Anyone who has attended the hearings regarding paving part of Mitchell Park knows why so many people don’t try to get involved in politics. Nobody listens. Minds are already made up and deals are in place before the public even gets there.
The point that the three City Council members repeatedly ignored is that putting a few parking spaces in the park does not solve the access problem for any but the first few people who show up. That means that whoever gets there early will have personal parking spaces and all the people who show up later won’t, no matter how disabled they are! Further, the reasoning they supposedly relied on for building these few spaces would apply equally to a later request for many more as our senior population expands. If, as the Senior Program director has insisted each time she has spoken, Mitchell Park is the only acceptable place for the senior program, and as John Ashbaugh told us, we can expect that to be true for at least the next 10 to 15 years, then unless the city continues to add a lot more parking spaces, the currently planned ones will be revealed as favoritism toward specific individuals who belonged to a club, rather than a true effort to serve the city’s population of mobility challenged seniors.
Why Ashbaugh felt it was a better idea for the taxpayers to provide spots at $18,000 each to a few people, some of whom are not disabled, than to provide a scheduled shuttle for those who truly cannot comfortably walk the few blocks from the city parking lot, escapes me and many others. In fact, it appeared that he never even considered this completely nondestructive option. Certainly he never looked up at the young woman who suggested it, or bothered to discuss its feasibility during his very lengthy comments. I have since written to him and he continues to ignore the suggestion, just as he ignored every other option that did not involve poured concrete.
Every day I see truly disabled people managing to maneuver SLO with their mobility scooters and walkers. I see veterans who have to wheel themselves to the doctor and the post office in their chairs. Of course, these people cannot afford a car, so there is no danger of them complaining about not having a convenient enough parking spot. What an insult to them that our council is willing to force the taxpayers to provide this luxury to one small group; particularly since they gave no better reasons than that they don’t want to wait for a bus, use a shuttle, participate in a car pool, consider another location for their program, or cooperate in any way with the city’s efforts to get away from a car-centered lifestyle. No matter how the current director pledges to manage the lot’s use, the sad fact is that the concrete will outlast both her and her tenure. It will be a permanent memorial to a failed policy.
John Ashbaugh, in his zeal to look fair and balanced, took Romero’s bad idea and tried to legitimize it by focusing on the amount of real estate involved rather than the legitimate and permanent problem of helping people in SLO get to their destinations without all of us losing more and more open space to the almighty automobile.
San Luis Obispo