Opinion » Shredder

Safe, sober, sad

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What a difference a year makes. A year after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down businesses and pushed people into their houses, we're still mostly shut down and stuck at home. Who could have predicted?

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SLO County has lost 253 people to the virus in the last 12 months with more than 20,000 residents who were infected. And as of St. Patrick's Day, the county had 276 active cases, 21 of which were new.

And speaking of good ol' St. Paddy, last year SLO County issued orders prohibiting alcohol sales from 5 p.m. the night before SLO's favorite green-themed drinking holiday until noon on the day after! Wow! We must have had a ton of COVID-19 cases back then. Nope, nope. We had three.

Three!

OK, so what did the county do this year, when we have waaaayyyy more cases going on? Nothing!

Wait, not nothing. The county issued a warning: "We do not want to see us backslide because of one night worth of gathering in great numbers and partying," SLO County Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein said at a press briefing on March 10.

The city of SLO put out a PSA on social media: "Avoid party regret."

An awkward green man covered in four-leaf clovers holds a sign: "Mask up, wash your hands, stay home if you are sick."

Run wild kids, but not too wild, if you know what I mean? Mask up. Even if he says he can't wear a mask because it doesn't feel good.

The city has had so many issues on St. Fratty's—err, I mean Patty's—Week, that it's hard to count. Remember the roof incident of 2015? Pre-pandemic fun, amirite? That college-aged crowd was already having non-masked, non-social distanced, drinking-in-the-streets, fun before 2021's big Irish holiday.

"Watch Out For Narks," read a Barstool Cal Poly Instagram story with videos of all the fun that was had, according to a San Luis Obispo Tribune story. Isn't it super ironic that the Barstool Cal Poly story is the narc?

With all the post-holiday spikes we had from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year's, the only thing we have really proven is that we can't be trusted. If we could, we wouldn't be in the red tier of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy a year into this pandemic! Duh!

Seriously, though, I hate that blueprint almost as much as SLO City Councilmember Jan Marx hates night hiking. Actually, she despises the night hiking pilot program that SLO implemented in her absence from the City Council. I almost think she ran again just to get rid of it. And she was trying so hard to get rid of it during the March 16 SLO City Council meeting.

It almost felt like she was just repeating herself, hoping to sway people to her side. Where have I heard before that repetitiveness isn't an intelligent way to argue? Oh yeah! It was Marx.

Night hiking is detrimental to open space, and she thinks it was a bad idea from the beginning! And you call yourselves environmentalists! As if!

"I do think a vote in favor of using city resources in order to negatively impact open spaces is a vote against combatting climate change," she said. "You've got to get your priorities straight."

Wowee! Councilmember Andy Pease didn't like that!

"I think it is inappropriate to call this out as so black and white as to say you're not for the environment if you support this," Pease said. "I don't think that that's helpful."

Tsk, tsk, not helpful, Marx!

Well, there's a clear divide, with Marx and Councilmember Carlyn Christianson on one side and Pease, Councilmember Erica Stewart, and Mayor Heidi Harmon on the other. Democrats versus Democrats! Old guard versus new guard! Fight, fight, fight! What isn't clear is when the line will be drawn.

One week it's over defunding police officers and the next week it's over the environment. I wonder what will happen when the SLO City Council next discusses the controversial issue of downtown parking! Will SLO be a repeat of the March 16 Paso Robles meeting where Mayor Steve Martin had to mom everyone into taking a chill pill?

Calm down, people! It's parking.

Paso resident Serena Freeman will not calm down! She was very upset about parklets ruining the downtown Paso parking experience for seniors—even though the city is currently running a parking permit pilot program (say that five times fast) specifically for seniors. It was originally $30 for six months' worth of parking.

"Why do you want to shun us and turn us away from the city?" she asked the City Council.

Obviously, it's because the council hates old people! Actually, it's because the city needed money, so it implemented parking meters in the downtown core and offered seniors something special. Then COVID-19 came around, and the city thought it would be nice to put parklets in downtown parking spaces so that its restaurants wouldn't go out of business. How dare they?

And now, more people might have to park two blocks away and walk—Gasp, walk?—to their destinations. How does San Francisco manage? Now, all you seniors out there will only have to pay $5 for six months' worth of parking. Sounds like a steal. Δ

The Shredder is buying a hovercraft that doesn't need parking. Send thoughts to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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