With its latest iteration of the Anholm Bikeway proposal, our San Luis Obispo City Council is not only abusing our neighborhood, it's also abusing its power.
On Feb. 20, the council reversed its Feb. 6 compromise decision on the Anholm Bikeway, without a public hearing, by a 4-1 vote. In doing so, it approved an alternative that had been dismissed by staff as “infeasible” nearly a year ago.
On Feb. 20, it was obvious the fix was in. Councilmember Andy Pease, the motion maker of the Feb. 6 decision, was the only one who voted no.
But the gang of four who voted for it were well prepared to undo what they had previously done. And on April 10, they did it again. After receiving a “cure and correct” letter for violating the Brown Act on Feb. 20, the council held another hearing to correct its violation. The city attorney and Councilmember Carlyn Christianson, adamantly arguing they didn’t violate the Brown Act, they immediately re-ratified their Feb. 20 decision to make it legal.
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Just saying they didn’t violate the Brown act didn’t make it so. They weren’t fooling the neighborhood. They were fooling themselves.
Despite testimony that went 2-1 against what they proposed, the council again ignored the neighborhood. While other councilmembers contented themselves with lecturing the audience, Andy Pease was the only member who listened. Obviously steamed, Mayor Heidi Harmon said nothing.
But the most galling aspect of the April 10 council meeting was their smack-down of design ideas presented by neighbors to calm traffic and make it safe for all modes of travel. While the city’s cadre of highly compensated engineers worked on this for two and a half years, a neighborhood volunteer was given just three minutes to present those ideas and was rudely stopped from completing his presentation.
The option the council pushed involves placing “diverters” at three intersections on Broad Street. Only bikes would be allowed to travel its entire course. Vehicles would be precluded from doing so, resulting in significant increases in traffic volumes on Chorro Street and its side streets.
Broad Street neighbors would be forced to make tortured traffic movements and emit more greenhouse gases by driving circuitously around blocks to access the freeway, the grocery store, or downtown. Staff revealed the city will have to amend its General Plan and conduct an environmental analysis on the impacts of such a plan. This is not just flat nuts, it’s dangerous!
Hoping to hold a public meeting with the neighborhood in early May, the city’s Public Works Department is pressing on while vowing to consider the neighborhood’s design ideas that we will continue to refine. We’ll see. We are not going away.
As someone who once served on the City Council in the 1970s, I’ve never witnessed such hubris — such outrageous arrogance — as has been on display with our current City Council. The council’s power has gone to their heads, epitomizing the sad state of affairs in our city governance.
Our way of life in the Anholm neighborhood means nothing to the council majority. Despite a city poll of over 250 neighbors revealing that 74 percent of Anholm residents oppose what the city wants to inflict upon us, four councilmembers have blithely ignored us.
Representative democracy? Hardly. The determination of Mayor Heidi Harmon, and councilmembers Dan Revoire, Aaron Gomez, and Carlyn Christianson to impose their will upon our neighborhood has transformed our local government into an ideological dictatorship. So much for the” happiest city on earth.”
T. Keith Gurnee is a planner and urban designer who served on the San Luis Obispo City Council in the 1970s, when he was a student at Cal Poly.