Opinion » Shredder

Mining for coal

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Merry Christmas ya'll!

Your gift this year isn't a lump of coal—yet. I'm going to go ahead and say that one is really up to President Humpty Trumpty, as it's very possible that he will allow for coal mining (or oil drilling or clear-cutting) to develop on your favorite piece of federally owned land near you!

Fingers crossed!

This year, you also won't get any affordable housing built near you. The SLO County Board of Supervisors has done its best to not agree on anything worthwhile and just lecture each other and vote along ideological lines (on both sides) until property values increase by so much that only their largest campaign donors will be able to bed down in the gold mine that land will become.

Yes, county constituents, we were close to seeing something of a holiday miracle on Dec. 12, but alas, that's not what Christmas is for. You see, in their two-hour-plus hearing on the county's inclusionary housing ordinance, the inkling of compromise disappeared so fast, it was hard to believe it was even there.

Like watching a shitty soap opera with a plot twist you can't understand, 4th District Supervisor Lynn Compton and 1st District Supervisor John Peschong were nodding their heads in agreement to the things coming out of 2nd District Supervisor Bruce Gibson's mouth about potential changes that could help increase the amount of funding in the affordable housing fund. I was turning blue, you guys. Seriously. I stopped breathing for a few minutes.

Dozens of people had stood up earlier in the hearing and told supervisors that the ordinance needed to change because it doesn't work. For-profit and nonprofit builders had tenuously come together to support the county staff-suggested change—to tier fees to the size of the home being built.

And as I exhaled, the whole scene unraveled, starting with a somewhat hard-to-follow and abusive rant by 3rd District Supervisor Adam Hill, who slammed the conservative-leaning supervisors for not ever wanting to compromise. I started stammering out loud ... "but, but, but ... ." And then the moment ended. Humpty Dumpty's precarious balancing act crashed to pieces on the floor with 5th District Supervisor Debbie Arnold standing above them, waving her magic motion wand to leave things where they lay and not do anything.

Woohoo! NIMBYs unite!

You know what other government agency isn't going to do anything for you this Christmas? Caltrans. The notoriously slow to start or finish anything agency probably isn't going to fix a stretch of highway that a SLO County jury just labeled as "dangerous."

The section of Highway 1 in question is just north of San Simeon, a passing zone with dotted yellow lines running down the middle of it. The jury's conclusion came on Dec. 12 in a case about a 2011 head-on collision that severely injured Peter Fuller and killed his wife, Joan Fuller, after a Toyota truck attempted to pass a tour bus.

The two drivers didn't see one another until it was too late, according to Fuller family attorney Jim Wagstaffe, who also said it wouldn't take much to paint a couple of solid yellow lines over the stripes. Although jurors agreed that the road conditions made vehicle passing in the area unsafe, they declined to hold Caltrans liable for the damages. What??? And they're going to write a letter asking Caltrans to repaint the stretch of road.

Yep. That'll work for sure.

You know what else isn't working? State transportation funding. It's not working so well that the SLO County Regional Transit Authority (RTA) is giving its loyal riders a gift before the new year begins. A fare increase!

Major props to a board of directors who can unanimously agree on something! Looks like it's a necessity to offset transit-funding reductions, which are anticipated to be down by 20 percent over the next few years, according to RTA Executive Director Geoff Straw. What a gift to the people in this world who rely on public transit because they can't afford not to. It's not the RTA's fault though, I'm going to go ahead and heap this load of coal on the voters in this county who declined to support the self-help transportation funding tax just last year.

Good job to the haves of this county!

So far, you've succeeded in stopping the have-nots from gaining any potential access to more affordable housing close to job centers such as San Luis Obispo, and you're charging them more to get to work, too. Stumpy Trumpy would be so proud!

And what about the liberals of SLO land? Well, this Christmas they're just as selfish as the other side. Let's hold up hipster pretty-boy San Luis Obispo City Councilmember Aaron Gomez as a shining example of this. He seems more interested in a plastic bottle ban that he helped pass and a downtown plan (which the city isn't sure it can afford because of its pension liability) that will affect his business than he is in rental housing conditions or getting the future budget balanced.

Feel free to watch archived City Council meetings over the holiday break if you think I'm wrong. I assure you, I'm always right, especially when it comes to figuring out who's going to get a lump of coal on their downtown doorstep. Δ

The Shredder is covered in soot at shredder@newtimesslo.com.


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