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Friday, February 15, 2008

OOPS Gone Missing

If you went to pick up a copy of the Bay News to read the regularly scheduled Can(n)on this week, you'll notice it's, uh, missing. Don't know what happened, but left a message and an email to see what's up. Feel free to call Chris or Neil yourself at 543-6397. Since I never jump my hard copy, I can't post the column here until I find out when or if it's actually going to run. So, stay tuned.

Speaking of the Bay News . . .

In this week's issue, interesting write up by Jack Beardwood of the presentation sponsored by SLO Green Build, the Surfrider Foundation and local chapter of the Sierra Club and Hopedance, of Jonathan Todd of Todd Ecological Design Inc at the Community Center. He's the inventor of the "Eco Machines" -- systems that use biological solutions to wastewater problems.

What struck me soooo interesting was this: "Todd said he was surprised with how well he was received considering what a contentious issue the sewer is. ' I was told afterward that a lot of people are fired up at some of the possibilities. Most people were gracious and welcoming and really receptive to the ideas. Just the fact that there is such a high level of committment to saving the estuary and dealing with the nitrates leaves us a lot of room to be optimistic."

You see how effective and widespread the years-long Big Lie has been? That Los Osos is filled with nothing but Anti-Sewer Obstructionists.? Mr. Todd is surprised to come out here and, shocked, SHOCKED to find a room full of "receptive" people committed to saving the estuary.

Too bad the Regional Water Quality Control Board members didn't bother to attend the presentation as well and see first hand this community of . . . Anti-Sewer Obstructionists. Feh!

Left Hand, Please Meet The Right Hand

I think the Tribune might want to have a staff meeting. First off they run an editorial, "Blabberers of Osos, put a sock in it," suggesting that the "malcontents" and their "gripefest[s]" "blabbering" at the BOS meetings self-limit themselves to "one trip to the microphone every 30 days" to annoy the supervisors with all these pointless, meaningless, boring, foolish, gadfly, gripey, blabbery comments.

Then a few days ago, Billl Morem runs a column suggesting that Bill Rabenaldt (Pismo Beach's now-twice-censured City Council member step down because he's become "such an ineffectual voice on a governing body in a city that's facing huge challenges and is deserving of clear, deliberative thinking."

Yet Morem notes that Rabenaldt ". . . has some great ideas . . ." which ". . . are excellent ideas worth of consideration."

" So Bill should step down from the council and become the city's official fool," says Morem.

In other words, step down from an elective postition where your " . . . great ideas . . . are excellent ideas worthy of consideration," (and as an elected offcial you're in a position of power likely to be able to ACT on those "great ideas") in order to become a public gladfly, a "civic fool," with no power except to go to the podium during public comment period to speak to the council and if you do that often enough, the Tribune will run an editorial marginalizing your role in this whole democratic process by describing you as a "Blabberer" who's just engaging in a "gripefest" and suggest you speak only 2 minutes a month, or better yet, go away entirely.

Also adding to the confusion, in today's Trib are three letters to the editor that may point to what some of the real problems may be: Is this a matter of STYLE, as in Public Behavior by Public Officials In Public or Mind Your Ps and Qs, The Children Are Watching or Pssst, Remember Caesar's Wife or You Can Catch More Flies With Honey Than You Can With Vinegar or No Martini for Me, Thanks, I'm On The City Council Tonight, or Engage Brain Before Mouth?

Or is this a matter of SUBSTANCE, as in, Oh, Dear God, However Shall We Shut Up The Guy Who Keeps Pointing Out The Lack Of Clothing On Our Emperor? I Know, Let's Turn Him Into A Member of the Public, Then When He Comes To The Podium To Point Out Huge Civic Boo-Boos, We Can Marginalize Him By Calling Him a Blabberer And Limit His Gripefest To Two Minutes A Month!

Hey, works for Los Osos, why not Pismo Beach?

Woof-Woof?

