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Ignoring the Wake-up Call
Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
March 5, 1998
There is a game I played as a kid that required deductive reasoning to win, this game was all about listening and learning. I'm wondering if I was the only person to play this game. This is the game called CLUE. It seems to me most people couldn't get a clue if it walked up and bit them, which by the way is happening as I write this. The dog with the sharp teeth is named named El Nino, and he is not alone. Accompanying him is his current handler who goes by the name of Global Warming, and an innocent accomplish known as the Pacific Ocean.
Case in point; homes in Del Mar along Ocean Front, between 22nd and 24th streets, in spite of valiant efforts(read bulldozers and huge boulders,) are being undermined and destroyed by winter storms. This is not new. Year after year the homes are ravaged by waves, yet no one seems to remember. What is it? Has everybody lost their short term memory? When it comes to the coast, everyone is afflicted by a sort of Alzheimer's disease.
The daily papers and the local news stations are reporting of damaged homes and business' accompanied by photographs of the damage. Now that I think of it, those were the same shots as last year, and the year before that. What could it be, other than stubbornness, that keeps people from seeing the truth. The ocean will always win. Like mules, coastal home owners are digging in their heels as the waves carry off their dining room set. Hello. A wise man once told me that perseverance is the fools choice when retreat is the only answer. And I'm not even talking to bluff top dwellers, who are fools in their own right. The folks in Del Mar are at sea level yet they still feign surprise when the sand beneath their homes is washed away. In 1983 winter storms resulted in damage that cost millions of dollars.
As if building this close to the ocean wasn't folly enough, people are trying to hold back the tide. Moses might have held back the Red Sea, but let's be honest, he had help. Seawalls only transfer the problem elsewhere. Neighbors on either side will now take the full brunt of storms, and this will continue until the entire coast is walled. Won't that be good for tourism? Del Mar will have to change it's slogan to "Where the surf meets the cement." And yes I know there use to be a beach. It is now sitting behind jetties and east of I-5.
I don't mean to be harsh, in fact, I do feel compassion for the people who are now homeless, they are after all victims of an ideology that totally ignores the natural processes. My problem is with city planners, these people don't have the backbone to say no to irrational desire. As a long time native of San Diego County I am to aware of the pretentious attitudes of beach dwellers. The bigger the house the bigger the ego, or vice versa, it's really they same thing. Building homes in the path of an unstoppable force, makes no sense. All I can say is, "sorry folks but you trophy home is now just litter someone is going to have to clean up of the beach.
Speaking of beach pollution, does anyone take into to consideration the impacts a home's spilled contents have on the environment. During last weeks storms a man lost part of his kitchen to the surf. Like everyone else I'm sure he had all sorts of chemicals under the sink. We can only hope Drano wasn't one of them. Also worth considering is the amount of stuff that doesn't make it back to the beach. Do we have a mini landfill just off our coast?
When a home is damaged beyond repair, well meaning county employees red tag it, this means that you can't enter the home regardless of what remains untouched by the ocean. So instead of preventing more stuff from being claimed by the waves, we sit and hope the bleach in the laundry room, the television in the master bedroom, and the carpet in the hallway stays put.
Trying to protect their homes some residents filed for, and received, an emergency barrier building permit. In other words these people asked big brother for a Band-aid, funny thing is that the rock piles have to be removed by spring. So this exercise in futility will cost tens of thousands dollars, and will solve nothing. Where is the Coastal Commission when you need them? I think we should remove the rocks from our collective head before we start to move rocks on the beach. Ladies and gentlemen I need not remind you that retreat is merely a strategic advance.
So for those of you who still haven't got a clue, let me just give you the answer. Mr. Green did it in the living-room with the Pacific Ocean. Uh-oh it looks like I just won the game.