02 November 2008

Canyon Crest "Exchange of Ideas", Part II!

In my post a couple of days ago concerning an "exchange of ideas" I had on the OC Watchdog blog from the Orange County Register's coverage of the Canyon Crest project appeal, I stated that my intention was not to get into "jousting" with other commentators. I did, however, feel the need to reply to a response to my original post. Here are the comments from the "exchange", which started from direct criticisms of Hills for Everyone Executive Director Claire Schlotterbeck, a main opponent of Canyon Crest, because she lives in Olinda Village, an area that (prior to 1964) was a lot like the site of Canyon Crest.

First, there was my post from 30 October:

The question here is not about attacking anyone (Claire Schlotterbeck, William Shopoff, or members of the Brea city council or planning commission), it is about the legitimate differences of opinion about the viability of the Canyon Crest project. This is a subjective question to be answered by Brea’s elected officials. As Brea’s city attorney clearly stated last night at the council’s special meeting, the basis exists for denying or approving this project. The council has to decide whether adding to an already overburdened Carbon Canyon Road, removing a significant portion of a rapidly-vanishing plant and animal habitat, and contributing more emissions to the most polluted area in the United States, can be mitigated and overriden by the fiscal and material benefits offered by the Shopoff Group to the greater benefit of Brea. While concern was expressed at last night’s meeting about the fact that regional impacts (mainly traffic) are larger than local ones, we should live in context not isolation. With three other Carbon Canyon housing projects in process or in the pipeline on the Chino Hills side (totaling over 200 houses), not to mention massive housing development plans in the Inland Empire, the future of the canyon is the issue. We can’t “buy out” Claire Schlotterbeck or anyone else, myself included, who lives in the canyon and would like to limit its growth because of the significant impacts, but we ought to understand the regional and local issues before it’s too late to respond in a reasonable, rational and respectful way.

Next is a response on the same day (the 30th) from a commentator:

Gee Paul, I guess we know where you stand on this issue! Next time scan your Hills For Everyone membership card and use it as your avatar! You are right…this is not about attacking anyone, even though when I lived in Brea (HFE) attacked me for voicing my opinions, ask Debbie. This is about property rights. You own a property, you drawn plans to develop it and then the city changes the zoning (with the advise of certain environmental group) and you lose the money you spent on the property or the earning potential of the property. Property rights vs. environment? Being that we live in a capitalist system and not socialist, property rights should win. This is not about the “greater benefit of Brea” (socialism). This is about being able to retain or increase value in the land you rightfully own (capitalism). Once again “where does Claire live?” has it right. If the city can prevent The Shopoff Group from developing their land then they can easily take Claire’s (and yours) and turn it into a nature preserve or a park. Besides the developers are not stupid…they are capitalists, they have something of value…others want it and will pay for it. What you want does not matter to them because you have nothing to offer them. The issue is not going away until they develop their land.

Finally, from a few moments ago (2 November) is my (last?) statement:

There is no doubt that this issue is about property rights vs. environment. Property rights, however, are not supreme over the societal good. Developers and private property owners have had more than their fair share of the county and the region to develop. More than their fair share of money has been made and, as a consequence, we have more than our fair share of traffic, pollution, aging infrastructure, overcrowded schools and other issues that won't simply go away in the face of protecting property rights at all costs. Incidentally, the reference to the "greater benefit of Brea" was a paraphrase of that city's attorney reminding the city council that their decision to approve or reject the Canyon Crest appeal was based, not on mitigating individual negative impacts, but on a collective mitigation to the "greater benefit of Brea." Moreover, there is no direct connection to rejecting Canyon Crest and having the city use eminent domain. The matter, again, is a subjective determination by the council as to whether the impacts are greater or lesser than the overriding considerations recommended by staff. Developers' proposals have been denied or significant reduced plenty of times to significant and important public beneift (witness Chino Hills State Park and the Bolsa Chica Wetlands as just two local examples). Finally, I am not (repeat, not) an advocate of no growth in Carbon Canyon, but, given that there are four separate development plans in the canyon in process or in proposal, totaling some 350 houses, with Inland Empire, Shell/Aera, and Tonner Canyon future projections weighing heavily, as well, a sensible limit is not just desirable, it is necessary (as is the case throughout our overpopulated, overpolluted, undermaintained region.) The current state of the economy is serving as a temporary stop-gap, but the pressure to develop wherever and whenever possible will, no doubt, return. It is fair and reasonable to ask (and advocate) for the due consideration of the preservation of open space and habitat, the conservation of water supplies, and the mitigation of pollution and traffic, among many other matters, when considering future development.

Maybe what I'm doing with this "exchange of ideas" is an utter waste of time (of which I have vast reserves just waiting to be frittered away!) but perhaps if I look at it as an exercise that is like practice I can make use of these arguments in the future? Wishful thinking, probably.

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