Interesting front page story in the Tribune, "To A.G. park's neighbors, dog zone idea stinks," about an apartment complex owner who's filed a legal complaint aginst the City AND The Five Cities Dog Park Association, a bunch of volunteers (that's an important point) to block the City from designating part of the City's Soto Sports Complex Park/Elm Street Park in AG to be used as a fenced off-leash dog park.

This gets interesting to me for a couple of reasons. (Full disclosure here: I'm on the Board of SLO-4-Pups, the group of volunteers that started and maintains the first fenced off-leash dog part in the county, at El Chorro Park on Highway 1. The county now has 4-5 more off-leash dog parks, with more in the works.)

First off, the comments made from one of the residents in the apartment house near the park are typical of people who are unfamiliar with dog parks. Clearly, the gentleman being interviewed for the story needs to actually go to a few dog parks to see what they're like. Instead, he's operating from assumptions and unproven worries that so far haven't appeared at other parks. As county parks division Manager, Pete Jenny, noted in the story, "Every one of the [volunteer] groups we have worked with [managing and maintaining the dog parks] have really stepped up and done exactly what they said they would do."

And, it's important to note, that putting ANY kind of new recreation activity into an existing park will require public discussion and input and anyone is free to file a claim against the city/county if they feel a proper review hasn't taken place. So, I'm certainly not going to demonize the Park Place Apartment owner who's filed the claim.

But to also name in the legal complaint a group of volunteer private citizens who have no legal stake in the matter, no legal claim to the public park, no legal involvementment except to sign on as volunteers in any future Adopt-A-Park agreement? What message does that send to private volunteers everywhere working hard to bring new public recreational opportunities to their communities?

And the second interesting wrinkle is this: If public parks in general go through the hoops before getting zoned and approved and built in the first place, What legal expectations do residents who live next door to a public park realistically have? If you're living next to a Sports Complex Public Park, for example, can you claim the city needs to do an EIR before it allows part of the park to be used for baseball games? Or puts in a soccor field somewhere in the park? Is the noise and traffic from a baseball game an unreasonable nuissance coming from a public park Sports Complex, or have those land use issues -- traffic, noises, kids, games, public gatherings, microphones, music, whatever -- all been covered and mediated for when the original park was planned and built?

Well, let's hope whatever wrinkles are involved can be worked out by the City in a win-win situation for all. And for heavens sake, MGFD Enterprises, take the volunteer Five Cities Dog Park Association OFF your legal complaint. They have nothing to do with EIRs or park/land use or anything else, unless you're intending this "claim" against them to be seen as a kind of intimidation tactic or SLAPP suit? In that case, shame on you.

Oddly enough, the county's dog parks have turned out to be extremly popular, clean, well maintained and well used and loved, even by people who don't have dogs, for one simple reason: Dog parks are PEOPLE parks, intensely social people-places. Which is a boon in our too-often isolated, rapidly urbanizing world.

And Finally, It Was Only A Matter Of Time -- Bye-Bye Old SLO Town

Yep, the bell has tolled: The $2 million verdict in the Paso Robles Acorn Building earthquake deaths, has reached SLOTown. In today's Trib: "A portion of Paso Robles' historic Acorn Building collapsed in the 2003 San Simeon Earthquake, killing two women. Despite retrofitting deadlines that were still years away, the jury found the owner of the building negligent.

"Copeland Properties said the company could no longer afford the liability of keeping tenants in the unreinforced masonry buildings," so Photography 101 and Costume Capers are being evicted from the old Blackstone Hotel building by April 11. (The building is slated to be torn down anyway, when the Chinatown project gets underway.)

But here's an unknown: The Acorn Building deaths occurred when the two employees ran outside to the sidewalk, and the wall fell on them. What liability do the Copelands still have to pedestrians on the sidewalk if their empty unreinforced masonry building falls on someone? If they're still liable, then empty or no, they're still in a pickle. So will the city block off the sidewalk as a potential danger? Indemnify them if the building's bricks fall on someone? Wait until it falls then the victim's families can sue the Copelands who will, in turn, sue the city for failure to block the sidewalk? Whaaaatt?

