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Latest Example of Bad Decision-Making ... Society Needs to Change!

Original post made by Daniel Mart, Mountain View, on Jul 8, 2007

The Grant Road farm vote in Mountain View, CA is disappointing and upsetting to me; I am still in shock. I mean, forget zoning laws and all that -- open space is open space and we "must" protect it; if not for the good of ourselves, then for the good of our community, our children, our children's children, our society, and this planet as a whole. How many laws must be conjured up before we realize the harm we are inflicting? How much wilderness and open space must be destroyed before it is too late? Is it not ironic that, in the name of so-called "progress," man kills and destroys? Man builds houses; man destroys other animals homes. Man constructs shopping malls and golf courses; man gives local wildlife nowhere else to go. And when that wildlife attempts to return to their homes, acres of land now completely developed and invaded by humans, man murders them.

The decision to develop the entire over-century-old farm on Grant Road in Mountain View, CA is beyond devastating; not so much because many of my childhood memories revolve around times spent there, but mostly because historical, agricultural and biological significance has taken a backseat to man-made laws that in this case undermines common-sense. The farm on Grant Road has survived changes in traffic all these years; why must those who oppose its preservation use the zoning laws as their main argument? I mean, in this case, why not develop Coyote Valley right now? Bulldoze Hidden Villa? Rid this world of every acre of preserved open space in and surrounding this valley? What is the limit here? Has our world become so big-headed that all man has to do is write a single law into the books and as a result all of our open wilderness is gone tomorrow? Or can we look past that simple -- yet all-too-realistic -- analogy, and realize that our right to live is no more valid than that of other species? That man, that "human beings," are really no different than the bird, the snake, the lizard, or the skunk? Sure, we may eat and move our bodies differently; but do these creatures not have unique behaviors and ways of communicating that are "just" as valid?

As a whole, humans are not a ruthless species; none of you are bad people, nor by constructing houses, malls and golf courses, do you intend to do any harm. It is just that our world has become so brainwashed and fed such garbage by huge corporations and the like; somewhere along the way, we have gotten the idea that human beings are morally superior to everything else. It is now finally time for us to sit back and look at what is happening; to take notice of what is being destroyed for the so-called "betterment of mankind." It is time for us to look at how our tax-dollars are being spent; how many of our own governments anti-environmental dealings are being kept out of the news; how many of our own actions are destroying "our" home, much less the homes of other species. It is time for us to finally wake up.

And is it not ironic that while we are overly-developing in the name of progress, what we are really doing is destroying vital elements to not only the food chain, but also to the sustainability of life as we know it? "Everything" in biodiversity is connected; everything from the richest soil found anywhere (this valley) to the plants, grass and flowers growing in that soil to the insects who rely on and help nourish it all every day to the atmosphere which helps everything grow (and yet is being threatened by human activity) to the food which plants produce for us as a result of this amazing -- and all-too-vital -- process. And the more of this we destroy, the more of our future goes with it.

It is assumed that the addition of housing over the farm on Grant Road is progress, and that as a result of this progress we will be better off in the long-term.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

This is the kind of thing environmental groups and lawyers fight every day. The same thing is happening with Coyote Valley in San Jose, CA and other open space. Money talks, and unfortunately the environment and wildlife "always" takes a back seat at meetings. It is a constant uphill battle; but the awesome news is that we, the majority of the public, are fighting for ethics and morals; and that will "always" be the right thing.

As for city government's "interest" in securing a farm, I really pray that this goes through and that people put major major pressure on city government to wake up and do something. Too many accounts of open space being destroyed -- of wildlife and the environment taking a back seat to the almighty dollar -- does not raise my hopes about preserving any wilderness; not for a second.

What it all comes down to is this: it is our responsibility -- the community's responsibility -- to vote in to government people who actually demonstrate common sense and can differentiate between that and money. Otherwise, all we are doing is killing ourselves faster and faster.

I strongly encourage all of you to send off a letter to the Mountain View, CA City Hall expressing your feelings towards this decision!

Call me naive, but is it not the responsibility of governemt -- "any" government -- to do what is best for the people and their entire well-being? Otherwise, all we have are a bunch of short-sighted, egotistical politicians who listen only to their pocketbooks and special interests, and not common sense.

I apologize if this seems harsh, but it had to be said.

Comments (30)

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Posted by qq
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 9, 2007 at 3:35 am

Have you taken a look at the Bay Area on the satellite view of Google Maps lately?

