Having reviewed the campaign materials and the recent Viewpoint articles in The Tribune about Measure H (Sept. 17), the local initiative measure that will appear on the San Luis Obispo ballot on Nov. 2, I am more than puzzled by the logic of the supporters of the initiative.
Their primary argument is that the Prado Road extension that will allow for the connection of South Broad Street/Highway 227 to Highway 101 will be placed too close to the Damon-Garcia Sports Fields and those who use its facilities on the south side of town. While I know that the Prado Road extension will be carefully designed to avoid conflicts with the park and its users, the supporters of Measure H refuse to hear it.
So let’s examine their logic. If one were to make it public policy in San Luis Obispo not to have roads too near parks, where would that take us? Should we close down a section of Highway 101 because it is adjacent to Cuesta Park? How about closing Santa Rosa Avenue/Highway 1 as it passes by Santa Rosa Park or Madonna Road next to Laguna Lake Park? Should we close Tank Farm Road because it is next to Islay Hill Park or shut down South Street because it runs by Meadow Park?
Or should we close down part of South Broad Street/Highway 227 because it is already adjacent to the Damon-Garcia Sports Fields? Of course not.
As a design professional who has been a part of designing scores of parks throughout California, I can tell you that streets are important adjuncts to our parks. They provide communities with access to their parks and the recreation facilities that appeal to them. They provide “eyes on the park” and allow for the security and ease of patrolling of our parks. They allow for ease of access by emergency vehicles to respond to any sports injuries that may occur.
Streets that pass by parks also provide visual relief from wall-to-wall development and can enhance the image and identity of a community.
In other words, streets near parks should be embraced, not reviled, and we would be better served by concentrating on making our streets attractive, safe and functional rather than trying to stop them.
The Prado Road extension is one of the most important circulation connections we can make in San Luis Obispo. It will dramatically improve community access between Highway 227 and Highway 101 while avoiding the clogging of our local streets.
It will relieve traffic congestion, air pollution and safety hazards in the south side of town. It will provide for enhanced emergency vehicle response times that are sorely needed in this area.
It will allow our city to implement its General Plan while providing more than 500 acres of parks and open space for the enjoyment of our residents. It will allow our city to provide its fair share of affordable housing and to avoid paying hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars to redo 50 years of city decision-making and environmental mitigation measures planned for southern San Luis Obispo.
Finally, it will provide better access for the greater community to the Damon-Garcia Sports Fields where it will provide for an attractive gateway to the South Street Hills flanked by the park and open space.
Measure H is just a bad idea, and the consequences of its passage are worse. Thankfully, a broad-based coalition of neighborhood organizations, soccer moms whose kids play on the Damon-Garcia sports fields and city and county officials are rising up in opposition to this shortsighted measure. Hopefully, they will help the voters of San Luis Obispo see through the smokescreen being laid down by its supporters and vote “no” on Measure H. After all, the future of our community depends on it.
T. Keith Gurnee is a San Luis Obispo resident, a principal of RRM Design Group and a former member of the San Luis Obispo City Council.