By Cody Petterson
My wife provides me with a steady stream of questions from her wide circle of moms, which has been sending me ever deeper into the internet in search of peer-reviewed answers. I've put my general understanding to paper here, and I'll edit this essay as necessary to reflect the resulting consensus.
As you've become aware over the last several weeks, COVID-19 is a serious, potentially deadly virus. Even young, healthy individuals without apparent underlying risk factors can experience severe and even fatal symptoms. Given our nation's scandalous lack of testing capability for this virus, the number of infected individuals is likely to dwarf lab-confirmed infections by an order of magnitude.
For every hospitalization, there are around three infections with moderate symptoms that don't meet the current criteria for testing, five infections with mild symptoms, and another two infections that are virtually asymptomatic. These are ballpark figures, but our catastrophic lack of testing means that the ratio of infections to lab-confirmed infections is somewhere around 10 to 1. Make no mistake: this virus is widespread in the United States. Many people you know will be hospitalized. Someone you know may die.
After a number of conversations with professionals in related fields, I'm convinced universal social isolation of even low-risk adults is currently sound policy, due in particular to our lack of testing, the gross inadequacy of our private, for-profit national healthcare system, and the likelihood that even if we were able to completely isolate and prevent infection of high-risk individuals, hospitalizations of low-risk individuals with severe symptoms would likely overwhelm our hospitals and devastate our healthcare providers.
Enabling Virus Growth and Transmission
All evidence I've seen suggests that COVID-19, though potentially severe and even fatal, is similar to other coronaviruses (MERS, SARS, OC43, 229E, etc.) in its clinical features. Transmission occurs overwhelmingly through airborne respiratory droplets, ejected through sneezing, coughing, heavy breathing, or speaking. Transmission from infected surfaces to hands and then to the face is possible, but not considered a major source of infection. Viral shedding occurs prior to the onset and after the cessation of symptoms, but most transmission appears to occur when individuals are symptomatic, as a direct result of talking, heavy breathing, and symptomatic coughing and sneezing.
You can do a simple search on the internet for symptoms. The most prominent are fever, dry cough, fatigue, sputum production, and shortness of breath. The incubation period is three to 11 days, with a median of five days. The median duration of illness from onset of symptoms to recovery is two weeks for mild cases, and three to six weeks for those with severe cases.You can do a simple search on the internet for symptoms.
Risk factors for severe illness and fatalities, particlarly for those over the age of 70, include immunodeficiency, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, respiratory disease, cancer, obesity, asthma, and smoking. Men have higher infection, illness, and fatality rates than women, which is partly attributable to higher rates of smoking among men, but also apparently related to hormonal and other immunological differences.
Immune response appears to be normal, with a successful resolution of symptoms conferring immunity of undetermined duration. Immunity is a complex subject. The memory B cells that produce a particular antibody can last a lifetime, but the number of antibodies and the strength of immune response declines over time. Genuine viral exposure generally confers a stronger, more lasting immunity than vaccination. Other coronaviruses provide equivocal, incomplete data. MERS antibodies have been found to decline rapidly following resolution of symptoms, while SARS antibodies are detectable in the bloodstream more than a decade after exposure. I think it's safe to say a full exposure is likely to confer immunity for at least a year, but that's conjecture.
Some fatalities appear to be the result of Cytokine Storm Syndrome (CSS). This can occur in normal, healthy individuals, but is more common in those who are immunodeficient or have an inherited, though often previously unidentified, genetic or epigenetic predisposition. If you've ever been on the wrong end of poison oak you've experienced the severe tissue damage your immune system can inflict on you when pro-inflammatory cytokines tell your own macrophages to attack your cells. Now imagine that damage is in your lungs and other internal organs.
This is not, however, a common immunological response to the virus, though you are likely to read horror stories about it in the press. It turns out Buzzfeed doesn't run stories about 38 year-olds home from work playing Fortnite with a slight fever and intermittent dry cough.
The Virus is the Virus
The SARS-CoV-2 virus behind the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy is essentially identical to the one infecting South Korea, China, and the United States. Although tiny errors in transcription are constantly occurring, there aren't multiple functionally distinct strains. The mutation rate appears to be normal. According to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, "The mutation rate looks to be about 24 mutations per year. This rate of two mutations per month is similar to other RNA (ribonucleic acid) viruses like flu." None of the mutations identified thus far appear to be functionally significant.
Therefore, it follows that the apparent differences in mortality are not the result of changes in the virus, but rather different population structures, epidemiological baselines, cultures, healthcare systems, and government responses. High fatality rates in Italy are likely explained, in part, by its having one of the world's oldest populations. In the United States, our high rates of diabetes, obesity, and physical inactivity may ultimately contribute to higher fatality rates among younger patients.
It seems, however, that a key factor driving apparently differing rates of morbidity and fatality are the dramatically different levels of testing. Recent news coverage of the CDC's March 16th Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) has, to my mind, been irresponsible in its characterization of the risk profile of the virus.
From its very beginnings in Wuhan, the majority of confirmed cases (77.8 percrent) were made up of 30 to 69 year olds. The percentage of relatively young infections is probably even higher, since symptoms in children, teenagers, and young adults appear in general to be mild, and it's likely many of their infections escaped confirmation (which, for the China CDC report, was diagnosed by "positive viral nucleic acid test results"). Furthermore, 80.9 percent of cases exhibited mild to moderate symptoms, which is likely a similar underestimate for the same reasons.
In South Korea, which has a robust testing and quarantine regimen, the case fatality rate has been 1.1 percent for males and .4 percent for females. Fatality rates from newborns to 30 were zero. Ages 30 to 39 were .1% (one fatality of 693 infected), 40 to 49 at .1% (one fatality of 889 infected), 50 to 59 .4% (five fatalities of 1,217 infected), and increasing up to a six percent case fatality rate for those 80 and over.
