Last Wednesday I had the dubious honor of attending a debate regarding The Rural Heritage and Watershed Initiative at a Solana Beach coffee house. Not knowing the event was hosted by the Local Libertarian group I went expecting a rational debate, boy was I ever wrong. Duncan McFetridge, a leading proponent of the initiative, took entirely the wrong tack when dealing with this roomful of smug Libertarians. He sang only one note, the importance of government regulation in protecting the environment. For those of you unfamiliar with the Libertarian philosophy this group is anti government, and decidedly anti conservation. These folks believe and advocate that all government regulations regarding conservation should be repealed. They also believe that mandatory recycling laws be repealed. So singing the praises of environmental protection to these folks was like singing to a room full of deaf children. They see your lips moving but they just don't hear you.
His opponent Jack Gibson, of the San Diego County Property Rights Fund, hid behind the constitution all nightlong, alternating between using it as a shield and battering ram. Key to the ideology of the Libertarian Party is laissez-faire capitalism, this translates into letting the free market decide which species survive. Mr. Gibson actually believes that if given the responsibility, property owners would be the best stewards of native habitats. When I asked Jack to show precedence to back up that claim he just jumped behind the constitution, saying that I would never understand because I was a pantheist, like all the other Sierra Club members. What? I then asked him if he had ever read the works of Aldo Leopold, and how it is to his concept of the biotic community in which I subscribe. To this he said that humans are superior beings and are in fact, not created equal.
Mr. Gibson also stated that by allowing San Diego's east county to develop they would actually be helping to reduce coastal density, traffic and pollution. To that all I can say is, "Los Angeles."
Mr. McFetridge pointed out that all development upstream eventually affects those of us closer to the coast. Not to mention that any new developments place additional burdens on our already overstrained water supply. Protecting this water supply is paramount to the survival of our quality of life. As for increasing traffic in the county. That my friends is going to happen as long as we continue insist on funding road expansions at the expense of mass transit. Need I remind you NCTD recently announced that it will be cutting back on coaster service, or that certain Vista City Council members are fighting a passenger rail between Oceanside and Escondido.
Maybe, just maybe, by limiting sprawl to the already urbanized areas of the county while increasing density folks will begin to understand that the current development paradigm is little better than a cancer running through amok communities. It is time we drew a line in the sand, and the Rural Heritage and Watershed Initiative is just that. Is it perfect? Of course not. Are it's opponents offering up better solutions? Not yet. So until they do, I urge everybody to embrace the Seventh Generation philosophy and help protect what little open space we have left for future Libertarians.