Opinion » Shredder

Peccadilloes, snafus, and fiascos galore!

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You know what they say: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Of course, they also say “consistency is the key to success.” I know one thing: When dealing with government, consistency is pretty freaking important, just ask SLO Town’s park lovers, California Valley’s weed growers, and Morro Bay’s fiscal watchdogs.

Hey SLO City Council, what are you going to do with your $900,000 windfall? According to City Manager Katie Lichtig, “You have complete flexibility to spend those dollars however you want.”

Yeah, just because your predecessors Jan Marx, John Ashbaugh, and Dan Carpenter voted to set aside the $900K from a one-time $6.9 million budget surplus to purchase land for a park in the North Broad Street area between Highway 101 and Foothill, and just because this proposed park was listed as an “unmet need” in the city’s planning for more than 40 years, doesn’t mean you have to spend the money on what it was set aside for! That was the old council; you’re new!

This kind of stuff happens all the time. People set aside money for the kid’s college fund but then decide to invest it in a new swimming pool because little John Jr. is too dumb for college anyway, or people put money aside for a two-week vacation in Great Britain but instead take the money to Vegas—Feeling lucky, baby!—and lose it all! Boom!

Of course there’s an endless supply of worthy projects for this $900,000. Improved bike paths, the currently unfunded Safe Routes to School Project, the Parks and Rec element, you name it. However, is Lichtig doing the council a disservice by intimating these funds are theirs to spend willy-nilly?

What about the people in the North Broad Street area who’ve been waiting for a neighborhood park so they don’t have to drive across town to get a $561 ticket for having their dog off leash, huh? What about their needs?

At least one councilmember sort of gets it!

“I feel funny raiding the whole amount without having them be here in person,” Councilwoman Andy Pease said regarding Broad Street neighbors, who for years have advocated for a park.

“OK,” Councilwoman Carlyn Christianson responded. “I’m sympathetic with your concerns. I am not suggesting we ask staff to use all of it. I’m just saying, at least for me, for instance the Laguna Lake and Parks and Rec element is related to parks and infrastructure planning, and that would be great. And I’d also like to put it into trees.”

Good point, Carlyn! Money trees! And well done, Andy, for advocating to not spend “the whole amount.” Sounds like this dough’s really burning a hole in your pockets! Hey, I have an idea! Why not spend it developing the park it was earmarked for? Do you want the next council to undo your projects?

Meanwhile over in California Valley, the marijuana growing epicenter for SLO County, the members of the SLO County Board of Supervisors have really been fighting the hobgoblins of their little itty bitty tiny miniscule minds by making sure their pot growing regulations are so inconsistent, they’re pretty much impossible to follow or comply with.

Some growers have been getting tagged with $1,000 fines because the county says they started their grows after the random moratorium the county placed on them even though the growers say they started before. Evidence one way or another is hard to come by.

All legal Cal-Val grows are currently under an urgency ordinance the Board of Supervisors passed in 2016, and according to 5th District Supervisor Debbie Arnold, under a permanent ordinance, Cal-Val may be off limits to marijuana grows altogether, which would suck for people who purchased land for the sole purpose of starting a grow business.

Cal-Val is currently zoned as residential suburban even though its conditions are entirely unsuitable due to a lack of potable water. The growers are asking the board to save their jobs. Some of them have been growing out there since 2012. I bet they wish the board would show a little consistency. After all, their livelihoods depend on it.

Speaking of inconsistency, Morro Bay can’t seem to follow court rules. The Morro Bay City Council voted to spent $350,000 from their city’s general fund emergency reserve to buy Cerrito Peak, a 1-acre lot in the middle of a neighborhood, whose owners had been trying to get permission to build their dream home.

In 2011, the city approved plans for the home, but in 2012, a local nonprofit, Save the Park, sued the city for not requiring a comprehensive environmental review, which Save the Park won … sort of. The judge ruled that the property owners could do an environmental review and perhaps continue with their building plans, but by then the current owner Janne Reddell’s husband had died along with the couple’s hopes to build their dream home. Reddell told New Times, “The idea of continuing the battle was too much.”

So let’s see. Morro Bay gave approval without following a judge’s order, which caught them in a lawsuit costing them $85,000, and then they spent $350,000 of “emergency funds” on what is clearly not an emergency. Hobgoblins indeed.

The Shredder is consistently jerky. Send ideas and comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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