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Avila Beach is an unincorporated area in San Luis Obispo County, California, USA with a population of 797, located about 160 miles (257 km) northwest of Los Angeles. The town was established in the latter half of the 19th century, when it served as the main shipping port for San Luis Obispo. Although Avila Beach still has a working commercial fishing pier and the inland areas have extensive apple orchards, tourism is now the main industry. The ZIP Code is 93424. The community is inside area code 805.
Avila Beach, with Point San Luis at left and Whaler's Island at extreme left.
The beach itself is less than 0.5 miles (0.8 km) long and sheltered in San Luis Bay, which is formed by Point San Luis on the west and Fossil Point on the east. Avila Beach faces south and is protected from the prevailing northwesterly winds by Point San Luis. It is therefore usually warmer than the other beaches on the Central Coast. Most of Avila Beach is undeveloped, except for a few blocks adjacent to the beach with homes, hotels, and small businesses, and a few recently built upscale housing developments inland, near a golf course.
Average temperatures vary little during the year, ranging from the 40s to 60s Fahrenheit from November through April, and from the 50s to 70s from May through September. Average annual rainfall is 18 inches. Along with much of the California coast, winter is the wet season, with more than 70% of the yearly rain falling from December through March, while summer brings drought conditions.
Avila Beach has three piers: Avila Beach Pier, 1,685 feet long, intended for tourist strolling and recreational fishing, Harford Pier, for commercial fishing boats to offload their wares, and the California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly SLO) Pier, part of the university's marine research program and not publicly accessible.
Diablo Canyon Power Plant, one of the two nuclear power plants in California is located in a remote part of the Avila Beach unincorporated area, about 6 miles northwest of the beach itself. Avila is also known for its hot springs, which are used for resort spas. In the 1990s, Unocal oil storage facilities leaked, causing a massive oil spill under the town. After years of negotiation, Unocal agreed to a thirty million dollar settlement, which has been used to rebuild the town. The contaminated soil was excavated and replaced with clean fill. Many of the town's homes and businesses were demolished in the cleanup process. There are few historical structures remaining; among the oldest is the Point San Luis Lighthouse, built in 1890 after a series of shipping accidents.