OPINION by ALLAN COOPER
When a prominent public official and a newspaper columnist, posing as Democrats, turn out to be shills of the development community, then it is the public’s First Amendment right and duty to call them out. Case in point.
I recently wrote an article which appeared in the Tribune describing a statistical anomaly where the City of San Luis Obispo has nearly the same proportion of its population living below the poverty level (34 percent) as Detroit, Michigan (37 percent). We all know that this cannot be possible whereby I conclusively traced this to the presence of a very large, affluent college population holding part-time jobs.
I complained that because of this statistical anomaly, SLO is obligated to meet unrealistically high targets for low-income housing. When these targets aren’t met then the state steps in and bars both advisory body input and public input on multifamily housing being proposed for existing neighborhoods.
My article was a siren call for good planning and good public stewardship.
To my surprise, two letters immediately appeared in the Tribune’s online comment section, one from SLO County Supervisor Adam Hill and the other from newspaper columnist Tom Fulks. Fulks characterized me as a “tool for the landed gentry” and Hill described me as a liar and a member of the “pale, property-owning elite.”
How does one explain this incongruous, somewhat slanderous and seemingly coordinated response from two prominent public figures?
After some thought, it occurred to me that neither, on the face of it, were advocating on behalf of the so-called “have-nots” and property-less workforce population. Why? Because I was arguing on behalf of quality housing, not less housing.
I also acknowledged that the city and county still have an obligation to meet the housing needs of the 14 percent who truly live below the poverty level.
Instead these two “pretend-lefties” were deflecting attention away from the fact that they both remain stalwart allies of the development community – a community that has much to gain from these streamlined approval processes mandated by the state.
Finally, when a friend came to my defense by reaching out to Adam Hill, he characterized us both as “dishonest, close-minded, and elitist.”
He jeeringly referred to my “jeremiads” that “remain in the gutter” on the CalCoastNews blog site. He preposterously claimed that the CalCoastNews and Cal Coast Times “represent the radical right-wing anti-Gov types that enjoy nothing more than lies about people on the left.”
So folks, here’s a heads up. It looks like anyone who loves it here and wants to preserve what makes this part of California special is clearly an enemy of Adam Hill.