Saturday, May 9, 2009

Santa Barbara


Mark Mearing-Smith said...

What is happening here?

Charles Barton said...

I think we have yet another episode of that long standing television drama, Santa Barbara's burning.

The North Coast said...

I can't think of a better illustration of "green" hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance that, in the most "environmentally aware" state in the country, folks who are into "living in balance with nature" insists upon setting down houses that cost $1M, $5M, and often much more, in the ecologically fragile area known as the Fire Coast of California.

It always amuses me to read how these fires are being "investigated" when the stone truth is that these areas will burn no matter what, and you know that if you don't lose your house this year, that it will happen another year. It's not a question of if it will burn, but when it will burn.The entire Malibu coast has been burned over three times in the past 90 years.

The suburban development in the fire-prone foothills and canyons transgresses environmental considerations and good sense, and you have to wonder who underwrites it, since the private insurance companies surely do not.

The people who underwrite it are the taxpayers at large, who fund the California Fair Plan, an insurance program designed to offer insurance for properties considered too risky by private insurance companies. All states have Fair Plans, and they are usually utilized by slum owners whose rickety buildings in the arson corridors of our major cities, are otherwise uninsurable.

Moreover, the state and federal authorities never fail to step in with billions of dollars of aid swiftly delivered for these areas, in addition to the stupefying costs of battling the flames with planes dropping tons of fire retardant and fire departments from every department in CA responding. Scripps Ranch was completely rebuilt while Katrina victims were still living in FEMA trailers (if they were lucky).

If the residents of these areas were dependent strictly upon their own means to rebuild, they wouldn't but would locate in less fire-prone area. The taxpayers at large need to stop enabling this, and the residents of areas that burn continually served notice that they will get emergency rebuild assistance only if they agree to build elsewhere.

Charles Barton said...

North Coast You spared me the task of writing a commentary. There are places where people ought not live, and Santa B rbara is one of them, in addition to fires, they have mud slides when it rains on the fire denuded hills.

The North Coast said...

Charles, you are so correct. God's Country is no place for humans, as one author remarked, and you can say the same for the whole southern coast of CA. Here, we have a major blaze even though the main fire season is Oct-Nov.

Laguna Beach, Malibu, Sherman Oaks, and most other SoCal coastal communities can be counted on to burn like someone poured gasoline on them every fall. What's worse, the deeper into the chemise people build, the more unstoppable the fires become. Each fire over the past 50 years has been more destructive than the last, with much greater property losses and loss of human life, mostly to the firefighters who respond.

Frederick Law Olmsted, the great park designer, recommended that the entire Malibu coast be zoned off limits to development after the Decker Canyon fire of 1930. This is known as "hazard zoning" and it is utilized in most localities to reduce the cost of emergency response and to save lives and property. This of course was never done because L.A. is run by developers, who were licking their chops at the prospects offered by the lush landscape and spectacular scenery of the coast. As for fire hazard, what better use could there possibly be for tax money than to fight ten-mile long fires with flames 40 ft high, and to rebuild the coastal castles that burn like matches every time these fires occur?

Folks who feel it's a violation of their liberties to be told where not to build need to be made to bear the full cost of their indulgence. There's a limit to how many times anybody can afford to rebuild a $20M castle, and there needs to be a pretty low limit on how many the taxpayers are forced to spring for.

Jason Ribeiro said...

I respectfully disagree with the comments that people ought not to live in or around the Santa Barbara coast because of fire danger, etc.

If it isn't one type of natural disaster plaguing us it's another. Human beings have a great talent for building things that eventually get in nature's path and then complaining about it when it all goes wrong. Should the people of Missouri move from the flood plains of the Mississippi? Should everyone on the Gulf coast move because of hurricanes? Maybe people in Oregon and Colorado should move out because they have a lot of fires too? I guess we should never build near a fault line because earthquakes can happen as well.

Now c'mon, stretching this unfortunate event into an example of "green hypocrisy" is just absurd. People in San Diego and LA were struck by fires and that in no way should be construed as some type of 'look the at the green hypocrites getting what was coming to them' kind of thinking. What good does this line of thought produce?

My area of Oakland, CA was devastated by a fire in '91. It was not the fault of policies, the fire dept, or the home owners' fault. It might have been preventable of course, but the people who live there can not be considered "indulgent".

Charles Barton said...

Jason, we see the fires and mud slides year after year, after year. At what point do people stop and reflect about how crazy this is?

Jason Ribeiro said...

We reflect all the time about it, but as long as there will be people, there will be fires that burn their living territories and a mudslide or two to for additional insult. In some cases we've had some success in mitigating or preventing these problems but that doesn't make headlines.

bobcat said...

As long as rich developers can pull the strings of our elected officials we will continue to see such disasters repeat themselves year after year. Just 20 miles south of Santa Barbara there is a town where none should be. It is called La Conchita and since the early 1900s it was known that there was a major problem with landslides. But that did not stop the march of progress. In 1995 there was a massive landslide that luckily killed nobody. But that was not the case ten years later when ten people died during a mudslide. Too often in California the wishes of developers take precedent over the safety of citizens.

Charles Barton said...

There are places where human habitation is probably not wise. One of them is costal Louisiana. There probably should not be a city where New Orleans is located, and in a generation or so, there might well not be one. Geological process are returning the Louisiana coast to the Gulf of Mexico.

Marcel F. Williams said...

As long as humans continue to live on the surface of the planet Earth, we're going to face nature's wrath: earthquakes, floods, fires, blizzards, tidal waves, hurricanes, etc.

I guess if the dinosaurs had good sense, they would have expanded beyond the Earth's surface in order to avoid the extraterrestrial impact that destroyed their natural environment:-)

Charles Barton said...

Marcel, someplaces nature seems much mor angry than other places. We know Texas summers will be hot, but we can live with that as long as have air conditioning. The Southern Louisiana coast is slowly but inexerably sliding into the gulf of Mexico, nothing humans can do will stop that. Given this reality is it wise to invest a great deal of money into the reconstructiuon of New Orleans? The reconstructed cit will be under water in less than a centrry. Wouldn't resettlement be better?


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