After a slow year the practice has been slammed with business lately, and we’ve been working nights and weekends to keep pace.  It seems that some sort of economic recovery has reached us, and other businesses are feeling it as well.  Basically however, I’ve been neglecting what I would consider quality and depth in my posts as I just haven’t had much spare time, and that which I’ve had I’ve selfishly spent catching up on reading.

Anyway, I feel a little bad as I’d promised to put some thought into the Richardson Grove issue and post about it.  I’ve said I lean in favor of the proposed widening project for reasons raised by small businesses and safety concerns which have come up in my own work.

I was asked to review some papers from Dr. Miller which make a good case that the involved agencies have not provided for adequate public information and input, and that they have not considered the impact of increased traffic and sprawl which would occur as the result of easier road access into the county.  I defer to the parties who know more than I about the adequacies of public notice and process.  On the second issue, I have some qualms about the opposition.

I believe we should take care to avoid the conflation of issues, particularly the environmental impact of any project to the grove itself with broader concerns about growth, traffic, and sprawl.  As is well known, I advocate controlled growth.  In fact, I would like to discuss the possibility of a no-growth model for development, economic and otherwise.  I don’t believe it’s necessary for us to fill up every corner of the planet with people, and while I don’t support mandatory population control I would hope that we evolve as a species where we take only from the earth that which we can return, and ensure that we leave the earth without increasing the burden on it.  The point is I have strong feelings about maintaining the quality of communities and I don’t view growth as inevitable nor universally healthy.

On the other hand, I don’t believe we should control growth by trying to bottle up traffic on a winding road.  We control growth with appropriate policies – we make a conscious choice.  And besides, I don’t really link a short stretch of winding road to growth, and certainly not increases in traffic.  I have in mind that some opponents picture a couple’s discussion in the Bay Area re vacation plans:

Partner 1:  Hey, I love Oregon.  Let’s drive up the coast and we can stop off in Humboldt County, try the stuff, visit the trails.  I know a great B&B in Ferndale, you know, where Outbreak was filmed?  Then we can head up into Oregon and try all the microbreweries.

Partner 2:  Yeah, that sounds like fun, but don’t you remember the last time we went?  That winding road with the trees just as you come into Humboldt County.  Man, that was pretty dicey and we couldn’t safely drive more than 45 miles per hour.  Must have added two or three minutes to our trip.  I don’t want to go through that again!

Partner 1:  I forgot about that.  Hey, let’s just drive to Vegas instead.

I mean, I agree that the “if you build it they will come” principle has relevance in some situations, but I don’t think it applies to the grove.  The cars that will come here; they’ll come either way, or they won’t.

That being said, I’ve a concern which I haven’t seen raised, and it’s about the representations being made about the trees which would be removed.  It’s being said that none of the larger redwood trees will be removed, that the state of the art tools will just blow the dirt off of the roots and the root structure won’t be compromised.  Maybe.  But every time I drive through it seems to me that there are a couple of spots at which large redwood trees are inches from the pavement and line up opposite each other on opposite sides.  I can’t see how the road can be widened in those spots without the removal of at least one of them.  Maybe someone can educate me.