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The Alphabet Series: V is for Vision

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
August 23, 2000


"I see the day in our own lifetime that reverence for the natural systems - the oceans, the rainforests, the soil, the grasslands, and all other living things, will be so strong that no narrow ideology based on politics or economics will overcome it." — Jerry Brown

Vision in the wrong hands can be deadly. When working on the the Theory of Relativity, Albert Einstein was looking for answers, not weapons of mass destruction. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were Oppenheimer's vision. When Henry Ford created the automobile assembly line he expected to see renewable resources fuel autos in his lifetime. It is safe to say Mr. Ford's vision did not include photochemical smog chocking America's children or the traffic nightmare faced by modern commuters.

I'm sure if I where to ask a hundred coastal North County residents about their long term vision for the communities in which they live, I would receive a variety of responses. Some simple in nature, others grand, all rooted in the conditions of the culture of the time. This was probably the same a hundred years ago. My Question is whose vision was it to turn southern California into a gigantic parking lot.

When Interstate 5 was first imagined the goal was about connecting San Diego to the rest of the state in a significant way. Well, it worked. We are so well connected we can barely move. More than just a transportation corridor, I-5 has become a continuous commercial district bisecting the region with an ever increasing, and traffic inducing array of shopping opportunities. A narrow view permeates every development.

I knew the jig was up when Car Country Carlsbad was built. Urban sprawl needs cars to make it relevant. In a perfect world the native habitat would not have been replaced with flower fields, and agriculture. But scraping away the flowers to make room for cars was adding insult to injury. We now had a name to live up to. Written off as inevitable the growth machine has found a home in Carlsbad, and plenty of cars to keep pace.

Now that growth has become the official vision of the status quo, nothing is safe. Homes are being built faster than the infrastructure can keep up with it. Older neighborhoods often bear the brunt of the development industry's need to support itself. Ponto will soon be history, old Carlsbad is fighting to keep it's trees, and Cabrillo Ranch has been all but buried under a layer of tract homes. Where in the rules does it say vision can not include restraint.

Also not included in vision promoted by the Carlsbad establishment is biodiversity. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the City of Carlsbad's Habitat Management Plan for Natural Communities falls far short of ensuring that state and federally listed species will not be jeopardized by future development within the city. Dave Hogan writing for the CBD goes on to say, "the plan will in fact jeopardize many "covered species," preclude recovery of these and other wildlife and plants and will not provide for the long term viability of sensitive habitats."

V is also for Vernal pool, and according to the CBD several vernal pools and the endangered species they support are not a  protected part of Carlsbad's "Vision." What does it say about a species that will casually shrug off the extinction of another, Which is what's happening, considering the Carlsbad Habitat Management Plan plan allows for the "taking" of endangered species. Vision that goes no further than convenience, is myopic in it's egocentrism.

One person in Carlsbad whose vision of the future includes Gnatcatchers and Fairy shrimp is the tireless Inez Yoder. A founding member of the Canyons Network, Inez has been working to save San Marcos Creek and Box canyon for the last two years. And if that's not enough, she has now turned her attention to vernal pools threatened with destruction to make room for a golf course at the west end of Carlsbad's Palomar Airport.

Doug Chartier, a candidate for the Carlsbad City Council describes Inez Yoder as a civic leader who has her feet firmly planted on the ground and her integrity grounded in environmental sensitivity. In fact there is not one person I have spoken to who has not been moved by Inez's vision for Carlsbad. Clear and inclusive, visionaries such as Inez are needed more than ever. It's nice to know that candidates attempting to unseat the car people of Carlsbad recognize this.

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