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Save Our Downtown deserves better 

New Times didn't treat this legitimate organization fairly

Upon a request by Glen Starkey to discuss with him the proposed expansion and relocation of SLO Brew to the Carrisa building on Higuera, we met in the garden at Linnaea’s, and I thought we had an interesting, productive, and fair discussion on the subject. After reading this week’s New Times’ Shredder (“Who you gonna save?” Nov. 8), I truly feel betrayed.

The New Times article co-authored by Starkey and Matt Fountain (“Barmageddon!” Nov. 1) is by far a sales document for the SLO Brew Company. There are a few comments made in this article and in the Nov. 8 Shredder resulting from our discussion at Linnaea’s, which caused me to realize that I had made a serious mistake.

My mistake was not inviting Starkey to meet with the entire Save Our Downtown group, as I believe he would not have been scorning our group and declaring all of us “crochety curmudgeons” in his writings.

We are all professionals, traveled extensively to beautiful places, and have several architects, doctors, nurses, an attorney, teachers, an opera singer, a couple of city planners, a psychiatrist, a sociologist, an architectural photographer, administrators, and writers, to name a few. Perhaps our title is somewhat misleading, however our intentions are totally positive and meant to be constructive.

We want to basically maintain the beauty, diversity, and vitality of the downtown core. We share a common commitment to maintain and enhance the quality of our community and especially our unique downtown. New developments (to which we are not opposed) should nevertheless blend into the small-town scale that we all love. For these ideals, I do not believe New Times and the Shredder, in particular, are doing our community a service by ridiculing our educated intentions and stated suggestions.

Although SLO Brew’s capacity has been decreased in the latest project update, the numbers are still higher than what the Graduate offers at 800 patrons. SLO Brew is at 887, after having originally proposed to accommodate a staggering 1,221 patrons in three bar areas.

Following a strong request by Mayor Jan Marx and City Council members to eliminate the brutal steel stairway on the creek and the rooftop bar and dining, the roof terrace dining with capability of expanding into a bar is still in the project. This had been requested in part due to the participation and requests for noise abatement by the Residents for Quality Neighborhoods, RQN.

Our group is addressing serious concerns and for New Times to remain credible as a news organization, it should be engaging in open and honest discussions about the future of our downtown core. SLO, having reached its maximum for bars, has acquired the title, “the town with most bars per capita in the state of California.” We need to counter that title.

Save Our Downtown has presented and will continue to present fine, intelligent suggestions in the disputes that are occurring surrounding new developments for downtown SLO. Be assured that we have the richness of minds that any group of Americans can offer that care about their towns.

Sandra Davis Lakeman is an emeritus professor of architecture living in San Luis Obispo. Send comments to the executive editor at

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