OPINION by T. KEITH GURNEE
Shame on the Tribune for its latest editorial on the Housing Accountability Act. That our own newspaper would defend the State’s top-down, autocratic act to “build baby build” regardless of the consequences couldn’t be more misplaced.
We came here for the character of this community, its quaintness, its scale, and its heritage. I’m for growth that respects these qualities, not for growth that obliterates them. Equating that attitude to NIMBY-ism is an insult to all who hold this community dear.
The scenic peaks surrounding San Luis Obispo provide us with a frame of reference, a sense of belonging to such a high-quality small town. Yet the photo accompanying the editorial failed to show the view concealed behind the proposed 790 Foothill project: Bishops Peak.
After working very hard for 20 years helping landowners permanently preserve Bishop Peak, I’m incensed at what our community is becoming, thanks to lazy legal advice and misguided city leadership that has caved to state’s Housing Accountability Act.
The American Planning Association recently sent out a 5-minute video to its members featuring Ben Metcalf, Director of the State Department of Housing and Community Development, informing us about these changes to state law in a performance that was veritably dripping with arrogance. He’s clearly thrilled at having been given the state-issued cudgel to bludgeon local communities into submission.
While the state complains about what the federal government is doing to it, the state is turning around and doing the same to us. Should we meekly stand by and obey the state’s dictate? Hell no!
This is what we and our city government should be doing:
- Form an alliance with “Livable California,, a new nonprofit organization of communities resisting the state’s intrusion into local government, to join with the League of California Cities (LOCC) in fighting back against these laws and repealing or amending them to restore local control and home rule to our local communities and counties.
- Instead of giving these out-of-town developers a “get-out-of-jail-free-card” from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), use CEQA to gain concessions from them to build projects in character with our community.
- Reject or require the 790 Foothill project to prepare an EIR focused on traffic, inadequate parking, blocking the scenic views of Bishop Peak, with an alternative analysis for a smaller project rather than one with a “building-on-steroids” design that looks like it belongs in the Soviet Union rather than San Luis Obispo.
- Reconsider our Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) in light of the state’s intrusion into local control and hold back on approving the new Zoning Regulations Update due to be considered by the City Council on Aug. 21, 2018.
It is sad indeed to see what the Tribune has become. It bears little resemblance to the Telegram Tribune of the 1970s when George Brand was at the editor’s helm. George cared deeply about San Luis Obispo and was a strong advocate for retaining our community character. If he could see what his paper has become today in manipulating public thought, he would be spinning in his grave.
Let’s stop this nonsense. Let’s stop using the new N-word (NIMBY) to label the people who care about this community and defend its character.
It’s time we get together with other cities who care about themselves to push back against our state that has seemingly become an enemy of local government. If not, the San Luis Obispo we have known and loved will be but a distant memory.