Inspired by Tim DeChristopher’s call to push against the wall of power, looking for a soft spot that will give way to change, Transitioner Victoria Armigo traveled to San Luis Obispo with other activists to attend hearings on the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for a proposed the Phillips 66 oil train rail spur in San Luis Obispo County.
It was amazing to bear witness to the process yesterday. Barb Fukimoto and I took the Forest Ethics & 350 Silicon Valley bus from San Jose at 5:45a headed to San Luis Obispo. San Jose council member Ash Kalra greeted us, gave us goodie bags, and sent his staff member to go with us to speak on his behalf. Another San Jose city staff member joined us. We picked up more people in Gilroy on the way.
At the SLO county building, we were directed next door to the Fremont Theatre, which had a big screen showing the planning commission hearing in the Board of Supervisors chambers, to decide the permit for Phillips 66 Rail Spur project. Barb and I picked up our green speaker slips – we were numbers 250 and 252. We hear that 400 individual speaker slips were taken.
SLO city staff presented their report and recommendation to deny the permit, along with their EIR findings. The county attorney explained some of the complexities, and why the permit must be denied. Then the Phillips 66 attorney made a very strong presentation directing the planning commission to permit their oil train project. We felt the despair and hopelessness of the situation.
Then government folks from all over California started making their 3 minute presentations – 17 in all. Wow! They included the mayor of Santa Barbara, other mayors, city council members, staff of state representatives. They all made different and good points as to why this project must be stopped.
We took a break for lunch and fell hope returning. Then the individual speakers began making their 3 minute presentations – again folks from all over California and many different demographics. They too made different and good points as to why this project must be stopped. They only got to speakers 50-60 when we had to leave at 5p, so we wrote out planned comments on the back of the speaker slips, and turned them in to be part of the public record.
The SLO planning commission hearing continues all day today, and many of the folks we me were going back today to speak. It was an honor to participate with this diverse group of people, joining together to push against that soft spot in the wall of power that Tim De Christopher spoke of.