Opinion » Shredder

NIMBY magic

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I don't know what's worse, a bunch of Cambrians in their seventh year of bickering over an expensive already-built water facility that's not being used or a bunch of Grover Beachers saying homeless people shouldn't get to stay at the city park when those same residents pitched a gigantic fit in 2019 over a facility that could have actually provided homeless services.

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OK, each is annoying and neither is surprising, amirite?

I'm in shock that the Cambria Community Services District is still talking about the name of the emergency water facility turned permanent pain in the ass that has yet to provide a single drop of water to residents. Is it an emergency drought facility or one that augments Cambria's water supply on a regular basis?

That, my dear Shredder lovers, depends on who you ask.

Resident Crosby Swartz said the facility is for drought emergencies only. And his wife, Laura Swartz agrees, so they are apparently unanimous in that household that nobody else should be able to build in Cambria. Even if someone has owned an empty lot for 20 years, no house for you!

Get out of our backyard!

It probably would have helped if the CSD didn't appear to be so shady when it was trying to get the "temporary" permits for the facility during a drought emergency. That temporary permit eventually needed to become permanent, which is what really pissed the Cambria NIMBYs off. The district, by the way, still doesn't have that permit. Still!

But apparently, a name change could be the magic dust that alters the way Cambria's residents view the facility! At least District General Manager John Weigold is hopeful—thankfully, he's also a realist, because let's be honest, the way the community views the facility is never going to change!

Seven years is a long time to argue over something. People get attached, you know? They like the drama, talking behind people's backs, shaking their fists at public meetings. Being angry is addictive. What are they going to do if it all goes away? We'll need to build a facility to help them cope with their withdrawal, which they can then oppose and get angry about, starting the cycle all over again. When will it ever end!?

But we don't really need to worry about that, because the controversy over that currently useless facility ain't going nowhere, no how.

So, the CSD made the gigantic decision to rename this facility, again! It was the Emergency Water Supply Project. Then it became the Sustainable Water Facility Project. And now (Are you ready for this?) it's going to be called the Water Reclamation Facility. Problem solved!

Maybe they should ask Morro Bay how that name worked out for the city's currently under-construction Water Reclamation Facility. Drama!

"Right idea, wrong location."

Well, that wasn't the exact slogan used to fight the new facility in Morro Bay, but it was the exact slogan that Grover Beach residents used to battle against the homeless services and affordable housing project proposed for the Hillside Church in 2019. Neighbors just felt like it was a great concept, but didn't want it in their neighborhood, you know? It's much better for the church to just be permanently closed and not used for anything.

NIMBY, NIMBY, NIMBY!

The 5Cities Homeless Coalition, which is one of the only organizations in South County that's dedicated to helping the area's homeless population, has been forced to move their winter warming shelter five times in the last five years. NIMBYS took care of that!

Executive Director Janna Nichols said shelter services have been a problem in South County for a long time, which the coalition has been trying to address—"but for one reason or another we have not been successful in finding a location." The closest shelters are in San Luis Obispo or Santa Maria.

And when there's nowhere to go, homeless populations often turn to public spaces such as Ramona Park, which Grover Beach residents do not like—like at all. Ramona Park, according to Nichols, has long been a space where homeless people have camped out.

"Please remove all the drug addicts and homeless people who live there," resident Savanna Ford wrote in an email to the city.

As in, what, Savanna? Put them in garbage bags and haul them to the dump?

Grover Beach City Manager Matt Bronson said without a shelter, the city is limited in what it can do about homeless populations taking up residence in its public spaces. The city, he said, often receives complaints about homeless people camping in Ramona Park, especially near the gazebo! Gasp! The gazebo has to go!

And the city's doing exactly that, with plans to demo the gazebo.

Maybe that's the solution for Mitchell Park in San Luis Obispo? The city cleared out homeless camps a few weeks ago due to resident complaints, and guess what? Those tents are popping up again. It must be that gazebo! Let's get rid of it.

Oh wait, apparently homeless people are also attracted to public restrooms. Maybe we should get rid of those, too. While we're at it, let's just get rid of public spaces all together. Then the unhoused will truly have nowhere to go and they will just disappear! Like magic. Δ

The Shredder thinks if we get rid of neighborhoods, NIMBYs will disappear. Send comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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