"A sense of place, to me, is being in touch with the natural world, finding health and balance and renewal in nature and the seasons." — Jo Northrop
I write this having just received news that my brother in law had finally succumbed to a rather nasty, and oh so persistent, squamous neck lymphoma. Where there is no joy in his passing, there was much joy in his life, so perhaps it is only fitting that he should check out at a time of planetary renewal. To mark his passing I will plant a native tree so that his spirit can rise again, this time in the form of a sycamore named Stuart. For those of you who haven't tried it, a sycamore is the perfect tree for hugging.
As an unrepentant Druid, the spring equinox is a time when I find myself struggling with the bipolar dance between celebration of the earth in it's finest form, and rage at those who would diminish our life support systems as a way of lining their already soiled nest. Last week, with my misanthropy most prominent, George W, and those who embrace his American jihad, occurred to me as a waste of food. This week however, even in the face of death,hope has taken center stage with the news that Box Canyon has been saved.
Lending proof that environmentalists can no longer be discounted as misguided idealists, the Canyons Network, Sierra Club, and Center for Biological Diversity have scored a victory for wildlife in North County. Succeeding despite a Carlsbad City Council which cares nothing for environmental sustainability, a voracious development firm personified by the hateful Fred Arbuckle, and a coastal Commission all to willing to turn a blind eye to the destruction of rare biological treasures, these earth friendly organizations won a small battle in a much larger war.
This is not to say the over-development of Carlsbad has in any way been halted, quite the contrary. Where the environmentalists prevailed in saving Box Canyon and San Marcos creek from further destruction, they were unable to prevent the construction of another 2,358 single family McMansions. What was won however should be enough to embolden other environmentalists, to take their conservation battles into court, and hit the developers where it hurts the most, their wallets.
Under the terms of the settlement reached in court, environmentalists have agreed to drop all lawsuits, in exchange for the deletion of 32 homes nearest Box Canyon. Also part of the agreement is the preservation of 800 acres of wildlife habitat within the project area, the purchase of an additional 200 acres of habitat beyond Carlsbad City limits, to serve as a wildlife corridor, the purchase of 10 acres of wetlands habitat.
Other mitigations required by the settlement are,a wildlife under crossing to be built under Rancho Santa Fe road,the planting and maintenance of native plants and shrubs, and a $1.4 million endowment for the restoration and maintenance of habitat.
Adding insult to injury, and my personal favorite, is the fact that Morrow Development is required to pay the legal fees of the environmental groups who challenged their "growth at all costs" agenda. Hopefully the Sierra Club, and those associated with the Canyon Network will share their strategies with other citizen groups trying to keep developers in check.
The outcome of this small skirmish should serve as a warning to those in the building industry. The days of Carte Blanc "do as you will" development schemes are over. North County residents have had enough of their quality of life being sold down the river by carpet bagging charlatans with little regard for those who already call this region home. As residents we understand the desirability of living in Southern California, and would like to keep it as such.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but most Californians do not want to live in human monocultures of lawn and stucco. Yet that is exactly what we are allowing to transpire. One cul-de-sac at a time. Having been convinced the only diversity of importance is that of shopping choices, our communities have become nothing more than sterile timeshares connected by asphalt and retail experiences.
Growth, like spring, is inevitable . The question, that should be in the forefront of all our minds, is at what rate does growth become unhealthy and unnatural?
Cancer is growth without limits, at the expense of the host. Unfortunately for us, the development industry has become such an affliction, that even radical environmental therapy may not be enough to save us from ourselves.