Work is ongoing in Cardiff. Keep San Diego Moving might seem like a good idea to some, but for many it does nothing but make them want to keep moving, to the next little surf town. Photo by Chris Ahrens
Columns Waterspot

Waterspot: Keep North County moving (slowly)

Not since Dana Point had reassignment surgery and became that stagnant pond known as Dana Harbor have I felt so insulted by the state and the state of things. We live in the little hamlet called Encinitas, where life is slow and measured more by the quality of the swells and the vibrancy of the sunsets than by the size of our SUVs. It has been this way since the beginning, and has only recently been interrupted by a great push forward, or something called “Keep San Diego Moving,” a dog whistle in my opinion spending tax dollars on frivolous projects.

As I write this, a street sweeper is doing its noisy duty of removing a light layer of dust from the street and sending it into the air we all breathe. Not sure what we pay for this service, but it seems no more useful than the massive cranes, tractors and steamrollers that have invaded our coastal land and ripped into a large chunk of the San Elijo Lagoon. All in the name of keeping San Diego moving.

I am for movement, but does it have to be done exclusively in cars and trains? I am certainly not the first to suggest a Disneyland-type monorail (they first installed theirs in 1958) be constructed right up the middle of I-5. Instead we get more roads and more roads means more runoff and more runoff means more ocean pollution. The dog bone for the environment is that a slab of cement will replace the classic San Elijo wooden trestle, bridges will be widened (weren’t they doing that anyway?) and there will be more paths in the lagoon and to the beach. While wider bridges do mean a better tidal flow and a healthier lagoon, why not punch holes in the berms placed by the railroads in the first place? It would seem these restrict tidal flow at least as much as bridges.

One stated goal of this $6 billion project is to get more people to the beach. By a show of hands, how many surfers want more people at our already crowded beaches?

OK, all good so far, but what does all of this have to do with the beach in general and surfing in particular? The loss of porous land and trees removed to make way for freeway ramps, widener roads and Park & Ride facilities increases ocean pollution. These monoliths of progress also make the journey to the ocean less interesting.

If the state wants input from the beach-going community, a group that includes surfers, body surfers, swimmers and fishers, and card players they should ask us directly. Ask those who fled concrete jungles like Los Angeles why we moved here. Then ask what could make the area better. My guess would be improved public transportation, more native foliage in public areas, limiting chain stores and construction and working to restore the water quality of our region. Not many of us would answer wider freeways.

Keep San Diego Moving might seem like a good idea to some, but for many it does nothing but make them want to keep moving, to the next little surf town.

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