It's time for the next installment in the drama that has overtaken the political NIMBYsphere known as San Luis Obispo. And yes, it involves that damn bikeway in the Anholm neighborhood.
Amid cries of ageism that have spattered the New Times opinion section, local talk radio shows, and the pages of certain local media websites, there seems to be an undertone of blaming one person in particular: SLO Mayor Heidi Harmon.
"What a reckless and stupid use of power," Shelly Van Rozeboom lamented on the New Times Facebook page. "More bike lanes. Smart Heidi!"
Rozeboom is very concerned about "those of us coming from North County or South County with kids in tow" who will now have to bike to and from the shops in town. Umm. Am I missing something? Do you come to SLO to hit up the garage sales in the Anholm neighborhood? Or is there some super secret naturopathic, ultra organic, grocery and clothing store that stocks locally grown gems and is hidden within a giant house on Broad Street that draws in people from all ends of the county?
The plan I read showed reduced parking on one side of Broad Street in a neighborhood that's west of Highway 101, not downtown or on Los Osos Valley Road, where all the shopping is located.
"I am going to work very hard to make Ms. Harmon a one-term mayor as her idea of progress is throwing older residents and their neighborhood to the dumpster," Raanan Doron opined on the same thread. "I need my car and thus, my parking space."
Is it just me, or do people not understand anything that happened before yesterday? This over-disputed bike plan has been in the works since 2013. This thorn in Anholm's side had money allocated to it in the city's 2015-17 financial plan. This plan, now thoroughly stuck in "older residents'" craw, was introduced to city officials in 2016.
All of that happened before our rose-adorned mayor took the helm of the city dais in 2017.
Oh! Maybe I am missing something. She must have been an evil puppeteer, pulling the strings of city planners for at least five years before she took office, bribing them with new homes to get them to do her bidding. "MORE BIKE LANES!" she bellowed from her invisible castle on Bishop Peak. And the planners bowed at her feet.
Nope. That's not what happened. Just because Heidi likes bikes doesn't mean she invented the city's bike plan. It was there before she took office.
But if we are going to blame her for being an ageist bike lane developer, putting bikes before senior citizens and parking spaces on one of the thinnest streets in town, and if we are going to blame her for being the welcome wagon to developers building housing (noooo, not housing!) on our streets, we could just blame her for causing the drought, too.
My peach tree died two years ago because of state regulations that restricted water use and a lack of rain. Thanks, Heidi!
Or maybe we could all look at the person who came up with the two-way cycletrack idea in the first place. That track is the whole reason that street parking is disappearing on one side of Broad Street in the first place. Sorry, kids. It wasn't your favorite scapegoat.
It was SLO City Councilmember Dan Rivoire, who isn't even running for re-election and formerly worked for Bike SLO County. Where is all the venom directed at this pro-bike guy? The only person in this damn city who seems to allude to Rivoire being the pain in the ass behind this never-ending Anholm bikeway discussion is Richard Schmidt, who wrote a weird angry letter for our opinion section this week!
But it is much easier to blame the woman. She's bold and out there. She stands up to criticism and doesn't hide from it. She makes her points unabashedly. And—gasp!—she's a progressive politician.
I heard the tone with which some of you critics questioned her on Dave Congalton's show the other week, berating her, and questioning her ulterior motives about things she actually has no control over. Bob Shanbrom alleged that she "refused" to meet with certain people about their concerns. She said she was happy to meet with the people in question and in fact had met with someone. He said that wasn't true. Sheesh, women! Right, Bob!?
Then he told her she needed to be more civil! Shanbrom recently refused to speak to New Times about why his group—SLO Neighbors United—was rallying people to run against city politicians such as Harmon, and asked repeatedly whether or not we were planning to "ambush" him with questions.
Wait, so who's worried about civility again?
Look, there's plenty of criticism that can be levied at any politician—and I've levied plenty of it at Harmon. But, um, it needs to be accurate.
So here's a question for you: Could this man you detractors are all rallying around, Mr. T. Keith Gurnee of 108 Broad Street, to unseat "the despotic rule of the self-declared emperor" (a cryptic comment posted by A. Cooper—umm Allan Cooper of Save Our Downtown? Is that you?—on New Times' website) even vote on the Anholm Bikeway plan if he was the mayor? Or would he have to recuse himself due to his property's proximity to the plan in question? Δ
The Shredder is never ever civil. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.