San Luis Obispo Mayor Harmon, please keep your promise

November 22, 2018
T. Keith Gurnee

T. Keith Gurnee


Now that the dust has settled on our local elections (with the notable exception of the Los Osos Community Services District), It’s time to put those results in perspective.

San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon was elected in a landslide victory over my campaign of pledged civility. It was a watershed election that portends a major shift in our city’s direction. While many voters seem to have embraced those changes, many remain concerned about where those changes may take us.

The voters have spoken. While there may be many who might be reluctant to celebrate that result, we have no choice but to accept it. Yet it’s also a reality that we remain a divided town. Now it’s time to see whether her promise “to bring us together” will be a promise kept.

SLO Mayor Heidi Harmon addressing the crowd at an anti-Trump protest

That promise was made in her victory speech on election night and in her subsequent remarks in the Tribune where she was quoted as saying “I will work to bring people together in San Luis Obispo including…different neighborhoods” and “my promise, is to prioritize bringing the people of San Luis Obispo back together.”

This really needs to happen and Mayor Harmon needs to do just that.

There is no more significant way to prove the veracity of her promise than for her to reconsider her tie-breaking vote in approving the Anholm Bikeway earlier this summer. The Anholm neighborhood has been up in arms for better than two years on that project which will eliminate 73 on-street parking spaces at a time when high density, under-parked projects on Foothill Boulevard are significantly impacting the livability of this historic neighborhood. Our neighborhood just can’t afford to lose that much parking.

By the time that decision was made, the neighbors had been working tirelessly and closely with Barry Rands, a member of the SLO Bike Club and a Heidi supporter, to come up with a “shared street” alternative with robust traffic calming features that the Anholm Neighbors United strongly supported. We and Mr. Rands were so close to coming up with a set of workable recommendations with a traffic calming solution, only to have our hopes dashed by the City Council’s 3 to 2 vote.

Had we been given a little more time, we could’ve gotten to a win-win solution.

After that vote, my wife and I took a long-planned trip to tour many of the cities in southern Europe. Mindful of the many traffic-calming features we were considering for the Broad and Chorro street corridors, we found that these very features were heavily used in such cities as Nice, Marseille, Barcelona, and Lisbon. While our city staff had been dismissive of our use of those features in San Luis Obispo, those very traffic calming improvements seemed to work remarkably well in Europe to dramatically reduce both traffic speeds and traffic volumes where they were used.

If our mayor is truly sincere in “bringing the people of San Luis Obispo back together” including its neighborhoods, there is no better gesture to prove that sincerity than to give the Anholm neighborhood another chance. And if that promise made turns into a promise kept, I’ll be the first one to praise Mayor Harmon’s sincerity.

Now it’s up to Heidi Harmon to prove that her promise made is a promise kept, not a promise broken…

Jorge Estrada

It would be interesting to know how many of Heidi’s voters from this election still live here at the end of her term. Could she have won on the transient voters, like the homeless or students? I would like that to a KITTY LITTER VOTE, they do their business then leave.


Imagine that, Europeans do something better than we do. Go figure.


As during the campaign Keith Gurnee now remains rational and civil. He even graciously says HH won in a landslide, despite the fact she only got a small portion of potential votes while running a vicious campaign, often insulting Gurnee. Even in articles after the election she has continued her rude behavior. And so has her hack Tom Fulks, both of them continue to spread false info about Gurnee.

The first time around HH promised to “bring the people back to City Hall” and broke that pledge right off. Now, basking in her victory (proving, that despite how we all hate negative electioneering, we always endorse it by falling to its lies) she will probably think the majority of folks here agree that destroying our heritage and lifestyles by building to the stars is OK.

I wish I could say this Council, in its arrogance, was the only group of elected officials that rejected citizen input-they aren’t. The Marx machine was pretty bad too, smugly snuggling with developers to our deficit. But this is the first group that promised a new, enlightened look at politics.

We were snookered then, and now. It is all so simple, we are feeding a relentless machine of greed and cannot build our way out of it. Once we have multiple tall buildings and masses of soul less housing tracks in the outskirts we will then be presented with demands for more, and more.

This group, and many before them, just cannot and will not say ‘no’. Even those hordes coming now will, in the future, as the devastation goes on, will at one time say ‘no more’, but they will be run over as we have been so many times.

Not only is unbridled development threatening our way of life but our economic situation is terrible. Long overdue projects are ignored, already over the top wages are increased for staff and the ghastly unfunded pensions issues is kicked down the road for future generations to deal with. We spend millions to alter streets when others facilities go hungry.

And for anyone with a brain, let’s chat about style and charm. We are often cited for having lots of those, but it is going away fast. Most new projects are architectural nightmares, more suitable as gulags in soviet Russia. Take a look at Garden Street! What a boring and crude project that is downtown. It could have been a charmer. And it took forever, and cost a fortune. Look at the new buildings around town, most are without any charm. The housing tracks, condos and apartments popping up all over-gawd, what junk.

Kudos to Bank Of America’s new building. Stylish, not huge, fits right in. The monster next door to it does not fit!


Unfortunately, as a well know ex-President said upon his election: “Elections have consequences.”


Oh Keith, someone needs to sit you down and let you know that isn’t how it works. While you ran a honest and decent campaign that isn’t what people will think about twenty years from now. They’ll notice all the traffic, noise, high rise apartments, and substandard air quality due to all the development that started in the late 2010’s and kept on going and wonder where it all started and miracle of miracles, will blame EVIL developers and not the power hungry politicians who enabled them to wreak the place.

The supreme irony of all this is that the same ignorant people who vote for clearly faulty politicians will complain about how politicians lie to everyone. I just wish that if people are not informed of matters that pertain to a public office, they shouldn’t be allowed to cast a vote regarding that office.


Good luck on keeping promises… will be more of the same and the ruination of the city we love!!


Nice sentiments but… As I grow older and closer to retirement, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend of the younger and poorer trying to vote themselves what I have worked for and saved to protect my family when I’m too old to work. What right do others have to my labors? Utopia does not exist and Socialism is defiantly not it. Check out Venezuela, do the people at the top look like they are starving? Think that can’t happen here? Grow up! The only difference is that if it does happen here we will drag the entire world down with us.

nazbol gang

The problem is that boomer conservatism hasn’t conserved anything. While agree with your sentiments in some way, I see your ideology as what allowed it to get to this point. We are already half of the way to being like Brazil, a tiny elite lording over a large multicultural impoverished citizenry. That was all made under global liberalist ideologies. That was made under small government, de regulation so called conservatism and open borders “as long as its between two consenting adults” progressivism. I’m not trying to insult you but the world order you grew up under is dying, it’s reached it’s limits where it can no longer handle the problems that are before us. The 20th century is over. The issues we face aren’t between liberalism and socialism.


Don’t hold your breath. Elected officials typically don’t care about the results of their decisions as long as it doesn’t affect them personally. It’s the norm for most politicians.


Don’t think it will ever happen. There are loser’s and winner’s and that is where SLO has decided to go.