Opinion » Letters



We had to sue to save the viewshed

Regarding your article on the Sierra Club's lawsuit to overhaul the view-shredding Cayucos viewshed ordinance ("Sierra Club challenges viewshed ordinance," Jan. 17), while it's true that the Board of Supervisors approved "the least comprehensive of the options available," it's not that we didn't get the ordinance we preferred when the Board of Supervisors voted, but that the ordinance they approved laid open the area to development virtually exempt from planning standards, courtesy of the plentiful loopholes the ordinance provides.

A major reason for our bringing suit against the county is the fact that the ordinance the board chose to adopt actually provides less protection for public views--in both the size of the area subject to protection and the quality of that protection--than did the status quo. It essentially canceled the county's previous ability to at least place conditions on projects on a case by case basis.

The Board of Supervisors voted to remove what minimal protections we had, hence the Sierra Club had to sue to save the viewshed.

Andrew Christie

Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club director

San Luis Obispo




Turn the tables on the Sierra Club

Maybe it is time for property owners to file a lawsuit against the Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club for attempting to deny the use of their properties through frivolous lawsuits intended to intimidate our lawfully elected representatives regarding legally approved land-use ordinances, and causing a waste of taxpayers' monies for forcing our county to answer said lawsuits.

Ken Marks





County law enforcement should be questioned

I just read the New Times article explaining the "Great Chicken Ranch Raid of 2007."

I have known Henri DeGroot for more than seven years and believe that his words were misquoted and manipulated to fit the purposes of his accusers. His accusers are politicians, and maybe they have something personal to gain by having that area re-zoned.

I also spoke with someone I have known for more than 50 years who was there, and he verified that the "law enforcers" did come in with weapons drawn and intimidated anyone that they confronted.

Since when is a fire chief an authority on law-enforcement practices and the determination of what excessive force is? Remember the gentleman who died from the excessive force used by SLO County law enforcement a while back?

I will also be e-mailing a copy of this to the SLO grand jury. These people who accuse without due process or cause need to be curbed in before they violate the civil and constitutional rights of the citizens of SLO County.

Remember, the Bill of Rights says "innocent until proven guilty"--apparently not in this case. I am sure that, upon further investigation, many more cases may come to light that question the validity of enforcement of law in this county.

However, be careful when speaking to the county sheriff--he may have your offices wiretapped!

Paul Mancini

Grover Beach




Lenthall should drop the smokescreen

It's campaign season again, and County Supervisor Jerry Lenthall is apparently trying to divert political attention from his highly publicized attempt to give himself an 11-percent pay raise when the county is in very difficult times.

In case you haven't read about it ("Cash from the county," Jan. 10), Mr. Lenthall, who has been in office for more than three years, is trying to blow a political smokescreen around his own record by implying that he inherited a deficit in the District 3 Community Projects fund. This is not true.

When Mr. Lenthall assumed office, he inherited a district office in which available community support funds had been dispersed to the nonprofit community groups who urgently needed and had requested them. There was even a residual balance.

I would also note that Mr. Lenthall inherited an up-to-date, organized office in which considerable time had been spent preparing for a smooth transition so that the constituents of District 3 could continue to work successfully with their supervisor.

And I am very proud of what residents of the 3rd District and I were able to accomplish while I was in office. We cleaned up the massive contamination of Avila, created the Avila Specific Plan to guide its rebuilding, planned and funded for major improvements to the San Luis Airport, created real workforce housing, and got more rights of way and critical funding for the bike trail from SLO to Avila Beach--a project begun by former Supervisor Evelyn Delaney.

I suggest that voters would be better served if Mr. Lenthall could name similar achievements and enumerate the percentage of City Council meetings and district advisory committee meetings he has attended. In other words, it would be better if he began to run on his own record as a supervisor.

Voters understand that results speak louder than smokescreens and excuses.

Peg Pinard

former District 3 supervisor

San Luis Obispo

Ed. note: A spreadsheet provided by the county shows that $105 carried over into the District 3 funds when Jerry Lenthall took office, but also that he had to borrow $450 to pay off previous financial obligations.




We emergency physicians deal with dunes injuries

I read with interest your article "Law of the dunes" (Jan. 17). One story that was not told was that of the emergency physicians who care for the individuals injured at the Oceano Dunes. Local emergency departments see hundreds of injuries and several deaths a year, which are the results of accidents that occur on the dunes. The emergency department closest to the dunes is so inundated during holiday weekends, such as Memorial Day and July 4th, that we have to specifically increase our staffing during those times.

The injuries range from ankle sprains, to wrist fractures, to neck injuries resulting in paralysis, to severe head injuries, to death. Alcohol is involved in a majority of the events leading to injury of our patients many are intoxicated themselves. Furthermore, helmets and other appropriate safety gear are frequently not utilized.

