Letter from Tom Fulks
Progress Update – February 8, 2013
Our meeting today (Feb. 6, 2013) with SLOCOG was an important milestone in the effort to get Highway 1 fixed by June 1. The full SLOCOG board voted unanimously to support our effort.
By focusing on the economic impacts the chip seal job has created – the potential loss of charity rides and related fund raising, the potential loss of thousands of room nights in our local hotels, the potential loss of tourism-related spending in local shops and restaurants, and the potential long-term damage to this county’s brand as one of the most iconic cycling experiences anywhere – we have proven how effective direct action by a small group of dedicated people can be in making big things happen. Atascadero City Councilman Tom O’Malley, a SLOCOG board member, summarized the situation succinctly: Caltrans has created an “economic emergency” that needs to be resolved as soon as possible.
While this is a great victory, it is merely one important step forward into a bureaucratic labyrinth that will remain a challenge to navigate. Now that we’re in it, we need to remain steady, resilient and determined. This can be done. It’s just going to require a concerted effort.
The SLOCOG board agreed to send a letter to Malcolm Dougherty, Director of Caltrans in Sacramento, demanding Highway 1 be repaired by June 1 due to the financial consequences of potentially losing tourism-related special events that depend on a safe, navigable Highway 1 from Cambria to the Monterey County line. This letter of support from SLOCOG is very important in that it expresses the official position of San Luis Obispo County’s agency responsible for determining how state highway money is spent here.
With this letter of support, we now have an important political tool to carry our message forward to our state elected officials and to Caltrans headquarters in Sacramento. Specifically, state Sen. Bill Monning (D-Monterey) said on the Dave Congalton radio show Monday (Feb. 4) that his office works best when local issues are carried forward through the proper local government channels. We have accomplished precisely this, and now we have to take more steps to follow through:
· Via County Supervisor Bruce Gibson, we are requesting a meeting with Sen. Monning to:
1) Conduct a personal site visit to Cambria where he can see the road for himself and talk to affected local people in order to gain a first-hand understanding of the negative impact the chip seal job has had on the local economy;
2) Schedule a meeting at either Sen. Monning’s office at the state Capitol or at Caltrans HQ in Sacramento with Director Dougherty, Assemblyman Achadjian, Supervisor Gibson, SLOCOG Director Ron DeCarli and representatives of our cycling community. The intent of the meeting would be to press the issue with Caltrans to find the money and fix the road by June 1. How it’s done is up to Caltrans. That it’s done is up to us and our elected officials.
3) Supervisor Gibson will offer to fly his personal aircraft to Monterey to pick up Sen. Monning, bring him to Cambria and return him home if it will make the site visit easier to do.
· Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian is in the process of drafting a letter to Caltrans Director Dougherty, and will ask Sen. Monning to co-sign it, seeking a solution to the Highway 1 problem by June 1.
· In summary, we have at least two meetings with our state officials in the planning stages:
1) A meeting in Cambria with Sen. Monning and Assemblyman Achadjian
2) A meeting at Caltrans HQ in Sacramento with the Caltrans director, our elected state representatives, our county supervisor and the SLOCOG executive director.