEN service. That is in addition to more than $600,000 received in FAA incentive money. Whether service continues after the incentives run out largely depends on how many people buy tickets. That, of course, depends on ticket prices and customer service, good and bad.
As for me, naturally, I will still be driving right up to my plane with my big shampoo bottle, shoes on my feet, leaving when I choose, and yes, using my cell phone. I know… but jealousy is such an ugly emotion, don’t you think?
BNB TOT: It may be easier to fly here, but it isn’t getting any cheaper to stay here.
If it seems hotels are costlier and service poorer, you’re not imagining it. A recent study by the Global Business Travel Association forecasts 3.7% higher rates next year, but many travelers are cutting ties to big hotel chains through Airbnb. I love competition, but county officials aren’t exactly fans because not all private bed and breakfast purveyors pony up the county’s 9% transient occupancy tax, (TOT). Those county officials recently signed a deal with Airbnb to collect that TOT from you, when you stay at B&B’s in unincorporated areas.
That’s only fair, say the folks whose salaries are paid out of transient occupancy tax funds. Even travel marketing ads come out of that fund. What? You didn’t know tourists pay for the very ads that brought them here?
Swelter: The coolish spring and early summer went away like a breeze in Hades when a late August high pressure system parked itself right over Central California. Several local brush fires were touched off, adding to smoke from a dozen other wildfires in Southern California and the Sierras.
The record heat drew in tropical moisture, launching thunderstorms and winds that broke windows in Bakersfield and swamped boats in Santa Barbara.
Records fell with San Miguel registering a blistering 115 degrees, while Paso Robles touched 113, recording several days over 110. On Aug. 26, San Luis Obispo eclipsed a 150-year record of 112, reaching 114 degrees. Global warming? Maybe. Crazy weather, definitely.
Give Em Shelter: Paso Robles and Atascadero may drop out of a new county animal shelter project for one closer to home. Paso Robles city officials met in early September to consider pulling out of a proposed $14 million animal shelter to be built near the Sheriff’s office in San Luis Obispo.
Roughly a third of the orphaned animals currently being cared for originate in North SLO County, but with their share tagged at $4.4 million, officials in both cities have gotten cold feet.
State law requires cities to provide animal services, and up until now, folks above Cuesta Grade were happy to use the county shelter, but the new proposal has Atascadero and Paso Robles considering options.
Of course it would be nice to pursue a more permanent place close to home for those pooches and purrers…aannd I can’t believe I just wrote that. I swore I’d never stoop to floridly-cutsie pet prose.
Pot Plan: County supervisors in late August kicked the can down the road by putting off for at least a year, the writing of a permanent marijuana farm ordinance.
The board extended the current temporary urgency ordinance regulating setbacks, zoning and licensing — about 440 pot-growing applications are in process, more than half of those in California Valley. The delay will give the board and staff time to size up what works elsewhere and what to avoid, before enacting a permanent ordinance.
**By the way, the pinch-hitter course my wife wants to take is a short series of flight lessons designed to prepare a non-pilot to safely fly, navigate and land an airplane in case the pilot becomes incapacitated.