Opinion » Shredder

Suck it!

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"The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right; greed works," claimed Gordon Gekko, the fictionalized corporate raider of the 1987 film Wall Street.

Of course, Gordon Gekko was a total prick.

In point of fact, greed is bad, wrong, ugly, and mean. It pollutes the soul. Greed is never satisfied. Greed is why there are empty storefronts and chain retail stores in downtown San Luis Obispo instead of locally owned mom-and-pop stores. Greed is also why the low-income senior residents of the Brizzolara Apartments may be rolled into the streets in their wheelchairs and left to fend for themselves.

Built in 1998 under a partnership between the Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo (HASLO) and SunAmerica, a subsidiary of global insurance conglomerate American International Group (AIG), the Brizzolara Apartments were designed to house some of the most vulnerable among us, but SunAmerica recently used a "fine print" loophole to raise the interest rate on the complex's bond loan from 6 percent to 10, which is two and a half times the current market rate of 4 percent!

That's right! A tiny clause in the original bond documents said that if SunAmerica became the sole owner of the bonds, it could raise the interest rate to 10 percent. In 2015, SunAmerica purchased the remaining tax-exempt debt on the apartments and promptly jacked up the rate. Let me decipher: SunAmerica is now both lender and owner, and HASLO is getting squeezed for the extra dough. Neat trick, amirite?

SunAmerica has also intimated that it'd like to transition the complex from low-income housing to market-value housing, essentially eliminating 30 affordable units from a community already suffering from a woeful lack such units. Sorry, SunAmerica, but you're greedy AF! You've pulled this same sleazy move on four other low-income housing complexes in California, which means you're run by pack of Gordon Gekkoesque total pricks.

As wonder-bearded New Yorker and occasional NYC mayoral candidate Jimmy McMillan has said repeatedly, "The rent is too damn high." If you own, so is the mortgage. Unfortunately for most of us, there's nothing we can do about it because we're at the mercy of what the SLO County market will bear, but HASLO has an option. As a public entity, they've filed an eminent domain claim in court to force SunAmerica to sell the apartments to HASLO so they'll remain low-income units for disabled seniors.

I can feel all the conservatives' neck veins bulging and see the steam coming out of their ears at the very notion of "eminent domain," but sometimes personal property rights should be trumped by the greater public good.

First of all, HASLO tried to negotiate the sale of the apartments in good faith with SunAmerica, agreeing to pay an appraised market value of $1.9 million, which isn't exactly chump change considering the 30 units rent for only about $300 each. SunAmerica trotted out their own appraisal that claimed the property was worth $3.2 million because ... "greed is good," right?

Second, it's not like SunAmerica or its investors are living at the Brizzolara Apartments and will be put on the street if HASLO wins its eminent domain argument. The residents of the complex are the ones who will suffer without the use of eminent domain. In this case, I hope HASLO wins and SunAmerica is forced to sell. It won't be as sweet as seeing Gordon Gekko taken away in handcuffs, but it will be a win for the Davids in a world where Goliaths seem to hold all the marbles.

And speaking of marbles, according to the American Lung Association's 2017 State of the Air report, San Luis Obispo County ranks among the top 10 U.S. metro areas most polluted by miniscule marble-like particles! Top 10 for the win!

Basically, the Oceano Dunes are filling the air South County residents breathe with sand and dust, which has been linked to "death from respiratory and cardiovascular causes, including strokes; increased mortality in infants, and young children," heart attacks, strokes, asthma, and more.

The American Lung Association letter to the SLO County Air Pollution Control District goes on to "encourage your agency to move forward in 2018 with implementation of meaningful new mitigation efforts of at least 100 acres as a first step in providing relief to the residents affected by vehicle activity at the dunes."

Maybe the letter is something Gary Willey, the county's Air Pollution Control Officer, needs to smack around state parks' OHV Division a little, and finally get them to do something about all the dune dust kicked up by off-road vehicles!

"Eat our dust, liberal coastal elite suckers!"

Yeah, I know the argument. There are so few places to go off-roading, and really, when you think about it, aren't the rights of vacationing valley dwellers to run roughshod over our beaches more important than the rights of a bunch of whiny Nipomo residents to breathe clean air?

Sheesh! It's super hot in the valley. Valley folk need to come to the beach and ride sand-rails and drink Coors Light® by the cooler-full. Can't you Nipomo NIMBYS just wear, I don't know, a surgical mask or something? Don't be so selfish, greedy pricks. Δ

The Shredder shares a cardboard box under a highway overpass with three other roommates, and it still costs $1,200 a month. Send ideas and comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.


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