Meg & Dave   

decision is inept

On Tuesday, the San Luis Obispo City Council voted to spend money it doesnít have on a project the city doesnít need. Mayor Dave Romero and council members Andrew Carter and John Ashbaugh voted to award a $150,000 contract to pave a section of Mitchell Park. Shortly after the passage of Measure Y, the city had discretionary money to improve services. That money is gone. The city now has a major budget deficit. To pay for the paving of the park, the city will have to reduce existing services, including infrastructure and safety programs. Additional neighborhood police officers that were part of the original tax initiative plan have already been cut.

 

Opponents have questioned paving as a solution for better access to the Senior Center. They also have raised concerns about the lack of study to support any parking need; the elimination of a planned community garden; and reduced green space in the downtown.

 

More than 700 residents signed a petition asking the city not to pave the park. The parking lot proposal also was rejected by both the Cultural Heritage Committee and the Parks and Recreation Commission.

 

-*Last week, The Tribune ran a viewpoint by Eugene Jud, former member of Cal Polyís Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. Eugene recommended a less costly and less invasive design. His primary point was that without a study, it would be impossible to design a plan for access that would meet the needs of the Senior Center.

 

The city does not know how many street parking spaces are available, how many seniors use the center, how many drive, how many have handicap placards, how many would use public transportation and, more importantly, how many would use the center but currently donít have access.

 

Yet with all the opposition and no real data, Dave Romero, Andrew Carter and now newly elected John Ashbaugh held steadfast to the notion that they are somehow helping seniors by paving the park. Yes, 30 seniors did ask for a parking lot. Apparently, that is all that is needed to lay down asphalt in a park.

 

This is not fiscal responsibility. It is not informed decision making, and it is certainly not representing the greater needs of our community, including the needs of our seniors. This is spending money you donít have to pacify a small vocal group. This is inept city government.

What is most important is that paving the park does not solve the fundamental problem. It makes it worse. As the value of the Senior Center in this location increases, so will the desire to expand. The Senior Center has no place to expand, except into Mitchell Park.

Dave Kuykendall is the Save Mitchell Park Webmaster.

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