Friends, with our New Year, started, we should all give some thought to what kind of New Year we want to have. We have options, and our choices will determine how our future develops. Think carefully, and choose wisely, and we can make the future we want to have.

Dan Cook

Our entire county is blessed by natural beauty and resources, and it’s what makes our area such a desirable place to live and vacation. It’s also what supports most of us economically as well. Simply put, for many reasons, this is a great area to live in, and we should all be very protective when anyone or any group tries to take short term advantage and harm our precious home. 

Currently, we have short-sighted decisions being made nationally and locally, that could cause significant harm to our beautiful area. Let’s talk about some of them, and consider what might be the best way to deal with them.

Nationally, the current Administration has opened up much of the state to new oil drilling and fracking and limited what local gov’t can do about it. We’re talking about millions of acres, which could screw up our Central Coast. They don’t care about the wildflower beauty of our Carrizo Plains. They would bulldoze access roads and put in oil derricks in a moment if allowed. 

They also deny the science of Climate Change, saying they know better than 95% of our best scientists. Think about that for a moment – 95% of our scientists (private and government funded) are wrong? Or they are involved in a giant conspiracy to fool everyone? Trust me, the government can barely tie its collective shoelaces, and they are somehow involved in a multi-thousands of scientists conspiracy? Not likely. For me, I’m reminded of that old bumper sticker about 95% of coyotes liking sheep — they can’t be wrong. Believe the scientists.

Another pet peeve is how the current Administration is in court trying to prevent Californians from driving more fuel-efficient cars. Why can’t we ask for less smog, less expensive driving, and just more advanced cars?? The technology is there, and we should be able to pollute less if we want to.

What can we do about these problems?? On a national level, we have only a limited effect on policies. We can vote for Representatives and Senators that we feel have our best interests in mind and hope they remember us when they go to Washington DC. I’ve had several interactions with our Rep. Salud Carbajal and found him and his office very helpful and responsive. A good guy, but he’s just part of a process in DC.

Locally, our Board of Supervisors (BOS) has been less than stellar in protecting the beauty and safety of our Central Coast areas. Recently, they almost let Oil Trains hammer down Cuesta Grade and thru downtown SLO and refused to support a local anti-fracking movement. And they refused to support an offshore Marine Sanctuary that would have protected fisheries and prevented new oil derricks. One oil train accident in SLO, one oil platform leak, and there goes our environment and tourism industries. It isn’t worth the risk.

The BOS also decided not to let us, the voters, have a say in how we purchase electricity for our homes. Recently laws have been changed to allow people to buy their power from companies that offer a variety of options as to how much of that electricity comes from renewable resources. You can choose from less to more renewables (solar, water, wind, etc.) or stick with PGE as before; it’s your choice. And it’s cheaper, so not only can you feel good about encouraging renewables, but also save money on your bill. But of course, three members of the SLO 

County Board of Supervisors decided that in spite of dozens and dozens of cities in Calif signing up for this Community Choice option, including all cities in our county (except Atascadero…sigh), we won’t get to choose. I guess we’re just not smart enough to make decisions for ourselves.

There is a proposed gravel quarry near Santa Margarita that wants to run 273 trucks a day (one every 2 min) right down their main road, the road that everyone walks across frequently. Who would want that for their town and kids?? Well, Ms. Arnold, the current Supervisor is in favor of it, despite the overwhelming opposition of her Santa Margarita voters. If you don’t listen to your voters on such a clear case, just who are you listening to Mrs. Arnold? Big donors/big business?

Soon, we will have some significant issues to decide. How to deal with the closing of Diablo Canyon, how to utilize its infrastructure, and that of the Morro Bay plant in possible wind-wave generation farms? How to deal with the reality of Climate Change and the wildfires we now see everywhere? How to support our farmers with the groundwater over-use issues we have? How to manage cannabis legally and collect taxes?

The current three BOS members have proven to be locked in ideology, while not dealing with local issues creatively. The future issues we face will require someone with clear thinking, the ability to understand the problem and create a solution for all of us, not just some of us. That is why I’m recommending a change on the BOS, and am supporting Ellen Beraud for 5th District Supervisor. She is a former Atascadero mayor and council member, has worked with many local organizations, owns with her husband Francois, a local electrical contracting company, and can research and understand a problem before voting on it. Check out her website for clear viewpoints on many issues.

So to wrap this article up, let’s go back to the beginning, where we talked about how we can Make our Futures Now. Local elections make significant differences in our lives, much more than national ones do. Be an informed voter, think about what kind of SLO County you want to create and protect, and then vote to make that happen. In just two months, on March 3, you will have the opportunity to protect the natural beauty and economic opportunities of our SLO County. 

Vote for Ellen, and let’s make our futures now.

— By Dan Cook —

Getting through this together, Atascadero