Coastal Commission made right call on Ontario Ridge fences

Hikers come down the Ontario Ridge trail in October 2014.
Hikers come down the Ontario Ridge trail in October 2014. ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

The fences are finally coming down on Ontario Ridge, and we offer generous handfuls of trail mix and bouquets of wildflowers to all who had a hand in this blessed event.

In case you missed it, the Coastal Commission voted unanimously in July to order the owners of the property near Avila Beach to remove unpermitted fences, gates and “no trespassing” signs. For months, hikers and other concerned citizens had rightfully pointed out that Ontario Ridge had been open to the public for decades, and the barriers violated coastal access rights.

According to a recently approved plan submitted by the property owners, the gates and fences will be removed by Oct. 17. That’s great, yet at the risk of sounding ungrateful, we do have one question: How long does it take to tear down some fencing? If the commission voted in mid-July to order the fences down, why is it taking until mid-October to get the work done? And for that matter, is a removal and site restoration plan really necessary? (OK, make that three questions.)

But enough of our churlishness: If ever there were a time to say “thanks,” this is it. Our coastal trails are precious, and it’s good to know there are so many folks around willing to defend the public’s right to use them.

Civility required at public forum

We tried really, really hard to avoid bringing up the July 3 “incident” in Arroyo Grande yet again, but then Otis Page just had to erupt at a Wednesday morning City Council meeting. The council met in a special session to do exactly what Otis and others have been asking them to do: hire an independent private investigator to look into the “incident” and issue a public report.

Page still wasn’t happy. During the public comment period, he complained the council should not be involved in selecting the investigator. When he refused to quiet down after the public comment period ended — among other antics, he hollered at the council, accused it of fraud and dared someone to arrest him — the mayor called a recess and Page was escorted out by a police officer.

Normally, such childish behavior would earn the offender a bib-wrapped brickbat. In this case, we’ll also kick in a copy of a Miss Manners’ “A Citizen’s Guide to Civility.”

A boon for state’s wine lovers

Burgundy bouquets to the state Legislature and the governor, for passing and signing legislation that allows wine tasting at farmers markets.

Sale of estate-grown wine was already allowed at farmers markets, but some industry groups complained that sales suffered because vintners weren’t able to offer taste tests.

The new law allows tasting under strict conditions. The tasting area must be separated from the rest of the market; only one vintner at atime is allowed to offer samples; and patrons are limited to 3 ounces total.

Several local farmers markets plan to begin offering wine tasting, which could start as early as this month at the SLO Saturday market.

Cheers to that; wine is one of California’s major agricultural products. As long as tastings and sales are well-regulated, we see no reason why they shouldn’t be included at farmers markets.