I read with utter disbelief the recent Times article ("Annual Fight to Save Famosa Slough Begins," Times, Feb. 26) concerning the introduction of a bill by Assemblyman Jim Costa (D-Fresno) to remove the Famosa Slough wildlife habitat from California Coastal Commission protection to accommodate developer T.L. Sheldon's plan to jam 416 condos on the site.
It is an outrage to see a supposedly democratic system and elected "public" servants within it being turned inside-out to enact such blatant special interest legislation for one greedy man. What enrages me most about this "business as usual" power play around the normal planning process of the City of San Diego is that it is being orchestrated by a state legislator far removed from the concerns of the San Diegans who will suffer the loss of this unique area.
The slough is one of the extremely rare parcels of coastal wetlands remaining in San Diego County today--developers have had their way with the rest. According to the excellent article on the slough's history in the December issue of San Diego magazine, it harbors a rich variety of waterfowl that roost and nest here annually. This article goes on to state that the owner of the property is intentionally allowing the site to deteriorate in order to gain approval for Mr. Sheldon's "improvements." Community groups have made offers to remove refuse, but have been denied permission repeatedly!
As many other growth-conscious San Diegans have asked in this column: When is enough? In the development community, it appears the answer is when they have "improved" every last parcel of open space available to them--and realized every penny of profit they can extract.
If Mr. Sheldon's development of the slough, and Bunker Hunt's planned rape of Batiquitos Lagoon in Carlsbad are approved, what are we left with after these two take the money and run? These areas are priceless nature refuges that no amount of tax revenue can replace if lost.
If the slough is designated a state bird sanctuary and properly managed, it can serve as a unique natural laboratory for generations of schoolchildren and scientists.
I certainly hope that Mr. Costa's colleagues in Sacramento are wise enough to kill this piece of garbage legislation as soon as possible--for they and the legislative process they purport to operate in Californians' interest are a total disgrace and a sham if his measure succeeds.
I appeal to all San Diegans concerned about our rapidly deteriorating quality of life to express their support for Assemblywoman Lucy Killea's counter bill to retain the Famosa Slough under the Coastal Commission's auspices.
DAVID W. HIIPAKKA