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Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
November 16, 1998


I love this time of year. After the first rain of the fall the air is so crisp and clean it almost burns your nose, and the clouds just sort of float in a light blue sky. Ahh, beautiful cleansing rain. It will take the smog a couple of days to re-accumulate, but until then I'll just enjoy the reprieve.

Last week, between classes, my friend Clayton and I wanted to take a nature break, so we decided to hike around Discovery Lake in San Marcos, which is not far from CSUSM. As we started towards the asphalt path that circles the "lake" I noticed that a path down to a stand of oaks had been recently manicured, and just past this natural area was a huge grade and fill development that had encroached up to the Green Belt designated by the city of San Marcos.

What was once a rolling hillside had been reshaped as a barren mound, a wall if you will, that seemed more of a battlement than anything else. After communing with the green space, we decided to venture into the brown. Following the drainage ditch up, we wanted to get a better vantage point in which to view the damage. It was at this point I realized the term clear-cut can cover a lot of injustices.

Overlooking the future neighborhood we tried to decipher the colors of survey markers, pink for lot boundaries, blue for utilities, and orange we weren't quite sure of. We thought that we were looking at two cul-de-sacs, it was hard to tell. One thing we were sure of was, that in keeping with the Discovery theme, these homes would be as crowded together as the ones on the other side of the green belt. And like the other homes in this sprawl development, they too will turn their backs on open space. Out of sight, out of mind.

After coming to the conclusion that the drainage system for this new project would severely alter the green belt with the first major storm, we decided to head back to class. Driving out of the tract home maze I was amused by the distinctions being made were there were none. Glenn Arbor, looked exactly like Woodline, and Discovery Hills was indistinguishable from Discovery Meadows. All the house were identical. This is what I call monoculture.

For every native plant, planted in this cookie-cutter neighborhood, 100 non-natives were planted. It is obvious that the developers have decided that nature has it's place, and that place is not neighborhoods. The folks that move into these tract communities will be the first to scream foul when their beloved pet becomes coyote chow. The only nature these folks are concerned with is human nature, and that only goes so far as to make sure there is a multiplex within in a three mile radius.

Now before anyone accuses me of singling out San Marcos, all they need to do is insert the name of their fair city, and the rest still applies. With the failure of the Rural Heritage and Watershed Initiative we can count on an acceleration of this type of development. Although, I do have to admit that the city of San Marcos is out doing itself, in regards to it's feeding frenzy on open space. Before long, we can expect the cities of Carlsbad and San Marcos to become as indistinguishable as the tract homes that sprawl across their borders.

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