Last week was a good one for North County residents concerned about protecting the environment. Proving that you can fight city hall and win, Citizens for the Preservation of Parks and Beaches successfully appealed a Oceanside council decision to the California Coastal Commission, preventing the paving of 8 acres of harbor beach. What this means to the Pfleger Institute is unclear. What is clear however is that things are finally beginning to change.
Attending the Coastal Commission meeting, proponents of paving did their very best to sway commissioners with anthropocentric reasonings of why excess sand was a waste of space and a financial burden on tourism oriented businesses. Joining organizations such as United Anglers, Seaside Charters, and the American Sport Fishermen Association, Mayor Dick Lyon, and Councilmember Carol McCauley tried in vain to convince the commission that parking lots and boat ramps are good for the environment. Ms. McCauley went on record to say that if the sand was paved over no one would miss it. My response to that was- "Tell that to the residents of Encinitas and Solana Beach."
In Carlsbad the very vocal and energized Citizens for the Preservation of Olde Carlsbad convinced their City Council to grant trees in that city's Northwest quadrant a stay of execution until policies regarding tree cutting and removal, street widening, and Future Improvement Agreements that force homeowners to pay for unwanted sidewalk, curbs, and gutters, are reviewed and revised.
Trying to keep control of their vision, Carlsbad Council members agreed to appoint a commission to oversee the process. My response to Mayor Lewis was a pro-pavement cheerleading squad would be redundant, considering that this was the role Council members have chosen for themselves. After assuring residents "We love nature. We love trees" Ramona Finnila, once again doing her imperial best, restated her usual mantra that those opposed to council imposed "improvements" only needed to be educated to the wisdom of destroying community character.
In Encinitas, residents effectively shut down freshman Councilmember Christy Guerin's attempt to rip that city's library from downtown. The majority of Encinitas wants the library to be rebuilt at it's current site, something Ms. Guerin refuses to acknowledge. Doing what she does best, Mayor Sheila Cameron made the motion for city staff to prepare a cost analysis matrix to compare the feasibility of proposed library sites. Environmentally speaking the best place for the Encinitas municipal library is downtown, next to a regional mass transportation hub.
And if that wasn't enough to pick up the spirits of the most jaded environmentalist, The Encinitas City Council, lead by Dennis Holz and Chuck DuVivier approved a plan for Quail Gardens Drive that includes a daylighted Cottonwood creek and a riparian corridor complete with native cottonwoods, willows and sycamores. As proposed by the Quail Botanical Gardens, the creek can easily be incorporated into expansion plans for the garden. This area is shaping up to be "Balboa Park north" finally setting Encinitas apart from other cities making up the North County sprawl.
Is this the beginning of a shift in consciousness? It appears so. Now that residents are finally taking control of the process by demanding that their elected officials be accountable to not only their needs, but the needs of the biotic community, it is safe to say that business as usual is not long for the world, and with continued pressure from concerned citizens the era of developers controlling North County politics will become nothing more than a bad memory.
In the words of Edward Abbey, "Democracy sounds like a good idea; we should try it some time."