Naturally, the retrofit rebuild process for a lot of downtown buildings will make rents even more unaffordable for small businesses downtown, which will continue to fuel the Chain Store Syndrome, transforming SLOTown into a National Brands Mini-Mega-Outdoor Mall.

Too bad.

16 comments:

TCG said...

I've been to the El Chorro dog park twice. Both times, in the large dog area, dogs were fighting. Also, both times, the small dog area that we used was inundated with large dog poop.

I absolutely understand why the people are protesting the proposed park next to their residence.

Watershed Mark said...

Or is this a matter of SUBSTANCE, as in, Oh, Dear God, However Shall We Shut Up The Guy Who Keeps Pointing Out The Lack Of Clothing On Our Emperor? I Know, Let's Turn Him Into A Member of the Public, Then When He Comes To The Podium To Point Out Huge Civic Boo-Boos, We Can Marginalize Him By Calling Him a Blabberer And Limit His Gripefest To Two Minutes A Month!

You beat the clock!200 words or less. EXCELLENT!! XXCELENT!

Oh wait, your a "Pro"...

Mike Green said...

" So Bill should step down from the council and become the city's official fool," says Morem.

Well Bill has his own ideas and response, and it won't be the Triv that prints it for sure:
http://uncoveredslo.com/

Churadogs said...

tcg sez:"inundated with large dog poop."

Inundated? Very interesting insight into the,uh, "factual accuracy" of your preception and description. Inundated. I will keep that in mind when ever I read any of your other comments about anything whatsoever. Thanks for the heads up.

Sewertoons said...

Pot Calls Kettle Black.

Ann, you of all people look kind of silly with your post above. Oh, that's right you are an "opinion" writer, not a reporter. So are you saying tcg is not entitled to an opinion too?

TCG said...

Thanks for the backup, Sewertoons. Whether or not Ann likes my choice of words, the fact remains that several dog owners were so irresponsible that there have been numerous unpicked up deposits in the small dog area of the park, and they were obviously left by large dogs. Additionally, I witnessed dog fights in the large dog area because the owners, again, were irresponsible.

Many dog owners are responsible, but many are not. Hence, the concern of property owners next to a proposed new dog park.

Mike Green said...

Here we go, begging for something other than a sewer to blog about and what does it digress too?
The definition of dog poo, it's size and dispersion....sigh
Well I guess it's not where you go, it's where you step.

Mike Green said...

Then again, maybe anything would be an improvement.
Trillium are blooming along the coon creek trail right now, martian flowers.

Sewertoons said...

You are welcome, tcg.

Dog poop is a problem in my neighborhood AND in the Elfin Forest. I heard once at a CSD meeting that the Elfin Forest clean-up people take out 1,000 lbs of dog poop a year. I hope I mis-heard that number, that is really awful. I see why these property owners are concerned.

I am bummed that the poop deposit basket was removed from the El Moro bike path, west end. Anybody know why that happened?

I wish dog owners would be more responsible. It always seems to be the few who wreck it for the rest of us, but then we could say that about our own poop problem, too. There mike green - we are back on topic! Love the martian flowers allusion! Perfect!

Watershed Mark said...

I wish citizens would be more responsible in general...
Those who "leave it" to others squander their "gift".

Churadogs said...

Sewertoons sez:"Ann, you of all people look kind of silly with your post above. Oh, that's right you are an "opinion" writer, not a reporter. So are you saying tcg is not entitled to an opinion too?"

