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Kirk Effinger: ‘Roads to nowhere’ a product of activists, weak-kneed politicians

Beware the community activist who became one when a new subdivision or other development is proposed near them and claims to be concerned for their entire city. 

They rarely are.

And therein lies one of the big problems I have with NIMBY and BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone) attitudes so prevalent in many of our growing communities.

I recently attended the third community workshop of the once and future controversially proposed development located in the sphere of influence of the city of San Marcos known as “San Marcos Highlands.”

This project, which has been in the works since the early 1980s, is meeting stiff opposition from neighbors to the south in a community that didn’t even exist when it was first proposed as well as others in surrounding properties who want to hold back the sands of time.

The property owner, who has owned the land since 1981, is simply asking to have the right to develop his property roughly according to a community plan — but with less density than that plan called for — shortly after he first acquired the property.

The surrounding neighbors would have you think his property is some kind of pristine and rare nature preserve that only exists in this one spot and that the wildlife that are seen there are going to disappear if he is allowed to build his homes. Hogwash.

The fauna being talked about that night — bobcats, mule deer, coyote — have been seen all over San Marcos in the various open preserves that developers have been required to provide, as this one would. I’ve seen them myself on plenty of occasions, including quail, and yes, the precious — almost mythical — California gnatcatcher.

The truth is the real argument is over a road this development brings closer to completion, even though the developer will not likely be required to connect it as has been planned for well over 25 years, and should be.

The self-serving “activism” that masquerades for protecting and preserving a way of life is what really gets under my skin.

If you spend any time analyzing the root causes of our housing and traffic woes in this region, one thing stands out: the selfish tyranny of the minority that rules land use decisions time and again over the needs of the community as a whole. Little consideration, if any, is given to the ripple effect acceding to their wishes has on the rest of the community.

I won’t belabor the housing issues in this column today but, ask yourself the next time you are sitting in a traffic jam on the freeway because of some major shutdown. Why is it every time one of our freeways suffers a major catastrophe, traffic everywhere grinds to a halt?

The answer is simple, really. Roads to nowhere. Thanks to “community activists” and weak-kneed politicians, planned arterial roadways — freeway alternatives, if you will — are blocked, stalled, or redlined.

Politicians need to start listening to the community that doesn’t speak, for a change.

Kirk W. Effinger was born in San Diego and raised in Southern California. He and his family have been residents of San Marcos for the past 30 years. His opinion columns have appeared regularly in the North County Times and, later, the San Diego Union-Tribune since 1995. He can be reached at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @kirkeffinger