"Hello! How would you like 18.2 million free dollars to complete a really important public works project that's been under construction for about 30 years?"
"Wow, 18 million, eh? Might it require county government to employ eminent domain to compel a curmudgeonly property owner to—at fair market value—sell a small sliver of his land?"
"Yes, it might require eminent domain some time in the future, but this $18 million will allow you to begin negotiating for parcels from willing property owners and continue planning and engineering the project, which the public is wildly ecstatic to see completed."
"Then no way, Jose. Keep your money because ... property rights!!! Don't tread on me!!! Government overreach!!!"
Dear 5th District Supervisor Debbie Arnold, how did you get your priorities so screwed up? I mean, seriously! SLO County wins an $18.2 million transportation grant to finish the final 4.4-mile leg of the Bob Jones Trail from SLO to Avila Beach, a project that's been in the works since the early '90s, and because one old crank named Ray Bunnell, who owns an 80-acre parcel on the edge of the trail, refuses to sell, you fold up like a cheap card table and vote not to accept the money?
Bunnell doesn't even live on the property! He's leasing it to someone else. In fact, Bunnell has reportedly moved to Texas. Maybe he's planning to spend his remaining days under a pile of Gadsden Flags while fully armed and enjoying open container laws. Yeehaw! The point is, he ain't even here!
Arnold cited a county general plan policy about not using eminent domain "for trail establishment," as if this non-binding policy was chipped into stone by God herself and personally handed to Moses.
"I really believe these are important property rights statements that our citizens in this county depend on," Arnold said. "To this point, we still have a least one unwilling seller that's written consistently over many years that it would be unavailable. ... I don't think we should accept the funds until this issue is resolved."
Thankfully, the four semi-sane supervisors voted to accept the grant, and the county filed an eminent domain claim with the SLO County Superior Court to at least allow county contractors to enter Bunnell's property to do preliminary survey work, including soil-boring tests that are necessary to design one of the trail's bridges over SLO Creek.
The grant, which the county worked really hard to obtain, beating out hundreds of competing applications from around the state, is in jeopardy if the survey work on Bunnell's property isn't completed this year. In other words, Arnold would rather throw away the money to burnish her property rights bona fides, than accept the money and do what crafty politicians do: Take the free money and negotiate the details later.
Just because Bunnell is being a selfish, stingy smellfungus doesn't mean Arnold has to enable his ungenerous behavior.
Speaking of total jerks, what's up with the skate rats of Santa Rosa Park? We built them a $2.2 million state-of-the-art skate park that's free to use, and yet these little shits have decided they need to screw with the young roller skaters on the nearby rink.
SLOCO Junior Roller Derby and its coaches regularly reserve the Ken Hampian Roller Rink at Santa Rosa Park to work with roller skaters age 4 to 15, and over the last month, they've been harassed by a group of young skateboarders who've yelled insults, thrown grapes and other food on the rink, offered drugs to the young roller skaters, tore down SLOCO Derby signs, and stormed onto the rink while practice was still ongoing.
These hooligans called the coaches the N-word and C-word and called the young roller skaters "whores," and when the police were called, the skateboarders scattered like cockroaches at the sight of the police cruiser. What little cowards!
This roller skating group is working with kids from throughout the county, and they're an open and welcoming team that promotes acceptance and unity. It doesn't matter your sexuality, gender identity, creed, or color—all are welcome to skate ... until now.
Slow. Clap. You. Little. Miscreants. Thanks to your abysmal behavior, SLO Parks and Recreation has now stopped drop-in use of the roller rink as well as drop-in basketball. Now only groups who have registered permits can use the facilities. I liked you little creeps better when you were pandemic-trapped in your smelly teenager rooms playing X-Box all day.
And speaking of the pandemic, wouldn't it be great to have some data about current COVID-19 cases in SLO County, such as the percent of new cases among the vaccinated and unvaccinated, including hospitalizations.
The New York Times, citing CDC data, reported that throughout the country, new outbreaks—largely driven by the Delta variant—are occurring in places with low vaccination rates, and most hospitalizations and deaths are of the unvaccinated. I'm no epidemiologist, but it seems like that sort of information might be good to know, right county Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein?
We're trying to convince the unvaccinated to get the shot and help get us to herd immunity, aren't we? Δ
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