Ode (and farewell) to Downtown SLO

By Deborah Cash, CMSM, Executive Director

DebConcert“I’m Downtown Deborah and here for my job,” I said to the team at the table
“I know the people, the place, the issues, the ropes and I’m ready, willing and able.”
From 50 seekers I stood out, I guess, because of sheer desire
to make Downtown SLO a better place and set the bar a bit higher

Rough going at first in ‘95; funds were scarce and merchants down in the dumps
Businesses had closed, streets were torn up and the economy had hit some bumps (sound familiar?)
No use worrying, I decided, and rolled up my sleeves
I devised a game plan; this was long before “Ask Jeeves”
The Marsh Street Makeover was high on the list
From the freeway to Santa Rosa, what a summer-long mess!
Then turning dirt for the Day Center on Prado Road
So People’s Kitchen in the Plaza could lighten their load

There was the Marsh Street structure expansion, the community it did divide
Dozens of meetings, viewpoints, theatrics ensued; in the end, needed spaces it did provide
The earthquake in late 2003, rattled and shook more than our nerves
Time to reassess the retrofit rules—that threw some folks a huge, expensive curve

A bright spot in the picture was being named a top downtown
The Great American Main Street Award was ours; they loved us, hands down
People took notice, perhaps surprised, and interest grew
And businesses stepped up the game for visitors and customers—old and new

As time went by, Downtown evolved from a drab, closed-on-Sundays town
To the community’s living room, a tourist mecca and a scene of nightlife renowned
All of which today are part of programs we offer
To have it all:  beauty, safety, success and funds in the coffer

Some know us simply as “the place with Thursday Night,”
Others love our events in the Plaza and our trees with light
Some thank us for upholding the organization’s goals
To provide stability and success, no matter how the economy rolls

Concerts in the Plaza, the Holiday Parade
Downtown Foresters (the City arborist we do aid)debforester
Porta Potties on big crazy-party nights
Downtown Security to break up the fights

Beautification Awards, Special Promotions and fun abound
To honor our members, attract visitors and keep Downtown going ‘round
Whether for veterans, moms, physical fitness or the area’s finest
We provide recognition and honor the best and the brightest

As well, we work on matters of tremendous importance
To address issues like transiency and late night comportence
We are an urban area at the end of the day
We can’t eliminate warts but we can hold them at bay

All this is done by working as a team
With partners, friends, members and a shared vision, a dream
Of a Downtown where businesses are solid and strong
And visitors and guests make their stays long

Where our history is kept alive through our stories and places
And people feel comfortable and welcome in all of our spaces
Where we continue to be emulated, of whose charm people speak
And they continue to ask, “How’d you get that creek?”

So, the time has come for me to depart
Though I embrace a life change, there’s a tug on my heart
This wasn’t just “my job” that I once showed up to claim
But a part of my life, often one and the same

Thank you for the opportunity to dream my dream
And serve members and the community, it’s gone by fast it seems
And now we’re on to a brand new day
“Around Downtown,” for the last time I’ll say.

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San Luis Obispo Downtown Association

1108 Garden Street, Suite 210
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Phone: (805) 541-0286
Fax: (805) 781-2647

(805) 458-5153

Old SLO Trolley

Trolley service is provided from both of the parking structures and at convenient locations within the Downtown core approximately every 15 minutes. The fare is 50 cents. Hours of operation are:

  • Thursdays - 5 PM to 9 PM - Year Round
  • Fridays - 5 PM to 9 PM - June-Labor Day
  • Saturday - 5 PM to 9 PM - April - October

Click here for the Trolley and City bus schedule.