Downtown SLO is a 501 (c)(6) nonprofit founded in 1975 whose mission is to foster an economically vibrant Downtown. Downtown SLO serves the community by working on initiatives like parking and beautification efforts, coordinating special events and the weekly Farmers’ Market, supporting economic activities and examining Downtown issues.
The organization began as a Business Improvement Association in 1975 when business owners decided to self-assess to improve the district and develop unified promotions, beautification projects, and parking programs for the Downtown area.
In 1998 the organization became the Downtown Association, and in 2008 changed its organizational structure from a city advisory body to an independent 501 (c) 6 nonprofit in order to better serve our members. In 2017, the Board of Directors chose to refresh our image and brand, and now we are proud to be known as Downtown SLO.
Currently we house seven committees comprised of business owners, employees, and the public at large. The Board of Directors is comprised of business owners, managers, financial institutions, not-for-profits, the media and higher education. Together, we strive to enrich our Downtown community through beautification efforts, placemaking, and supporting a vibrant economy.
Downtown SLO is a member-run organization. Downtown businesses are their own guide and determine the direction of the organization. Downtown SLO’s primary objective is to foster an economically vibrant Downtown. Our goals are (not in order of priority)
-Aggressively obtain more available and convenient parking in the Downtown BID boundaries;
-Promote awareness of and participation in alternative access to and within the Downtown core;
-Strongly advocate for cleaning and beautifying the Downtown District;
-Advocate for public safety awareness within the Downtown District;
-Continue a high level of cultural arts, promotional, and fundraising activities;
-Continue to implement Strategic Plan objectives;
-Launch a marketing campaign that promotes the Downtown experience to consumers beyond San Luis Obispo;
-Educate members about their rights and responsibilities as business owners;
-Brand “Downtown SLO” in all print and visual materials to educate and show value of the organization; and
-Encourage and participate in Major City Goals, including the Mission Plaza Master Plan and the Downtown Conceptual Physical Plan updates.
The Board of Directors hires an Executive Director who is responsible for carrying out the directives of the committees, overseeing the budget, and maintaining relationships with City Hall, members, state and community organizations, and the media. The Executive Director also serves as manager of the Main Street program, and oversees the activities of the staff. The Farmers’ Market Manager is responsible for coordinating the highly popular Farmers’ Market activities and overseeing relevant staff. The Special Events Manager implements and oversees several annual special events that occur Downtown, including Concerts in the Plaza, Halloween activities, Holiday Happenings, and more. The Events Assistant supports both the Farmers’ Market Manager and Special Events Manager in their duties. The Office Administrator runs the daily nuts and bolts of the organization, as well as oversees several side projects and supports all positions as needed. The Communications Coordinator ensures that all outreach and communication from the organization is clear, concise, and consistent. Finally, our Downtown Ambassadors welcome tourists to the area, establish and maintain relationships with local businesses and shopkeepers, provide necessary services and interact with panhandlers and transients as needed, remove graffiti & litter, and serve as a representative of Downtown SLO.
Downtown SLO is governed by an 11-member Board of Directors which is elected by the membership each March. Board members take office in April and may serve up to two consecutive two-year terms. The Board appoints three designated members representing voluntary member businesses in the district from financial, non-profit, and higher education sectors. The Board also appoints one non-voting media representative. The four appointed terms do not have term limits. All Board members must also serve on at least one of the seven standing committees. The Board of Directors meets every second Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. in the Downtown SLO conference room.
Rodessa Newton – Libertine Brewing Company; President, Executive Committee, Alternate Special Events Chair, Food, Beverage & Services Committee
Jules DuRocher – Jules D. Boutique; Past President, Executive Committee, Economic Activities Chair
Pat Arnold – CoVelop Inc; Vice President, Executive, Issues Evaluation Chair
Pierre Rademaker – Pierre Rademaker Design; Secretary, Executive, Parking & Access Chair, Economic Activities Committee, Issues Evaluation Committee
Carl Dudley – Pacific Western Bank; Designated Member, Financial Treasurer, Executive Committee
Ariel Shannon – Bluebird Salon; Special Events Chair
Scott Smith – Central Coast Surfboards
Doug Shaw – The Sanctuary Tobacco Shop; Downtown SLO Farmers’ Market Chair, Issues Evaluation Committee
Beverley Matthews –Hotel Serra; Food Beverage & Services
Ken McGavin – Just Looking Gallery; Issues Evaluation Committee
Shelley Stuckey – Tails Pet Boutique
Laura Mullen – HumanKind Fair Trade; Designated Member: Nonprofit, Economic Activities Committee
Jessica Darin – Cal Poly; Designated Member: Higher Education, Economic Activities Committee
Brandon Downing – KSBY; Media Representative, Special Events
There are seven standing committees: Cultural Arts; Downtown SLO Farmers’ Market; Economic Activities; Food, Beverage, & Services; Issues Evaluation; Parking & Access; and Special Events. All committees are open to the public and have one designated City representative, with the exception of the Issues Evaluation Committee.