Web Link

Humans have pretty much pwned this whole place. Why not finish filling it up with some more condos and parking spaces? Remember, this is America, where we will happily sell the last tree to the highest bidder.

BTW, if you have some extra devaluing dollars,

Web Link

I suggest you invest in BRIC, cause if you think humans are pwning the Bay Area, ya gotta see what our brethren are doing to the Amazon rain forest!

Web Link

qq


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 9, 2007 at 7:40 am

Buy the blinkin' land and keep it however you want. Stop voting someone elses' money into your own pocket. Share the earth gracefully, not grudgingly and parsimoneously. Other people are people, too.


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Posted by eric
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 9, 2007 at 10:54 am

Didnt you hear? He's donating his own house to the open space ditrict!


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Posted by joyce
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 9, 2007 at 3:51 pm

"Share the earth gracefully, not grudgingly and parsimoneously. Other people are people, too."

So is wildlife, Walter, who speaks for them if not us?

And since when does having buckets of money give someone a moral right to do anything they please?


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 9, 2007 at 4:59 pm

Joyce, ownership, plus zoning and other a plethora of regulations, govern what we can do with our property. People who own property can't do what they please; they have to obey law and process.

If the laws don't cover your moral (or other) concerns, they can be changed; and have been repeatedly over the years of course. But if an owner is obeying the law, the focus seems more appropriately on the law (covering us all equally), not just the single owner.

My two cents,
Fred


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 10, 2007 at 7:02 am

"So is wildlife, Walter, who speaks for them if not us?"
Ask then yourself - any night in the average urban back yard. Developed areas are often a better wildlife environment that the open country.
"And since when does having buckets of money give someone a moral right to do anything they please?"
Since when do you have the right to tell someone else what they can do with their bucket of money?

Obviously we have different values here.


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Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 13, 2007 at 9:18 am

Why then is it perfectly alright to put a price on our home, other anmals homes, and, to put it bluntly, our survival?

One of the points made at the last Coyote Valley specific planning meeting at San Jose City Hall ... preserved open space outside of offices or homes only increases the propertys desireability. Imagine going outside your backdoor or street, and being able to jog natural trails and/or just experience the beauty and serenity of open wilderness.


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Posted by Onceler
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2007 at 9:25 am

Call me when you've restored the Truffula trees and shut down the Thneed factory.


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Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 15, 2007 at 11:49 am

Also keep in mind that back at the initial farm vote in May, the vote was 4-2 in "favor" of a way to preserve the land ... very suspicious.

Everybody, please, if you care about the environmnt and our future, write a letter to City Hall and do all you can to make this cause known!


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Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 17, 2007 at 1:25 pm

New article: organic farming will yield more food and is more beneficial:

Web Link


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 17, 2007 at 2:10 pm

Fred: your voice of reason is a breath of fresh air in the never ending struggle between those who want to tell others what to do with their property and those who want to be left alone.


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Posted by eric
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 17, 2007 at 2:16 pm

Daniel, what does that article have to do with an amusement park farm anyway?


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Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 17, 2007 at 4:59 pm

This is about common sense, and what's really scary is that all man has to do is write a single law into the books and suddenly all open space is gone tomorrow. There is a fine, fine line; and this is an example of something that, as mentioned above, undermines common sense. If the farm were to continue to stand for many years to come, would it prosper? Yes ... studies have shown that farms in communities do very well. Couple that with the richest soil on earth, countless environmental benefits, and the equally-as-awesome benefits of organic farming, and losing this entire agriculturally and biologically rich piece of land is one of our community's greatest tragedies. Heck, one of our nation's; for every piece of open space is so very precious.

And, unfortunately, so very prone to destruction by man.


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Posted by Sue
a resident of Southgate
on Jul 17, 2007 at 7:17 pm

The comments by Daniel Mart and others here display a very cramped and confining all-or-nothing viewpoint regarding land use. There is nothing "common sense" about Mart's argument that it would be a "community tragedy" if landowners are 't prevented from doing what they want with their own property. If the "community" really thinks that the farm in question (or any other property) should be preserved in amber, then the proper thing would be for the community to tax itself so that all of its members pay for the benefit conveyed to the community by this preservation.

But an even larger problem with Mart's vision is his assertion that the open space or farm status of this (or any other land) is uniquely precious. One hundred and fifty years ago, most local land was farms and open space. Now, much of it is occupied by homes, businesses, universities: that is, people comprising the most creative and productive society in the history of humankind. In what sense, other than the personal preference of Mart and his kind, is what we have now worse than the "open space" of the past? Who is Mart to argue that this farm is more valuable than the people or laboratories or businesses that might occupy it otherwise?

