New Times / Letters to the Editor
Issues local candidates should address
Jim Griffin - SLO -
SLO Town is often thought of as a place with few if any real problems or social maladies. And it’s true there aren’t many that are easy to see at first glance. But a closer look reveals much. For instance:
• An underbelly, still, of chronic homelessness. The homeless are kind of hidden now because of police and private security harassment of them downtown. They are chased to the margins, but they are still there and still many.
• Grossly high rents, both for residential and storefront commercial spaces. Many small businesses have come and gone, often citing high rents as a major reason for leaving downtown. High rents are also a major contributor to homelessness. Many people working full time can still not find affordable shelter. Sleeping in vehicles is banned.
• Costs/prices for food, utilities, gasoline, and practically everything else are high.
• Sexual assaults and rapes are all too common on and around the Cal Poly campus.
• The wealthy, privileged, and connected who commit crimes face only light and easy charges and penalties. The poor and powerless are treated to “strict law and order,” even if their offences are relatively minor by comparison.
• College students must pay exorbitant tuition at Cal Poly (Cuesta is not cheap either), forcing many into a lifetime of debt, dragging them down.
• Robberies and home break-ins are up. We’re not Detroit or LA, but things have gotten worse.
Look, SLO is a pretty nice place to live, no doubt. Compared to many other places it’s a virtual mini-paradise. But let’s not blind ourselves to the very real problems that are there. They need serious attention. Are you listening, candidates for office?
We need laws that push clean energy
Steven Marx - San Luis Obispo -
Along with the news of steadily worsening floods in the east and fires in the west largely attributable to burning of fossil fuels, comes recent word of the opening of “America’s first offshore wind farm” producing clean renewable energy. This event holds promise of “a new American industry that could … make a huge contribution to reducing the nation’s climate changing pollution,” according to a recent article in The New York Times. What struck me most about the story was mention that this move to free us from antiquated energy technology was enabled by a law passed in 2005 by a Republican-led Congress and signed by George W. Bush.
We need more such laws, facilitating the rapid and massive development of renewables and removing government support from the dirty industries that ravage our planet, our economies, and our health. The most effective, least intrusive of these would put a fee on production of carbon fuels equivalent to the $40/ton damage to all of us caused by their burning and would let the market do the rest. Such a law, known as Carbon Fee and Dividend, has long been supported by prominent Republicans like George Schultz, Arthur Laffer, David Brooks, Ross Douthat, and Charles Krauthammer. It’s time that partisanship be separated from this issue of survival and that our elected representatives use such an approach to work together for our common good.
Save Camp AG
Hillery Dixon - Arroyo Grande -
The Camp Arroyo Grande property is one of the hidden gems of the Central Coast. Tucked unassumingly in a small canyon just above the village of Arroyo Grande, its rustic buildings, oak tree-studded hill, and historic tabernacle are both a surprise to new visitors and a reassuring experience of nostalgia for returning families. Camp AG has been home to Camp Tacanneko, a day camp run by Camp Fire of the Central Coast, for 50 years. As a former Camp Tacanneko camper, and now as a parent sending my own children as campers, I know the benefits of Tacanneko firsthand. Campers learn outdoor skills, practice traditional and new camp songs, make hand crafts, learn archery, and, perhaps most importantly, become confident, independent young people. Camps like Tacanneko allow campers to practice 21st century skills like critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity every day.
I would suggest that the city of Arroyo Grande consider ways to expand opportunities at Camp Arroyo Grande, by partnering further with Camp Fire and similar organizations to increase opportunities for young people throughout the Five Cities to enjoy outdoor learning and real-world problem solving and creativity. The opportunities to invite school groups for field trips, use the property for team-building retreats for area organizations, and to increase access to the property to allow for year-round usage are compelling. Rather than consider ways to increase the value of the property before selling it for commercial development, let’s take the chance to cherish this beautiful, historic, and unique location in the heart of Arroyo Grande. Generations of young people and their families deserve the right to enjoy Camp Arroyo Grande for years to come.
Oil trains and children
Bryan Honore - Cayucos -
My 8-year-old granddaughter and her younger brother live several stone throws away from the railroad tracks in SLO. From their living room window they used to watch the trains go by, and she enjoyed playing a guessing game about how many cars would there be in the train. She would wave at the people she could see in the cars in hopes they would wave back. Now, she is having nightmares about exploding oil trains.
The question of oil trains running or not running through SLO is a federal call, as all things train come under federal jurisdiction. And so, SLO has no power to actually stop them; we can only prevent them from building a way station here. (Please, let us do that!)
Phillips 66 just wants more money; that’s their business.
The rest of us just want to live and continue breathing air that is not any more messed up than it already is; that’s our business.
Think. What kind of world are we creating? Not just for our grandchildren; what about everyone’s safety and well-being? (There is a huge emotional cost even if there is never a problem with the stuff.)
Where are we headed? All for the greed of a few and some bought-blinded politicians who appear to be addicted to the power of their position.
Please look into this and let your voice be heard. There is an important vote coming up in September.
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