Letters to the Editor

Oak removal decision in SLO was a democratic process

Residents are concerned about a proposed housing development at 71 Palomar Ave., the impact it would have on the neighborhood and on the trees at the property in San Luis Obispo.
Residents are concerned about a proposed housing development at 71 Palomar Ave., the impact it would have on the neighborhood and on the trees at the property in San Luis Obispo. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

In his commentary “City of SLO is promoting destruction of century-old trees,” Richard Schmidt’s characterization of the June 27 Cultural Heritage Committee hearing on 71 Palomar Ave. is false.

He wrote: “City staff … railroaded approval with four hours of arm-twisting to shift a majority vote against to a bare majority vote for the project.”

In fact, staff never spoke except to:

▪  Present an analysis of the developer’s response to mitigation of height, massing and distance requested by the committee at its previous hearing.

▪  Answer committee members’ questions.

Nearly three of the four hours consisted of testimony from the developer’s team and 22 members of the public, including Mr. Schmidt.

There was no majority vote against the project that was nefariously flipped. Two members of the committee thought the developer’s mitigation was acceptable; two wanted more. These members, two-thirds of the committee, compromised on a motion to recommend to the Architectural Review Commission that it consider further mitigation.

That’s how democracy works. Spreading conspiracy theories and ad hominem attacks — insisting there is no democracy — is a pointless way of responding to having lost a particular argument within the democratic process.

James Papp, member of the San Luis Obispo Cultural Heritage Committee

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