Ambassador Program Totals: October – December 2019

Maintaining the economic vibrancy of the downtown San Luis Obispo business improvement area depends on the daily duties performed by our Downtown Ambassadors. Their responsibilities encompass many and various tasks relating to downtown.  In October 2019, the City of San Luis Obispo invested in a pilot program to double the capacity of the ambassador staff. This has created a visible and meaningful impact in the downtown community.

It is clear that prior to this pilot program, there was not only a need for increased service over high volume weekend days, but also a need for an overall increase in service. This was due to the unrealistic challenges of having one ambassador serve the approximately 105 acres and the roughly 40 blocks that make up our downtown BID.  Furthermore, our organization’s last fiscal year saw our office change locations, change leadership, and hire additional staff. These factors greatly impacted the level and scope of outreach and cleaning services.  The very nature of Ambassador duties grew to encompass clerical and analytics tracking. Our primary ambassador, Austin Bertucci, strove to develop a cohesive training program that could easily be passed along to any potential new hires. Our organization sought to create a Property Based Improvement District (PBID) and our clean and safe program was at the forefront of the discussion in its implementation. Although the PBID formation process was suspended, one clear success to emerge was the investment in an additional Downtown Ambassador position. Stephan Georgopoulous was hired for this role and began his training on October 25. He spent the first three weeks training with Bertucci, and now between the two, 7-day coverage in the downtown exists.  The following shows a snapshot of some of the drastic improvements an additional position has been able to provide for the city and downtown community.  

Trash Cans:

There are approximately 60 trash cans downtown. Previously, cleaning all 60 would require about a month of labor. With two ambassadors, they have been thoroughly cleaned every other week. Additionally, the high-traffic trash cans along Higuera and Monterey see light cleaning nearly every day as opposed to 2-3 times per week prior. 

 Store Fronts & Sidewalk:

Currently our Downtown Ambassadors provide cleaning services for approximately 120 store fronts, sweeping and removing debris from their adjacent sidewalks, alcoves, and doorsteps on a rotational basis. Previously only a smaller area was serviced, with a general focus being placed upon vacant store fronts whereas currently all store fronts are included. The pilot program included funds to purchase additional equipment, such as a leafblower and extendable dusters, and they have made the Ambassadors’ jobs more efficient.

Increased Area Covered:  

Alone, Bertucci was only able to patrol and respond to needs within an average of two thirds of the downtown BID area. Now, on days where the ambassadors work in a coordinated fashion all areas of the entire BID are covered. 

Litter, Graffiti, Sticker Removal: 

During this last quarter the ambassadors removed approximately 657 pounds of trash, a 208% increase from the same time the year before. They removed 115 graffiti tags around town and 43 stickers, numbers that are expected to grow in this current quarter. 

Outreach to People who are Homeless:       

Outreach is part of the ambassadors’ daily work that is challenging to quantify.  Each day our ambassadors engage with people who are homeless, greet them, encourage them, listen to them, and strive to provide a compassionate interaction.  Concretely, they provide any interested parties a Community Resource List, and walk them through the various agencies listed. They allow the use of their cellphones for necessary phone calls. They link individuals with different agencies and other outreach teams.  They brainstorm plans for the individual’s success and encourage individuals towards living a healthier life free from substance abuse, etc.  They utilize de-escalation techniques when responding to calls reporting disturbances downtown. They also perform wellness checks and call emergency services if necessary. From time to time, they distribute light snacks such as fresh fruit from the Farmers’ Market or granola bars. Our ambassadors have advocated for the respect and dignity of our downtown’s “less fortunate” by emphasizing their humanity and treating each person with a high degree of respect. Our ambassadors have met with Transitions Mental Health Association, San Luis Obispo Police, and CAPSLO to assist them with this important work. 

Business Outreach:

The ambassadors distributed posters, flyers, and other information about special events, construction projects, streets and sidewalk closures to businesses. They also reminded businesses about code compliance issues such as sandwich boards. Together, the ambassadors conducted face-to-face interactions with a majority of the first and second story businesses.

Summary:

The above are simple summaries of the many services we have been able to improve upon and grow with the additional ambassador position. Downtown SLO remains committed to expanding our level of service and creating an atmosphere of vibrant growth and vibrant life. 

Ambassador Program Totals October – December 2019
Trash removed656.7 pounds
Stickers removed from public property43*
Graffiti cleaned/removed from public property115* 
Calls fielded193
Incident Reports to Police 12
 Public Works Reports 20 

The Ambassador program is funded in part by Friends of Downtown SLO, a 501c3 nonprofit organization. If you’d like to make a tax-deductible charitable donation to support our efforts, please click here. LINK TO https://downtownslo.com/friends-of-downtown-slo/

Kat Thompson
Author: Kat Thompson