June 30, 1979
It was San Luis Obispo County’s Woodstock only with less mud, sex, drugs or rock and roll but more politics. They estimated 20,000 would attend.
Over 30,000 people jammed Highway 1 for a combination music festival and anti-nuclear rally.
It was held on the Army airstrip behind Cuesta College almost three months to the day of the partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania. With the prospect of a new nuclear power plant opening soon at Diablo Canyon tensions were high.
The seven hour rally featured Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr., actor Mike Farrell of M*A*S*H, Daniel Ellsburg, County Supervisor Richard J. Krejsa, Friends of the Earth founder David Brower and U.C. Berkley professor John Gofman.
The singers included Bonnie Raitt, Peter Yarrow, Jesse Colin Young, Jackson Browne and Graham Nash.
Quoting the lede of the page 1 story by Carl Neiburger:
Before Edmund G. Brown Jr. was allowed to walk on state at Saturday’s anti-nuclear rally at Camp San Luis Obispo, the Democratic Governor had to assure rally organizers that he would do everything in his power to stop the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.
The five-member Abalone Alliance ‘rally collective’ had spend about an hour listening to what the governor wanted to say, discussing it with him and then- in Brown’s absence- coming to a “consensus” that he should be allowed to address the audience.
Brown told the crowd of about 30,000 people, “I’ve just decided to join your effort to deny a license to the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. I personally intend to pursue every avenue of appeal if the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ignores the will of this community.”
Spokeswoman Marcy Darnovsky of Berkley quit, saying, “The Abalone Alliance was not formed to be a platform for candidates for elective office.”
Tom Hayden wasn’t allowed to speak because he hadn’t been invited to the rally and hadn’t taken a firm stand against the plant according to another Abalone Alliance spokeswoman.
At this point it was estimated that PG&E had $1.6 billion invested in the plant.
By 1982 Brown was out of office, Unit 1 opened in November 1984 and Unit 2 in August 1985.
Bonnie Raitt is returning to the county for a concert on October 5 with Cambria singer songwriter Jude Johnstone opening.
Aerial photos by Wayne Nicholls, rally photos by Tony Hertz