Ron Harris' excellent article on our eroding shorelines (Part I, Jan. 1, "Who Pays for Turning the Tide?") more accurately describes our eroding political process. Too often, land-use politics are fueled by developer contributions, perpetuated by greed and labeled "free enterprise." In reality, these policies result in publicly supported subsidies to the developers.
The politicians seem unable or unwilling to consider the long-term consequences of shoreline development, so the building continues, losses occur and the public continues to pay through government subsidized insurance and/or disaster relief programs. To a lesser degree, the same "free enterprise" improvement of flood plains, wetlands and unstable slopes results in similar massive expenditures of public monies and the irrevocable loss of sensitive lands and habitats.
When the political process fails to protect the interests of all the people, the people petition their government. Last November, 17 growth-control measures were put before the voters in California communities. In spite of strong opposition from development and real estate interests, 15 passed.
In the current vacuum of political backbone, the people will continue to take the initiative in land-use politics and they will continue to win at the polls.