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Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
May 8, 2000


Last week it was my dubious pleasure to watch the Encinitas campaign season kick into gear. While attending a meeting of well intentioned residents it became quite clear that this will be the council race to watch. Distinctly the most environmentally motivated electorate in North County, it seems political alliances will be strained if not destroyed in an all out fight to protect the San Elijo Lagoon from an onslaught of development.

One can always tell when the political season gets under way in Encinitas, because that is when the fur starts flying. This time around one can expect incumbent Sheila Cameron to pit her self against the environmental community that has supported her in the past. In an effort to be re-elected to the council dais, Ms. Cameron will back burner environmental considerations to force a soccer complex onto the banks of San Elijo Lagoon, while opposing a proposed November bond issue to buy the little bit of open space remaining in this city near build-out.

At this meeting, the majority of those in attendance sat with wide eyes open as Ms. Cameron brazenly criticized the work of the group in an attempt to mold them to her political agenda. She was right, they were wrong. Enough said. When challenged the Evita of Encinitas, got angry and left. But not before stating that her selling out of the San Elijo Lagoon to development interests 2 years ago, was responsible for the election of Dennis Holz and Christy Guerin. Talk about being the brightest star in a self-made sky.

True environmental stewards face down the opposition, not the opposite. Instead Ms. Cameron made it quite clear she will bring an army of soccer parents to a Coastal Commission hearing to make sure she gets her way. By aligning herself to the "sport fields at all costs" constituency, Councilwomen Cameron hopes to be given four more years to get something done. Correct me if I am wrong but horse trading never benefits the horse. And to insist otherwise is at best, delusional.

Recently at a City Council/ Department Manager workshop, facilitated by City manager Kerry Miller, this diverse group of professionals created a list of key words in regards to the Vision Statement and priorities of the City. Six of the eight key words pertain directly to the San Elijo Lagoon and it's surrounding ecological reserve. Preservation, sustainability, environment, balance, diversity , and quality all speak to the importance of protecting the fragile lagoon ecosystem, already crisscrossed with sewage and traffic infrastructure. Developing more noisy and traffic inducing projects directly adjacent to the ecological reserve only continues to degrade this biological haven.

With California's population increasing by a half million residents each year, we can no longer allow politicians to play fast and loose with our environment. To do so will be at our own peril. Does the City of Encinitas need more sport fields? Maybe. Although most residents believe better use should be made of the ones that exist before new ones are built, this conversation is rarely addressed by the powers that be. Whereas a joint use library would not be in the best interest of every Encinitas resident, joint use sport facilities would be. And I am not just talking about human residents. Needless to say as California's human population increases, native animal and plant populations continue to plummet.

So much for balance and sustainability.

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