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A suggestion from a homeless local: Provide portable toilets

Thank you for your Jan. 10 article, "Hold it in or pay."

As an individual currently of the homeless strata, I concur and empathize as to the challenges faced by downtown SLO merchants with regard to both urination and vomit. Many an early, early morning, while collecting aluminum cans and plastic beverage containers, I have been impeded by urine and vomit gracing the trash bins of said merchants.

My question is: If the downtown merchants can provide those wonderful blocks of "porta-potties" on a Thursday Farmers' Market, why not put them out again on weekend evenings, near the drinking houses noted in your article? The cost would seem to be offset by the inconvenience and expense of cleaning up the very human waste resulting from the very human behavior exhibited by our young patrons. Too many people, too few potties.

The city obviously does not care about the shameful lack of public restrooms in the downtown area, so perhaps the business owners in the immediate area might step up to the plate and protect their working environment. Porta-potties, by their nature, do not invite overnight stays by us folks without a roof over our head. Just a suggestion.

Suzee Brunner

San Luis Obispo




Park closures would make the coast as good as Kansas

I've just reviewed a list of the proposed closures of state parks, plus the list of state beaches listed to reduce the number of lifeguards as reported by the Associated Press and proposed by Gov. Schwarzenegger. All 48 on the list are proposed to be closed indefinitely.

Some of these parks are local attractions that are used by locals in San Luis Obispo County. Unlike national attractions, such as Yosemite National Park, the resources being targeted are used by our local communities and families who pay taxes to live in this state and county. As an example, Monta"a de Oro, Los Osos, and Morro Strand are all places that my family frequents each year, sometimes several times. I am a graduate of UCLA, where we took field trips to study at Monta"a de Oro. These are not only "nice" places to be, they are educational for individuals, families, and institutions.

I cannot imagine that the budget savings garnered could possibly be offset by the impact to San Luis Obispo County and the reason we all live here. If these parks are closed, even temporarily (or the lifeguards reduced), our communities might as well be in the middle of Kansas. They are the reason it costs so much to live here.

I'll gladly pay the price for my home to be in coastal California, but if I can't access those coastal resources, then my willingness to stay is diminished. How long before my property value is affected?

Caren Ray

Arroyo Grande Planning Commission chair

Arroyo Grande




Families and communities need somewhere to play

Gov. Schwarzenegger's proposal to close 48 state parks to balance the budget is misguided and should not be tolerated. While balancing a budget is no easy task, hard-working citizens who pay taxes to support all things governmental need recreation, too.

Limiting access to public lands is not the answer to providing for the physical and mental well-being of the citizenry. State parks provide some of the last publicly available open space in which to stretch our legs, climb a peak, take a run, and give our children firsthand lessons in science, nature, and life skills. Historical state parks throughout the state provide a look into the past that no textbook or television show can.

In April, the California Roundtable on Recreation, Parks, and Tourism adopted the California Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights recommending a fundamental list of experiences from which every child in the state would benefit. Many of them would be virtually impossible without public access to nature.

We go to work, pay our taxes, and do the best we can for our families and communities. We need somewhere to play, enjoy nature, bond as families and communities. Don't let the government lock us out of our open spaces.

Jennifer Best





Dear Sen. Abel and Gov. Arnold

Regarding the $14.5-billion deficit: The news indicates you are closing seven state parks, reserves, and beaches in SLO County. You are closing the wrong ones. I suggest you close Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area (ODSVRA). This will reduce air pollution save gasoline that we seem to go to war over reduce global warming stop promoting vehicle driving as a type of "recreation" and turn the beach back to walkers, lovers, volleyball, and listening to the sound of waves. Vehicles have taken over our lives. Close ODSVRA ASAP.

To reduce the deficit, I suggest taxing cigarettes at $1 a pack and gasoline at $2 a gallon. This makes much more sense than closing seven state parks, reserves, and beaches in our county.

William Denneen





When will deaths in the dunes be taken seriously?

Death on the Oceano Dunes is becoming like a baker's delight. Last time it was a cupcake, this time it's a doughnut. What in the world will it take for the state, the county, and the neighboring cities to address the growing number of vehicular fatalities at Oceano Dunes? If a certain stretch of highway or a tentative curve in a local road continued to render one death after another, surely this would prompt transportation engineers, planners, and governing authorities to initiate a thorough study on how to reduce fatalities.

