As 2023 ends I count my blessings to live in such a wonderful community. While many cities across the nation are struggling with issues of rising crime and crumbling infrastructure,  Atascadero continues to thrive. Dedicated and caring community members still make the difference, and Atascadero has no shortage of those.

After so many years of serious drought conditions, last year about this time we began to receive large amounts of rainfall.  Most areas of the County ended up with at least double their normal rainfall total, and our depleted groundwater supplies improved as groundwater levels rose.  The rain did present challenges as the county experienced road damage in most of the rural areas of the County. The County Public works department had a very busy year and did an admirable job of keeping roads passable to the best of their ability. For months the road crews worked long hours removing mud slides and picking up downed trees and debris.  The abundant rainfall year solved so many problems related to water supply, but created many problems related to infrastructure. County Public Works will continue to make repairs as they brace for another wet season.

The heavy rains of 2023 were truly appreciated by our county’s farmers and ranchers. Rain helps produce better crops and grows the native grasses needed for grazing cattle.  The beef cattle herds across the western United States were depleted after so many years of drought, and the meat prices in the grocery stores are reflecting that.  The abundance of rain in 2023 has allowed more carrying capacity here in the county for our cattle ranchers and for ranchers all over the west.  It has revitalized the thirsty oak trees and other native vegetation. It also creates a situation where there is more fuel on the ground in the case of a wildfire, putting the county at a higher risk.  Thankfully, San Luis Obispo County fared pretty well in 2023 when it came to wild land fire, with minimal damage. Our Cal Fire teams do an excellent job of protecting the county, and the SLO County Firesafe Council works year-round to reduce the risk of fire by managing the vegetation in high fire risk areas.

As San Luis Obispo County prepares to ring in a new year, the County Board of Supervisors is mindful of predicted budget gaps at both the State and local level.  The many important services the County provides all the citizens of the county include social services, public health, the court system, public safety in the form of specialized law enforcement and fire protection, weights and measures inspection services, public education, roads and infrastructure construction and maintenance, and more. We are already working on the 2024-25 budget that will need to be passed next June. Even as the County’s budget grows bigger, the cost of government services goes higher, making it more challenging to maintain standard services. It is my goal as we move into the new year to focus on maintaining a high level of service for our county citizens while cutting wasteful and inefficient spending. It looks like money will be tight this year, but I will continue to advocate for road maintenance and adequate public safety for all areas of the County.

I want to wish everyone a joyous Holiday Season as we all move together into 2024.  I look forward to seeing you for another year of festivities and community events!

– Debbie Arnold
5th District Supervisor


5th District Supervisor, Debbie Arnold

Debbie Arnold moved to San Luis Obispo County in 1973 to attend Cal Poly, she fell in love with both her husband, Steve, and the farming and ranching values that had been a part of the Arnold family way of life for more than 5 generations. While raising two children, she owned and operated a small business in Atascadero for more than 17 years. She then had the privilege of advocating for local families as a Legislative Aide at the County Supervisor’s office and as a San Luis Obispo District Representative for the State Senate. During these years, she worked with a broad range of community groups and interests, bringing people together to solve problems. Debbie Arnold now serves as the 5th District Supervisor for San Luis Obispo County.