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The Walls Have It.

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
July 5, 1999


I'm not sure how to react to the news that a wall is being erected around what remains of Leo Carrillo ranch. It's seems almost funny that this huge subdivision, comprising of 19 villages, will be separated from it's name sake by a 6 ft. security wall and other landscaping. One would think if the city of Carlsbad wanted to protect this historic rancho, they would not have allowed the thousands of homes surrounding it to be built.

What is not funny is the fact that what was once a sizable piece of living history will now be a mere shadow of it's former self, completely out of context in a sea of suburban sprawl. No longer reflecting the less crowded Southern California of 1937, the rancho is destined to be a sad reminder of everything we so casually squandered.

Throughout San Diego's North County, less and less is being set aside for historic preservation, and historic sites are rarely preserved with any sense of place in tact. The wall that will surround the 27 acre Leo Cabrillo Ranch community park, is to little to late. Walling of our local history can hardly be seen as a way of promoting a interest in that same history.

Natural history can also be seen in this same light. On Carmel Mesa, biologists and developers are trying to decide exactly where to put the fence, that may or may not, protect the endangered vernal pool habitat threatened by the construction of single family hotels on the last of our bioregion's undeveloped coastal mesas. This is another case of locals being pushed aside to make room for new residents seeking the California dream, that no longer exists.

All of this fighting, regardless if it involves homes or habitat, homes are after all a highly structured, tax producing habitat, can only intensify. Those of us that live in San Diego's North County have now come to the place in the party where we begin to seriously skirmish over the last piece of the pie. At a time when we are being told to make room at the table for another million people, it hardly seems like there is enough parties favors to go around.

Growth is a religion in San Diego, so much so that we have been named the third fastest growing region in the country, the first being Phoenix. And like that large metropolis, we too live in a desert relying on faith that the good life won't come crashing down around us. Not only are we destroying entire ecosystems, we are now grading and filling mesas and canyons to make sure that not one acre of land has not been duly exploited.

Last week I have the displeasure to travel Highway 76 from Oceanside to the Pala Indian Reservation. The amount of development taking place left me in a state of shock. The rural charm of east Oceanside is now just a thing of the past. Guajome lake has been hidden behind a large earthen berm, so now what was once a peaceful country road, is now an ugly transportation corridor being crowded on both sides by walled communities. Rolling hillsides? Forget about it.

To paraphrase Ovid, the Greek philosopher, little by little San Diego's North County has become a pile of strip-malls and stucco palaces, one indiscernible from the next. Slowly the walls are closing in on us, and it is only a matter of time before we see our communities are not much different from the vernal pools being crowded out of existence.

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