Informed citizens can save nature’s gifts
In the ongoing debate about property rights, the loudest voices are telling us that property owners have a constitutional right to do as they please with their property. The voices not being heard are those who enjoy nature’s gifts and would like to see them continue to exist in our mountain community. We have learned that whatever each does on his property affects his neighbors.
Fortunately, in a democracy, the common good of the citizenry is taken into consideration in decisions in the political process. It is no coincidence that those who are most vocal about property rights are developers whose sole interest is to profit from the development and resale of their property. This is best accomplished by clearing the land bare and erecting a $500,000 houses. Most of the new big developments on Banner Mountain even offer views, also accomplished by removing nearly all the trees, just like the bare naked hills of Auburn, which were once forested and teeming with wildlife and native plant species. These same forces of progress are now bringing us Roseville Terrace right in town. It is more clearly understood now that removing trees, as was done on Banner and other heavily developed areas over the last two winters, lowers the water table and raises temperatures in the surrounding area by 3 to 12 degrees. You don’t have to be a scientist to recognize the potential consequences of continuing to clear land indiscriminately and unabated as is now done.
Most of these projects were approved when the Board of Supervisors was heavily weighted toward developers and their projects. The haste with which they are being foisted upon us speaks of the concern developers have that the citizenry will realize what they are doing and put a stop to it. These developments, once built in response to population projections and existing market demands, have a profit margin so high developers can build hundreds, even thousands, of expensive homes and just sit on them and sell them slowly, even though they are not justified by population projections. There is little demand for them and the infrastructure built to serve them is paid for by the taxpayers. Maintenance and repair of these accommodations are also left to be paid by the taxpayers forever afterward.
To make a long story short, the wildlife, from the tiny insects which feed the birds to the larger mammals, all play a crucial part in the ecosystem as a whole; each is dependent upon their habitat, which furnishes them with shelter and food; and each contributes an invaluable part to the whole system. The current method of development destroys the habitat of the wildlife and plants that support the rich and diverse natural beauty of our community. Building can be accomplished without destroying huge areas of land around each house.
For those who argue this is a people-versus-animals issue, it’s not; it’s a money-versus-life issue. It is our right and responsibility to protect the natural beauty and diversity of the land we share with those many lives with no political voices but from whom we derive great pleasure. If we pay attention to these issues, we can protect our quality of life. Do not let rich developers bring us a silent spring.
With these facts in mind, it becomes apparent that those who seek to protect what is left of the diverse plant and wildlife in this region are actually the ones who are looking out for the rights of their neighbors to continue living in a rich and diverse environment. Those highly vocal folks who place big, illegal signs on their property and say they are interested in protecting individual property rights are really only supporting those who want the right to profit from their holdings, regardless of what they do to the surrounding landscape. Do not let these loud people dictate the direction of the entire community. Those who enjoy a rural quality of life and the creatures and plants which populate rural areas should act quickly before it is completely gone.
A related issue is the oversized water pipe NID wants to run up Banner Mountain. There is no reason for this, except to service the thousands of new homes that have been built and which are planned on upper Banner. There is not enough water in the region to support these homes, nor the infrastructure or resources. This is not deterring NID, which sees increased water sales in these developments. Never mind that we are facing another drought year with diminished water resources and increased demands on it. NID would have us believe they have ancient rights which somehow are magically unaffected by water resources.
They would also have us believe they have the right of eminent domain to force this pipeline on us and take private property to accomplish their expansion, but they don’t. The California Constitution is complex and open to interpretation, but it is quite clear that the right of eminent domain is to be used only for the common good, the good of the entire citizenry. There is no way anyone could see this expansion as a project for the common good. The fact that they want to do it by cutting a 40-foot swath across private property with big equipment is alarming. There is no benefit other than NID profits in doing it this way. A ditch exists to accommodate any needed improvements and they could be done by crews of men working in such a way as to not disturb the surrounding landscape. Those pushing these oversized projects are well aware that in communities across the country, citizens are demanding that their way of life be respected and developers with visions of oversized profits should scale back their vision to accommodate all of us who must live with the consequences of that vision.
This country was created, in large part, by an informed and active citizenry. It can be protected the same way. Please don’t hesitate.
Kristina Reaume lives in Nevada City.
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