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The Ghost of Abundance past

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
October 16, 2001


In the past I have said some unflattering things about Governor Gray Davis, most of which was tied directly to his handling of the manufactured energy debacle. And where Gov. Davis is still suspect in regards to the fleecing of California, I must give him credit for signing some long due, if not comprehensive, legislation requiring developers to prove a water supply for subdivisions of 500 or more homes.

SB211, authored by Senator Sheila Kuehl, and endorsed by the Sierra Club, the California Farm Bureau Federation, the California Municipal Utilities Association, and The Nature Conservancy, finally creates legislation allowing a planning agency to deny development agreements without proof of a sufficient water supply. Proof of sufficient water supply availability shall be based on written verification from the applicable water supplier, and that such verification is to be provided within 90 days of a request.

Unfortunately, the bill does not apply to residential projects proposed for a site within an urbanized area which has been previously developed, or where the immediate contiguous properties surrounding the site are, or previously have been developed for urban uses, or to housing projects that exclusively address the need for very low and low-income households. SB221 is a good start however, in moving towards the proposed goal of smart growth.

By honestly, and adequately assessing the availability of resources needed to sustain a healthy and productive population, Californians can prevent growing themselves into a very uncomfortable corner. Sooner or later we must come to terms with the some very real limitations. By failing to measure the true cost of an ever expanding population, we only compound future hardships.

With population increasing in California at a rate of 600,000 a year, we have grown way beyond natural limits. Currently California survives on water subsidies, and imported resources. This is due to both climatic systems, and a consistent population increase. Living beyond our means is economically dangerous and environmentally corrupt. Thankfully, Sheila Kuehl has laid the foundation for an ecologically responsible planning process.

Sadly, our local representatives do not support such progressive thinking, preferring instead the safety of the "growth at all cost" status quo. Senator Ray Haynes of District 36 and Senator Jim Battin of District 37 voted against making sure development is done in a responsible manner. Senator Bill Morrow of District 38 was absent during all votes related to this bill. His absence during the final vote was attributed to a meeting with Enron representatives. Assembly members from North County, Mark Wyland (District 74) and Charlene Zettel (District 75), voted against the bill when it was brought before them as well. For those of you wondering, all these representatives are registered as Republican. Democrats representing San Diego all voted in favor of the SB221.

Researching how our state representatives from San Diego's North County voted in regards to requiring the building industry to prove access to an increasingly limited resource before beginning construction shed some light as to why our region is growing faster than is the infrastructure needed to support it. The fact that our representatives in Sacramento are working against environmentally sensible legislation is proof that political foxes are still in the business of building inferior hen houses.

Hopefully voters will send these private servants packing before they do to water what they have already done to electricity.

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