Letter to the Editor: Protect Natural Elements, Develop Responsibly

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The Big Canyon Creek, after a restoration and water quality improvement project was completed, against a backdrop of homes in Newport Beach.
— Photo courtesy Burns & McDonnell

Philanthropist, environmentalist, social and corporate activist were just a few of the adjectives to describe Joan Irvine Smith in her recent obituary.

“Mrs. Smith was a witness to the development of Orange County from citrus groves and lima bean fields to its current population of more than three million people. Joan was an indomitable advocate for the judicious use of water resources, as well as, the local government’s supervision of land development.”

As the state of California continues to mandate excessive quantities of new housing, (only as the state’s population stalls), people are being driven to more amicable and affordable states.

We should ask why our water resources are being “hijacked” to accommodate 4,800 proposed dwellings in Newport Beach alone? This defies logic and the remnants of the populace are left to discover that California only added residents by a thin 0.35 percent annual rate over the past 12 months. Statistically, this is the lowest growth rate in State records to date, since the early 1900s.

Responsible development has to recognize the value of preservation of our harbor, protection of public views, conservation of our land and historical architecture. These priceless and unique components of our coastal towns should not be compromised at the whim of reckless government officials. The “Plop-Drop & Destroy” development approach is extremely irresponsible and does not consider the unintended consequences or the perverse effect contrary to what was originally intended.

At the beginning of the 20th century, President Roosevelt ushered in a period of conservation as a major part of his administration. As the new century began, the frontier was disappearing, many Americans, including Roosevelt, saw a need to preserve the nation’s natural resources. He wanted to protect animals and land from businesses that he saw as a threat.

Joan Irvine Smith also comprehended the importance of our limited water resources and the responsible management of growth. She and other activists sought that future developments would complement existing neighborhoods and would do no harm.

Perhaps, protecting our natural elements and finding common ground for the good of California’s coastline, would be a better initiative in 2020.

Peggy V. Palmer
Newport Beach

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