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?
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.