Santa Maria Sun / News
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 46
Man chains himself to tree, briefly, in protest of park plan
BY CAMILLIA LANHAM
Los Osos resident Jonas Richardson chained himself to a Nipomo Community Park oak tree on Jan. 20 in protest of the park master plan unanimously passed by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors on Dec. 18.
The plan serves as a blueprint for the next 20 years of development within the park, including where to put a community center, skate park, athletic fields, and multi-use trails.
Richardson chained himself to the tree for about 20 minutes. He said he just needed to do it long enough to take a picture of himself and get the word out to local papers.
“I’m just going for the show,” he said.
His friends alerted him to the park master plan and their reasons for opposing it, with which Richardson agrees.
He said he’s worried that future development will cause some of the old oak trees in the park to be cut down.
“I love oak trees; they’re beautiful and they’re like  to 300 years old, and I don’t think they should take them down,” he said.
Shawn Cooper, a senior planner for San Luis Obispo County Parks and Recreation, said the plan didn’t look at developing other places in Nipomo because Nipomo Community Park is the only such park in the area.
The master plan has been in the works for the last 10 years and was designed based on surveys, community workshops, and public meetings that gauged what Nipomo residents needed and wanted out of their community park.
Development is planned on about 16 acres of the 137-acre park, as funding sources become available. As far as oak trees are concerned, Cooper said the plan minimizes the impact on the trees by slating future development in some of the park’s grassy areas.
“The plan really looked at what was there,” he said. “The new facilities are planned in areas that are already disturbed.”
Worst-case scenario, about 17 of the 100-year-old or older oak trees will have to be cut down or “worked around” if the county public works department determines that the portion of Camino Caballo Road that runs through the park needs to be widened.
“But chances are we wouldn’t have to,” Cooper said.