The recession has officially been over for more than a year now, but economic problems continue to plague the city and surrounding areas of San Luis Obispo.
Over the years, many local businesses have been forced to go out of business. Most recently, the Office of Thrift Supervision closed the San Luis Trust Bank on Feb. 18.
According to the press release, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was appointed as the receiver of San Luis Trust Bank. The FDIC then entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with First California Bank, meaning it will take control of liabilities from the bank including all of its deposits.
Past members of San Luis Trust Bank are now automatic members of First California Bank.
Jan Marx, mayor of San Luis Obispo, said although her role is limited when it comes to the economy, she thinks San Luis Obispo can expect things to turn around sooner rather than later.
“There were more car sales here than last year and you can see a generalized economic recovery,” Marx said.
While banks are closing, food aid is surging — another tell tale sign of economic problems in the county.
Joyce Fields, from the San Luis Obispo County Department of Social Services, said within the last year or two the applications for CalFresh Program have gone up.
“We really want to do outreach about (CalFresh) because there are a number of people out there who could potentially benefit from the program but don’t know about it,” Fields said.
To be eligible for CalFresh Program (the program formerly known as Food Stamps), a household of four people must have a combined income under $1,835 a month.
Fields said the number of people who currently receive CalFresh benefits is at a medium level but numbers have increased since the recession hit.
“Obviously, the economy would cause more people to utilize public service programs like CalFresh,” Fields said.
Despite applications for CalFresh going up and businesses struggling, Marx said the local government is doing all it can to help with economic development in San Luis Obispo.
“We have been concerned most with attracting tourism and trying to reduce operating costs,” Marx said.
Through specialized taxes like the Transient Occupational Tax, the City of San Luis Obispo is attempting to create a revenue to continue making the city a tourist destination.
Even with the taxes, however, the city government is well over budget. Marx said hearings throughout April will help determine the direction of the city and how it plans to balance the budget.
“Cuts will be done in a public hearing,” Marx said. “I want to invite the public and especially Cal Poly students to attend the meetings. The cuts will be sensitive to the priority of the community and residents.”
Indeed, students have been feeling the effects of the economy. Daniel Breslow, a mechanical engineering junior, said he bikes to class to save money and is feeling the effects on his education in addition to his family and friends.
“Obviously the budget cuts throughout the state are affecting the price of our education,” Breslow said. “It is harder to graduate on time because classes are being cut. Business has not been going well for both of my parents and I definitely know a few people who have lost their jobs.”
Marx said she acknowledges it is a tough time to be a student, but she hopes the city and Cal Poly students can work together to improve the situation in San Luis Obispo.
“Cal Poly is a tremendous asset to the city,” Marx said. “Although the city is still hurting financially, having all the students here is a good thing.”
Marx said even though officially the recession is over it is not quite showing yet in San Luis Obispo.
“Housing hasn’t really recovered, but all of this is just a challenge — it’s not an emergency,” Marx said. “Compared to other cities in California we are really in pretty good shape.”
Good shape or not, students, business owners and residents are still concerned.
“Eventually I’d like to be able to get a job, but it’s not looking good,” Breslow said.