Another percentage of these patients is unsupervised minors. We see patients involved in these accidents at all times of the day and night--both 3 in the afternoon and 3 in the morning. It concerns me that some people have the attitude of "you always have people that are going to get hurt." When you get in your car to drive to work in the morning, do you tell yourself that you're probably going to get hurt driving to work at some point? My suspicion is that if one refrains from speeding around in the middle of the night, intoxicated and unhelmeted on the dunes, he or she may decrease his or her likelihood of becoming my patient.

It is my colleagues and I who have to inform a father that his daughter will never walk again because of her broken neck sustained while riding in a vehicle that rolled over on the dunes. It is the emergency physician on duty whose job it is to inform a mother that her son is dead after being struck by a truck on the dunes. Why do we, as a community, allow these activities to continue? Where is the "law"?

Rachel May, M.D.

assistant medical director

Arroyo Grande Community Hospital Emergency Department




Too many dunes riders are lawless

Kai Beech's "Law of the dunes" (Jan. 17) captures much of the complexity of attitudes about vehicles on the beach and in the dunes. But it also underscores the essentially lawless outlook of too many.

Jim Suty, president of the self-proclaimed euphemistic Friends of Oceano Dunes gives the reporter a "ride" and offers the threat that without the dunes, people would simply ride in less regulated areas. "We are preventing illegal off-roading."

Even State Parks Deputy Director Roy Stearns acknowledges this lawless threat by claiming that the dunes keep "people from tearing up the countryside." Instead, they tear up the dunes.

According to an article in The Tribune, injuries in the dunes in the last seven years have reached 2,500. That's more than 360 a year. And how many go unreported? More tragically, there have been 17 deaths in that period. According to national statistics, "for each death (by physical trauma) a least two permanent disabilities occur, leading to a great loss of productivity and enormous disability costs." That's another 34 tragic situations. These figures suggest that whatever form of policing is taking place, it is certainly not doing the job.

Numbers speak volumes. "We've never been fully staffed," said retired supervising ranger Antonio Villarreal. Two million visitors in vehicles a year. More than 50,000 on major holiday weekends. Twelve rangers for 16 positions. (Even a fully employed 16 would have an impossible task.) How can enforcement be expected to reduce the carnage? It cannot.

Geri and Lee BeDell

Avila Beach




My rants on recent topics

I grew up in Oceano when it was a free for all ("Law of the dunes," Jan. 17). Almost everyone cared and watched out for each other. If someone was out of control, others took care of the situation. We all had fun and few were injured. All these rich people from out of town who don't watch each other's backs, they are the ones causing the problems. If we want to keep the dunes open, we need to be a proactive community and protect each other. The dunes used to be so fun.

Puke and piss in Downtown SLO ("A suggestion from a homeless local: Provide portable toilets," Jan. 17): I agree with the lady that said maybe porta potties would help. I believe that the businesses that feed the behavior (the bars) should take more responsibility for this problem as well as the amount of alcohol they allow their patrons to consume. Aren't there health standards that dictate the number of bathrooms per customer? It needs to be realistic and adhered to.

Trash on the beach: Maybe it's time for the local restaurants to take more responsibility, too. If they sell 50 Styrofoam to-go containers full of fish and chips, I'll bet quite a few of those containers end up on the beach. I think they should send someone out each afternoon to pick some of it up. They are making money on it they should take the responsibility to make sure it gets cleaned up. Lord knows the tourists don't.

Kelly Ward





Don't shoot yourself in the foot over oil

The economy at the national, state, county, and local levels is suffering because of inflated energy prices that are straining family budgets and fueling inflation. The answer is to allow American oil companies to drill for oil and natural gas in California and Alaska.

We must also build oil from coal plants and concentrate on diesel rather than corn ethanol-based fuels. The revenue from local off- and on-shore production would provide good jobs and much-needed funds for schools and infrastructure. In Nipomo, if you want desal you will need a heat source or co-generation. The only logical choice is the Conoco Phillips plant on the mesa.

American oil companies are global organizations that must show a profit or be replaced in the marketplace by someone who can. China has tried once to buy an American oil company. Do you really think things will get better if our enemies take over control? On the Central Coast, fuel prices are some of the highest in the nation because state and local governments have extracted money for excessive environmental causes and refused to build any new local refineries.

We need to make the oil companies part of the solution, not view them as the problem. This one-way drain of money can't go on forever. Our enemies are buying our banks, our infrastructure, and our future. If you vote for a candidate who is going to tax and show Big Oil, then you are about to shoot yourself in the foot.

Bob Blair

Arroyo Grande

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