Grass-roots efforts vital to water quality
The Clean Water Now! Coalition is hopeful that our recently appointed City Councilwoman, Elizabeth Schneider, is always mindful of the critical role nongovernmental groups (NGOs) play in the water-quality world.
When former Councilmember Wayne Baglin served on the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board, his astute knowledge of local terrain, impairments in South County regarding creek- and ocean-pollution conditions accelerated the awareness process by working with Clean Water Now to get items placed on the agenda for public review.
We will always be in debt to him for that, although many were unaware of his proactive role. The Clean Water Now Coalition made him our 2001 award winner for his efforts. Before the Clean Water Now Coalition took its openly adversarial activist position, there were no water-quality departments in the 12 South County cities. There are now, most staffed by five or more employees. We feel no shame about that; in fact, we’re proud to have been the provocative agents of sorely needed changes. We never demanded anything that wasn’t a law or statute.
A new awareness of emerging water-quality degradation, especially urban runoff, demanded that we as humans alter our behavior and create new bureaucratic strata and infrastructure improvements for beneficial uses. Government is there to serve and protect public health and safety. An era of increased accountability and responsibility had arrived.
In 2000, I personally gave City Council candidate Elizabeth Pearson [now Schneider] water-quality workshops. She was a quick study and now understands our long-held egalitarian belief that the ladder of ecological law should have no top and no bottom. All we want is a level playing field and compliance.
Non-government organization leaders represent and defend the flora and fauna in addition to the human population because politicians have failed to do so.
We wish Schneider the best and encourage her to be open-minded and listen sympathetically to our side. We’re easy to recognize: We’ll be the mildly irreverent, slightly outraged ones at the hearings not wearing suits.
The City Council recently adopted, unanimously, the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement. While this sounds wonderful in principle, it is vacuous in practice. In deed "” and I mean truly in deed "” the city’s actions are diametrically opposed to any climate protection.
I urge all to visit usmayors.org/climateprotection to read what was adopted. In short, the conference urges cities to, among other things, “Strive to meet or beat the Kyoto Protocol targets in their own communities, through actions ranging from anti-sprawl land-use policies to urban forest restoration projects to public information campaigns” and “to enact policies and programs to meet or beat the greenhouse gas emission reduction target suggested for the United States in the Kyoto Protocol.”
So, what has our council done recently to manifest this purported desire to maintain the planet, or even our city, for future generations? Well, the city has proposed and will build a senior/community center that not only gets nowhere close to these goals but makes things worse.
The city, rather than combating “anti-sprawl policies” has increased sprawl by combining six small lots, formerly with historic buildings and heritage trees, to create a large monolith of a building (combining these lots was also contrary to the city’s own building polices).
And what of “urban forests restoration”? Well, we have all seen this same lot recently clear cut and denuded of some large beautiful heritage trees "” gone forever.
Decrease greenhouse gases? This structure will generate traffic jams and parking problems that will increase greenhouse gases. The building itself is a greenhouse gas nightmare.
LEEDS is a program for architectural design of environmentally friendly buildings. This new center won’t even meet minimums required by many cities.
Let us not be delusional. Let us not allow our City Council and management to mislead us with empty declarations. In action, in deed and in fact, the city does nothing to actually combat global warming (unless, of course, the city is voting on whether YOU have to follow the rules).
In action, in deed and in fact, the city adds to the problem. Adopting the climate-friendly policy sounds wonderful, but in practice it is empty.