SLO City Council spat uncalled for, unproductive

John Ashbaugh and Dan Carpenter
John Ashbaugh and Dan Carpenter

Heads up, SLO! A fleet of airborne brickbats is winging its way toward City Council members John Ashbaugh and Dan Carpenter, for letting personal animosity get in the way of conducting the people’s business competently and professionally.

In case you missed the drama, here’s a recap:

Tuesday night, the council was debating whether to adopt an updated General Plan over the objections of the Airport Land Use Commission, which opposed the level of residential growth the plan would allow at the south end of town.

Carpenter said he was still undecided, adding that he had hoped the closed session held before the meeting would help him make up his mind. That had not happened, Carpenter said.

Ashbaugh — who supports the override — pointed out that Carpenter had not posed any questions during the closed session, implying that Carpenter missed an opportunity to have his concerns put to rest.

The tidbit of information divulged by Ashbaugh wasn’t especially juicy; nonetheless he provided information that should never have been shared. That violation of the rules angered Carpenter, who ultimately voted against the override.

“I really was on the fence until John broke the law of breaching the confidentially of closed session,” Carpenter later told a Tribune reporter. “Once he did that I was so angry I wasn’t going to support it.” Kathy Smith also voted against the override — citing vague reasons we still haven’t quite figured out — and since the override required a four-fifths vote, the council was unable to adopt a new General Plan.

But wait, there’s more: The day after the meeting, a contrite Ashbaugh said he hoped both Carpenter and the voters of San Luis Obispo could find it in their hearts to forgive him for divulging closed-session information.

Carpenter, though, was not in a forgiving mood. He acknowledged that he should have based his decision on facts, rather than emotion, but he called Ashbaugh a “disgrace” and suggested that he remove himself from the council immediately.

This might all be amusing were it not so serious.

Months and months of thoughtful work and nearly $1.4 million went into the update of the General Plan, which is intended to guide growth in the city through 2035.

There’s too much at stake to allow a childish spat to hijack the process. We aren’t looking for atearful, let’s-hug-it-out reconciliation, but we do expect Ashbaugh and Carpenter to get over it and behave like adults. If they can’t, then maybe it’s time for them both to remove themselves from City Council.

Sesloc scores with soccer community

Rejoice, all you SLO soccer moms and dads — the new SESLOC Federal Credit Union campus is open for business, and has agreed to allow soccer parking there on weekends.

That’s a relief. The Damon-Garcia soccer fields, across the street from SESLOC, see a lot of action during soccer season, and the small city lot at the sports complex quickly fills up. That’s forced some soccer fans to find creative — aka slightly illegal — places to park, and some cars have been towed as a result. That’s a bummer. The SESLOC parking lot will be a big help, and we offer the credit union an all-star bouquet for accommodating soccer families and fans.

BTW, if you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out the new SESLOC campus at Broad Street and Industrial Way. It’s gorgeous.

Compton campaign goes too far

This being the season to sling mud, we avoid nitpicking every campaign statement, but some are just too egregious to overlook.

One example: In a recent flier, the Lynn Compton campaign accuses 4th District Supervisor Caren Ray of raising 233 taxes and fees, thereby “placing additional burdens on working families and small businesses.”

Turns out, the 233 “taxes and fees” are on a laundry list of fees — not taxes — that are adjusted annually by the Board of Supervisors. We’re talking airport parking fees, library fines, campground permits, rental fees for county facilities, animal adoption fees, inspection fees, code violation fines, etc., etc., etc.

The philosophy behind these fees is simple: Those who benefit from special services — like golf or camping or parking at the airport — should pay at least part of the cost. That actually reduces the financial burden on the working families and small businesses that Compton wants to protect.

A couple of other pieces of information you won’t find on Compton’s flier: The vast majority of fees — more than 1,500 — weren’t touched, and about 150 others were reduced. Those omissions earn the Compton camp a ballot-box of mud-spattered brickbats.

Mercifully, the campaign is winding to a close, but in the days that remain, we’d like to hear more of Lynn Compton’s plans to help families and small businesses, and fewer misleading attacks on her opponent.