Friday, March 2, 2012

#62 / Step One

Democratic decision-making comes out of public debate and discussion. Advocates on all sides need to be engaged. I have been particularly active, during my life in the public arena, in debates about land use issues, and land use decisions do make a difference. If you let someone else make those decisions you will probably end up being dissatisfied.

Specifically, I do not think we can assume that our elected officials are going to do what the majority of the people they represent might think is the obvious, right thing. I first got involved in land use issues in the early 1970’s, because the Santa Cruz City Council was just positive that paving over Lighthouse Field, to build a massive convention center complex, was the right thing to do for the community. As it turns out, that wasn’t what everyone wanted, but the majority only got their way when the majority got organized. The current Santa Cruz City Council has a single‑minded commitment to building a desalination plant, and their attitude really takes me back. Is this what the community wants? I don’t know, but unless those who don’t want a $100‑million dollar desalination plant get organized, the Council is going to do what it wants, which, as I read it, is what the City’s water bureaucrats want.

Step One in any effective effort to build community participation is to “get organized.” That means, very simply, “getting together with your friends.” It worked in the 1970’s to remobilize community involvement in key community land use decisions then. It probably still works today!


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  2. It does still work today!

    Desal Alternatives http:// is “getting together with your friends,” a group of citizens concerned that "the Council is going to do what it wants, which, ... is what the City’s water bureaucrats want."

    Desal Alternatives have consistently promoted discussion and debate about all alternatives for providing water for area residents, including non-human residents, and those who do not live within Santa Cruz city limits..

  3. Gary, I am one of your admirers as I have been learning, and still learning, of all the great work that you have done. I would dearly like to gain you as a constituent, as I am running for Supervisor in the 5th District. I have often pondered the question of the ideal human population (number or range), which maintains both quality of life and to live harmoniously with the environment. To me this issue the answer exists, as the desal alternative list of issues of restricting growth, infrastructure repairs, rethinking the berry agriculture, and possibly constructing more water storage, (reservoirs), which could also be recreation areas, are the things I sincerely believe the majority wants to do and will set an example for the world. The desal plant is claimed to be needed only for emergency drought situations, but we have endured droughts before, and this will lead to the more undesirable effect of more growth and other consequences and lose $115 million to take care of the issues listed above.


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