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Is Single-minded Environmentalism So Bad? 

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
October 22, 1999


I saw a skiploader this morning on the beach in front of the Encina Power Plant. It seemed completely out of place, but I was not surprised. I had just stopped by the California Coastal Commission meeting and my mind was on the beach. To be honest my mind was on the bluffs because of an issue before the commission involved coastal erosion in Solana Beach.

Homeowners were asking to fill in sea caves as a way of delaying their homes from falling into the ocean. It is clear that we need to restore our beaches to their native state. But how do we do this with out making compromises? We don't. It's a regional issue that can't be solved with a sea wall here, a TOT tax there, and an artificial reef up there.

I given some thought to the whole Prop R thing. Maybe this is not a bad idea after all. If we can assure that the money actually goes to correcting the cause of the sand loss I am all for it. This is the role of government. Taking care of the commons is something we pay them to do. Raising taxes for coastal preservation is long over due.

Raising money is a good thing because we have a lot of work to do. Besides sand replenishment, we need to address jetties and groins along the coast, open the lagoons to tidal flushing, and buy threatened bluff properties. Instead of spending so much money subsidizing development maybe we should let development pay for it self and spend municipal money on beach restoration.

Does the City of Encinitas need to have a sister city in Japan? Instead of spending $3,000 to send the mayor and deputy mayor to Hondo, maybe they can save money and go talk to their sister cities to the north. What goes on in Oceanside and Carlsbad matters a great deal more to the people of Encinitas than the maintaining some superficial relationship with another city council on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. I guess it's a question of priorities.

The City of Oceanside wants to put a huge resort hotel on the coast so much, they are willing to sell public park land to the lowest bidder then subsidize the development. The Manchester people say their project is going to raise millions of dollars for the city. What they aren't saying is that this money will have to be spent supporting the new development, in the way of services such as police, fire and paramedics. Then there is infrastructure expansion and future maintenance.

The pro-development community keeps saying we have to balance economic reality with environmental considerations. Funny, but that is what I have been saying all along. Let's face it folks, the current paradigm has tipped the scale completely out of balance in favor of economics. There is a lot of talk about the profits, but when some of us start to inquire about the true cost of our actions, we are labeled single-minded. Excuse me, but haven't we been single-mindedly pursuing a free market ideology for the last, I don't know, 300 years.

Maybe it is time to redefine the concept of natural resources. Things are changing. The fact that we are having a prolonged conversation in this publication is a major step forward. And if the Republicans are successful, we are going to have President Gore to help push the environmental agenda to the forefront where it belongs. Some people actually realize that the time of over abundance has passed, and that we can't continue to squander our children's future for the sake of short term gains.

To be honest, I am tired of all this petty squabbling, although I am prepared to continue to fight the good fight, because the shift away from a consumptive culture is worth the effort. Leaving open space for other species is much more important than making sure there is enough retail space to go around. Call me crazy but I think our future generations can do with out another Starbucks.

So here is what I suggest. I'll stop calling people puppets if they will cut the strings that keep them doing the development shuffle. Odd as this may seem, there are tunes other than the sound of a cash register to dance to.

Maybe if we all stopped throwing words around and started to actually talk to each other we could move beyond the current system and actually get something done in the way of environmental restoration. I don't know about you, but I am ready for a change. Mike, let me know when your ready to have that beer. I can be reached at [defunct email address].

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