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And the mountains shall be torn asunder

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
July 21, 2006


Not long ago, a woman I respect a great deal asked for my observations on ridgeline development in San Marcos. Since observations are my thing I agreed. As we were in downtown Encinitas at the time, I told her I would need some time to consider the obvious as it relates to the City of San Marcos and ridgeline development.

Ethically opposed to destruction of ridgeline habitats to create stunt homes for the self-entitled, the easy response would be to wax poetic about the evils of the development industry while mourning the loss of indigenous species to the unrelenting crawl of suburban sprawl. I'm not going there. What's the point?

San Marcos is determined to reap the benefits of unchecked growth. No different then any other California municipality, San Marcos will develop every piece of open space possible. And when the open space is all gone there will be calls for redevelopment, high density and smart growth. Encinitas is a perfect example, as are Solana Beach, Del Mar, and Carlsbad.

Developing ridgelines in San Marcos is a problem on a myriad of levels. Building on top of a tinderbox, in a fire prone habitat, along narrow winding roads, is economically risky. Destroying endangered habitat so that a few people can enjoy photochemical sunsets while playing king of the hill is folly.

Rapid population growth, like that being encouraged in San Marcos, is so far from sustainable it is almost criminal. To think that any ridgelines in California are safe from human encroachment is delusional. Nothing is sacred in southern California; sooner or later even the most protected habitats are compromised by human greed. The nature of capitalism is to destroy nature.

Again I ask you, why would San Marcos be any different.

The overdevelopment of San Marcos has been the life work of F.H. "Corky Smith." A planning commissioner between 1976 and 1980, a City Councilman from 1980 to 1994, and Mayor from 1994 to the present, Corky abhors talk of conservation and habitat preservation. Over the past 30 years there have been only two constants in San Marcos, Corky and perpetual development. For those new to the area, which is the majority of San Marcos residents. Incorporated in 1963, when Corky started his political career in 1976 San Marcos was a dusty ranch town of approximately 15,000 people.

The population of San Marcos is now approximately 70,000 and growing. With no sign of restraint, or long-term sustainability, those who think San Marcos City leaders would protect endangered wildlife habitat along ridgelines or elsewhere, are delusional at best.

The dynamite driven development of the San Elijo Hills planned community is a testament to the environmental apathy and ecological ignorance promoted by the folks at San Marcos city hall. Expect nothing more, and nothing less, than the complete rape of natural San Marcos, as nothing is sacred, and therefore nothing is safe under the greedy stewardship of F.H. "Corky" Smith.

In other words the ridgelines of San Marcos are toast. How do I know this? I've been watching the destruction of ridgelines in San Marcos from our front deck in Leucadia for more than a decade.

Oh, and for those readers still wondering what the F.H. stands for, let me spell it out for you. The F. H., of F.H. Smith, is an acronym for Forfeit Hope.

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