What Mart sees as "destruction" by man is to some of us an example of human genius which contributes to the betterment of us all.


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Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 17, 2007 at 10:22 pm

I'm not saying that houses already built should be torn down and land restored. My point is simply that there needs to be a balance, and that we have reached the limit on development and are now over-developing at a rapid rate. Look at Coyote Valley ... nevermind the fact that the EIR is full of lies ... once new office space in the valley is completed, what they want to do is to move offices in Downtown San Jose to the new Santana Row in Coyote Valley, leaving those previous offices vacant.

We have somehow gotten the idea that humans are morally superior to everything else, which is sad. Why? Re-read my letter above. Do we all not have a God-given right to live? Is it fair for man to invade other species homes and kill them when they attempt to return? This is what happened to the California Grizzly, that majestic animal on our state flag. Because of man, they are extinct. Is it fair to our children and grandchildren that by over-developing, we are taking away more and more of the natural, God-given wonders that shape not only our world, but our means of survival as a species?

The bottom line here is not politics; it never should be (but, unfortunately, much too often, it is). Nor should it be about mankind's selfishness as a species (but, again, much too often, it is). Rather, this is about our survival; our planet's survival; our need to wake up and realize the harm we are inflicting upon this world and all of its natural beauty and wonder. It is about doing what's "morally" and "ethically" sound, and what these two words really mean.


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Posted by Sue
a resident of Southgate
on Jul 18, 2007 at 5:57 am

Unfortunately, the "balance" Mart claims to seek will come at the expense of the "children and grandchildren" whose interests he claims to represent.

Like it or not, unless Mart wants to engage in some sort of mandatory population control, the number of people in California will continue to increase. Mart's politics would force the cost of housing in California above its already stratospheric levels. Where does he propose that they live? Should we kill a few "humans" off so that other species have a chance too?

Be very afraid when someone wants to achieve what's "ethically and morally sound" through the political process. Hitler and Stalin both started out with similar rhetoric.


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Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 18, 2007 at 7:03 am

Fine ... you don't give a damn ... you've made your point.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 18, 2007 at 8:04 am

I think Sue does give a damn and her concern is not mis-placed. The problem is when your "ethics" run into my "interests." It's fine that you try to convince others that it is good policy and change the laws. But the idea that "protect the earth" (and do it my way please) is a higher law is a little scary.

What "morally" usually means in this context is "I only have an emotional justification, but I don't want to just say that." Try turning that moral outrage into a real policy argument.

It is kind of funny that you say "we must draw the line here!" after 300+ million people have spread themselves over the US. There's lots of open space in the Bay Area. But if we need more, how about leading by example, and you and your like-minded friends can tear down your houses and turn your properties into nature preserves, and you can live in tents on them? At least you would get in the newspaper for that.


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Posted by Curious Observer
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 18, 2007 at 8:55 am

Curious Observer is a registered user.

I'd love to do exactly what Sam proposes. Unfortunately, I think there are city ordinances against camping within city limits.


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Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 18, 2007 at 5:15 pm

It is all about morals and ethics; preserving the environment and getting narrow-minded individuals to open up to this is all about morals and ethics. I'm majoring in ES because it is all about morals and ethics, as opposed to doing what's "right," which can mean different things to different people.

It is true that all man has to is write a single law into the books for all open space to be gone tomorrow; it is true that with the right amount of money, a businessman could just purchase some open space and convert it into housing. It is also true that plenty of empty office space exists, and that if the developers of Coyote Valley get their way (which I'm hoping they won't), offices in downtown san jose will move into that new eyesore, leaving those previous spaces vacant.

I find it ironic that while people here are badmouthing me and pointing out tiny technicalities, nobody has answered the much larger questions posed in my last lengthy reply. Forget the lengthy "technical" arguments back and forth that could literally go on for months ... an answer of "yes" or "no" is all that is needed.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 18, 2007 at 8:03 pm

Daniel, it is interesting you think that "morals and ethics" don't mean different things to different people. Is that what you meant to say? Back on my planet it ain't that way.

San Jose offices vacant - huh? Maybe new business will move in, hmm? I haven't noticed tons of vacant space around the Bay Area, housing or offices. Maybe we need to build more or the economic growth story that is Silicon Valley (and America) grinds to a halt. That would be a bummer since it pays the bills. Maybe ok with you; all you have to do is convince 51% of your neighbors and we give your way a try.

As your question - I'll take a shot - but not sure what question you mean. Could you repeat the question please?


