October 31, 2006 > Yes on K
Yes on K
We should grow up and not out
Fremont historically has been a rich and diverse wildlife and wetlands area (and to some extent remains so). Prior to the arrival of the Spanish and American explorers, the Coyote hills area teemed with wild life and the bay was unspoiled, unfilled, and replete with waterfowl and sea life of extraordinary diversity and proliferation. We quickly passed through the ranching, agricultural, industrial, and now information age, and perhaps 95% of accessible Fremont land is developed. The development of the last one hundred years has been dictated by the automobile, and can be described as two dimensional - sell homes on the flatlands as quick as the market allows. Orchards, farms, and open space now make up a small percentage of the city contour, with a notable exception of the protected hills.
Does the open space bordering the Coyote Hills deserve preservation, despite the projected cost to the public and the "taking" of private property for social needs? I would argue yes for the following reasons. We cannot place a price tag on the environmental benefit of a green belt - undeveloped land - because there is no way to measure the cost of lost wildlife diversity, encroachment on wetlands, or horizontal spread. On the other hand, we can, as citizens, make positive steps towards 3 dimensional urban planning - which is to say, build up rather than out, anticipate mass transit, less destructive impacts on the land, and protect the climate.
One need only remember New Orleans to realize that "tough decisions" are rarely made in advance by politicians or by citizens. Hundreds of years of ignoring the environment eventually catch up with every American city. Fremont has an opportunity to continue as an environmental leader and we should make an important choice. Voting yes on Measure K will come at a cost. We should care about our backyard as well as its owners. We should grow up and not out.
Richard S Godfrey