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Ignoring the numbers without counting the cost

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
March 29, 2007


Talking with a friend over lunch last week, conversation about the weather soon shifted to the drawbacks of living in Southern California. We were dining at sidewalk table, on a beautiful spring day, in downtown Encinitas. Sipping Pellegrino, we were sure of two things; we had it good and over population was ruining the view.

We had been driving around town recruiting local businesses to participate in an environmental fair we were helping to organize for World Environment Day in June. Talking to merchants we were encouraged by the level of concern being voiced. Selling environmental awareness is much easier these days.

And yes, the irony of us driving around town, burning copious amounts of fossil fuel, to promote an eco-friendly event, while The United States and England were waging a war for oil in the middle east, was not lost on us.

By the time our entrees came we were lamenting the insane amount of traffic on Coast Highway 101, the serious lack of parking in coastal Encinitas, and the fact it was only going to get much worse. Using surf spots as an analogy, my organizing companion, and avid surfer, said that trying to oversell what makes our region ideal is ruining the region. Like waves, quantity never makes up for quality.

Like an aggressive form of cancer, coastal development is a blight that can no longer be mitigated. Cities already struggling to provide basic services, such as parks, and road maintenance in a time of economic uncertainty, are told continued growth is the only way out of their fiscal predicaments by organizations profiting from promoting overpopulation, habitat loss, and ecological compromise.

To accommodate the growing number of people, and more importantly their automobiles, the coastal cities of Southern California have morphed into a metropolis of suburban frustration. Where neighbors fight neighbors to protect their view, save trees, build parks, and maintain property values.

A hard Green, I have long understood as the number of people trying to crowd into to what were once sleepy little beach communities continues unabated, quality of life is diminished to the point of being unrecognizable. Encinitas is now indistinguishable from neighboring, cities as one community bleeds into another separated only by bodies of water far removed from their natural state.

Lack of foresight, inadequate education, and cultural apathy on the part of elected officials and government bureaucrats, as well as lawyers and lobbyists working to promote the politics of pillage, are rapidly erasing any sense of casual California. Lack of open space, lack of water, lack of biodiversity, are further compounded by attempts at mitigation, when regulation is needed.

Overpopulation is very real. Just as you can have too many rats in a cage, and too many people in an elevator, you can have too many people living in a region. Every issue facing residents of San Diego County can be tied to overpopulation. Trying to fit an unlimited amount of people into a finite space with limited resources only results in Over-development, homelessness, gang violence, poor water quality, traffic gridlock, classroom overcrowding, environmental destruction and a lack of secret surfing spots.

It's is time for state and local leaders to consider population caps and building moratoriums.

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