Former Police Chief to Speak Against Drug War, Grazing Limited in Big Sur, Mine Sweepers Sought, Water Worries, These Old Houses
Thursday, February 21, 2002
"You can''t make a war on drugs any more than you can make a war on tomatoes," Naval Postgraduate School economics professor David Henderson told the Monterey chapter of the ACLU last February.
Henderson had just joined with Monterey Realtor Lawrence Samuels and a few other acquaintances to form the Foundation to End Drug Unfairness Policies, or FED-UP, and he was delivering a speech on the curtailment of personal freedoms stemming from the war on drugs--"and not just the liberties of those who use or sell illegal drugs," Henderson emphasized.
A year later, FED-UP, in conjunction with the ACLU-Monterey County, the Rampart Institute and the Monterey County Libertarian Party, is hosting a talk on the drug war by Joseph D. McNamara. The Hoover Institute research fellow, who served for 15 years as the chief of police for San Jose and saw the first ineffective crackdown on heroin in the late ''50s as a Harlem beat cop, is an outspoken opponent of the war on drugs. On Sunday, Feb. 24 at 3pm, McNamara explores the issue afresh in a speech titled "The War on Drugs vs. The War on Terrorism: We''ve Been Fighting the Wrong War!" The event takes place at the Monterey County Realtors Association Conference Hall, 202 Calle Del Oaks (off Canyon del Rey Blvd), Del Rey Oaks. A $5 donation is requested. For information call 394-6470.
GrazingLimited in Big Sur
Two environmental groups announced last week that they had won a victory that would protect public lands in Big Sur, in the Los Padres National Forest, from overgrazing.
The Ventana Wilderness Alliance and the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity protested a decision by the Forest Service to issue grazing permits on eight allotments in the forest.
Boon Hughey, a director of the Alliance, says in issuing the grazing allotments, Los Padres Forest officials did not comply with federal laws including as the Wilderness Act and the Endangered Species Act. Through the review process of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the groups were able to appeal the plans to the regional headquarters of the U.S. Forest Service. There the decisions were withdrawn.
"All we''re trying to do is get them to follow these laws," Hughey says.
Grazing allotments are reviewed for renewal every 10 years, at which time environmental assessments are conducted. With the decisions withdrawn, current operations continue pending a final ruling.
Most of the public-lands grazing in Big Sur is confined to allotments near San Luis Obispo County. The northernmost area that might have been affected by the proposals was Torre Canyon, north of Partington Ridge--known to some hikers as Timber Top.
"They wanted to fill that whole mountainside with cattle," Hughey says. The discovery there of endangered red-legged frogs halted that plan.
District Ranger John Bradford says the Alliance''s complaint gave officials reason to pause.
"They brought up some points we thought needed another look," Bradford says.
Hughey notes that cows can be particularly damaging in Big Sur because the terrain is steep. The hooves loosen the soil. "They increase the risk of erosion," he says.
Mine Sweepers Sought
LeVonne Stone wants to make sure low-income minorities have jobs and homes. As the director of the Fort Ord Environmental Justice Network, she advocates for putting the homeless in existing housing on the former Army post. Besides getting needy people shelter, she also wants to put people to work at the old fort.
One major work project at Fort Ord is clean-up of unexploded ordnance, the discarded ammunition, rockets and grenades which are known to litter various quarters of the former base.
Stone has an idea to provide people with the training they''d need to detect unexploded ordnance during ongoing clean-up operations. She says she''s found a program provided by an extension service of Texas A&M, that offers unexploded ordnance removal training in 200 hours over five weeks. Clean-up projects at American Indian reservations around the country have trained locals for the effort, according to the Corps of Engineers. Stone wants to do the same here, rather than rely solely on outside contractors. She''s seeking funding for the training costs.
Although searching for hidden explosives might not be the most desirable job, Stone says plenty of people on the Peninsula have been hurt by what she calls the current "economic crunch," but still have families to care for and feed.
"You have to do what you can," she says. "Someone has to do the work." Asked if she knows anyone who would like to take such a job, Stone says, "My husband is one person who''s interested."
Explosives removal at Fort Ord is handled by a private company on contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Many explosives experts got their start in the military and continue the work as civilian contractors after retirement.
Water conservation, desalination, and a process known as reclamation and injection--which would take winter surplus water from the Carmel River, pump it to Seaside and inject it into the Seaside Basin--are all on the drawing board as potential long-term solutions to the Peninsula''s water woes.
The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District has no favored plan yet. The board will review the time line and the scope of a future environmental review on a long-term water supply project. Board Chairman Kris Lindstrom says a report in the Monterey County Herald got it wrong when it claimed that a Moss Landing desalination plant is the preferred water source.
"I was kind of shocked to read that actually," he says. "But I''m only the chair--what do I know.
"We''re going to follow up on our previous session on the permit process, we''re going to review the schedule for this [long-term water supply] plan, we''re going to review all those potentials--ground water reclamation, desal, conservation," Lindstrom says. "But there''s no specific plan, and no action will be taken."
The board will meet at 7pm, Feb. 21 in the MPWMD conference room, 5 Harris Ct., Building G, Monterey.
These Old Houses
In a moral victory for neighborhood preservationists and historic homes, the Salinas City Council voted unanimously (with Mayor Anna Caballero abstaining) on Feb. 19 to deny a request for a General Plan amendment that would have rezoned five parcels of land on West Alisal Street for mixed-office/residential use.
The council also directed staff to look into classifying the five land parcels as "low density residential," which would allow only one single family home per parcel.
Caballero abstained because her law practice, also located on West Alisal street, presented a conflict of interest.
Dr. Robert Lofgren, who owns the "Salinas white house," a pillared estate at 304 West Alisal St., requested the applications and proposed to change the designation and zoning district boundaries of five separate parcels, located at 224-304 West Alisal St. The proposed rezone would have switched the designation from residential high density (apartments) to mixed office residential (offices and apartments).
Mary Naber, speaking on behalf of her grandfather, Robert Lofgren, said an attorney was interested in buying the home and converting it to an office space--so long as the council zoned the lot for mixed office and residential use.
"It''s a win, win, win for the entire city," she said. "It would make a great, really class, elegant commercial space."
Lara Smith, who lives at 230 West Alisal St., one of the five lots in question, asked the city to save the historic neighborhood, and deny the rezoning request.
"The people that live around me are all very opposed to this," she said. "Rezoning would destroy our neighborhood."
Ultimately the council sided with Smith.
"I see this area as a beautiful, single-family-home residential neighborhood," Councilmember Jan Collins said. "It''s a pride and joy of our town. I have a suspicion what''s driving this for the most part is the increased money you can make [in a home sale] due to commercial zoning."