Bouquets and Brickbats: Overnight ordinance should be parked

The SLO City Council adopted yet another ordinance that bans sleeping in cars parked on city streets — but the minor tweaks may not be enough to satisfy homeless advocates who filed a lawsuit over an earlier version of the law. That could leave the city on the hook for paying more legal fees.

At least the vote was not unanimous; council members Dan Carpenter and Kathy Smith voted against the ban. They thought the council should wait until after it considered whether to expand the current “safe parking” program to allow more than five vehicles. We agree; if the city is going to disallow overnight parking on public streets, it could at least provide a reasonable alternative to homeless families with nowhere else to go.

The other three members — Mayor Jan Marx, Councilman John Ashbaugh and Councilman Andrew Carter — weren’t willing to wait, even though a discussion of the safe parking program is set for Oct. 2. Carpenter and Smith earn bouquets of nightblooming jasmine; Marx, Ashbaugh and Carter can expect a 3 a.m. delivery of a pillowcase stuffed with sleep-deprived brickbats.

Thanks, Gere; good luck, Jim

We’re budgeting an on-the-money bouquet for outgoing Auditor Controller Gere Sibbach, who is retiring after 22 years on the job.

We’ve always found Sibbach to be a straight shooter whose key concern has been the county’s fiscal welfare — and he wasn’t afraid to shake things up when he saw trouble ahead.

At the start of the recession in 2008, for example, he wrote an opinion piece for The Tribune that urged the Board of Supervisors to consider several tax increases to prevent the deterioration of county services.

“In my view, the salad days when San Luis Obispo County could run on autopilot while feasting off higher revenues and moderate costs are over,” he said then — a prediction, of course, that proved to be accurate.

For all the economic doom and gloom of the past several years, though, Sibbach always kept his sense of humor and his professionalism as he helped the county weather the financial crisis.

We wish you the best, Gere, and to your successor and former chief deputy Jim Erb, we toss a congratulatory bouquet.

Searching for answers

Here’s an explanation that’s clear as mud: An “internal breakdown in communications” at the Sheriff’s Office led to a three-day delay in initiating a search for a 59-year-old Los Osos woman.

Suzanne Kay Smith was first reported missing on Monday by a neighbor. On Tuesday, Smith’s truck was discovered off Highway 1, near the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse. The CHP reported the discovery of the truck to the Sheriff’s Office that same day, yet the department didn’t start searching until Friday. The missing woman was found Sunday, reportedly in good condition, in a barn near San Simeon.

Smith — who has health issues and had recently been arrested — was obviously under a great deal of stress. That it would take so long to launch a search is unacceptable.

Sheriff Ian Parkinson is “looking into internal policies and procedures” to ensure that it won’t happen again. We look forward to a full report on that. In the meantime, the Sheriff’s Office gets dinged with a failure-to-communicate brickbat.