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Supervisors must protect nature, our quality of life

Voice of Ann Crosby


Ann Crosby, of the Coalition for Sensible Planning, delivered the following remarks at the county Board of Supervisors Tuesday to encourage the board to create "an environmental framework for the supervisors to consider in making land-use decisions."

I want to welcome the new supervisors to the board, and ask all of you on the Board to devote your energies toward analyzing the situation we find ourselves in at the beginning of 2005.

I would hope that you act wisely, taking into consideration the long-term consequences of each decision, rather than reacting to problems with a short-term mentality.

Consider that special interest groups are skilled in creating an atmosphere of hysteria and the appearance of a crisis, to further their parochial goals. They deliberately manipulate our thinking; often we're not even aware of it.

Citizens have seen too many examples of "act in haste, repent in leisure" at every level of government. Can you, on the board implement long-term planning, which is essential to our very way of life, in the face of trumped-up hysteria and crisis-making?

We live on a fragile, coastal plain. Space is limited. Water is limited. Air quality is easily degraded. Given this fragility of our natural environment, the concept of carrying capacity for our area must be the crucial consideration in any decision that you make.

Carrying capacity refers to the number of people who can be supported in a given area within natural resource limits, without degrading the natural, social, cultural and economic environment for present and future generations.

No population can live beyond the environment's carrying capacity for very long. Can you on the board think in terms of carrying capacity, not land area?

And we must be stewards of the creatures who cannot speak for themselves.

Animals still live in our midst; they depend on open spaces and wildlife corridors to survive. But when population increases, habitats of many species are destroyed in order to create room for more housing and roads.

Currently, 110 animal species and 179 plant species in the state are endangered or threatened. Can you on the board protect our fellow creatures by solid, long-term planning for open spaces?

Recent natural disasters, such as the devastating tsunami in Asia, make us more aware of our fragile environment on the South Coast. Yes, we have an early warning system to protect us, but imagine the chaos that would occur should we all try to leave our coastal lowlands at the same time.

Can you on the board be especially careful to not worsen natural disasters by poor infrastructure planning? Can you be mindful of not creating man-made disasters by ignoring the long-term consequences of increased population density?

I would like to close with a quote from a (commentary in the) News-Press:

"Santa Barbara is a uniquely desirable place in the world because of its natural beauty, amenable climate and relatively low human population. Most of us understand that what makes this place so desirable can be trampled into destruction by an onslaught of human population. That what is finite and desirable is often in great demand and, therefore, most costly.

Attempting to increase the "supply" of Santa Barbara to satisfy an endless demand will result in total depletion of supply. Then Santa Barbara's desirability is gone, never to be enjoyed by anyone ever again."

Can you protect and defend the Santa Barbara quality of life, which brought all of us to this place, in the face of special interests who preach more as the only answer to all our problems?