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SLO City News

Walk a Mile in the Mayor’s Shoes, or Vis Versa

City of San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon has started visiting the various neighborhood districts of the City on a touring schedule of walks with residents.

Aside from hearing the concerns of her traveling companions for the hour, she said she was also hoping to promote exercise generally.

There have been three scheduled so far with the first taking place June 13 in the South Broad Street Corridor, the portion of Highway 227 under the City’s purview. Their residents told her, to paraphrase their colorful alliteration, that it was a death sentence to attempt to cross the street at the wrong time of day.

The next scheduled walk is June 26 in the Cerro San Luis Foothills, unfortunately after this paper’s deadline.

However, on June 22 the SLO City News tagged along for a tour of the “Anholm District,” better described to residents elsewhere in the City as the Upper Broad Street Corridor.

Much like the composition of the current City Council, civic-minded women outnumbered their male counterparts 4-1 with the total trip compliment hovering around a dozen, including a Mayor, a dog and a reporter.  The gender disparity may have been owing to the neighbors’ avowed regular participation in an evening “women’s discussion group” involving wine. However, some did come after seeing the Mayor’s invite on social media or as Charles Feltman an area resident since 2000.

“I came out to see what other people worry about,” he said, noting that while he hadn’t had issues with doorbell “ding and ditch” pranks that some had, Chorro Street traditionally has problems with inebriated college students returning to Foothill Boulevard from Downtown.

While resident concerns centered mainly on a desire to close the Broad Street / Highway 101 onramp and only allow the City’s bike corridor plan for the area if the traffic impact is spread through the area evenly, the group did make a stop at the controversial proposed 33-unit project at 71 Palomar Ave. (which Harmon reminded resident’s she voted against).

“The onramp is very convenient for us,” noted Michele Brooks. “But it comes with so much extra traffic. This is our neighborhood not a freeway. The bike boulevard seems worthy too but that could cause it’s own issues…all pros and cons either way.”

It wasn’t all bad, highlights of community effort included the many gardens and a stop over at the Polk household’s “Little Free Library,” which was inspired on a trip to Oregon last year, although there are several around SLO’s other neighborhoods.

The Mayor also gave citizens a primer in some of what she’d learned in six months on the job, adding a rider about her limitations to lobby for them with her colleagues on the Council under the Brown Act.

“The more I learn about how government works, how anything works really,” she said, “is that there are always unanticipated consequences.”

That even applies to the local’s love of bicycle transit, as Cal Poly braces for a record number of freshmen without cars on campus area infrastructure will see about 5,000 more bikes on the road she warned the neighbors who were already concerned that traffic would back up their side streets if that area of Broad were to be closed off.

As pertains to the Brown Act she said, “I’m allowed to talk to say [Councilman Dan Rivoire] but I couldn’t address a subject to obtain a majority. The best thing you can do is go to them yourselves and stay involved, not just the Council but staff too…. [City Manager] Katie Lichtig or the Assistant Manager Derek Johnson.”

-Story and Photos by Camas Frank

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