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Adult decisions

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What would you do with $100,000?

Don’t think too hard. It might hurt. I definitely wouldn’t use it the way that the San Luis Obispo City Council decided it ought to. Back in June, the council allocated $100,000 for what essentially amounts to a parking study. 

Apparently, the city’s worried about what’s happening to the downtown parking situation. In particular, where the demand for it is. 

Ooh, I know, I know! 

It’s downtown, like on every single street! All of them. There, I said it. The city of SLO now owes me $100,000. But instead, that moolah is set aside for Kimley-Horn and Associates Park+ software program, which the City Council authorized a contract for on Sept. 6. 

The program is a parking modeling program that will eventually tell city staff what they should already know: All that construction downtown—hotels and stores, but no new parking structures—will add to a problem already felt by SLO’s residents. Parking downtown sucks. 

But you know what else sucks? The Shell Beach Bluffs Homeowners Association. You know the one. Its members own those crazy big homes that lead down Bluff Drive overlooking the Pacific Ocean and a trail that leads walkers and bikers toward Pirates Cove—the ones no one on earth could possibly afford but the upper echelon of the 1 percent

Their drive to limit public access surrounding the Shell Beach Bluff Trail is at it again. Remember back in February? The fight between public and private coastal access at the time was over signs along the wooden fence line dividing the walking path from the bluffs. They basically told everyone to keep out in big red letters. “Private property. No trespassing. No camping.” 

Oh, and the fancy-pants homeowners association also hired a security guard! The bluffs are a safety hazard, don’t you know.

At the time, local beachgoer Brian LoCante told New Times that it offended him that those homeowners dare tell him he can’t access the coast. I’m offended, too! Hey rich dudes, it’s a public resource according to state law, which also says you can’t restrict access. 

Lucky for everyone, California Coastal Commission Enforcement Supervisor Patrick Veesart rode in on his public protection horse and saved the day with a sternly worded letter informing the homeowners association that the signs violated the California Coastal Act. He threatened they could be fined $11,250 per day for each violation.

Well, LoCante is pissed off yet again by those very same homeowners, who say they’re “worried” about another perceived safety hazard. This time, it’s those damn bicyclists getting in the way of cars entering the gate separating public Indio Drive from private Bluff Drive. Those poor rich people!

“The assertion that there’s a safety hazard at the gate is nonsensical,” LoCante told Pismo Beach City Council members at their Sept. 6 hearing. 

City Council approved the Bluffs Homeowners Association’s workaround to the “safety” problem at the meeting. 

They want to reroute bicyclists through the tiny, one-way-in, one-way-out, blind-cornered, four-space parking lot that sits at the head of the bluff trail. No problem: kids, dogs, adults, cars, and bicycles can all fight for its one lane of space. Sounds safe, amirite?

I mean, I guess it still allows public access to the bike path that runs along Bluff Drive. But if safety is actually what this is all about, then the homeowners should pay to have that parking lot expanded, the blind corner fixed, and give bicyclists their very own entrance to Bluff Drive.

Councilmember Sheila Blake voted against the proposal, questioning whether the Bluffs ever got a coastal permit for the gate in the first place. Hmm … maybe someone from the Coastal Commission can write another sternly worded letter. 

SLO Mayor Jan Marx wasn’t keeping her stern words to herself at the Sept. 6 City Council meeting. Apparently the council’s team-building workshops haven’t been working. More money well spent brought to you by SLO’s elected officials.

Councilmember John Ashbaugh seemed to want the spotlight even more than usual. He’s serving his last term, so maybe he just decided to be obstinate because well, he just really has questions, dammit. And he’s going to ask them, whether he should legally ask them or not. For instance: the city’s need to do a traffic study on Luneta Street because the neighborhood requested a general plan amendment and Ashbaugh’s desire to have the developer of a nearby project pay for that study, among other things that weren’t on the agenda for that particular discussion.

Marx didn’t want any of it. She tried to shut him down: “That’s not what we’re discussing tonight.” Code for: “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!”

He retorted with: “Madam Mayor, this is getting very frustrating. I have a lot of questions and I need an answer.” Code for: “No you shut up! I can’t believe I have to call you Madam Mayor!”

Even after the rest of the City Council was on board to move along to the next item on the agenda, Ashbaugh didn’t want to drop it. He just really had some more questions.

“If you could try to focus them on the issue at hand, that’d be great,” Marx said with less exasperation than I would have been able to muster. 

As he continued trying to push his agenda, Councilmember Carlyn Christianson joined Marx in shutting him down! Ooh baby—they were like two bullies on the school playground squaring off against the nerdy guy in the corner with disheveled hair who just mutters his way through things. 

It’s election season, people. Let’s get some adults on that City Council. 

The Shredder’s an adult bully who both yells and mutters. Send comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com

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