Let Oceano Residents Decide Their Own Future

Aaron Ochs
9 min readApr 18
Aerial view of Oceano and the Oceano Airport. SOURCE: Lightspeed Aviation

The unincorporated community of Oceano, California has been on my radar for quite some time because it’s a community that requires solutions to a number of problems. And more often than not, the proposed solutions we’ve seen lately create more problems and contentiousness to sort through — more than is necessary.

The first time Oceano caught my attention was the controversy surrounding Los Osos developer Jeff Edwards’ haphazard attempts to close down their airport and redevelop it as a mixed use residential and commercial space in 2010. At the time, I had a local politics blog and was contacted by a member of Friends of Oceano Airport after they read one of my posts that mentioned Edwards, his partner Julie Tacker, and their involvement in Los Osos politics. They were concerned that Edwards, who didn’t own property in Oceano, was so deeply invested in telling Oceano residents what’s best for them that residents felt they being preyed on. Naturally, there was widespread opposition. The community overwhelmingly rejected redevelopment of the airport. The county soon followed suit. For a while, we didn’t hear much about it in the press.

13 years later, something unusual happened.

Last month, District 4 Supervisor Jimmy Paulding unveiled what he described as a “unification compact.” The goal behind that compact is to eliminate the contentiousness in discussions among Oceano community organizations about closing the Oceano Airport and the dunes, and pivot to discussing issues they have the subject matter jurisdiction and bandwidth to appropriately address. However, the compact essentially forbids organizations to talk about controversial issues. Every organization he reached out expressed varying levels of discomfort over suppressing specific issues that residents and organization members regularly discuss.

Paulding also proposed a code of civility for organizations to abide by, which is not surprising since the Oceano Advisory Council (“OAC”) was recently “unrecognized” by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors over their evident and extensively video-recorded incivility and misconduct. The OAC grew more cantankerous once the Vitality Advisory Council of Oceano (“VACO”) was formed. There was a spirited back and forth between members of both community organizations. OAC…

Aaron Ochs

Author, artist, advocate and entrepreneur from Morro Bay, California.