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Wimpy City Council

April 20, 1986

San Diego City Councilman Mike Gotch's lament about the influence of the rich and powerful (Commentary, April 13) is only a symptom of a far greater malaise: The wimpy council bows to any developer on any issue if it sees money and believes no one is watching. Thanks to Mike, someone is watching.

Mr. Gotch ends with a formula that should work but seldom does: "Speak out. Your voice can make a difference." Speaking out works fine with Mr. Gotch, who has ably demonstrated his responsibility to the community he represents. It also worked with our former mayor. But with Roger Hedgecock gone and Gotch not aspiring to that office, we are left with a council wholly out of tune with environmental issues and what we intend to leave to our children.

Decisions are made by the council that will affect our future--but not for the good of all or even the majority. The myopic vision of the council concerns itself with immediate returns, satisfying a limited few who have the money or the influence to make their voices heard above the citizens who live here and wonder about tomorrow.

Why must decisions be based on the projected growth of a city already confined to a finite space? We hear of limits to water and power, yet no limits on building permits or sewer extensions. We can see smog, but no end to the line of cars jamming our ever-expanding freeways.

As was mentioned in the companion article by Bob Findle, condominiums replace single homes and quadruple or sextuple the density of a once-residential neighborhood. This can have profound effects upon the area in which they appear. Because of their pricing and size, condos do not attract young families. The "age profile" of a community shifts and schools close. The number of cars increase because each occupant drives to work to earn his or her share of the rent. The interest a condo dweller has in his community is only a tad better than an apartment renter. Why should they be interested? Their investment is in shelter, not in a community.

Whether condos or apartments or immense housing tracts, the land is being covered with bedrooms and concrete, creating attractive nuisances for more people to move to an area rapidly diminishing in the amenities so many once found attractive. Have you tried to park near the beach in the summertime or in Balboa Park at almost any time?

When Mike Gotch goes, I hope he closes the door and throws away the key. As for the rest of the council, I hope their children survive to recognize who placed their future on the auction block to the highest bidder.

ALFRED C. STROHLEIN

San Diego

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