Opinion » Shredder

Fait accompli?

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You think the fight over off-roading is over? It's not over! You're going to have to pry those steering wheels and handlebars out of their cold, dead hands!

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"It's a sad day for users of the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area [ODSVRA]," intoned the Facebook page of the nonprofit group Friends of the Oceano Dunes, which represents 28,000 off-roaders. "We are waiting on the final written decision from the California Coastal Commission, but we are prepared for the legal battle ahead. Are you willing to stand with us?"

In case you haven't heard, the 40-year battle between the commission and the California Department of State Parks over off-roading in the Oceano Dunes is about to enter a new stage—the litigation stage!

Don't tell that to South County Chambers of Commerce President and CEO Jocelyn Brennan or Grover Beach Mayor Jeff Lee, who think the battle is over.

"Now we know what we're dealing with, and we just have to figure it out," Brennan said.

"Whether you agree or disagree with the decision, there's a direction," Lee said. "There's a scope that as a city we can work with. We were going to be able to work with either choice, but certainty is really going to help."

Is it certain? Not if the euphemistically named Friends of the Ocean Dunes has its way in court. First, are you friends of the dunes or friends of the people driving over the dunes? Wouldn't friends of the dunes be more interested in its inhabitants, such as the Western snowy plover and the California least tern. It's already the least? Give that tern a freaking break!

Basically, the Coastal Commission ruled that the 8 or so miles of the ODSVRA must be returned to a more natural state, meaning it must be made more like the other 832 miles of California coastline. I know, that sounds sort of boring. I mean, sheesh, the off-roaders only had 8 tiny miles out of 840, after all.

According to commissioners, they want to make the park more accessible to working-class families looking for low-cost recreational activities, but is that what's actually going to happen? Instead, might the area instead get the gentrification treatment, making it all posh and snooty? Grover City already changed its name to Grover Beach, and we all know what a classy joint it's become, right?

I'm guessing the communities downwind of the area will be thankful of their improved air quality, but South County businesses that cater to the off-roaders will have to adapt or die. Change is hard.

This change has been coming since 1982, when the Coastal Commission issued a "temporary" permit that gave State Parks officials 18 months figure out how to manage the ODSVRA, a task they've yet to complete. Now the reaper has come to collect ... barring litigation.

"Psst. Yeah, over here. In the market for some precious metals? Take a look at this selection."

If you're wondering what's up with all the catalytic converter thefts in San Luis Obispo as of late—six last week and 73 since Jan. 1—let me break it down for you. On average, between 3 to 7 grams of platinum are in a standard catalytic converter. Yesterday's price for platinum was $37.39 per gram, so we're talking about something between $112.17 to $261.73.

There's also about 2 grams of palladium, which was $85.01 per gram yesterday, meaning about $170. Now we're up to between $282 to $431.

The real money's in the rhodium, which yesterday was going for $919.51 per gram, and with just under half a gram per converter, add on a cool $400. The right converter can yield a sweet $800!

A scrapyard will pay you about $450 for a Prius catalytic converter, which is why they're most often stolen, or on average $200 for other converters, and you don't need to worry about harvesting the precious metals.

You'd think there'd be a better way to earn a buck than sneaking around stealing car parts, but here we are. According to SLOPD Lt. Robert Cudworth, the thieves are harvesting the precious metals, and they're really hard to catch.

"Back in February we made an arrest," Cudworth said. "An alert citizen saw something or heard something strange, called us, and an officer saw the car leaving Foothill and California, did a traffic stop, and arrested three people. Burglary tools. They actually had the catalytic converters in the car."

It takes about three minutes for a thief to slide under your car with a reciprocating saw and cut out your converter. It ain't Gone in 60 Seconds, but it's close!

According to Cudworth, your best bet is to garage your vehicle, but this is San Luis Obispo, so your garage has been converted into a college rental or is so full of stuff you're afraid it will spill into your driveway if you open the garage door. Instead, he suggests parking under a light or installing a motion sensor alarm.

Or you can do what Mayor Heidi Harmon wants and ditch your car in favor of a bicycle. Just be sure to buy a good bike lock. Thieves are everywhere! More than 2 million bikes are stolen every year in the U.S.—one every 30 seconds! Δ

The Shredder has little wheels and big teeth. Send comments and ideas to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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