But instead of addressing this critical public safety issue, the state, together with the county's approval, is planning on increasing this mechanized death trap by expanding its bathrooms. It is inconceivable that the citizenry is left to assume that another death isn't as significant as another dollar. This unchecked power and greed speaks not only to negligence, but heightens the disreputable abdication of public, health, and safety by all public entities that support this destructive state park.

Deanna Cox Miranda

Shell Beach




Together, we can turn the presidential tide

Depressed by this economic downturn, the endless war in Iraq, and the national debt I am passing on to my wonderful grandchildren, I went to the Democratic straw poll in Grover Beach on Saturday, Jan. 12, and wow! Oh sure, the candidates were off to other venues as they keep up this mad pace of early primaries, but the spokesmen and women for Clinton, Obama, Edwards, and Kucinich were articulate and "on message." I was personally inspired by the organization booths for each candidate, where one could ask questions, get materials, and volunteer.

I realized there were folks like me, so disgusted with what has happened over the last seven-plus years. And when we realize the international press is covering the coming election--we are the focus of the world and other nations worry over what havoc we will continue to provoke---we know that this is big time. This old senior was fired up with the enthusiasm and determination of her Central Coast neighbors. The military-industrial complex, the insurance firms, the oil industry, etc., have the money, but we have the votes, and with a well-organized grassroots attack, we can turn the tide and pick our candidate at the Feb. 5 primary.

All we heard from New Hampshire was change, and I am planning to be part of that change. My choice is Kucinich, the candidate many people dislike because he is not for sale--he is for the people! I urge all my neighbors here to get off the couch, get to a meeting, get behind your candidate, and be a part of the change!

Phyllis Salyer Carruthers

Los Osos




Hillary may not be the best choice, but she's a woman

I am not a supporter of the "Clinton" name. Only time will tell what Bill really did, but that's not what's of concern.

For the last 200 years, men have been shaping the land with brutal hands like nasty abusers, while we, the people, have taken lash after lash. If nothing else, we need to give the control to a woman. Let's see if she can put down the weapon and step out of the pile of shit that's been putting people in a foul mood for decades. Without much ado, I think I'll vote for a woman simply because she is a woman.

I'm not going to dwell on the fact that she may not be the best man for the job, but there is no way in hell she could do worse for the country than Bush. So If I am going to hell in a handbasket, at least I'm going to enjoy the ride with a woman at the helm.

Alice Rodriguez

Grover Beach




No, Al, the discussion isn't over

We know that it costs close to $50,000 to run a 30-second TV commercial, and many are wondering why someone is spending millions on these hourly TV advertisements for more efficient light bulbs. Many of us are wondering how buying those light bulbs that have to be shipped all the way from China and contain mercury that requires special discard handling is going to save the world. According to Al Gore, scientists have formed a consensus the facts are in the discussion is over. That is the way politicians work not the way science works!

Scientists continue to discuss, ask questions, and keep an open mind. As we see Al Gore fly off on another jet for a round-the-world trip, we wonder why we need to buy a new, more efficient car to go to the grocery store. We hope that this is not just some kind of ploy by the giant corporate interests to eventually make another fortune selling international carbon credits. If you are tired of hearing only one side of the story, and want to check out the other side by 20,000 scientists who don't have millions to spend on TV commercials nor any interest in trading international carbon credits, go to

Robert Parkhurst





If you're inspired to volunteer, consider 211

This letter is in response to Gina Carmen Turley's opinion piece titled "Giving is easy" (Jan. 3). Thank you for the inspirational account of how one person can have a tremendous impact in our local community. For those readers who felt equally inspired by this article, I strongly encourage you to consider volunteering at 211 SLO Hotline. The county's only 24/7 information and crisis phone line, Hotline has been diligently providing services for almost 40 years and is currently in need of volunteers. We are always looking for caring people who are able to donate their time (a minimum of four hours a week).

This is a great opportunity to learn more about local resources, volunteer alongside other great folks, and, of course, give back to the community. Contact Volunteer Coordinator Mike Bossenberry at 544-6016 for more information or visit Repeating the eloquent words of the author, "Once you realize your time, money, energy, and personality are very important in the community you live in, you will see how valuable it is to the community that you give."

Jason Reed

211 SLO Hotline board member

San Luis Obispo

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