Opinion » Shredder

Hello, hellhole


According to my Nextdoor app, my neighborhood is plagued by home burglaries, vehicle break-ins, cat mutilators, rabid wild animals (Mostly coyotes and skunks but was that a mountain lion?), 2 a.m. gunshots (Maybe firecrackers or car backfires? Does anyone know? Anyone?), weird strangers driving too slowly through the neighborhood, disrespectful strangers driving too fast through the neighborhood, loud parties, bad parkers, and people who leave their trash cans on the curb for way too long. I apparently live in a real hellhole.


Of course, it could be worse. I could be San Luis Obispo city Mayor Heidi Harmon, who gets (or should I say "got"?) similar Nextdoor announcements plus a whole bunch of disinformation, hysteria, and unnecessary prattle! Good grief!

"Starting off the year right by deleting Nextdoor," Harmon announced on Facebook, where disinformation, hysteria, and unnecessary prattle apparently do not exist—I must have a different Facebook, but I digress. "In every city [Nextdoor] is the most toxic and divisive factor in communities. Very little interest in facts—very high interest in drama and toxicity. I highly recommend leaving Nextdoor and getting into your real next door neighborhood and having face-to-face conversations with real neighbors about real issues in a real way," Harmon concluded.

Hmm. Having met many of my "real" neighbors in a "real" way, I kind of like the idea of encapsulating them in a virtual cyber bubble, but Harmon's also right. In between people asking for recommendations for house painters, help with fruit tree netting, and lost cat queries, there's a lot of eye-rolling palaver on Nextdoor.

Many of Harmon's Facebook friends commiserated in her comments section. Jayne Wayne wrote, "That's very interesting! I thought it was just my particular 'neighborhood.' I very much wish for there to be a learning curve and for people to develop their online social skills."


Felicity Ann Lazo wrote, "Wow, I didn't know that. I knew I had to block my toxic neighbor that was talking shit about me, but didn't think it was much more than needing a painter, free cardboard, or coyote updates."

Shit-talkers are the worst!

Patrick Lin helpfully posted a link to an NBC News opinion piece titled, "Reading Nextdoor drove me to paranoia. The cure? Meeting my neighbors in real life instead of online."

Touché, Madam Mayor.

But if I delete Nextdoor, how will I learn about my neighbor's hapless car burglar who tried to break in but left his flashlight? Or my neighbor worried about another neighbor who's "gone off the deep end with alcohol abuse"? Or all the free items for cats another despondent neighbor is giving away after her kitty died? Who doesn't want used cat stuff? Sigh.

"When I went to Monterey Bay Community Choice Energy (CCE), they said that Nextdoor almost killed CCE in every city that it was proposed in," Harmon added in her own comment section, perhaps revealing her true impetus for jettisoning the neighbor-connecting app. "The conversation on Nextdoor was so baseless, factless, and toxic about [CCE] that it bullies/pressures elected officials into not pursuing it."

Aha! One of Harmon's pet projects is CCE, which her city's website describes as bringing "local control, freedom of choice, and competition into the electricity marketplace. It does so by allowing local governments to pool the electricity demand of their communities, purchasing power with higher renewable content, and lower greenhouse gas emissions."

Who'd be against that, you might wonder? Investor-owned utilities, that's who! I'm talking about PG&E and SoCal Edison. On powermag.com, they derisively wrote that CCE "is like the Costco of energy—a buyers' club where local government agencies buy power on behalf of their residents."

Ha ha ha! You think that's a bad thing? You just sold me on CCE! Go Harmon and the city of SLO! Let's get those energy costs down and increase our clean energy use!

Meanwhile over at the SLO County Board of Supervisors, the board voted to make 5th District Supervisor Debbie Arnold chair and 3rd District Supervisor Adam Hill vice chair for 2019 with nary an argument. Not only that, but the board agreed to formalize the chair rotation policy.

I don't know if you remember, but before 1st District Supervisor John Peschong got the gavel for two unprecedented terms in a row, Hill—according to non-formalized tradition—was supposed to move from vice chair to chair, but the conservative majority voted to bypass his chairmanship twice, which added more rancor to an already very contentious relationship between the conservative and liberal board members.

Have the "intractable five" learned to stop acting like rattle-shaking, dirty-diapered babies and actually get along like grown-ass adults? That would be swell since there's a lot of important issues facing the county, including affordable housing, which the board—including the formerly resistive conservative members—recently unanimously approved several programs to improve access to ... affordable housing that is. That sentence sort of got away from me. I think I'm just giddy about the idea of a functional board. It's been awhile! Δ

The Shredder still lives in a cardboard box in a drainage culvert. Send ideas and comments to [email protected].


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