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Feb 09

Showdown in Arroyo Grande: Ugly side street or pretty pedestrian plaza?

I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome back our esteemed once-and-now-present colleague, Cynthia Lambert, formerly Cynthia Neff and formerly a reporter from a few years back who’s spent the last few years of self-imposed exile in Sacramento and Fort Worth, Texas.

Cynthia Lambert

Cynthia’s a great writer and reporter and one of the many Cal Poly grads who work at The Tribune, so it was especially nice to have her return.

She’ll be keeping an eye on the goings-on in the South County, and I wonder how tickled she was to learn that while the council members’ names may change, the shenanigans remain.

My favorite Cynthia Neff story from back in the day was the one chronicling all the bad behavior that used to go on at the Pismo City Council meetings, featuring a film strip of video captures of pouting and posturing public servants.

These days, though, it seems Pismo’s passed the baton of councilmen behaving badly to Arroyo Grande, which is currently blushing its way through the hullabaloo over Ed Arnold’s criminal case.

a1 centennial 2

Cynthia had barely sat down on her first day before she’d knocked out a little preview of tonight’s meeting and the growing debate about plans to convert a crappy little side street in the Village into a lovely midtown plaza complete with picturesque benches, blooming flowers and cheerful woodland creatures.

The idea was barely a mention before the cynics started lining up against it, sending out postcards and letters to inform the uninformed populace that, gasp!, the city was looking to take away some of their precious asphalt and unabated vehicular access.

Can someone tell me why it is that almost every time we get a good city-planning idea that reduces the presence of automobiles and increases the chances for personal interaction and exercise, some big group of ninnies materializes out of the sewer gas to gather letters and stomp around in misguided fury?

Several years back, someone in the SLO planning department floated a fabulous plan to create a pedestrian plaza in front of the Fremont Theater between Osos and Santa Rosa.

But before the groundbreaking could get anywhere near off the ground, the plan apparently got dog-piled on by a bunch of walk-a-phobic drivers and the dim-witted business owners who cater to them.

Here’s hoping the powers that be in A.G. don’t cave as easily as those in SLO did.

Why wouldn’t you want to create a corridor linking Branch Street to the creek area?

People don’t gather in their cars. They don’t share a sense of community from behind the wheel.

If they did, the Strawberry Festival would be held at Wal-Mart.

Come on, Arroyo Grande, ignore the naysayers and get it right.

Or don’t — and give Cynthia more strife to write about.

I don’t live down there, so I win either way!

Rendering courtesy of RRM Design Group

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2 comments

  1. David Middlecamp

    Mission Plaza was highly controversial in its day. Now people can’t imagine the town without it.
    http://sloblogs.thetribunenews.com/slovault/2010/01/25/monterey-street-closed/

  2. Dominica

    I think I love you and am proud to call you my brother… probably for the same reasons some people would call you an obnoxious pain in the ass… like Dad. I whole-heartedly agree, though it’s not like I spend any time in AG either.

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