OPINION by T. KEITH GURNEE
There are so many forms of abuse these days. It’s tough to keep track of all of them: sexual abuse. domestic abuse, child abuse, elder abuse, spousal abuse, etc. With its Anholm Bikeway proposal, our San Luis Obispo City Council has invented a new one: neighborhood abuse. In abusing us who live in the Anholm neighborhood, the council has also abused its power.
On Feb. 20, the council reversed its Feb. 6 compromise decision on the Anholm Bikeway without a public hearing by a 4-1 vote. In doing so, they approved an alternative that had been dismissed by staff as “infeasible” nearly a year ago.
On Feb. 20, it was obvious that the fix was in. Councilmember Andy Pease, the motion maker of the Feb. 6 decision, was the only one who voted “no.” But the gang of four who voted for it were well prepared to undo what they had previously done.
And on April 10, they did it again. After receiving a “cure and correct” letter for violating the Brown Act on Feb. 20, the council held another hearing to correct its violation. The city attorney and Councilmember Carlyn Christianson, adamantly arguing that they didn’t violate the Brown Act, they immediately re-ratified their Feb. 20 decision to make it legal.
Just saying they didn’t violate the Brown Act didn’t make it so. They weren’t fooling the neighborhood. They were fooling themselves
Despite testimony that went 2-1 against what they proposed, the council again ignored the neighborhood. While other councilmembers contented themselves with lecturing the audience, Andy Pease was the only member who listened. Obviously steamed, Mayor Heidi Harmon said nothing and stomped out of the meeting during testimony.
But the most galling aspect of the April 10 council meeting was their smack-down of design ideas presented by neighbors to calm traffic and make it safe for all modes of travel. While the city’s cadre of highly-compensated engineers working on this for 2 ½ years, a neighborhood volunteer was given just three minutes to present those ideas but was rudely stopped from completing his presentation.
The option the council pushed involves placing “diverters” at three intersections on Broad Street. Only bikes would be allowed to travel its entire course. But vehicles would be precluded from doing so, resulting in significant increases in traffic volumes on Chorro Street and its side streets. Broad Street neighbors would be forced to make tortured traffic movements and emit more GHGs driving circuitously around blocks to access the freeway, the grocery store, or downtown. Staff revealed that the city will have to amend its General Plan and conduct an environmental analysis on the impacts of such a plan.
This is not just flat nuts, it’s dangerous!
Hoping to hold a public meeting with the neighborhood in early may, the city’s public works department is pressing on while vowing to consider the neighborhood’s design ideas that we will continue to refine. We’ll see. We are not going away.
As someone who once served on the SLO City Council in the 1970s, I’ve never witnessed such hubris— such outrageous arrogance– as has been on display with our current city council. The council’s power has gone to their heads, epitomizing the sad state of affairs in our city governance.
Our way of life in the Anholm neighborhood means nothing to the council majority. Despite a city poll of over 250 neighbors revealing that 74 percent of Anholm residents oppose what the city wants to inflict upon us, four councilmembers have blithely ignored us.
Representative democracy? Hardly. The determination of Mayor Heidi Harmon, and Councilmembers Revoire, Gomez, and Christianson to impose their will upon our neighborhood has transformed our local government into an ideological dictatorship. So much for the” happiest city on earth.”
The people of our fair city are just waking up to the fact that it has placed a clique of true-believing bullies in pursuing their whims at the expense of the rest of us. We need to find the kind of people to run for city council to reverse this tide of autocracy and return us to a common-sense democracy.