Opinion » Letters

The hypocrisy of night access to open space


Last Tuesday, Jan. 16, the San Luis Obispo City Council voted 3-2 to open night biking on Cerro San Luis Natural Reserve. The policy of forbidding night biking on the mountain had been set into place by previous councils that understood the necessity of protecting wildlife from destructive activities in our natural reserves, and a petition gathered 830 signatures to keep these protections in place.

Biologists explained that wildlife requires this rest period to feed and recover from human daytime activities. The fire chief stressed that injuries to firefighters are more prevalent during nighttime emergency rescues and will require the use of costly helicopters. Numerous articulate residents used well-researched arguments to open the eyes of the council. On the other side, about a hundred bikers and friends of Mayor Heidi Harmon and councilmembers Dan Rivoire and Aaron Gomez bemoaned their inability to get to the mountain on time during the week because they worked, and claimed it was only "social justice" to let them disturb animals and nature so they could get their daily thrills on this particular mountain. Who won? The friends of Harmon, Rivoire, and Gomez.

The decision of these three council members is disturbing because it points to two serious issues: 1) Their claim to care for the environment is fake. They only care about the environment as long as it benefits them personally. 2) They don't understand our democratic principles. When 80 percent of the people ask for A and only 10 percent ask for B, the direction to take ought to be obvious, especially when the majority includes numerous specialists on the subject.

We knew these new council members had neither the background nor the experience to be sitting on the council, but we hoped they would, at the very least, be willing to listen to the residents and try to learn. We were wrong. Instead, we have a group that, like our current president, acts like kids in a toy store and hands out candy to their buddies. This is not what we should see in San Luis Obispo.

Odile Ayral

San Luis Obispo

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