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Oh What Tangled Webs We Weave.

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
November 26, 1998


As an environmental activist I have had to learn to deal with disappointment on a daily basis, with victories being few and far between. I also understand that living a principled life grows more difficult as one begins to make compromises in the face of opposition. Environmental principles are always the first to go, and last week I witnessed an individual whom I greatly respect sell out San Elijo Lagoon for reasons I have yet to fathom.

I have never considered Sheila Cameron an environmentalist. More Environmentally sensitive than most elected officials, I have a great working relationship with Sheila and I consider her my friend. That is why her vote to allow a private business to be placed between Manchester Avenue and The San Elijo Lagoon, a project that will destroy coastal sage scrub habitat that is home to a breeding pair of the endangered California Gnat Catchers, felt like a betrayal of epic proportions.

At the Encinitas City Council meeting we heard a lot of talk about traffic resulting from the placement of the Encinitas Country Day School. Estimated car trips for the school at build out was estimated at 3,000, and service on this 2 portion of road would be at the barely acceptable level D. Sorry, but where I come from a D may be a passing grade, but it is hardly what we should plan for. It seems to me the City Council, like all city councils, are chronically short sighted.

What was not taken into account was the proposed Manchester Sports park, Carlsbad's La Costa Valley development, and San Marcos's San Elijo Ranch development, all of these will place even more traffic on this little two-lane road, and gridlock will insue. I find it rather ironic that Sheila Cameron was a major opponent of Home Depot and Ecke Ranch, siting further gridlock as won of her major concerns. Yet here she was ignoring what she used to unseat Gail Hano, Lou Aspell, and John Davis. Sheila's yes vote should be seen as hypocrisy. I want a bumper-sticker that reads; Friends don't let friends run for city council.

The proponents of this project have said that the private Encinitas Country Day School was designed to be as environmentally conscious as possible, If that is not spin, I don't know what is. My question is how can one remove indigenous plant species, replace them with invasive non-native species, and still mouth environmental platitudes. In my line of work this is called greenwashing.

Also of note is the fact that there has been no Environmental Impact Report done on this site, which appears to be nothing more than a streamlining decision than anything else. Granted Kathleen Porteridge, the owner of the school, had a entourage of the best "environmental" engineers money could buy testify how an EIR was not needed. Boy, wasn't that convenient. They also said that the State Department of Fish and Game had also signed off on the project. On the surface this sounds sufficient, however, it is important to note that the Fish and Game department has also allowed the ravaging of the native space surrounding Buena Vista Lagoon, Agua Hedionda Lagoon, and Batisquitos Lagoon. Not to mention floodplains and our coastline.

Let's face it folks, natural habitat is disappearing at an alarming rate, and what little is left should be preserved in it's entirety. I realize that we may be talking of only two gnatcathcers, but without protecting habitat now, their won't be any biodiversity in the future. I know that if the administration of Encinitas Country day school can't make room for two small birds, they will not accommodate the raccoons, opossums, skunks, and rattlesnakes, etc. etc. on their school grounds.

I think it is time we started to look at the ecology of projects as opposed to the current "letter of the law" mitigation philosophy that is currently enabling the destruction of our natural habitats. According to the Dictionary of Ecology and Environmental Science "Ecocide is the deliberate extermination of all or part of a local or regional ecosystem." The removal of any native plant species for the placement of a lawn is just that. There is no balance here. None.

It is time all of us in coastal North County to step back and actually look beyond the trappings of civilized progress and ask ourselves, "Have we taken more than our share, are we living in balance with the biotic community that shares with us this little slice of the universe?" The fact is that we have settled for the oracular reasoning behind the belief that the self prescribed needs of Homosapiens are the only things to be considered. We have seen the enemy, and the enemy is us.

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