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Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 18, 2007 at 8:22 pm

We have somehow gotten the idea that humans are morally superior to everything else, which is sad. Why? Re-read my letter above. Do we all not have a God-given right to live? Is it fair for man to invade other species homes and kill them when they attempt to return? This is what happened to the California Grizzly, that majestic animal on our state flag. Because of man, they are extinct. Is it fair to our children and grandchildren that by over-developing, we are taking away more and more of the natural, God-given wonders that shape not only our world, but our means of survival as a species? All that's needed here is a 'yes' or 'no' ... no prolonged argument.


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Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 18, 2007 at 8:24 pm

Everything in biodiversity is connected, from the lone leaf floating in the river up to the atmosphere.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 18, 2007 at 8:48 pm

Ok, got it - we and the animals, bugs, plants (bacteria?) are "morally equivalent" and we don't have a right to take their homes. Okayyyy.

Dude, the answer to your question (I think) is YES - we humans have the right to invade their homes and kill them. Maybe it is sad, but just about all of human civilization beyond hunter/gatherer is based on it, so the toothpaste is out of the tube I'm afraid. We preserve the parts we like not because of "morality" but because, well, we like them.

You can make an argument that we'll be happier, live longer, have a world we like more, etc., if we do the things you say - but the idea that animals and plants, etc., have rights is gonna be a toughie.


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Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 18, 2007 at 9:06 pm

Then that is truly sad. How would we feel if that happened to us?

Fortunately, today, the point of view that humans have a right to destroy everything is in the minority. Many, many people fight for polar bears, elk, badgers, etc for reasons other then "we like them." Not only are they a huge part of biodiversity, but they also have behaviors that are "just as valid" as that of human beings. I'm not talking about salmon, cows, or other animals that supply us with seemingly endless food (the Native Americans would even praise their gods for the endless abundance of salmon) ... rather, I refer to polar bears, chimps/apes (who are nearly identical to humans), elk, checkerspot butterfly, badger, etc.

However, if it is thought by some that we should kill 'em all, I don't know what else to say. Take an environmental science course; that would convince you otherwise.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 18, 2007 at 9:13 pm

Dude, here's the 411 - people save those animals cause they like 'em. That's it. What's the difference (morally) between a elk and a cow? Or a butterfly and a cockroach? All God's creatures last time I checked.

No one is saying "kill 'em all" - but there isn't any moral argument why or why not. It's practical. Some we just like having around; others we convince ourselves are useful since they are part of the climate or the foodchain that, here's the punch line, we like the way it is. Some we protect just because we're not sure and we can't bring 'em back.

So sure, we have the right. We just try to be smart about exercising it.


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Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 18, 2007 at 10:22 pm

But we're animals. And they're animals. We have our own behaviors; they have their own behaviors. They act in accordance with human nature; we act in accordance with human nature. So who is to say which species is morally superior? Ethically superior? Everything is connected ... we don't just convince ourselves; we know. If nothing drastic is done, by the end of this century, half the snow pack will be gone. It rained today, and it's July. Endangered species are being obliterated now faster than ever before, and with every one destroyed, we destroy ourselves that much more. Every animal, tree and evasive plant species plays a role. Even our soil, the richest on earth, plays a vital role in the atmosphere and the food we eat. If we indeed have the right to live, should we not do everything we can to preserve all of it? To weigh it all on an equal scale?

There must be a balance ... and when we have reached a point where people get rid of open space or wilderness simply because they need money, then we need to take a major step back and look at ourselves. I mean, if man has reached the point where he knowingly gets rid of open space that easily, then what kind of world are we living in?

Let me tell you one thing: a lot of people don't want this world; a lot of people are sick; a lot of people are stepping up to the environmental battlefield; and a lot of people will not take any more nonsense.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 18, 2007 at 10:45 pm

You go dude! As I said, convince 51% you're right, and you and your pals get to drive.

I'm not sure where you are going with the "battlefield" stuff at the end - hopefully not that eco-terrorist stuff the TV crime dramas like to riff on.


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Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 19, 2007 at 12:16 am

OK, well, glad to see that you're at least open-minded, unlike many anti-environmental folks; people who say that global warming is a joke ^^)

And no ... battlefield in the nicest, most liberal sense :)


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Posted by Daniel Mart
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 19, 2007 at 12:19 am

OK, well, glad to see that you're at least open-minded, unlike many anti-environmental folks; people who say that global warming is a joke ^^)

And no ... battlefield in the nicest, most liberal sense :)


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