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Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect 200

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
July 2, 1998


Recently I had a revelation that I thought was worth sharing. You now how when you play Monopoly first you have to place some houses on your property before you put hotels. The goal being the placement of hotels, the more the merrier. You just pray you own the hotels, otherwise parking your silver roadster will be rather expensive. Two or more hotels on Pacific Avenue can reduce other players to poverty. Game over.

Prompting this insight was the current rush to build hotels. Manchester Resorts hotel is a shining example. Not content to 3 city blocks, they wish to spread over Pacific Street and engulf the bluff and bandstand neatly attaching itself to the entrance of the pier.

Once again the community chest is surrounded. Included in the plan is "pier redevelopment". Is it just me,  or do most people think the pier and it's attached amenities; beach, bandstand, and community center are fine the way they are.

Three prime downtown city lots should be more than sufficient to squeeze profits from locals and tourists alike. What should not be allowed is the "seamless" development Manchester Resorts envisions. The encroachment of public space is never ending. Sea World is a perfect example of private interests controlling public resources. Slowly, the amusement park is acquiring more and more bay front property, thereby restricting access. By the sounds of the rumblings emanating through Oceanside, it seems Manchester's and the city's grandiose plans are not exactly in the community's best interest.

Surprising as this may seem, not everyone will benefit from this arrangement. Do we really have to turn our lives into a tourist destination? Parts of downtown were leveled for redevelopment, and that should be applauded. Encasing the coast in high rent concrete should not. Sure some business's will adapt as the rent goes up, others will not. Theaters and bars should do fine. The small coffee shops will more than likely give way to chain stores like Starbucks. And the general character of downtown will become disturbingly commercialized, interchangeable with any other commerce district. Just line up those hotels in a row, your Scotty dog will never know the difference.

So to the residents who are questioning the city's priorities, and organizations like Surfriders, I say hats off. The shoe has dropped and I'm glad they are matching the development interests move for move. It would be a shame to be crowded off the the board. Since we are on the subject of plastic playing pieces, it seems coastal North County doesn't have enough hotel rooms to accommodate the throngs of tourists that will flock to Carlsbad's plastic playland. Uh oh, better build hotels on all the remaining open space along the coast. Pilgrims to Legoland will need a place to rest there tired feet. Of coarse the only answer is to build, build, build. It's a good thing the Encinitas Planning Commission is making it easy for developers to purchase and develop lots along Highway 101 through Leucadia. The only thing standing between us and the Boardwalk is the Luxury Tax.

Recently the Encinitas City Council, in their infamous wisdom, agreed to place on the November ballot a tax increase that would allow the city the luxury of throwing money into the ocean. Oh sure, proponents call it sand replenishment. In actuality it is nothing more than a placebo aimed at distracting residents from any long time to solutions. Just like the "Trash for Sand" scheme the causes are not even being consider, only the symptoms. The desire for freeway close hotels will severely impact neighborhoods along Las Costa Avenue and Leucadia Boulevard, west of I-5. Currently neither road is adequate for such a substantial increase of traffic that these proposed hotels will generate.

One will also notice when looking at the Monopoly board that the railroads are strategically placed, and that Free Parking is rare. This is getting weird isn't it? Coincidence? I think not. It is my belief that just as violence on television encourages kids towards violence, Monopoly has given birth to many a developer since it's creation in 1934. It seems we won't be happy until the west coast is as crowded as the east. Park Place is nice, but who can afford to live there.

A couple of weeks ago one of my readers wrote to say that my whining was a turn off. I have three things to say to that. First of all I do not consider myself a whiner, although I do complain... alot. Second, he could be right. And third, does any of this really matter. Since I believe it does, I will continue what I'm doing while trying not to offend. One could say everything is a roll of the dice, and my goal is that we all advance 5 spaces.

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