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Wild West

March 21 2008 | Jim's Blog,
by Jim

After I heard that Governor Schwarzenegger fired California State Parks commissioners Clint Eastwood and Bobby Shriver I took out a piece of paper and started drawing. I wanted to make sense of things that had happened in the last six months or so...

OK, let's start with the fact that the TCA wants to build a tollroad through a State Park. That's easy enough, that's a clearly defined antagonist or villain.

The next milestone for me is the Attorney General of the State of California filing suit against this road. Again, simple enough... bad road, bad environmental impact report... lawsuit. That, in my mind, put the State of California in the protagonist camp. The good guy. The white knight. As a lover of State Parks myself (and a lover of State Parks sans toll roads bisecting them)... I made the leap to assign "goodness" to this camp.

During this time poll after poll after poll illustrated that the public loved this particular State Park and didn't want a toll road through it. Again, easy to process. Who would want to take a State Park and put... a road, a road that you have to pay to use, right through it?

Then Gov Schwarzenegger in a somewhat odd twist and against the lawsuit filed by his own government... came out in favor of this toll road... through a State Park. This is where it gets screwy for me. The man that has had more than one cover for being "green" (whatever that is) comes out with a strong letter to support a tollroad through a State Park.

Then, as if to really drive the point home about his feelings about State Parks... as if a toll road through the fifth most popular State Park isn't enough. Arnold states that he's planning on closing 48... 48 State Parks. I, like I'm sure many people, not only wondered when the last time Arnold spent some time in a State Park (not including photo opps). How could anyone see a public space with the seemingly small value he is showing with his decisions? How would New Yorkers react if Mayor Bloomberg would suggest closing off Central Park in Manhattan and Prospect Park in Brooklyn? How would New Yorkers react if the Mayor wrote a strong letter supporting a tollroad through Central Park?

Then, showing that the popular opinion isn't whacko, Bobby Shriver (Arnold's brother in-law) and Clint Eastwood (and a list that exceeds 10,000) oppose this toll road through a... State Park. Sure it was public advocacy... we're talking about the fifth more popular State Park in the state. These two are at the State Park chair and vice-chair of the California State Parks and Recreation Commission. Their opposition makes sense, they work within the State Park system. Why would they think putting a... toll road through a State Park would be a GOOD thing? In fact if they didn't stand up for the natural wonder and beauty that our State Parks offer then I think we should question things... but they did as expected and stood up and supported our park system.

Then, as if to offer a face to this debate... er' make that 3,500 faces, thousands of people descend on Del Mar for the California Coastal Commission hearing. It's safe to say that virtually everyone NOT being paid to be there was against the toll road through a State Park. So, aside from the odd decisions made by Governor Arnold everything seems pretty straightforward. Straightforward in the sense that we have a clear group that are seen as pretty darn villainous (anyone else have a description for a for-profit company that seeks to take away public land and land set aside for conservation from previous development projects... and pop a fee-based road through it?). Straightforward in the sense that the people, the common people... by the thousands... fight this land grab. Not at all straightforward in the sense that Arnold seems to be pretty interested in supporting the idea of selling off public lands, State Parks.

At the Del Mar event the California Coastal Commission staff reports that the toll road fails to comply with ANY of the seven sections of the Coastal Act and that there is NO WAY the toll road could be made compliant with the Coastal Act. It was as strong of a report, as unified of a report as one could even hope for. It was crystal clear that the staff of the CCC thought this was a horrific idea.

Supporting the staff's findings and recommendation, the California Coastal Commission commissioners vote 8 - 2 to block this toll road through a State Park. They used language like (paraphrasing) "this road is the good example of why Coastal Act was created, to block projects like this". Again, crystal clear... a tollroad through a State Park, literally conflicting with EVERY category of the Coastal Act... is a bad thing.

Then, as if to make people really understand where he stands. As if his support letter wasn't enough. As if his proposal to close 48 State Parks wasn't enough... Arnold, in some odd Terminator way, comes back to fire Bobby Shriver and Clint Eastwood.

I started this post saying I took a piece of paper and started drawing this, mapping it out. Honestly... the drawing was simply a mess at the end. A mess. Just like the idea of putting a tollroad through a State Park.

Arnold, who is suggesting this road is a good idea?

Why are you putting such a low value on our California State Park system?

Why are you throwing people under the bus that are essentially doing their job and protecting our State Parks?

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