Thursday, February 17, 2000
Not to be outdone by other local activists who have used the ballot box to limit growth or stop certain developments altogether, some Marina residents have launched yet another voter initiative with a similar aim.
Marina 2020 Vision, a group of about 100 residents concerned about growth issues, has prepared a ballot initiative that would draw an "urban growth boundary" around Marina to keep the city from encroaching upon agricultural land and beaches. Oregon and a number of California communities have adopted urban growth boundaries in an effort to control sprawl.
The initiative has been handed to city staffers for review, and the group plans to start gathering signatures by early March. Marina 2020 will then have three months to gather signatures from 750 voters registered in Marina to qualify the initiative for the November ballot.
The initiative offers an alternative to a proposed general plan embraced by city leaders that calls for doubling the city''s size. Until its expiration in 2020, the boundary would dramatically reduce the amount of land the city could develop.
Specifically, Marina 2020 Vision hopes to shrink Armstrong Ranch, a proposed 3,500-unit residential development that would pave over 900 acres of ranchland north of Marina. The urban growth boundary would allow 300 acres of the ranch already within Marina city limits to be developed.
"This is definitely not a no-growth or stop-growth thing," says Marina 2020 Vision founder Ken Gray. "It''s a smart-growth effort to stop leap-frog development."
The boundary would, however, stop development of a resort on the Lonestar property, a 400-acre beachfront tract that''s home to a number of sensitive wildlife species.
Marina 2020 members contend the city should concentrate first on redeveloping its chunk of the former Fort Ord before allowing additional development. Marina officials say Armstrong Ranch would supply needed housing for future employees of educational institutions and businesses planned for Fort Ord, reducing the negative impacts of commuting, such as traffic and reduced air quality.
Smith Bares His Soul
Think that CSUMB President Peter Smith doesn''t have a soft spot? Think again.
During his recent "State of the University" speech, Smith exhibited some true humanity--and humility. Those expecting Smith to dodge allegations of racial insensitivity may have been surprised when Smith confronted the issue head-on. Here''s an excerpt of Smith''s Jan. 20 address:
"Last spring, reality hit hard. Our campus crisis, on its face initially based on issues of diversity and multiculturalism, proved to reflect even more. In the long run, it uncovered deep-seated concern over our commitment to the [university''s] Vision and its core values as reflected in...the faculty''s expressed lack of confidence in my ability to lead. I struggled at the time to understand what was happening."
Smith went on to recount a conversation with another member of the CSUMB staff, which reminded Smith, of all things, of a Jewish folktale about father and son woodcutters discussing the rings of a tree they had just felled. The father explained to the son that a thin ring, though exhibiting slow growth, was followed by the thickest rings of them all.
"Like that tree," Smith concluded, sounding a bit like Chance the Gardener in Being There, "CSUMB responded to the crisis of the spring by becoming more deeply rooted."
Only time will tell whether Smith''s roots will hold.
Policing the Police
The Los Angeles Times has exposed a subculture of officers within the L.A. Police Department who were rewarded for shooting people, a revelation that will only serve to intensify scrutiny of atrocious police practices throughout California and the rest of the nation.
More than 70 L.A. cops are under investigation, many of them for allegedly breaking the law on a routine basis and then covering up the wrongdoing, the newspaper reported last week. The scandal blew open in September, when a member of the department''s anti-gang unit pleaded guilty to stealing eight pounds of cocaine from an evidence locker.
The investigation comes at a time when anger over allegations of police brutality throughout the nation is reaching the boiling point. In New York City, four cops are standing trial for shooting at Amadou Diallo 41 times and killing him as he walked unarmed into his Bronx apartment building. Closer to home, in Salinas, local and federal investigations continue into the shooting deaths of two men--knife-carrying Jose Hernandez on Nov. 11 and unarmed Francisco Cartagena on Dec. 17. Last week, Salinas officers shot and wounded Gabriel Zazueta after he allegedly pointed a gun at them. (See "Civil Wrongs," 1/13.)
No More Death Penalty?
On the heels of Illinois Gov. George Ryan''s decision to stop all executions until the state''s flawed death penalty system can be studied and--hopefully--overhauled, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has introduced legislation in Congress calling for a seven-year national moratorium on capital punishment.
Thirteen people have been freed from Illinois'' Death Row in recent years, including two from Jackson''s congressional district who spent nearly 20 years in prison before being exonerated by DNA tests.
"Since the taking of a life is the supreme expression of a state''s power over its citizens," says Jackson, "that power should not be used without offering the accused every possible opportunity to present evidence that may keep the state out of the unimaginable position of executing innocent people."
Seaside Joins Anti-Hunger Crusade
Proving that it''s still cool to think globally and act locally, the city of Seaside has joined a campaign to end hunger.
Sponsored by the Feinstein Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the "Petition to End Hunger" will award grants to local food programs. Seaside Mayor Jerry Smith wants groups in his city to qualify for the grants, so he''s encouraging citizens to get on board. Nationwide, more than a half million people have signed on.
Anyone can circulate petitions in their neighborhoods, churches, or (if their boss allows, and why wouldn''t they?) in their workplaces. If you simply want to sign, go to Seaside City Hall or visit www.feinsteinfoundation.com.
For info, call Seaside City Hall at 899-7737.
--Laurel Chesky, Mark Worth
No Low-Income Housing
The Salinas City Council voted 5-2 Tuesday to reject an 180-unit, low-income housing project near North Davis Road and West Rossi Street. Mayor Anna Caballero and councilmembers Fernando Armenta, Janet Barnes, Jan Collins and Jyl Lutes voted against the project; councilmembers Roberto Ocampo and Juan Oliverez supported it.
The business interest groups Common Ground Monterey County and the Monterey County Farm Bureau (which represents growers whose workers are in need of affordable housing) opposed the project because it would eliminate 14 acres of commercially zoned space. Several neighbors opposed it, too, citing concerns over added traffic and the wisdom of building residential units in an industrial area. Land-use watchdog group LandWatch Monterey County, which is concerned about sprawl, supported the development because it would have infilled an urban area while serving underserved members of the community.