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|Santa Barbara County, CA||November 6, 2012 Election|
Cleaning our Creeks and Beaches
By Gregory GandrudCandidate for Council Member; City of Carpinteria
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Our community overwhelmingly supports cleaning and preserving our environment. Our leaders must grasp the socio-biologic issues and provide market-based solutions that will create an economically viable, long-term approach to our never-ending quest to maintain and improve our quality of life.Where does polluted ocean water come from?
In adapting a watershed approach to solving pollution problems, we need to consider the entire ecosystem. Rainwater falls on mountain slopes, creating flash floods into creeks- carrying with it debris from birds, mountain lions, bears, coyotes, and many other animals. In some areas, faulty septic systems have been linked through DNA testing to e. Coli in the ocean. Water falls on rooftops, lawns, driveways, streets, farmland, runs down gutters, stormdrains, flood control channels, and ultimately into our creeks and beaches. The urban run-off contains a toxic soup of pet excrement, lawn chemicals, agricultural chemicals, and automotive wastes.
As part of Carpinteria's annual creek cleanup, I witnessed first-hand the homeless encampments along Carpinteria Creek. During cold and wet weather, many homeless choose to seek shelter at Carpinteria's Adult Rehabilitation Center which is operated by the Salvation Army. During the warmer and dryer months, they use huge flattened cardboard boxes from local retailers to line their camps.
When the rains come, the debris from these camps is washed directly into Carpinteria Creek and out to the State Beach. What did we find when we came to clean up the creek and its banks?
Beer cans- mostly bargain brands and cheap malt liquor. Broken glass bottles and many intact ones that had contained hard liquor. Dog food. Birthday candles- a six and a three. A Michigan sweatshirt. A broken bicycle. Styrofoam cup fragments, plastic bags, cigarette butts, go cups and food wrappers from fast-food restaurants. The signs and smells of human excrement were everywhere, despite the proximity of a portable toilet.
Twelve volunteers spent the morning picking up the waste left by the homeless along a half-mile stretch of the creek. The bags of trash filled a large pick-up truck.
I kept thinking about how soon it would be before all the trash would be back- a few days or a week? What can we do to provide other opportunities for the people that choose to live this way? What events have led them to choose this lifestyle?
One-third to half of our homeless population suffer from substance abuse problems. They live a life of despair, caught in a downward spiral which leads to more alcohol consumption and more despair. Giving them cash simply enables them to consume more alcohol. Alcoholics Anonymous has the best track record for breaking this horrific cycle and putting people on a road to recovery that includes rebuilding self-esteem, making amends, and helping others. AA accepts no money from any part of the government and is self-supporting by its own members in recovery.
Government needs to pursue policies that provide the opportunities people need to become part of the workforce and encourage the development of diverse housing possibilities for the people who are already here.
Landowners should be encouraged through economic incentives to prevent toxic run-off. Rather than limit hardscape to non-permeable materials such as asphalt and concrete, people should be encouraged to use interlocking paving stones wherever practical (i.e. for driveways and streets) so that natural biological processes can filter the run-off before it pollutes our creeks. The interlocking paving stones allow water to drain through and beneficial bacteria which live between the stones and in the gravel bed below remove toxins before they reach our creeks and beaches. Rainwater falling on roofs can be stored in cisterns and used for irrigation.
Educational campaigns are needed so that people know the environmental impacts of their actions. We must bring awareness of new approaches to problems to all segments of our community.
Cottonwoods, sycamores, and other native species are preferred for the banks of creeks as they prevent erosion and provide additional filtration. The large trees are particularly beneficial as they provide shade which prevents algeal blooms and cools the water so that native species (such as endangered frogs and trout) find habitats for reproduction.
Population density has greatly impacted the ecology and the need for innovative solutions to environmental problems. These problems will only worsen with additional numbers of residents. Cooperative approaches, which provide incentives to landowners, are more successful than proposals that simply take private property for public use. Takings of property only serve to create animosity between people that need to work together. Polluters should be identified and penalized. People who provide habitat and natural filtration should be rewarded.
Our community overwhelmingly supports cleaning and preserving our environment. Our leaders must grasp the socio-biologic issues and provide market-based solutions that will create an economically viable, long-term approach to our never-ending quest to maintain and improve our quality of life.
Position Paper 3
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