An article long overdue which explores some of the misunderstandings of the project and the strengths and weaknesses of both sides of the argument.  The whole thing is worth a read, but this portion stick out to me.

In response to a question about corporate stores that are already here, EPIC’s reply was, “Your mention of existing big-box stores with their own fleets of trucks establishes that the STAA designation is not necessary.” But not necessary for whom? If the big boxes don’t need STAA access to be here, how can providing that access be the cause of their coming here? The argument seems to be circular and self-defeating. It is, of course, “necessary” for Caltrans to be in compliance with federal law — a fact that was curiously ignored at the Feb. 24 forum.

In next week’s installment of the story, Cristina explores some of the claims about business needs regarding the project, and I hope she has helped to clear up conflicting claims about whom would benefit the most – big boxes or small business.

At the end of this first installment Cristina mentions that EPIC intends to file suit on the inadequacies of the DEIR, and it does seem like there are plenty of omissions to justify criticism.  But if compliance with federal law is the issue, wouldn’t such a lawsuit simply being forestalling the inevitable?  By focusing on the DEIR rather than any explicit violations of law in the project itself, they are leaving out a key defendant in the federal government, and fundamentally whether the STAA-accommodation requirements violate federal environmental regulations.  If not, then it seems like this project is inevitable in some form.

On another point, the article confirms my take on the development issue.  While I remain agnostic on many of the issues, the whole “maintain the bottleneck to prevent development” approach is misguided.  Development is controlled by smart growth policies.  If we don’t want a big box in Eureka, or Fortuna, we push for ordinances which restrict that development, and we oppose variances such as those being sought for the Marina Center.  To the controlled growth issue, this one seems like a distraction.

The comments attached to the article raise some good points and some lame ones, but it’s the kind of discussion we need.  Like I said in a previous post, I wish someone would organize a panel debate in lieu of the one-sided pep rallies all sides organize to pump up their own positions and do little to address the nuances and factual disputes.  It should be easy to confirm whether Randy Gans is telling the truth about lobbying, since everything should be public record.  Or whether the Crescent City Home Depot takes in STAA deliveries from the north.  And I would like to see some detailed botanical analysis as to the potential danger to the roadside old growth due to the compromising of the root structures with an air spade, hot asphalt, etc.  It seems that all sides are charged up with big opinions while lacking crucial information.

And thank you again Cristina and NCJ!