"I do not propose to write an ode to dejection, but to brag as lustily as chanticleer in the morning, standing on his roost, if only to wake my neighbors up." — Henry David Thoreau
Mid-July, A.k.a the dog days of summer, is best likened to the doldrums, and the dead calm from which hurricanes are spawned. This being an election year, the approaching storm is one for which all voters should be prepared with a clear understanding of the possible threats to our collective well being.
I do this as a public service, with the intent of assuring that environmental considerations are discussed of the upcoming political season.
This dog day column is merely an overview. My objective is to simply raise issues I believe to be of vital importance. Throughout the next view months I will revisit these topics in greater detail, that and asking environmental questions of local candidates. From Oceanside to Del Mar we live on the precarious edge between calm and catastrophe. Fire, floods, and falling bluffs are the least of our problems. It's the man made disasters that will be our undoing.
Issue #1 – Clean Water
Contrary to popular belief, removing the administration of George W. Bush from the White House is not the most important issue before the coastal communities of San Diego County. That distinction belongs to the Clean Water Initiative currently making its way to the November 2004 ballot. When successful this initiative will repeal Proposition C of 1994 which allowed the citing of a garbage dump in the San Luis Rey River watershed, bypassing county environmental regulations in the process. The Landfill is proposed for the pristine, and archeologically significant, Gregory Canyon.
The citing of a Landfill on top of a fresh water source is not in the best interest of those who depend on water from the San Luis Rey River and Aquifer. Citing a toxic landfill upstream of coastal cities that depend on clean beaches and safe surf for tourism revenue is also not in anyone's best interest. The only people who will benefit form the placement of a toxic landfill in a flood plain next to a river are those people with financial interests in the Gregory Canyon Landfill scheme.
As things stand now surfers and swimmers do so at their own risk. Coastal waters are now laced with an untold amount of human waste. From break fluid to herbicides the amount of toxicity running off our communities is directly related to our lack of commitment towards ecological health and sustainability.
Issue #2 – Over Population
Overpopulation affects every resident of coastal southern California, regardless of species. The most glaring example of a population out growing its supporting infrastructure is the transportation quagmire regional leaders seem unwilling to escape. As regional population grows so to does the traffic nightmare warping our lives. Before the voters in November will be the question of extending the half-cent Transnet sales tax first approved in 1987 for another forty years.
Personally I am opposed to the tax extension, as where it may generate transportation funds it does nothing to seriously address traffic pressures on regional ecosystems. Nor will trying to accommodate the traffic generated by unlimited population growth made possible by bad planning.
Issue #3 – Water Availability
As local council elections kick into high gear, the entire region will be served with an open and honest assessment of how we can keep the water flowing into existing neighborhoods, as well as area of proposed development. For decades we have lived on borrowed water, and now that borrowed resource is becoming sparse due to population and ecological disconnect. How the water we do have is used, and questions regarding such should be asked of everyone running for municipal office. Side issues such as native landscaping and water conservation, water reclamation and desalinization would then be open for discussion.
Of course there are other issues, to mention the loss of agriculture space, the need of park land, smart growth, increased urban density, affordable housing, affordable mass transit, wetland restoration, beach access, and the preservation of what little open space remains, is to name just a few.
As voters we owe it to ourselves, and future residents, to educate ourselves during the run up to the November 2nd election. We also serve the greater good by putting the environment at the forefront of all political and civic deliberations.
My job is to encourage these deliberations.