San Luis Obispo County has a general law form of government, which means that certain aspects of the structure and function of the County are dictated by state law.
As a geographical and political subdivision of the State, the County serves a dual role by (1) providing municipal services including law enforcement, roads, parks and libraries to residents, and (2) administering State and Federal programs and services such as public health care, jails, foster care and elections.
A five-member Board of Supervisors serves as the County’s legislative body, setting policies and priorities to best serve the needs of the community. Supervisors are elected by districts of approximately equal population to overlapping four-year terms. The five supervisory districts in the County include the following cities (in italic) and communities:
District 1 Adelaide, Cholame, Lake Nacimiento, Oak Shores, Paso Robles, San Miguel, Shandon, Templeton, Whitley Gardens
District 2 Baywood Park, California Men’s Colony, Cal Poly State University (portion), Cambria, Cayucos, Cuesta-by-the-Sea, Cuesta College, Harmony, Los Osos, Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo (portion), San Simeon
District 3 Avila Beach, Country Club, Edna-Los Ranchos, Edna Valley (portion), Grover Beach, Pismo Beach, Rolling Hills Estate, San Luis Obispo (portion), Shell Beach, Squire Canyon, Sunset Palisades
District 4 Arroyo Grande, Black Lake Canyon, Callendar-Garrett, Cuyama, Edna Valley (portion), Halcyon, Huasna-Lopez, Los Berros, Nipomo, Nipomo Mesa, Oceano, Palo Mesa
District 5 Atascadero, Cal Poly State University (portion), California Valley, Creston, Garden Farms, Pozo, San Luis Obispo (portion), Santa Margarita
Other services provided by special districts governed by the Board of Supervisors include fire protection, lighting, sanitation and flood control.
In addition to the Board of Supervisors, residents elect five department heads including the Assessor, Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector-Public Administrator, Clerk-Recorder, District Attorney, and Sheriff-Coroner.
The County Administrative Officer is appointed by the Board of Supervisors and is responsible for managing the operations of County departments, preparing the County budget and making recommendations to the Board of Supervisors to promote the efficiency and effectiveness of County operations.
County Counsel is also appointed by the Board of Supervisors and is responsible for providing legal counsel to the Board.
About the Region
The County of San Luis Obispo is one of the original 27 counties of California. Established on February 18, 1850, the County of San Luis Obispo is located on the Pacific Coast, conveniently halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and has a population of more than 273,000 people, making it the 23rd largest county in the state.
Known affectionately as “SLO” (pronounced slow) by residents and visitors, the county region is made up of seven cities as well as more than 40 unincorporated communities. SLO County covers approximately 3,300 square miles and is bordered by Monterey County to the north, Kern County to the east, Santa Barbara County to the south, and 100 miles of Pacific coastline to the west.
Because of its distance from major metropolitan areas, SLO County has been able to retain its small-town and rural character. Despite this, the area also offers many of the same amenities that are found in urban areas. For example, the County is home to major educational institutions including California Polytechnic State University and Cuesta Community College—both of which draw students from all over the world and provide a wide array of educational and cultural opportunities.
The varied geography and rich history of the area provide numerous opportunities for recreation. The nationally known Hearst Castle in San Simeon attracts over 1 million visitors each year and the historic Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, founded in 1772, is another popular attraction.
Many locally sponsored events including the Old-Fashioned Fourth of July, Renaissance Faire, Mid-State Fair, Festival Mozaic, Savor the Central Coast Food and Paso Robles Wine Festival, and various holiday parades and events also draw visitors here each year.
Major U.S. highways, regional airports, railroad stations and the Port of San Luis all make the area accessible by land, air and water.