The problem wasn't "opinion." The problem was credibility in a comment we were supposed to take as "factual." tcg was "reporting" what he saw on the two times he went to the park. Please note that TCG's second comment changed the word "innundated" to "numerous." HUGE difference. A difference that now begs a furtrher question: define "numerous." Four? Six? Perhaps we also need to ask, was this after a weekend wherein a dog park board member hasn't arrived yet for their daily clean up duties? If tcg wishes the reader to believe the park is "innundated" with poo because irresponsible people don't pick up after their dogs, perhaps he/she can explain why our board buys and goes through THOUSANDS of poopy bags each year and those bags are in the trash bins every day & etc. You see the problem? Context and accurate word use. "Innundate" vs "numerous" == HUGE difference. Also, please note that tcb said he/she had been to the dog park twice. And from those two visits he not only has formed an opinion, but described conditions that turn out to be clearly described incorrrectly because his word choice is innacurate. That's when credibility comes into play. and another question is begged: Was that distortion caused by the wrong word deliberate? Or just out of ignorance? Again, huge difference.

TCG said...

You are either missing, or ignoring, the main point of my post, Ann. I was not clear enough. I will try another approach.

In spite of the good work of many who follow the rules, there are ALWAYS some who do not.

In the case of an appropriately placed dog park like the one at El Chorro Park, the only people who are affected by those who don't follow the rules are those who choose to go to that park. Like me, they can exercise the option to no longer go there. Simple.

However, it is quite another thing to have a public dog park established next to private property. In this case, the property owners can not avoid the problems that arise from those who will not follow reasonable rules. Therefore, I understand the point of those people who expressed concern about the proposed new park.

Sewertoons said...

Ann says regarding tcg's post:
"The problem wasn't 'opinion.' The problem was credibility in a comment we were supposed to take as "factual."

Ann, you of all people! You "comment" all the time on things you want us to take as fact. You have a credibility problem of which perhaps you are unaware.
You attempt to mislead people quite often, such as referring gadfly to Ron's blog for "accurate" information.

Churadogs said...

tcg sez:"You attempt to mislead people quite often, such as referring gadfly to Ron's blog for "accurate" information."

Please go to Ron's blog. He has cached there Official Documents written by Officials with official stamps all over them. Ron's opinions about these official documents are his opinions backed up by the official documents, which you can go view for yourself. The issues and questions he raises, based on those Official Documents may be valid or not -- that's also your call -- but are you maintaining that those Official Documents by Official Officials is merely "opinion?" If so, then were're in real trouble since those Official Documents-- not Ron -- have been responsible for much mischief in Los Osos.

Tcg also sez:"You are either missing, or ignoring, the main point of my post, Ann. I was not clear enough. I will try another approach."

No, tcg. I didn't "miss" or "ignore" your approach. I called you on it. You made a statement of fact that turned out to be innacurate. The small dog park was not "innundated" with poo.
You wanted the reader to believe that this was accurate reportage so they'd draw the conclusion you wanted them to have. Oh, a dog park INNUNDATED with poo? Of course the folks in AG wouldn't want THAT near them. Of course not! (But what about a dog park NOT innundated with poo?) You see the problem with what you were attemtping to do? Now if you were attempting a humerous exaggeration or hyperbole, you'd have to try again since it didn't come across that way. Or maybe you didn't understand what "Innundate" meant and so misused the word? I see you changed the word on your next comment. "Numerous." Big difference.

TCG said...

You are confused a little, Ann. You quote me as saying "you (Ann) attempt to mislead people quite often, such as referring to Ron's blog for accurate information."

If you check, you will see that one of your other posters made that comment.

My last word on this matter is that, just as I can see several potential problems with siting a sewer treatment plant in the Tri-W location near so many private residences, I can also see potential problems with siting a dog park next to private property.

Sorry we never could get around to discussing such concepts.

Churadogs said...

TCG sez: My last word on this matter is that, just as I can see several potential problems with siting a sewer treatment plant in the Tri-W location near so many private residences, I can also see potential problems with siting a dog park next to private property.

Sorry we never could get around to discussing such concepts."

I couldn't agree more, but before any discussion can get started on anything, it's important to make sure any factual statements are actually, uh, factual. When you stated as fact that the small dog area at El Chorro was innundated with dog poo, that took any credibility you had out the window. Hard to discuss anything when out of the box someone's made a statement so utterly wrong. Where to begin?