In the 1950s, the coastal communities of San Diego faced a threat to their survival that was not economic or environmental, but bureaucratic. It came from Sacramento, where transit planners announced their decision to “expand” historic Highway 101 into a new interstate highway – a transit “solution,” driven by federal dollars, lack of imagination by Caltrans, and a severe want of political will by local politicians. Imagine our coastline today if ordinary citizens had not risen up to stop this plan: instead of historic Highway 101 and iconic beach towns, we would have had I-5 on the beach, literally, and economic and environmental disaster.
Today, the coastal communities are again faced with a threat, and this time it comes from our own County planning agency, SANDAG, run by bureaucrats and their cronies who have billions of dollars of tax dollars to spend, but a lack of imagination on how to use those billions wisely. Like Caltrans bureaucrats in the 1950s, SANDAG now wants to deface and, in the case of Del Mar, fiscally bankrupt our coastal towns and their signature natural beauty by continuing to expand a heavy diesel railroad through the heart of our towns and fragile coastal lagoons. Sadly, today we also see our local politicians, for the most part, either remaining silent, or worse, selling us out by voting for this plan in exchange for small change from SANDAG to pay for little local projects.
These are deals with the devil.
Last week, this paper reported on a meeting conducted by SANDAG in Del Mar, during which the citizens actually demanded accountability from the bureaucrats and politicians. For the sake of future generations, I hope that more and more ordinary citizens will show up and speak out at their local city council meetings and demand action to stand up to SANDAG’s defective plan to push more and more harmful diesel railroad projects on our communities. There are much better alternatives, ones that cost far less, do no harm to our coastline, and will actually provide transit solutions to the broader community, but we must act now.