San Luis Obispo County Water Resources

Division of Public Works


Zone 9: San Luis Obispo Creek Watershed

Zone 9 of the San Luis Obispo Flood Control and Water Conservation District provides flood control services for the area encompassing San Luis Obispo Creek and its tributaries. It was established in 1973 and is funded through an annual ad valorem assessment on all property in the zone.

Zone 9 Advisory Committee



The Zone 9 Advisory Committee was formed to assist the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors on policy decisions relating to Zone 9. The Advisory Committee assists in determining the needs, desires, and financial capabilities of property owners in Zone 9. The Advisory Committee also recommends specific programs to alleviate and control flood damage, with recognition of the ecological and aesthetic values of the programs.




The guiding document for Zone 9’s goals and objectives is the SLO Waterway Management Plan (WMP) which was developed and adopted in March 2003. The SLO WMP consists of three (3) volumes. Volume I contains a detailed hydrology and hydraulic analysis of the watershed and its tributaries, identification of management problems as well as alternatives for addressing flooding, bank instability, habitat protection and enhancement. A preferred project is also presented. Volume II consists of a stream management and maintenance program. It identifies an approach to routine maintenance such as vegetation management, bank stabilization and sediment removal along with suggested Best Management Practices for these activities. Volume III is a drainage design manual for determining criteria for design of drainage channels, storm drain systems and storm water detention as well as other storm water facilities.


There are eight (8) watershed management goals for the watershed:

  • Flooding
  • Erosion
  • Water Quality
  • Biological Resources
  • Land Use
  • Social Values
  • Public Involvement & Education
  • Inter-Agency Coordination




The Zone 9 bylaws can be viewed in pdf by clicking here.




Where: San Luis Obispo City offices, 919 Palm Street, San Luis Obispo


When: The Zone 9 Advisory Committee meets the 2nd Wednesday of even numbered months from 1:30-3:30 pm. Additional meetings will be determined by the Committee in response to the needs of the Zone.



For further information, contact SLO Public Works Department at (805) 781-5252.


Meeting Minutes


Recent meeting minutes are available at the links below:




The Zone 9 Advisory Committee is comprised of three representatives from the City of San Luis Obispo and three from the County of San Luis Obispo. Preference is given to members who represent the Resource Conservation District, the Avila community, the agricultural community, Cal Poly, Caltrans, or other community agency. Please see the bylaws for other details of member qualifications and member terms.





City Council

Andy Pease

Dan Rivoire

City Staff

Matt Horn

Manuel Guzman


Christine Mulholland

Dave Romero

County at-large

Stephnie Wald


County at-large

Kaila Dettman

Jon Hall

County at-large

Wayne Peterson


City Council

Carlyn Christianson


Member List Updated: January 9, 2019




Recent Projects

Mid-Higuera Bypass Project


This project was one of three projects proposed in the Waterway Management Plan. The “Mid-Higuera” section of San Luis Creek defines the approximate 3100 foot reach of the creek between Marsh Street and Madonna Road, in the City of San Luis Obispo. Over the past 40 years, there have been six significant flooding events between Marsh Street and Madonna Road. The last major flood event occurred on March 10-11, 1995. Historically, this reach has had some of the most frequent and significant flooding problems in the City. The proposed improvements for this stretch of the creek are: high flow bypass channels and benches constructed above the low flow channel in combination with vegetation management to increase conveyance. Initial environmental studies have been completed and preliminary engineering is well underway.


Annual Vegetation Maintenance


The City of San Luis performs limited annual vegetation maintenance on San Luis Creek and its tributaries within the city limits. This maintenance is done under a California Department of Fish and Wildlife permit and typically between the months of August and October. Other related programs currently being undertaken are removal of Arundo and other exotic non-native invasive species such as cape ivy and castor bean.


Sediment Removal


The City also undertakes sediment removal projects on various sections of the creeks when necessary and in accordance with all regulatory agency required permits.


For more information on these efforts please contact the City of San Luis Obispo Public Works Department. 805-781-7200

Flood Resources

How to Reduce Flood Risk to your Property


Routine Creek Maintenance by Property Owners


The following are provided as guidelines:


  • Preserve existing riparian vegetation. This includes both trees and understory shrubbery.


  • Keep structures out of the stream zone. Stairs and retaining walls can degrade creek banks and impact your neighbor’s stream bank.


  • Drain roof gutters to landscaped areas. Pipes draining onto or overhanging the stream bank can cause erosion.


  • Do not use tires or broken concrete for erosion repair or slope protection. Native vegetation is the best protection in many cases.


  • Seek professional advice if you believe your streambank requires reinforcement to prevent erosion. A professional will be able to recommend the most effective method with the least negative environmental impact, and will also be able to advise you on permits that may be required by environmental agencies. Having the right permits is essential to avoid fines and citations.


  • If possible, coordinate with upstream or downstream property owners to design and implement stream bed or stream bank improvements for an entire reach of stream.


Emergency Information


Immediate threat to life and limb: Obviously, all people are entitled to take necessary actions to protect their lives, and this applies to flooding threats as well.


Call 911 if you are in immediate physical danger.


If your property is at risk: Be aware that, other than in cases of immediate physical danger to life and limb, regulatory agencies define “emergencies” very specifically, and their definition may differ from yours.


What you consider an “emergency” may NOT be considered an emergency by the regulatory agencies. The regulatory agencies have special procedures in place to handle situations that fit their definitions of emergencies. Most agencies have special, expedited procedures for issuing emergency permits to do work that will impact creeks. Regulatory definitions of emergencies include: emergency flood or streambank erosion situation that would result in a significant loss of property or an immediate, unforeseen, and significant economic hardship.

Some agencies can issue emergency permits within 24 hours, others require prior phone notification, to be followed up with filing paperwork afterwards. Click on the links below to download emergency definitions and regulations from the Army Corps and CDFG:


If a road or bridge is flooding or at risk: If there is a public infrastructure problem please call the county roads department at (805) 781-5252 or if it is within the San Luis Obispo City limits call the City Public Works Department at (805) 781-7200. Sandbags can be purchased at many hardware, feed, and supply stores.


Flooding History

Historic Flooding


There is a long history of flooding in the San Luis Obispo Creek watershed. Damaging floods have occurred in 1868-62, 1884, 1897, 1911, 1948, 1952, 1962, 1969, 1973, 1995, and 1998. Read more...


Problem Identification


Flooding can occur even during the 10 or 20-year flood recurrence interval in some locations along SLO Creek, due to flow constrictions at bridges and other areas of limited channel conveyance. Read more...


Management Needs


The feasibility of providing 100- year flood protection for developed properties along all of the major streams in the watershed is limited by the large amounts of runoff generated during storms. Read more...

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