Thursday, July 1, 1999
No Way Road Way
The city of Monterey is about to create a hazardous traffic situation through a residential neighborhood and at the entrance to adjoining York School. Two York students were killed at the intersection of York Road and Highway 68 nine years ago resulting in a traffic light.
Now the city intends to punch through an extension of this same York Road to South Boundary Road in Fort Ord: in effect, to make York Road a thoroughfare to connect Fort Ord to Highway 68. In fact, York Road is now referred to as a "Gateway to Ord."
The site proposed for this project is exceptionally steep. To make matters worse, traffic from the golf course and Laguna Seca II, plus that of large trucks that use the dump at the top, consistently reach high speeds at the foot of this hill. Wilson Road of Ryan Ranch Business Park and Blue Larkspur serving Bishop Ranch Business Park and Laguna Seca I subdivision converge at the bottom of this hill. Add in the student drivers from the school and impatient commuters from the business parks, and you have the ingredients for another disaster.
There just isn't enough time for drivers to safely negotiate the turns onto York Road, heaven forbid to actually cross it. To even consider York as a gateway to Ord borders on the insane. To think it can be "tweaked" to safety is just as absurd.
If Ord and the Ryan Ranch Business Park must have a connection to Highway 68, this connection should be by way of the business park. They are the producers of this traffic and the terrain at Ryan Ranch is much milder, and therefore safer, than that of York Road.
In A Thousand Different Ways
When I was a kid we used to laugh at the people in Southern California. How could they be so greedy and stupid to create a huge ugly sprawl? Now I realized that Northern Californians are no wiser.
Santa Cruz and Monterey are ringed with towns that are consumed with growth fever. My childhood home of the San Francisco Bay Area has become a megalopolis that rivals Los Angeles for destruction of farms and wildlands. Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Hollister, Watsonville, Salinas, Sand City and Marina are cashing in on the real estate bonanza.
When you see a freeway clogged with cars, think about the resources that are needed to sustain each driver. How many trees does each consume? How many acres of farmland and grazing pasture are needed to feed them? How many gallons of water are sucked out of our aquifers and rivers to grow the food and water the lawns that these consumers demand? How many gallons of oil do they burn, fouling the atmosphere? How many holes were gashed into the earth to mine the metals to manufacture their cars?
In a thousand different ways and with each dollar spent, people degrade the environment. There are no more empty spaces that can be filled with people because most of the Earth's surface is already intensely used by people. If we continue to grow and develop our last open spaces, we will have destroyed the planet with our greed.
The 100 Percent Solution
In reviewing the budget for the water management district, I note that several staff member salaries exceed $100,000 per year, including all the perks. The board, on June 21, awarded the staff a 3.8 percent "cost of living" increase, which seems to be automatic every year with the water district.
Tex Irwin, airport district board member speaking for himself, told the water board that the San Francisco area statistics that some agencies use are inflated, and quoted some cogent numbers that do not coincide with the so-called cost-of-living increase. An article by John Berry of the Washington Post seems to confirm Irwin's position.
Berry said that the Bureau of Labor Statistics is considering changes in the consumer price index because of new evidence that substantially overstates increases in the costs of living. Therefore in order to obtain the most benefits, it is best to use the highest percentage the consumer index quotes.
The perks that the water district staff enjoy should be used as a model for other governmental agencies when applying for a salary increase. In some instances the district taxpayers pay 100 percent of these benefits. In a 1992 report for the water district by the Personnel Research Center of Irvine, Ca., the maximum contribution for Health and Welfare Benefits were the highest of the ten agencies researched. They included medical, dental and vision plans. The retirement benefits are paid 100 percent by the district.
In our "Four-legged Foes?" article last week, a first reference to the name "LeMoine" was inadvertently left out. The name refers to Cathy LeMoine, project manager for Monterey County animal control.