I recognize that New Times attempts to make its articles exciting and loves to stir up controversy, however the Dec. 4 article regarding the Senior Center parking lot (“Park-paving lot gets go-ahead in feisty meeting”) contains so many inaccuracies that it gives an erroneous impression of what occurred.
Background: For approximately 20 years, the seniors have been requesting that a small on-site parking lot be constructed for their use on a small portion of property, which was formerly fenced off for their use of a now-abandoned shuffleboard court and horseshoe pits. Over the years many alternative on-street parking controls have been tried in the neighborhood; however, none have proven satisfactory. Two years ago, the City Council adopted a goal to build a small parking lot on the property. After many hearings, the parking lot project contract is ready to be awarded to the low-bid contractor. At the Dec. 2 council meeting, a number of seniors once again spoke (as they have many times in the past) in favor of proceeding with the construction.
The alternative plan presented to the council at the meeting was NOT “conceived and distributed by Mayor Dave Romero and new Council Member John Ashbaugh”. It was MY plan, presented as a compromise to Jan Marx’s continuing concerns about the safety of the ash tree and Allen Settle’s continuing concerns about the cost of the project. I started to draft the concept on Monday but did not have scale drawings to work with. Staff was following common practice when they offered to prepare an accurate version. The plans show 12 spaces, none under the drip line of the ash tree, entry and exit from Buchon, and should be much less expensive. I first saw the plans around 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday when I met with staff in preparation for our 4 p.m. meeting. No other council member saw them until the presentation at the council meeting.
There is nothing irregular about a presentation of compromise proposals at a meeting. It happens all the time. We compromise on many issues and often work out the details (with staff help) at the meeting.
The council did not “reject each of the three options before it and voted to approve” the redesign as reported in the article.
Our action was moved by Carter/Ashbaugh to direct staff to negotiate a change order with the low bidder to reduce the size of the project consistent with the concept set forth by the Mayor, and directed staff to return to the council on January 6 with a proposed design and cost for final action by the council; the motion carried 3 to 2 (Marx/Settle opposed).
In short, there was no violation of city procedures, nor were there irregularities of any kind. The final decision will be made January 6 when we have more complete information. I hope we get accurate reporting of that meeting.
Dave Romero, Mayor
San Luis Obispo
Mayor Dave Romero wants to emphasize that he did not violate any procedures or improperly conspire with Council Member John Ashbaugh. My news story did not allege any violations.
In regard to the factual inaccuracies he alleges:
1. I spoke with staff about the drawing in question and was told that it had been finished on Monday, not Tuesday.
2. Immediately after the Dec. 2 meeting, I asked the city attorney about a possible Brown Act violation because only two members of the council seemed surprised by the new plan. He expressed that there was none, because “only” two council members had met on this topic.
3. I was at John Ashbaugh’s Monday neighborhood meeting where he talked in detail about a revised plan that seemed in all regards to be the one that was eventually adopted.