Santa Margarita quarry points and counterpoints
February 15, 2015
OPINION By T. KEITH GURNEE
With the recent spate of articles and opinion pieces on the proposed Las Pilitas Quarry in CalCoastNews, the responses generated have been interesting to say the least. Now that the applicants are appealing the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission’s 3-2 denial of the conditional use permit to the board of supervisors, what will the board do? Reward the alarmist emotionalism of the opponents or stick with the logic, history, and need to serve the greater good?
Let’s examine the rhetoric of the comments made by the opponents from their point and my counterpoint perspective:
1. Point: “I’m going to find out where you live and put in a strip mine next door. See how you feel about it then!”
Counterpoint: It’s tough to build a strip mine or a quarry where the rock resources don’t exist and they don’t exist by my house.
2. Point: “When I win the lottery I am going to hire a double dump truck to drive by your house every two minutes for the next 30 years.”
Counterpoint: I once lived in Santa Margarita. Had I stayed, you might’ve gotten your wish. If I had chosen to build or buy a house on or near Highway 58– a highway that was built for the express purpose of providing access to quarries in the epicenter of the richest rock deposits recognized by the state of California– I would have had to get used to it, wouldn’t I?
3. Point: “Gurnee is out of step and needs to go back to school to update his understanding of planning and environmental issues. Apparently, CEQA and NEPA are not in his vocabulary.”
Counterpoint: With a 40 year career in the fields of planning and urban design, I know CEQA and NEPA and the abuses of those laws only too well. I have dealt with hundreds if not thousands of environmental documents during my time in the profession. I also know that the way this county administers CEQA is fraught with bias, faulty and fallacious assumptions, and a resolve to find 1000 ways to say “no” to a project rather than searching objectively for the truth.
4. Point: “It would be ethically and morally corrupt to have read that report (EIR) and still support this project.”
Counterpoint: It would be idiotic to have read that report and actually believe what it says.
5. Point: “The term nimbyism is so old school and yesterday.”
Counterpoint: If that’s the case, then why does the term fit so well with what is happening on this issue in Santa Margarita today?
6. Point: “…have one of their double loaded diesel trucks drive by their (quarry applicants Cole and Souza) residences every 2 1/2 minutes…”
Counterpoint: This overwrought exaggeration of quarry traffic prompted by the false math and misleading assumptions of a deliberately biased EIR is little more than delusional fiction.
7. Point: “… there is not a single parent of a child attending Santa Margarita Elementary School who would support such a ridiculous plan as to have this kind of traffic endangering the children and the residents of this precious town.”
Counterpoint: The applicants for the quarry have agreed to provide funding to the school for a full-time crossing guard on Highway 58 during school hours to convey children safely to school. Those guards would also be provided with radios to call-in truck drivers who might violate any traffic laws with the penalty of suspending the drivers who might violate those laws.”
So now what? The appeal is supposed to be heard in April 2015. Will San Luis Obispo County honor its past and the need of future generations for the resources they will need to sustain them well into the future? Or will we opt for immediate, self centered, and selfish actions that deny those needs? That is indeed the question.
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