The purpose of the Cultural Arts Committee is to develop guidelines and programs for the enhancement of Downtown, to maintain pre-established beautification programs, and handle issues related toward the maintenance of a clean, safe, and beautiful Downtown district. The committee also works to promote cultural arts in the Downtown, including public art, theater, museums, and more. Committee members coordinate annual events such as the Window Decorating Contest, Downtown Tree Lighting on Higuera, and Beautification Awards, and also participate in the Downtown Foresters sub-committee. The Cultural Arts Committee meets every third Tuesday of each month at 8:00 a.m. in the Downtown SLO office.
Bruce Fraser – Fraser Seiple Architects
Karen Kile – San Luis Obispo Museum of Art
Landy Fike – San Luis Obispo Resident
Ryan Brockett – Ten Over Studio
Aracelli Astorga – San Luis Obispo County Library
Eva Fina – History Center of San Luis Obispo County
James Papp – Cultural Heritage Committee
Jeff Al Mashat – San Luis Obispo Museum of Art
Kevin Harris – SLO REP
Leona Guidace – ARTS Obispo
Emma Saperstein – Cuesta College Harold J Miossi Art Gallery – Guest
Lindsey Stephenson – City of San Luis Obispo Public Art – City Staff
Ron Combs – City of San Luis Obispo Arborist – City Staff
The Downtown Foresters formed in May 2007—as a sub-committee of the Design Committee—to assist City tree crews in caring for and maintaining the trees in the Downtown area. They receive training from City Arborist Ron Combs and are responsible for assisting with planting, pruning, watering, fertilizing and looking out for the “urban forest.”
The Economic Activities Committee was established to oversee matters of economic interest that affect Downtown. Issues such as business retention, and attraction, clustering, retail space availability, economic forecasting, construction, and development projects, and others are discussed and implemented. Most recently the committee took the lead in the rebrand of Downtown SLO. The committee works with the Economic Development Manager at the City of San Luis Obispo to formulate strategies for the economic viability of Downtown. This committee meets the third Thursday of the month at 9 a.m. in the Downtown SLO conference room.
Jules DuRocher – Jules D; Board of Directors, Economic Activities Chair
Jessica Darin – Cal Poly, Board of Directors
Pierre Rademaker – Pierre Rademaker Design; Board of Directors
Laura Mullen – HumanKind Fair Trade; Board of Directors
Jeff Olds – Jamba Juice
Jay Beck – Stalwork, Inc
Charlene Rosales – SLO Chamber of Commerce
Bart Devaney – Sunset North Car Wash & Detail Center
Audrey Bigelow – San Luis Obispo Museum of Art
Molly Cano – City of San Luis Obispo, Tourism Manager – City Staff
The Food, Beverage & Services (FBS) Committee was formed to support City and Downtown SLO objectives of providing a safe, attractive and vibrant evening economy in Downtown SLO while reducing issues associated with alcohol outlets and encouraging a more inviting nighttime economy. FBS is comprised of stakeholders including restaurant, bar and business owners who hold licenses to sell and/or serve alcoholic beverages as well as other committee members whose products or services that have an affiliation with the safety and well-being of Downtown. Members pay additional fees to support committee activities. Guests are welcome to attend committee meetings. This committee meets the second Tuesday of the month at 11 a.m. in the Downtown SLO conference room.
Beverley Matthews – Hotel Serra; Board of Directors, Co-Chair
Rodessa Newton – Libertine Brewing Company; Board of Directors
Andrea Miller – Spike’s Pub
Marco Abarashed – Mother’s Tavern
Nick Guggisberg – Mother’s Tavern
Ron Meier – Ash Management
Dan Harper – Blast 825 Taproom
Jacob Moore – The Library
Rai Reynolds – Underground Brewing
Sarah – SLO Brew
Jason Flores– Buffalo Pub
Joe DiFronzo –Giuseppe’s Cucina Rustica
Josh Christensen – Sidecar SLO
Toney Breault – F. McLintocks
Christine Wallace – SLO Police Department – City Staff
Sean Jessen – SLO Police Department – City Staff
The Parking & Access Committee is responsible for monitoring the status of parking in Downtown San Luis Obispo and for offering solutions to parking problems to city officials. Currently, the committee is working on the development of a parking structure on the corner of Palm and Nipomo Streets. Other issues include parking management, alternative transportation and access, and special programs like the Downtown Access Pass and token programs. This committee meets on the second Thursday of each month at 9 a.m. in the Downtown SLO conference room.
