Fire Safety, Drought Conditions & The New Mask Mandate

By: 5th District Supervisor, Debbie Arnold

The hot summer of 2021 is winding down.  It is important to remember that even though summer is coming to an end, the fall months can bring the highest risk of wildland fires in our area.  We have been fortunate in San Luis Obispo County that we haven’t had any big fires.  We are lucky to have a very active Fire Safe Council here in this county that brings in millions of dollars annually for fire prevention projects.  The Fire Safe Council in San Luis Obispo County is busy all year long focusing on hand clearing roadsides in the rural areas, reducing fuel loads along the rural/urban interfaces, and educating residents on how they can reduce fire risk around their homes.  Other areas of the state have had a challenging summer, and more than 2.1 million acres have burned statewide.  As we enter the fall months almost fifteen thousand personnel are deployed to work on 13 wildfires around the state.  Smoke has affected many areas of the state even when the fires are many miles away.  While San Luis Obispo County hasn’t been affected by big fires or smoke drift yet this year, it is important for all of us to have a plan and prepare our homes.  For more information on how to be prepared for wildfire in our area visit to watch the “Creating defensible space” video and read the safety checklist.

The hot summer days have exasperated drought conditions here in the County.  On July 13, 2021, the County Board of Supervisors passed an official drought proclamation. Of the four above ground reservoirs holding water supplies, all have seen their capacity lower.  Salinas Reservoir (Santa Margarita Lake) is at approximately 59% capacity or 14 thousand acre/feet of stored water, Lopez, 31% capacity, (15 thousand acre/feet), Nacimiento 13% capacity (47,380 acre/feet), and Whale Rock 74% capacity (29 thousand acre/feet).  We can all do our part to conserve water where we can until the rainy season arrives.

Finally, I want to mention the recent mask mandates enacted by Dr. Borenstein.  Dr. Borenstein, following California Department of Public Health guidelines has reinstated mask mandates for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals for indoor public settings.  Many businesses will be affected by this recent mandate including restaurants, offices, retail stores, bars, fitness centers, theatres, museums, personal care services, government offices, K-12 schools, state and local correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and public transportation areas.   There is an exemption for people who are actively eating or drinking.  I am often asked about the authority for such mandates.  The authority comes from the state and local declaration of emergency that took affect back in March of 2020 when public health officials became aware of the Covid pandemic.   Though there was an uptick in cases this past couple of weeks, our County still has approximately 45% of ICU beds available.  For more information on Covid cases, regulations, or services available go to

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at (805) 781-4339.  It is an honor to serve as your 5th District Supervisor.


-Debbie Arnold


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.