Bouquets and Brickbats

SLO shelter for homeless gets on track

Commitment of $1.5 million is a critical step for a project that has seen many setbacks

letters@thetribunenews.comApril 4, 2014 

Like a never-ending game of Chutes and Ladders, sometimes the effort to build a new homeless shelter in San Luis Obispo seems to go nowhere. The project moves forward a few spaces, only to fall down a chute on a bad roll of the dice.

This week, though, we saw progress — equivalent to at least half-a-dozen rungs of a ladder — when the San Luis Obispo Regional Transit Authority committed $1.5 million to buy a nearly 10-acre parcel on Prado Road near Sunset Drive-In. The transit authority plans to partner with Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County to buy the site for $2.2 million.

If the deal goes through, the transit agency will locate abus storage and maintenance facility there, and CAPSLO will build a homeless center with as many as 200 beds, a commercial kitchen, laundry facilities, showers and more.

It will be up to CAPSLO to raise the remaining $715,000 for the land purchase, though the city of San Luis Obispo has already committed $250,000, and CAPSLO plans to ask the county for another $250,000.

The agency also will need to raise money for the actual facility; a $1 million state grant was awarded for construction, but that was attached to the South Higuera Street site, a location that was ditched after businesses in the area said it was the wrong place for a shelter. CAPSLO leaders hope the grant can be transferred to the Prado Road location, and they plan to make a pitch for that.

So, yes, there is still a long way to go before a new shelter breaks ground.

For now, though, we’ll celebrate the recent ascent up the ladder by tossing a leg-up bouquet to the many agencies and individuals who have not lost sight of this critical goal: anew homeless services center for San Luis Obispo.

Should PG&E leaders be charged?

Our criminal justice system sometimes works in mysterious ways.

To wit: PG&E has been criminally charged in federal court with a dozen felony violations stemming from the 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people, injured 58 and leveled 38 homes. Among the allegations: PG&E “knowingly and willfully” failed to follow minimum safety standards and failed to conduct inspections that would have identified problems and prevented the disaster.

If convicted, PG&E could face fines up to $6 million and court oversight. (By comparison, the California Public Utilities Commission is considering a $2.5 billion fine against PG&E.)

Call us old-fashioned, but we believe a criminal prosecution generally implies that someone did something wrong and should suffer the consequences. Yet there have been no individual PG&E officials or employees charged in the indictment, though according to The Associated Press, that could happen later “if the investigation warrants.”

A criminal fine is better than nothing, we suppose, but if there is a case to be made against individuals, we believe they should be held to answer. Otherwise, we’ll be filling a briefcase with brickbats for a spineless legal system too willing to let corporate America off the hook for “accidents” that could have prevented.

Donations are music to our ears

We toss bouquets of runway-worthy roses to Phyllis Madonna and to the many volunteers who made this year’s Phyllis’ Musical Revue and Fashion Show an outstanding success. Organizers reached their goal of raising $200,000 for the Women’s Shelter Program of San Luis Obispo County. That’s the second-largest amount raised since the event began in 1987.

All told, the event has raised more than $3 million over the years for those affected by domestic violence and child abuse. That’s an amazing contribution to a nonprofit organization that’s been a huge resource to our county by offering not only emergency shelter, but also a 24-hour crisis line, counseling and education and training.

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