Marisa Wert



English 134


Shop Till you Drop


            The lyrics “This land is your land, this land is my land” are what many people in San Luis Obispo are thinking about these days[SM1] . A shopping center has been proposed to be built on the Dalidio Lands off of Madonna road[MKW2] . Residents got 10% of the local voters to sign a referendum on the subject of a possible shopping center on the Dalidio property. The vote will be held on April 26. To be prepared, voters should read over the arguments and try to decide for themselves which is the better choice, leaving the land to the county or annexing it to the city and building the market place. [MKW3] 

Many of the arguments from both sides can be confusing and misleading. That is why an impartial statement for each section of the referendum is included in the voter pamphlet[MKW4] . The first of these statements refers to the allotment of land by the city’s General Plan and how it will change with this new development. Retail, road, and office space all increase while,[SM5]  residential and open space are reduced under the referendum. The second impartial statement is in regards to the annexation of the Dalidio Land area by the city from the county and also deals with some of the re-zoning that will occur on the property. The third and final statement outlines the tax and development agreements between the city and the developer. Following each impartial statement in the voter pamphlet are an argument and rebuttal from each side. In addition, each side’s argument and rebuttal can be split into three categories, not by the three impartial statements but by Logos, Pathos, and Ethos.

            Logos, or logic, is the system of reasoning by sensible arguments and thoughts. Both sides implement this method in their arguments. The side that would like the shopping center put in, the “Pro” side, claims that the shopping center would protect almost 55 acres of the land instead of leaving it in the control of the County, where residents of San Luis Obispo would have no say in its use. They also state that the development would bring in an extra $750,000 in revenue per year for the City. They list key dates of the project and specific acreage usage as well as citing the General Plan and the City’s Architectural Review Commission and Council. By stating these facts with dates and numbers and specific plans, the “Pro” side seeks to persuade the audience that they are sensible because they have detailed evidence that supports their main claim that the shopping mall would be good for the city.

            The side that does not wish to see a shopping center put in, the “Con” side, uses many statistics such as the number of low wage jobs created and how many houses those people will require. They also mention that 20 million dollars of the sales from downtown will be transferred to the proposed center. In rebuttal to the $750,000 that will go to the city, the “Con” side states that the other 50% of these taxes will go to the developers. They bring up the road that will need to be built for the center, and that the city will have to pay for part of it. These statements lead the audience to the conclusion that even though the city will get $750,000, they will be spending much more than that to make this project work.

            Even though logic is helpful and generally the best path to follow, many people are ruled by their hearts instead of their minds. Pathos, or emotional appeal, is often the best way to gain belief in many people[SM6] . Considering this, the “Pro” side emphasizes the [SM7] beauty of the land that they say they are saving. They use words like sprawl, timely basis[SM8] , and gridlock to influence the reader’s emotions. The words call up certain sentiments that they then use to their advantage. Sprawl indicates something that is a danger to small cities like San Luis Obispo. When the “Pro” side declares that their plan prevents sprawl, the reader is supposed to think that the plan is good if it prevents a danger like that from coming to their small town[MKW9] .

            The “Con” side stipulates that the center would destroy the “heart and soul” of downtown, the beautiful views, and the cherished small businesses. It would replace these with air pollution, traffic, and more roadways. These accusations pull on people’s instinctive desire to preserve nature[MKW10] . Who would want to replace beauty with horror? They use words like “heart and soul” to emphasize the loss of the downtown area’s business. The language used to describe the scenery that can be viewed from the freeway appeals directly to the reader’s emotions instead of their logical minds. [MKW11] 

            One of the reasons that remarks are heeded is due to the speaker’s credibility, or ethos. The “Pro” side uses its high ranking city officials to establish its credibility, whereas the “Con” side uses numerous and varied people residing in the city. Both sides seek to undermine the credibility the opposing side has acquired.[MKW12]  The “Pro” side accuses the “Con” side of using scare tactics and not giving any solutions to the many problems the “Con” side raises. The “Con” side says that the “Pro” side is not to be believed because they have rich backers and a corrupt failure of a developer. They also use the San Luis Obispo Planning Commission and the County Planners as allies to their cause in hope that their side will be thought of as having the same good standing as those prestigious groups. All of this either adds to or removes some of the reliability of the sides’ arguments.

            The whole point of these arguments is to get the audience to believe one side’s tale and not the other’s. The “Pro” side’s arguments seem to contradict themselves. Also[SM13] , when looking past the big numbers and important names, it is easy to see that there is no real substance to their arguments. It seems to be a case of “because I said so[SM14][MKW15]  ”. The “Con” side appears to be weaker as it uses more pathos than logos. However, this approach works well in this instance because what the Con side is trying to preserve is an emotional reaction to a place.

If[MKW16]  I were allowed to vote on this referendum I would vote against the center. I would do this more for the underlying truth, that many of San Luis Obispo’s residents dislike the idea of a new shopping center, than for the arguments put forth by the two sides. I know that I could not in good conscience cause such a disruption to so many lives. Perhaps one day the county will pave the land that sustainability practices tell us to keep and treasure, but for now I think it should stay as it is[SM17] !

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 [SM1]Great opener

 [MKW2]General location of the land

 [MKW3]Added what choices are

 [MKW4]Info is in the pamphlet not the referendum itself

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 [SM5]no comma

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 [SM6]awkward and echo—say persuade

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 [SM7]but these words dont emphasize beauty. As we discussed in the office, the pro side uses some emotional language usually used by opponents of development to try to gain the sympathy of citizens of SLO who tend to be environmentally aware.

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 [SM8]doesnt fit

 [MKW9]Focuses more on language


 [MKW11]Discusses language choice


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 [SM13]doesnt belong

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 [SM14]your strong assertion here doesnt seem warranted by previous critique.

 [MKW15]Moved from earlier in the paper

 [MKW16]Separated ideas

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 [SM17]Marisa—still a few problems left, but overall this is a fine analysis and critique. B+