Battle for greenway a worthy fight

Even though Sen. Christine Kehoe was unable to get her bill for a 100-foot-wide buffer on the west side of the fairgrounds out of committee, at least her efforts put the issue on the table for discussion.

She had proposed that a greenway be required west of Jimmy Durante Boulevard when the 22nd District Agricultural Association begins work on its planned expansion. And she went so far as to change the implementation date when she learned that the fairgrounds could not do anything anytime soon because it doesn’t have the money to add a hotel or new exhibit halls.

We like the idea of a solid buffer for all the right reasons and believe that her efforts, although they died on the vine last week, have already seen payoffs in getting some conversations started with fairgrounds officials.

We’re willing to listen to district Chief Executive Officer Tim Fennell’s reasoning that a requirement for a full 100 feet all the way along the property may be asking too much. Somewhere in between there’s probably a reasonable compromise that will protect the sensitive habitats that line the lagoons and give people access to the area.

But we’re a bit taken aback that after they met with Kehoe and reportedly resolved some of the issues, Chief Operating Officer Becky Bartling showed up in Sacramento to lobby against the bill that had already cleared the state Senate Ag Committee, the full Senate and the Assembly Natural Resources Committee. That move doesn’t seem to support Fennell’s comment that they “still share the senator’s passion for the greenway and the environment” or a willingness to work with her.

We encourage the senator to keep up the good fight and fairgrounds officials to live up to Fennell’s vow of shared passion. The environment in the coastal wetlands is too precious to be lost to immovable objects.


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