Many years ago (circa 1973) I was sitting in a freshman elective class called Urban Geography. During one lecture the professor stated that one day in the future the California coast would be one contiguous city from San Diego to Eureka. At the time I scoffed at the prediction. But now after seeing the unbridled growth of California cities and suburbs I know that prediction will come true.
I have an anti-growth bias. However, whether I join the battle against development or not, I know that ultimately the Central Coast will eventually be one large city. Money always wins. This process may not be complete in my grandchildren’s lifetime, but it probably will be within my great-grandchildren’s lifetime. It is of course the American way. This started the moment the pioneer’s set foot in this part of the country. The indigenous nations of this region (Chumash and Salinan tribes) lived here for thousands of years (600 B.C.) in harmony with the wild life and the environment, only taking what was necessary to survive.
In contrast the first pioneers nearly “trapped out” various species, making hunting a commercial venture rather than one of survival. Later during the industrial revolution the atmosphere was polluted and water tables were poisoned. Now we preach to other nations not to do the same. Just recently a 20,000 gallon oil spill on our coast wreaked havoc on the entire food chain of the Central Coast. The ongoing theme seems to be “How can I rape this land in order to make a profit?”
Now, in the present, we are in the process of “cementing out” the natural environment. Because of course, if you can’t build on it you can’t profit from it. The more we build, the greater the population, the greater the pollution, the more water that is needed. Do we really have too little water here or is the problem that we just have too great a population density for the area? It is a well established fact that the Cambria/San Simeon area was able to cut back their water use with greater efficacy than anywhere else in the state. It has been said that this town is dependent upon the tourism industry here. I agree. But the reason tourists come here from all over the world is because it is a small idyllic town in a paradise of nature. How long will that paradise last if we continue to build? 15-20 homes per year does not sound bad; but, 100 homes every 5 years does. We don’t have to prevent people from moving to Cambria/San Simeon. They can simply buy an existing home. The real estate business in town is thriving on the turnover of existing homes alone. If anyone doubts that, they can look at the number of real estate offices on Main Street.
Some major battles have been won by the anti-growth groups. This includes the battle against the Hearst Corporation’s 27 hole golf course and 650 room resort plans in 1996 (the corp. retained the right to some development in the future) and of course the stoppage of the massive home development on 430 acres of Fiscalini Ranch in 2000. It is now the small battles that must be won. The small incremental growth can eventually cause as much damage as the large projects.
In the movie Dancing with Wolves a Civil War U.S. army officer is asked why he is requesting to be sent to the most distant western outpost. The officer simply answers “I want to see it before it’s all gone.”
I would like my great-grandchildren to also see it before it’s all gone.
Daniel de la Rosa, San Simeon