Really though, what are the advantages of the SL to someone in my position? I don't think I would be riding much powder here in Socal, and dampening sounds kind of unnecessary IMO (correct me if I'm wrong). Also the setback of the SL worries me since I may be landing switch a lot once I progress..
Dampening is useful if you like to go fast, ride in snow that is *not* powder or groomed powder. It is also useful for landing on jumps that are slashed/bombed out from other people heel-sliding down the landings.
I think the SL is a fine choice for you (I have both a SL and a Proto and I could only one board, it would be the SL, not the Proto).