Limiting urban growth in the Bay Area is not without controversy. Read and compare the arguments in the two following excerpts from the media. One describes the San Joaquin Delta Division and the challenges of bringing fresh water to the region. The other describes the relationship between environmental policies and housing costs.
San Francisco Chronicle Article
With other forms of open spacing bringing the total of preserved land to nearly a fourth of the region's 4.5 million acres, it is still possible to keep a balance between wild land and development -- to achieve the environmental goal of "sustainability."
That can be done, however, only if the region gives up the "American dream" of single-family homes in suburbia and embraces dense urban development. If it doesn't, the Bay Area's large amount of parkland will contribute to driving up already high housing costs. . . .
But critics say the creation of parks and the implementation of so-called open space laws have turned the Bay Area into a kind of millionaires club, with housing so expensive that most working people cannot afford to live here.
"What has happened, essentially, is that those already inside the castle have pulled up the drawbridge, so that outsiders can't get in," argued Thomas Sowell, a senior fellow atStanford's Hoover Institution, in a recent column published by the
Aberdeen American News. "Much of this exclusionary agenda is pushed by
people who inherited great wealth and are using it to buy a sense of
importance as deep thinkers and moral leaders protecting the
Meanwhile, California is growing. About 13.1 million
more people are expected in the state in the next three decades,
according to the California Department of Finance. That's a third more
people than the current population of 36.8 million.
already intense pressure for more housing in the Bay Area will surely
increase as the population grows and prices continue to climb. "We are
at a crossroads," Kirking said. "We are working with the air- and
water-quality control boards on smart-growth initiatives, urban-growth
boundaries and transit-oriented developments throughout the nine
counties, but it is very unclear whether those concepts are going to
Source: [Excerpt] Fimrite, Peter. “Bay Area's open space tightrope.” The San Francisco Chronicle. June 5, 2005. Pg. A17.
Mother Jones Article
San Francisco Bay, the delta, and the rivers that fed them had provided a nursery for fish and shellfish that once made the region one of the nation's leading fishing ports. Frank Quan, the last of the fishermen at Marin's China Camp State Park, noticed the change when Friant Dam choked the San Joaquin. "It was so gradual that at first we didn't realize the effect of the diversion," Quan told a reporter in 1992. "Now we are at about bottom today. There is no flounder out there, the bass are about gone, and the shrimp are about gone too. . . . [T]here is not enough fresh water getting into the Bay, and now all the Bay water is as salty as the ocean." . . .
In 1993, farmers spread a reported 63,926 tons of pesticides upon the Central Valley alone. For the traveler crossing the valley, the air smells more like a chemical plant than a farming region. Severe asthma has become commonplace among residents, and clusters of childhood cancers are popping up in rural towns. . . .
In 1993, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) released a sobering report showing water demand rising far faster than available supplies. It predicted a chronic, growing, and man-made drought, even in wet years, as the state's population climbs from 30 million in 1990 to an estimated 49 million by 2020. The study suggested that California's environment would continue to decline as diversions progressively starve it of water. For all the bravado about California agriculture -- the $12-$20 billion that it annually adds to the economy and the miracles of production and technical ingenuity it has accomplished -- farming is on its way out. Drivers can witness a linear city of shopping malls, housing developments, and office parks spreading along Highway 80 from the Bay Area to Sacramento and into the Sierra foothills beyond. More new cities are scheduled for the dry west side of the valley. They will take more than land, for, as they grow, they will require an increasing share of the water that now goes to farms. In the inevitable drought, they will override all other priorities, and in doing so, they will finish off what remains of the state's fish, wildlife, and orchards.
Source: [Excerpt] Brechin, Gary. “How Paradise Lost.” Mother Jones. November/December 1996. http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/1996/11/brechin.html
1. What dangers does the Mother Jones article say may come with continued urban growth?
2. What problems does the SF Chronicle article claim are associated with some environmental policies?
3. How do you interpret the competing claims about urban growth?