Sometimes fate smiles on you, or your cause, and temporarily all is right with the world. For the residents of Oceanside, this is one of those times. Granted that the majority of the Oceanside City Council, the Chamber of Commerce, and the few others who plan to profit from the proposed Manchester Resort development would say otherwise, the tide is beginning to turn in City politics.
In the past this column has taken Council member Terry Johnson to task for an apparent conflict of interest in his support for the Manchester project. Like the rest of the council he was more than willing to bend over backwards for rapacious development interests, my how things have changed. The judgment currently being displayed by Mr. Johnson is very encouraging, and eating a bit of crow, I decided to inquire about what I saw as a complete turn-around.
On the phone after confessing my surprise on his withdraw of support for Manchester, Mr. Johnson informed me that his decision to "cut bait" was based on the belief that "18 months was long enough," and that Oceanside needs to go forward with a project the community will support, and that the Coastal Commission will approve." Using Bosla Chica and San Simeon as examples of the Coastal Commission's renewed commitment to the environment, he was adamant in the statement that "the commission won't agree to the encroachment of public land".
He also said that it became obvious to him that Doug Manchester did not have faith in his own project, and when the resort developer backed out of the purchase agreement with land owners Oceanside Pier Partners, the issue became quite clear. Speaking for the landowners, Jim Watkins has said that "Manchester will never own the property." Strike three.
Now instead of leaving the field like a good sportsman, Manchester is suggesting that they could acquire the property, with the help of the council though eminent domain, which according to Mr. Johnson will never happen because they votes are not there. His to be exact. As I'm sure everybody knows, the Oceanside Council has decide to give Manchester another six months to beat it's dead horse. Most Oceanside residents agree the process is not going to be pretty.
Not please don't construe this as a Terry Johnson cheerleading session, I am still wary of all politicians. If you are at all familiar with Encinitas city politics you will understand why. This is just my acknowledgement of an elected official coming into step with the people he represents. Not only should Mr. Johnson be commended for taking a principled stand on behalf of the environment, whether or not he meant to do it, we should also gave him time to bring other council members on board as well.
Not to be lost in this change of heart, the residents who have refused to give in to the bullying tactics of the developers should also be thanked for fighting the good fight. What once seemed to be the quixotic efforts a few disgruntled women, has now turned into a grassroots movement to protect downtown Oceanside and the public parkland west of Pacific Street. Environmental victories are few and far between, and the work of Citizens for Preservations of our Parks and beaches is proof that you can in fact fight City Hall.