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Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
March 1, 1999


Like most everybody else in Southern California, through the local media, I have been spoon-fed a daily dose of Legomania. A day does not go by with out there being some news regarding how Lego Land is going to save San Diego's north county from becoming some blighted backwater. If I see one more photo of Miniland I think I am going to go postal.

Recently while carpooling north on I-5, I had the dubious pleasure of viewing the new and improved Canon Drive on and off ramps. Please note that I did not say Legoland Drive, you can file this in the small victories department. Kudos to the city of Carlsbad for not completely selling out.

While viewing the new landscaping, a unmistakable paradox was as obvious as a 50 ft. tower of Danish building blocks. There, less than a half mile from the edge of the North America, trees native to Australia were planted to spruce up the approach to the site of a Danish company. My, my, my, aren't we continental.

Now I realize the majority of people in North County believe that we need as many tourist traps as possible in our little slice of paradise. What I don't understand is how that equates with adding more Eucalyptus trees to an area that is losing it's native habitat at an alarming rate.

It is not like Carlsbad doesn't know better. Just look at the job they did widening the La Costa Blvd. overpass. Currently, if you were too go look at that landscaping, you would see healthy young sycamore trees, and California Golden Poppies in bloom. To plant eucalyptus trees, when it is common knowledge that they do nothing to help restore the environmental balance, that city planners have so cavalierly destroyed, is completely irresponsible.

While the subject of irresponsibility is on the table, what percentage of native plants has been incorporated in the landscaping? Of the photos I have seen to date, the landscaping shown is quite lush. Considering that we live in region that is predominantly coastal sage scrub, it seems Southern California was not as perfect as the folks from Denmark had hoped. I guess a favorable business environment is all any of us really need.

The question before us now is when will this complete disregard for native plants and animals stop. Cities all over North County pay so called "professionals" considerable salaries to wreak havoc on local systems. Why is this? I'm sure Carlsbad city planners declared that Legoland would have no significant impact on the environment. Obviously municipal mercenaries had their back to Aqua Hedionda Lagoon at the time.

To show that this is not an isolated case, environmental consultants have also declared that the Manchester Resort in Oceanside would also have no impact on the coastal environment. Do you think this might have something to do with not biting the hand that feeds you. How much work do you think an environmental consultant would get, if word got that he was more concerned with environmental health, than corporate profitability? Turning a blind eye makes sense when you have car payments to make.

So now that we have an amusement park, perhaps local officials can now seek Federal loans to help fund the native plant museum. Just imagine, after your out of town guests are done looking at the miniature plastic skyline, you can take them to see the stuffed gnatcatcher gathering dust at City Hall.

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