Bouquets and Brickbats

Equestrian community gets hard tack

Coastal commission is undercutting its responsibility of providing beach access by pulling the reins too tight on Grover parking

April 19, 2013 

Grover Beach lodge and conference center rendering.

The California Coastal Commission was short on horse sense last week when it narrowly blocked a plan to include an equestrian staging area in Grover Beach’s lodge/conference center project.

The commission unanimously approved the lodge — bouquets for that — but on a 5-4 vote, said “nay” to allowing horse trailers to park in an “environmentally sensitive habitat area.”

Mind you, we aren’t talking about remote, pristine habitat; the proposed parking site is just south of busy Grand Avenue, in an area overrun with ice plant. Nor is it a huge space; it’s less than an acre and in exchange for being allowed to use it, the city had offered to restore 4 acres of nearby dunes.

Sounds like a good trade-off to us, but commissioners worried the equestrian parking would violate the Coastal Act.

Now, it appears that equestrians may have to use a public lot north of Grand Avenue as a staging area, where they’ll be sharing space with RVs, buses, cars and other vehicles … not a good combo.

The commission has a duty to protect habitat, true, but it’s also supposed to ensure public access to the coast. In this case, we believe it failed a community of equestrians who have been using the beach for many decades, and for that, five commissioners can expect burr-studded brickbats under their saddles.

Prisoner release needs some work

Convicted rapist Tibor Karsai — the subject of a legal tug-of-war between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties — has been released as a transient to northern Santa Barbara County. That doesn’t mean he’s roaming the streets; he’s living in a motor home that will be parked at various remote locations in the area.

Karsai, who at one time had been ordered released to San Luis Obispo County, is wearing a GPS device and, on top of that, is being monitored 24 hours a day by at least one guard from Liberty Healthcare, a private contractor. Karsai is allowed to go out into the community for shopping trips, medical appointments and so on, but he is accompanied by a guard. (No word, by the way, on how much this is costing taxpayers.)

We understand the need for security, but there’s got to be a better way to deal with sex offenders who have done their time, but often find themselves outcasts in their home communities.

According to the Santa Maria Times, Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian is looking into legislation that would prevent releasing violent sex offenders as transients. We’ll keep a public service bouquet on ice for Achadjian — or any lawmaker who finds a solution that makes more sense for everyone involved, including taxpayers, worried citizens and newly released inmates.

A distinguished honor for schools

The state Department of Education has named Morro Bay High, Templeton High and Templeton Middle School Distinguished Schools for 2013. That would be accomplishment enough in an ordinary year, but it’s even more impressive given the budgetary challenges schools face today.

We award extra credit bouquets to the schools’ dedicated teachers, administrators and support staffs, as well as to involved parents and, last but not least, the students themselves.

Together, they have found innovative ways to not only meet students’ needs, but also to improve academic performance. Keep up the great work.

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