Thursday, April 1, 2010

Do Open Space Groups Have Plans for the Future of Miramar and Camp Pendleton?

One of the main tricks special interests have to keep the public from acting in their own interest is to polarize an issue on the political spectrum - for example, to convince conservatives that maintaining open space is a communist plot and threatens private property (when in fact open space enhances property values; see here and here). Another possible alliance that I hope will one day will occur in reality would be between the NRA and the Sierra Club ever got together on open space issues so forests and mountains and deserts were preserved for hunters and hikers and everyone in between, they would be unstoppable. There would be nowhere on the political spectrum for mineral extraction and agricultural lobbies to turn.

Open space groups and the U.S. military seem another unlikely alliance - but think about where the open space is in San Diego County. Yes, it is almost entirely off-limits - today. In a more peaceful world, these bases can be decommissioned (yes, this is possible!), and huge tracts of preserved land will suddenly be with our reach, and then we have a choice to make: do we become southern Los Angeles, or do we set aside at least some of it to defend the land and the cultural character of San Diego? Runners, just imagine the trail runs in the wide-open Pendleton Unit of Cleveland National Forest (the official map will be better):

Worth thinking about next time you're driving up I-5 to O.C.

I bring this up now because, optimistically, Camp Pendleton will close eventually (optimistically not out of disrespect to the military, but expecting that we'll all build a safer world). When it does I hope that there have been organizations (private, non-profit or otherwise) that have already been talking to the military and local governments and have preservation plans ready to go.


Anne said...

My parents lived in Lake Forest, a planned community that sprung from the decommissioned El Toro base in Orange County. It lacks any of the natural amenities you mention. I have no doubt Pendleton would resemble it if it was released from U.S. custody. Miramar, definitely.

Michael Caton said...

Is there a big difference between the two pieces of land (Miramar and Pendleton)? There is some ex-military land up in NorCal that was developed too - the Presidio now has lots of housing in it. I think one reason that preserving Pendleton open space would be great is that we hardly have any coastal open space in SD county, other than one piece in Torrey Pines and a tiny bit right at the int'l border.

Anne said...

It would be nice if that was the swap, but somehow I think it would end up looking like Malibu's coast, where people like The Edge destroy the natural habit in the name of "preservation." (Their own riches, of course.) Sorry, I get so jaded sometime.

Michael Caton said...

Yeah, I know what you mean; seems like money usually gets its way. The trick is to have open space groups in there and ready to set the tone and have legal arrangements to match when the land becomes available.

For other readers like me who didn't know about Mr. The Edge's house in Malibu, here's a story I Googled: