The SLO City Council’s abuse of power

April 18, 2018
T. Keith Gurnee

T. Keith Gurnee


There are so many forms of abuse these days. It’s tough to keep track of all of them: sexual abuse. domestic abuse, child abuse, elder abuse, spousal abuse, etc. With its Anholm Bikeway proposal, our San Luis Obispo City Council has invented a new one: neighborhood abuse. In abusing us who live in the Anholm neighborhood, the council has also abused 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, they approved an alternative that had been dismissed by staff as “infeasible” nearly a year ago.

On Feb. 20, it was obvious that 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 that they didn’t violate the Brown Act, they immediately re-ratified their Feb. 20 decision to make it legal.

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 and stomped out of the meeting during testimony.

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 working on this for 2 ½ years, a neighborhood volunteer was given just three minutes to present those ideas but was rudely stopped from completing his presentation.

What gives?

The option the council pushed involves placing “diverters” at three intersections on Broad Street. Only bikes would be allowed to travel its entire course. But 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 GHGs driving circuitously around blocks to access the freeway, the grocery store, or downtown. Staff revealed that 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.

Neighborhoods beware

As someone who once served on the SLO 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 Revoire, Gomez, and 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.”

The people of our fair city are just waking up to the fact that it has placed a clique of true-believing bullies in pursuing their whims at the expense of the rest of us. We need to find the kind of people to run for city council to reverse this tide of autocracy and return us to a common-sense democracy.


And, TKG, I think the last few words of your opinion are the most important. Not only for SLO but for our entire country. Common sense democracy. Not far left. Not far right. But somewhere in the middle, where most people stand.


There are not enough people in City and County government that have signed the front of checks to pay for all the hoops we have to jump through.


Harman has got to go..she is terrible, and shows what inexperience can bring.


The only thing that I am surprised by is that the council didn’t make an exception for prius’ and Chevy volts to be able to travel in the bikeways. Left wing radicals hate cars, Christianity, guns and republicans. Why are people so shocked when they use political power to impose their worldview?


I noticed you capitalized Christianity but not republicans. You’re on the right track, you just need a bit more education.


Smug arrogance. We have had ‘gangs of three, or four’ before but never like this bunch. Keith is right on with his analysis.

I am shocked and dismayed that I supported this mayor; the last one not much better and this one was full of promises to be ‘one of the people’. What a sad joke.

New boss not the same as the old boss, she’s worse!


City council people ignoring the opinions and desires of their own residents?Shocking but that seems to be the norm these days. The people need to vote these useless power mongers out of office. Maybe run them out of town for good measure. They are not serving the residents which is their job.


This is why people go into politics nowadays. So they can abuse power.


It must be nearing the time for the Anholm residents to hire an attorney but perhaps not a local one!! I live nowhere this area but will contribute…let me know.