A Brief History
Who we are and how
we got started. The City of San Luis Obispo serves as the
commercial, governmental and cultural hub of Californias Central Coast. One of
Californias oldest communities, it began with the founding of Mission San Luis
Obispo de Tolosa in 1772 by Father Junípero Serra as the fifth mission in the California
chain of 21 missions. The mission was named after Saint Louis, a 13th Century Bishop of
Toulouse, France. (San Luis Obispo is Spanish for "St. Louis, the
Bishop".) It was first incorporated in 1856 as a General Law City, and became a
Charter City in 1876.
were located. With a population of 44,000, the City is
located eight miles from the Pacific Ocean and is midway between San Francisco and Los
Angeles at the junction of Highway 101 and scenic Highway 1. San Luis Obispo is the County
Seat, and a number of federal and state regional offices and facilities are located here,
including Cal Poly State
University, Cuesta Community College, Regional Water Quality
Board and Caltrans District offices. The Citys ideal weather and natural beauty
provide numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation at nearby City and State parks,
lakes, beaches and wilderness areas.
place to live and visit. While San Luis Obispo grew relatively
slowly during most of the 19th century, the coming of Southern Pacific Railroad in 1894
opened up the area to the rest of California. The Citys distance from major
metropolitan areas to the north (San Francisco Bay Area) and south (Los Angeles) have
allowed our area to retain its historic and scenic qualities. These qualities contribute
to the superb quality of life our residents enjoy, and attract visitors from many other
areas. Click here for things to see and do in San Luis Obispo.
Another key feature contributing to the Citys great quality of life is our delightful downtown. The heart of
downtown is Mission Plaza. With its wonderful creek side
setting and beautifully restored mission (that continues to serve as a parish church to
this day), Mission Plaza is the communitys cultural and social center. This historic
plaza is complemented by a bustling downtown offering great shopping, outdoor and indoor
dining, night life, and its famous Thursday Night Farmers Market, where you can buy
locally grown fresh produce and enjoy an outdoor BBQ. This unique blend of history,
culture, commerce and entertainment make San Luis Obispos downtown one of the most
attractive, interesting and economically vibrant downtowns in America.
Our City operates under the Council-Mayor-City Manager form of government.
Council members are elected at-large and serve overlapping, four-year terms. The Mayor is
also elected at-large for a two year term, and serves as an equal member of the Council.
The Council appoints the City Manager and City Attorney. All other
department heads are appointed by the City Manager.
San Luis Obispo is a
full-service city that provides police, fire, water, sewer, streets, transit, parking,
planning, building, engineering and parks & recreation services to the community.
Click here for more about the Citys government and