Thank you, CLB, for nestling into the café with me. I appreciate your concerns that increased urbanization might put a greater burden on our open spaces. It might, but it doesn’t have to. In Golden Hill, we are trying to make human activity in canyons a positive contribution to natural systems rather than a negative one. Diminishing freshwater, compromised oceans, and global warming are sounding the death knell for humans too. We’re the one species equipped to operate more prudently, for our own sake as well as for other species. To me, this seems like the only intelligent option. Want to join in the fun?

Indeed, as you write, canyon sewers are in place and less expensive than pumping. When they were installed, the canyon floors were de-vegetated. Replanting this bottomland is one of our top priorities, because that’s where most of the water flows … when it flows. Restoration means bigger shrubs and even trees that can slow down, filter and absorb urban runoff, making the canyons more beautiful for humans and more useful to wildlife. At the same time, the canyon sewers remain in place.

Working to increase greater fiscal prudence on the part of our government is a large part of our job. In our canyon, the city spent over $600,000 re-vegetating an area about the size of two short driveways. On the other hand, for less than $1,000, neighbors and school children planted over an acre. More recently, the city has embarked on a very costly brush management program that, though initially only obliterating valuable biological resources, will soon destabilize slopes and create weedy flash fuels to burn more easily in the future. There is no data to confirm that this $6 million expenditure will actually increase public safety. Coupled with any discussion of finances is the fact that San Diegans pay lower taxes per capita than residents in most other cities of this size. So our conversation must extend from taxes to sustainability, and from there to priorities. Are we serious about sustainability or aren’t we?

As for bridges, roads and traveling more quickly by automobile: Considering that our planet is choking in problems that result from our “addiction” to driving, why should we make driving easier? Call me radical, but our neighborhoods need more services and amenities so we don’t have to drive as much. Just look at you and me. We’ve met in a café and I didn’t even have to shimmy into my cocktail dress, much less my car!


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