Based on an incomplete historic structures analysis (produced not coincidentally by the Chinatown developer’s own consultant), the outgoing SLO Council voted in favor--4 to 1--to demolish the Blackstone Hotel and the Sauer Bakery buildings: a contributing historic structure and a building on the City’s Historic Master List. This in spite of the fact that the Cultural Heritage Commission advised the Council—4 to 1—to preserve these buildings, that the city’s own peer-review consultant disagreed with the findings of the historic structures analysis, and that 20 speakers the night of November 18 passionately argued against the completeness and accuracy of this report. The demoralized chair of the Cultural Heritage Committee asked, albeit rhetorically, if the council really wanted to have the advice and counsel of such a committee. And this decision was made the same night when Council member Andrew Carter argued against 11th-hour decisions made by a “lame duck” council. It didn’t help that newly elected John Ashbaugh spoke, in his capacity as a member of the public, in favor of the demolition of these listed buildings.
Given the newly constituted council’s unwillingness to listen to the public, it’s own consultants, and advisory bodies with regard to the proposed Mitchell Park parking lot, is it any wonder that there is a crisis in confidence in our local, state, and national leadership?