Pierre Rademaker – Pierre Rademaker Design, Board of Directors, Chair
Pat Arnold – CoVelop, Inc; Board of Directors
Barry Rands – SLO Bike Club
Mark Rawson – Copeland Properties
Bob Armstrong – Ride-On Transportation
Patty Thayer – SLO REP
Peter Williamson – SLO Regional Rideshare
Steve Akers– Bike SLO County
Alexander Fuchs – City of SLO: Assistant Parking Services Manager, City Staff
Gamaliel Anguiano – City of SLO: Transit Manager, City Staff
Megan Weeks – City of SLO: Transit Assistant, City Staff
Scott Lee – City of SLO: Parking Services Manager, City Staff
John Osumi – Bishop Peak Technology, Inc.
The Issues Evaluation Committee analyzes critical issues that affect the vitality of our Downtown such as general maintenance problems, proposed ballot measures, and the Downtown Vision Plan, with the objective of finding the best possible outcome for Downtown as a whole. Committee members execute their responsibilities as a representative of Downtown SLO and all of its membership, much like an elected official would be required to do. Their recommendations are taken back to the Board of Directors for formal consideration. The committee is comprised of Board members and members at large for a total of 12 committee members. To become a member of the committee, members must complete an application consisting of two questions. The committee meets the last Wednesday of the month at 8:30 a.m. in the Downtown SLO conference room.
Pat Arnold – CoVelop Collaborative Development; Board of Directors, Chair
Ken McGavin – Just Looking Gallery; Board of Directors
Pierre Rademaker – Pierre Rademaker Design; Board of Directors
Doug Shaw – Sanctuary Tobacco Shop; Board of Directors
Kelsey Moe – B. Anthony & Co. Jewelers
Marshall Ochylski – The Law Office of Marshall E. Ochylski
The Special Events Committee’s mission is to provide a broad range of promotional events and activities to attract people to the Downtown core, to provide businesses with promotional opportunities, to retain a favorable business atmosphere, and to raise funds for Downtown SLO operations. This committee oversees the Concerts in the Plaza summer concert series, Special Events within Downtown SLO Farmers’ Market throughout the year, and a comprehensive Holiday program including the Holiday Parade, Santa’s House, and the Classic Carousel in Mission Plaza. Special events are an integral part of Downtown SLO’s mission to ensure Downtown is a vibrant and economically viable center for businesses and a safe, clean and beautiful place for visitors to enjoy themselves. The Special Events Committee meets the first Wednesday of each month at 9 a.m. in the Downtown SLO conference room.
Ariel Shannon – Bluebird Salon; Board of Directors, Chair
Rodessa Newton – Libertine Brewing Company; Board of Directors
Brandon Downing – KSBY, Board of Directors
Terry Detrick – Pacific Premier Bank
Therese Cron – Copeland Properties
Kathy Collins – Maino Brothers Corporation
Molly Lannen – Keller Williams Central Coast
Monica Racz – Keller Williams Central Coast
Katherine Thompson – Pierre Rademaker Design
Laurel Cadena – Miner’s Ace Hardware – Guest
Molly Cano – SLO City Tourism Manager – City Staff
The Downtown SLO Farmers’ Market is organized, administered, and paid for by Downtown SLO, with the purpose of:
The Downtown SLO Farmers’ Market committee reviews applications and discusses all manners of business affecting The Market. Another function of the committee is promotion through special events. This committee meets the second Wednesday of the month at 8 a.m. in the Downtown SLO conference room.
Doug Shaw – Sanctuary Tobacco Shop; Board of Directors, Chair
Kannyn January – Ambiance Clothing Boutique
Mike Cirone – SLO County FMA
Ron Meier – ASH Management
Andrea Miller – Spike’s Pub
Nancy Snyder – Mo’s Smokehouse BBQ
Aasim Sajjad – Shalimar
Sean Lee – The Real Estate Company
Steve Hilstein – Music Motive
Jason Beres – SLO City Fire Department
We value hearing from our community and believe your input is crucial to a successful Downtown. To get involved, please visit our office on Garden Street in the Maino Building, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m, or contact us at ReachUs@DowntownSLO.com.
Downtown SLO is pleased to offer sponsorship opportunities to light up the street trees along Higuera between Morro and Garden Streets. Street tree lighting adds to evening ambiance and contributes to Downtown safety and well-being. Your sponsorship is a one-time donation that supplies high quality LED lighting with a 25-year life expectancy to a Downtown street tree and includes maintenance and utility costs. Each sponsored tree exhibits a bronze plaque that is securely affixed to the tree grate. We offer a convenient payment plan and multi-tree discount. Please contact our office if you are interested in participating in this Downtown program. Thank you to Thoma Electric and the City of San Luis Obispo for working with us on this program.
Downtown SLO’s 29th Annual Beautification Awards were held on Wednesday, April 11 at the SLO HotHouse. The event honored Downtown businesses that have enhanced and renovated existing spaces or done a commendable job with a new establishment. Award categories include tenant improvements, signage/awnings, merchandising, and maintenance, among others. See our winners by clicking here.