COASTAL POST – SEPTEMBER 17, 1990
Joe Sixpack Belches On NIMBYism
As some of you know, Joe Sixpack recently took a job with OLTP (Office of Long Term Paining) in Sacramento. His job description, outside of his after hours environmental responsibility for crushing his weekly average of 47 aluminum cans, includes “Monitoring the Progress of Pain in the Capitol of NIMBYism.”
Aware of Maria through his advancing politics/law studies at the BAR (earned through seminar work at Smiley’s Schooner, The Cantina, and the Alvarado Inn), Joe was miffed by his job description. In May he asked his boss, Ulysses Stephen Shirkit, this question:
“Sir, how does one monitor pain in the Capitol of NIMBYism when everyone
knows that everyone wants to live in that idyllic oasis. I mean, everyone knows that every 4th car in Marin is a BMer or Porsche, that every one either has a twin screw, 6 sleeper cabin cruiser or a hot tub, that even the torn and tattered Levis wearers are millionaire rock stars or have cultivated millions through other magical habits…How can I monitor pain there?”
Mr. U.S. Shirkit explained to Joe that he had to get by the surface superficialities and into the basics of life, which Joe’s studies for the BAR should have made him aware.
Joe’s first assignment turned out to be studying the St. Vincent’s/Silveira (SVS) initiative launched by Robert Marx, obviously a cousin of Groucho Marx. The basic he studied on SVS was land and the future of little kids’ lives.
The other basic his boss wanted to awaken him to was more down and dirty—politics. His computer analysis and tutoring from U.S. gave him his first lesson in illogical (termed “stupid” by BAR friends) land use planning. Joe’s computer monitor informed him that passage of the SVS initiative would cause an SOS to be floated by: low and moderate income households—Marin’s most endangered species; the Catholic Youth Organization—which is trying to continue generating finances to help troubled kids; the embryonic rail system—the long term answer to gridlocked 101, air pollution, and someone named Sadham Pastrami Who-sane.
Joe learned a lot in that assignment. So much so that he had to crash more than his normal after-work quota of six light, empty aluminum cans against his sweaty forehead. Today he thought he might have a similar post work need.
“Joe, find out what’s behind these stories from the Coastal Post saying that the Marin Conservation League, Sierra Club and Audubon Society are against the Marin Sales Tax, which will put 52 percent of its revenues into making railroads operational again in the North Bay,” U.S. said, as he handed Joe a stack of papers and a 1.44 megabyte computer disk.
Joe rubbed his bloodshot eyes, went to his 486 chip powered, LAN networked, laptop computer and asked his first question.
“Why are these environmental groups against the train? Isn’t the train more environmentally sound than a bunch of people driving around in cars?”
Against the liquid gel video came, “That is the same question former Mill Valley Mayor Ruth Schneider publicly asked a MCL spokesperson. MCL’s standard answer avoids the ‘environmental’ question by claiming a train would be growth inducing. Therefore, MCL says don’t let the train happen until there is ‘more’ growth control.”
“Does Marin have a growth problem?” Joe input on the keyboard.
Red bold letters flashed on the screen: “I TOLD YOU THIS BEFORE, STUPID!…Marin’s population growth has average 4/l0ths of 1 percent per year for the last 15 years, equaling about 1,000 people per year. Only 4 percent of the total of 12 percent of developable land remains to be developed. 2 percent of that is flat land lying along the railroad right-of-way which these environmental groups and Groucho Marx’s cousin want to acquire for open space. This potential acquisition will bring 90 percent of Marin’s land into “sorely” needed open space.
Incidentally, California’s population grows about 2,000 persons per day. Most of them, however, don’t earn $90,000 a year and have $30,000 for a downpayment to allow them to purchase the median priced Marin home. Most of them are normal, hard working families who are only allowed to drive through Marin.”
A bit embarrassed by the computer, Joe read some of U.S.’s reports before inputting another question. One of the reports dealt with the National Sierra Club calling for housing and commercial development along lines. Joe input: “Why is the Marin Sierra Club against mixed use developments at SVS and other suggested sites when their national chapter says that is how we must sensitively handle future growth throughout the nation?”
A gentle green filled the screen: “GLAD YOU ARE DOING SOME READING, JOE. IF MORE PEOPLE HAD TIME TO READ AND LOGICALLY ASSEMBLE THEIR THOUGHTS, INSTEAD OF BEING STUCK IN TRAFFIC AND GRINDING JOBS, I WOULDN’T NEED TO WASTE SO MANY PIXELS ON THE SCREEN. The Regional Sierra Club looks on the Marin Sierra Club as an anomaly in the environmental movement. In more basic BAR studies talk, of which you are more familiar, they would on this crucial 20th century issue of energy conservation, logical land uses, and jobs/ housing balance be called an environmental hypocrite by any intelligent, logical, sober, poker player who knows how to call a spade a spade.”
Confused by so much information, and thirsty, Joe input “Does that mean the Sales Tax will win even with opposition from these recognized Mann environmental groups?”
“Joe, reread what I said earlier about what the National and Regional Sierra Club chapters say are the development patterns that can address out affordable housing, traffic and air pollution problems. Then, if you use environmental facts to draw logical conclusions, you will begin referring to these groups as “so-called” environmental groups.
‘To you question: If voters read in depth and understand the Marin Sales Tax Issues and use logic and common sense, they will pass the Marin Sales Tax. Politics, however, more often is determined by emotion and rhetoric rather than facts, real long term needs, logic, and common sense.”
Joe was thinking about that answer when he glanced at the clock. It was 5:05. Earlier the afternoon heat had him looking forward to his couch, a few beers, the Giants game and his favorite show, “Married With Children.”
“Enough of this serious stuff, I’m outta here.”
(Dwayne sweats over affordable housing and traffic issues with Novato Ecumenical Housing. He sometimes studies and quenches his thirst with Joe. He recycles, too.)