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Twisted Logic Seen in Flaherty Column

July 13, 1986

On behalf of the more than 10,000 members of the Sierra Club in San Diego, I feel compelled to respond to the featured Commentary carried by The Times June 29 (" 'Alice in Wonderland, Meet the Sierra Club' "). The writer has chosen to apply numerous simplistic labels and a host of strawman-type arguments in misrepresenting the positions of those advocating environmental protection and managed growth.

The most objectionable point raised is that "environmentalists don't recognize that man is a part of the natural order." It is precisely because we do recognize man's place and responsibility in the natural order that the Sierra Club and many other environmental organizations are so well-supported. In addition to a full outings program designed to explore and enjoy our precious and irreplaceable natural resources, the Sierra Club has an ongoing conservation program designed to help protect these resources, which enrich and support all species.

We are proud to have joined with many other community-based organizations in the successful effort to pass Proposition A, the managed growth initiative, last November. It is curious that the writer rehashes the same fallacious arguments opponents raised, and voters rejected, overwhelmingly last year.

Opponents tried to tell us that growth would be jammed into the inner city because Proposition A would lock up the urban reserve. Yet there is more than enough land to accommodate growth without the jamming that is already occurring, if only the City Council would follow the constituent community plans and update them comprehensively when necessary. The City Council is finally recognizing the need and funding the means to accomplish the update.

The Sierra Club is not opposed to "every development" nor every road, but we are opposed to building in canyons, river beds, wetlands, and we are opposed to leapfrog development and that which sprawls out and stretches our ability to provide adequate services. Roads that are designed to accelerate growth in remote areas are expensive and inefficient, violating the basic tenets of our growth management plans.

The "urban reserve," which now requires a vote of the electorate to "open up" for urban levels of development, provides the city some measure of flexibility in meeting its future needs without abandoning the urban core. All Proposition A said is: If you think it's time to grow outside of all the areas we have set aside now, let us (the voters) know why.

The voters have the opportunity to ratify those so-called "complex planning decisions." Proposition A requires the City Council to build a consensus for future growth and gives a greater opportunity for all San Diegans to participate in their future. This is not "mob rule," it's democracy.

The polemics practiced by the " 'Alice in Wonderland, Meet the Sierra Club' " commentary do not enhance the constructive dialogue necessary to meet the continuing challenges to our quality of life. We all need to recognize the valid conflicts that may arise in protecting natural resources, while we meet the needs of a rapidly growing area. The Sierra Club will continue to work with responsible individuals and organizations in the community to anticipate and resolve those conflicts.

RUTH DUEMLER

San Diego

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