Save Our Downtown Endorses James Papp and Sandra Marshall

Save Our Downtown was disappointed with the arguments the SLO Tribune editorial board put forward in their endorsement of Heidi Harmon for San Luis Obispo Mayor and their endorsement of Andy Pease and Jan Marx for City Council.

Let’s begin with Council member Andy Pease. To her credit, Andy Pease opposed the Anholm Bicycle Plan, extending hours of use of the Cerro San Luis Natural Reserve and supported an appeal of 1042 Olive Street. She is one of the more accessible members presently serving on the Council. Save Our Downtown has supported Andy in the past because we believed that she shared some of our values. However, the Tribune’s claim that Andy is willing to scale back her consulting business in order to avoid recusing herself in the future rings somewhat hollow. Andy claimed that she was going to do this four years ago. In the last 4 years she has had to recuse herself 23 times, the most of any other Council member. Her recusals meant that she was unable to comment and vote on three neighborhood appeals, approvals of the Avila Ranch and San Luis Ranch developments, approval of the Performing Arts Facility, the Nipomo-Palm Street garage, the decision on all-electric new buildings and the approval of the 1144 Chorro Street mixed-use project, a 75 foot tall building located in Downtown San Luis Obispo. Worse yet, when Andy Pease was free to comment and vote, she approved the Froom Ranch annexation, the East Airport annexation and the Fiero Lane/Clarion Court annexation - all of which contribute to urban sprawl. Andy Pease approved amendments to the Tree Ordinance giving greater latitude to the Arborist to unilaterally approve tree removals without involving the Tree Committee. Andy Pease approved changes made to the City’s development review processes effectively diluting the oversight responsibilities of our Tree Committee, the CHC and the ARC. And Andy Pease approved the modified dark charcoal color that was (in defiance of ARC direction and in contradiction to the City’s community design guidelines) incorporated into the 1135 Santa Rosa Street building.

This is why Save Our Downtown is endorsing James Papp for City Council. Dr. Papp will not have the need to constantly recuse himself as he is neither heavily invested in providing consulting services to the development community nor is he beholden to any special interest groups. Dr. Papp would never have allowed the approval of a 75 foot tall building located within our historic downtown district, he would never have allowed our advisory bodies to become mere “window dressing” as a means to expedite the development review process and most importantly he would never allow the City to ride roughshod over the City’s historical ordinance or community design guidelines.

For the above same reasons, Save Our Downtown is also endorsing Earth Day Alliance Director Sandra Marshall for Mayor. Unlike Heidi Harmon, Sandra would never let development projects cut down hundreds of mature trees along Los Osos Valley Road that once served as habitat for Herons and Monarch Butterflies. Sandra has a proven track record on environmental protection and understands the relationship between protecting the carbon sequestration provided by such vegetation in fighting climate change. Sandra Marshall has suggested that the city require at least 25% of homes in new projects be affordable. Even the Tribune editorial board thought that this was a good idea. Sandra believes that as a tourist town we must protect and preserve our Downtown charm, history and architecture, keep building heights reasonable and preserve our mountain views and blue skies.

And unlike Cherisse Sweeney and contrary to the Tribune's claim, Sandra has significant previous political experience. She has served as a board chair on the board of directors for the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo and has been involved in political campaigns and events either as a volunteer or paid staff member since 1976. She has been deeply involved in the local environmental movement beginning with Prop 15, Mothers for Peace, and the Abalone Alliance.  In 1991 she created Information Press, a free monthly progressive paper distributed throughout San Luis Obispo County from 1991 to 2017. She hosted the Information Press Hour radio show from 1993 to 1998. Beginning with Spring Fest in 1994 and morphing into Earth Day in 1999 she coordinated an annual free Earth Day Fair for SLO County residents and visitors.

Finally, we are concerned that Cherisse Sweeney will join in with the development community's on-going efforts to amend (i.e., further dilute the effectiveness of) our community design guidelines. One of her campaign statements underlines this concern: "Re-examine widely accepted practices, regulations and fees to foster housing accessibility and affordability for all". Save Our Downtown's argument has been that weakening regulations will not lead to more affordable will only lead to increasing the developer's profit margins. And once we've weakened the regulations (or ignored them as the City is currently doing), inappropriately scaled and contextually jarring building designs will overwhelm our historic downtown

I am proud to have the endorsements of

Former County Supervisor, Richard Kresja
Former County Supervisor, Kurt Kupper
Past City Council Member, Christine Mulholland
Past City Council Member, John Ewan
Past Pismo Beach Mayor, now SLO resident, Bill Richardson
Barbara George, Executive Director, Advancement at Cuesta College
Mark Buchman, San Luis Coastal Unified School District Trustee
Retired Cal Poly Professors George Beardsley. David Brodie and Allan Cooper

San Luis Obispo Residents:
Elizabeth & Joe Abrahams M.D.. Janet Amanio, Debbie Anthony, Justin Binyon, Connie Booton,  Adam Brandhorst, Tom Cliff, Carly Crow, Monica Crow, Anaunda Elijah, Mathews Elijah.  Cole Eminger, Pete Evans, Dorene Garvin, Jacki Goldston, Robert Graham, Tina Hino, Kristi Hogue, Jan Horn, Angie King, David 'Maddog' Norton. Vicki Ann Richardson, Bob Richey, Gary Rogers, Robert Shanbrom. Lisa Smith. Roberta Soules, Bob Tedone, Beda & Helga Schmidthues, Roberta Soules, Glenn Starkey, Bob Tedone, Eva Young

Neighboring supporters
Justin Binyon, Shawn Bostrom Tammie Burnsed, Jason Cantu, Eric Eminger, Dawna Fondell, Brenda Smyth, Denise Sumpter, Ken Thompson,