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Let the density games begin

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
November 9, 2007


Well folks, it seems a vertical real estate boom is underway with upward sprawl now fully engaged. As if San Diego County wasn't already struggling with inadequate infrastructure, unreliable water resources and burgeoning landfills. Cities such as San Diego, Oceanside and Carlsbad are throwing caution to the wind to make room for more development to accommodate more people and more retail space.

As municipalities forgo any sense of restraint others will join the race for space, thereby changing the very nature of Southern California culture. Blue skies will be replaced with urban shade and shadows and coastal views limited to those who can afford to live closest to the coast.

For environmentalists and those worried about unsustainable population this is an outcome predicted long ago. It is also clear those currently setting policy have absolutely no sense of population biology or long term impacts of anthropocentric accommodation and short term greed.. Nor do they welcome such conversations.

Always the pragmatist, I'm aware Southern California's population will continue to expand beyond any hope of sustainability or self sufficiency. There is simply not enough water for those already living in the tinderbox paradise of North San Diego County, yet local governments are actively seeking to add more residents to the already overburdened infrastructure.

The Carlsbad City Council recently voted to increase building density and ease parking requirements in the downtown village area, changing the number of residential units allowable on 1-acre lots from 23 to 35 units per acre. The council also decided to ease building restrictions and recalculate parking requirements. New requirements eliminate restroom areas, stairwells and space where merchandise isn't displayed from the floor-space calculations.

The City of Oceanside is also promoting density downtown. Townhouses, hotels, timeshares, and parking structures are thrown at the coast as if in desperation. Struggling to keep up with it's growing population the city just keeps building, hoping against all odds to find the golden ticket of sustainability.

In Encinitas, residents are fighting attempts to amend the city's General plan to up zone 10+ acres of residential land currently zoned for 1 home per acre to 5 homes per acre. Purchased in 1951 as agricultural land, the Brown property is still used for a greenhouse/nursery business. So now instead of a density increase of 10 McMansions, the owners want to increase density to 50 mini McMansions.

What part of overpopulation do people not get?

To quote Edward Abbey, which I am prone to do, "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of a cancer cell."

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