As you read this column I am somewhere in Utah. More specifically I am rafting down the Green River through Desolation Canyon. My vacation consists of three friends, two guides, and 83 miles of scenic canyons, pristine wilderness, and remnants of a culture that dates back 2,000 years. And of course there is the river.
With warm water and moderate rapids, the Green River is rewarding and relaxing in a way that no cruise ship can ever achieve. Man and nature, up close and personal, is a good as it gets. For me to be a functioning adult, such a yearly pilgrimage is required for sanity retention. Call it nature therapy if you will.
Here in San Diego there is a lot of talk about tourism. Sadly however the kind of tourism being promoted continues to rely on the recreational theory of use and abuse. Manchester Resort is the perfect example of this ideology. The municipal beach in Oceanside is just another selling point for and over priced hotel. If this wasn't the case, there would be no need for amenities such as swimming pools, water slides, and an ice skating rink.
Nature is no longer relevant in peoples lives, that is unless it can sell a sports vehicle or a luxury cruise. It is so much easier to tolerate the environment when it is viewed from a climate controlled cocktail lounge. And why bother going into the ocean when a swimming pool doesn't leave you shaking sand out of your ears. Perhaps the real tragedy is that people will actually leave Utah to spend a week in crowded California when they could have saved a considerable amount of money, and explored the wonder that surrounds them. I'm certain the stripmalls of Salt Lake City are similar to our own.
For all of the beauty Carlsbad has to offer, City officials bend over backwards to accommodate Legoland while turning a blind eye to the destruction of the San Marcos Creek, as it runs through Box Canyon. Morrow development plans to dynamite this scenic water way to discourage people from enjoying it in it's natural state. Once again it seems life is about quantity of tourists not the quality of tourism.
Encinitas is suffering a bad case of tourist envy, even though there is nothing left to tour. The City Council and the dueling Chambers of Commerce are spending tax dollars, that could be used to buy open space, to lure tourists to beaches that keep disappearing. What is wrong with being a place where people live? I'm sure most residents of Encinitas did not move to the area because they desired to live in a destination.
The competition for tourism here in North County lacks regional consideration for the impacts such actions will have on our environment. And make no mistake about it, development interests have set their sites on our coastline, and have nothing but monetary interests in our communities. And as soon as they have extracted all the can from us, and the habitat that supports us, they will move on to a less developed area.
One thing I have yet to hear is the residents of Del Mar and Solana Beach clamoring for beach resorts and tourist attractions. Yes they would like to improve the business climate in town, but they see that to be accomplished by meeting the needs of residents. Perhaps they realize that residents spend considerably more money in town due to the fact that they will be here much longer than a weekend in July.