Some of this may reflect a national population that is generally healthier, as well as early detection and effective universal treatment, but it's very likely widespread testing of the population results in a more accurate picture of COVID-19's morbidity and fatality rates. This presumption is strengthened by the case in Germany, which has an even more expansive testing regime and significantly lower rates of hospitalization and fatalities. By testing individuals who are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, countries like Germany and South Korea provide a much clearer picture of the risk profile of the virus.
The United States could not present a more extreme contrast. Because the U.S. has catastrophically failed to develop an effective testing program, relatively few individuals have been tested, and the pool of those tested is not representative of the total population of infected individuals.
As of March 16th, the end of the reporting period for the CDC MMWR, the U.S. had tested roughly 50,000 individuals. It has been widely reported that healthcare workers were and are rationing tests based on age, underlying conditions, recent international travel, and exposure to known COVID-positive individuals.
As a result, the U.S. infection sample is systematically excluding those who are asymptomatic, mildly symptomatic, and moderately symptomatic with no underlying risk — a group that, based on all prior evidence, is by far the majority of infected individuals. As a result, the March 16th MMWR's sample dramatically over-represents the most heavily impacted individuals.
Universal Testing is a Must
The lack of available testing doesn't just misrepresent the virus' impact, it's the fundamental flaw in the Trump Administration's response to the pandemic. If there is any justice in this world, that alone will end Trump’s hopes of re-election (unfortunately, the opposite is likely to occur, as anyone who remembers the bumps W. got from his own catastrophic failures can tell you). With adequate testing, travel restrictions, and targeted quarantines, the U.S. could have contained COVID-19 a month ago, and dramatically reduced what are likely to be thousands of fatalities and profound, long-term social, economic, and public health consequences.
The single most important public health priority needs to be nearly universal testing of symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals alike, and targeted quarantine of COVID-positive patients, regardless of symptoms.
Our for-profit private healthcare system is fundamentally unsuited and inadequate to respond to public health threats of this type and magnitude, and COVID-19 is a conclusive argument in favor of a national single payer healthcare system. In addition, COVID-19 isn't even close to a worst-case scenario. Imagine a slightly different virus that was even more communicable, like measles, or which had a longer incubation period, again like measles, or which was more fatal, like Ebola, or which disproportionately killed children, like the 1918 H1N1 flu.
One of the substantial advantages that nations of the East Pacific Rim have had in responding to COVID-19 is their recent, prior experience with SARS. As catastrophic as the COVID-19 pandemic is, it has given us the opportunity to prepare ourselves for future calamities.
We will continue to face crises like these, many of them aggravated by the climate emergency. What we need, right now, is:
Neoliberalism's long, decadent, sociopathic dream is over. This is a terrifying way to wake up, but it also provides an opportunity to reboot, and rebuild our nation as we prepare ourselves for the towering challenges the rest of this century is bound to bring.
Top photo by Tyrone Jue / San Francisco Department of Public Health
Bottom photo by Michelle French / University Hospitals Portage Medical Center
By Cody Petterson and Tommy Hough
Clearly we're in a highly unusual and unprecedented moment with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since a state of emergency has been declared at the state, county, and local levels in which large gatherings of people have become ill-advised, we have cancelled the March meeting of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action.
At this point, we are still planning on holding our April club meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, April 15, as usual at Elijah's. That meeting's program and slate of guests will be announced soon. Check back at our website and social media for more.
In the meantime, please elect to keep yourselves, your families, and loved ones safe. Check in on elderly or vulnerable neighbors and friends.
For up to date information, here are the websites for the County of San Diego and City of San Diego.
Please stay safe and in communication with family and friends. Let's look out for each other.
By Tommy Hough
The first March primary in California history was a successful day for nearly all our San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action endorsed candidates. According to the Registrar of Voters, some 60,000 votes remain to be counted.
Unfortunately, two of our endorsed candidates and one of our endorsed ballot measures have come up short.
Photos by Tommy Hough and Greg Hoxsie.
By Cody Petterson
I was stunned by the dishonesty of an anti-Measure A opinion piece in Monday's edition of Voice of San Diego, titled "Proposals Like Measure A Hit Minorities Harder." There is a line between opinion and intentional disinformation, and the authors crossed it by a mile.
The claim that protecting our General Plan against land speculation, rent-seeking, and endless sprawl is "institutionalized racism" is not just untrue, it is diametrically opposed to the truth. Take a gander at the sprawling suburbs and exurbs of north and east county. Sprawl is not a solution to segregation — sprawl is a fundamental driver of our region's obscene segregation. Sprawl development is the physical manifestation of white flight and disinvestment in the diverse communities of our old urban core.
I and others have repeatedly confronted the opponents of Measure A, including one of the authors and the attorney they cite, with the simple question: How could the sprawl projects inhibited by Measure A plausibly produce equitable housing? In concrete terms, how can a General Plan Amendment (GPA) in the rural and semi-rural backcountry produce market rate housing that is affordable to moderate, low, very low, or extremely low buyers or renters? And, furthermore, be near transit and jobs, where we need it to be in order to confront our climate emergency and reduce transportation costs to working families? They've failed to provide an answer, because it is impossible.
I am the "environmental activist" mentioned in the article, and I did not say Measure A would stop sprawl (I wish it could — it can only inhibit it), nor did I say it would lead to more affordable housing, though there are scenarios in which it might (it certainly can, however, help to ensure that affordable housing is sited near transit and jobs).
What I said — and which they have never refuted — is that:
I rarely ask, but share this with your friends and family and join San Diego's environmental and conservation community, our allies in civil society, and the Labor movement in supporting YES on Measure A, also known as the Save Our San Diego Countryside (SOS) initiative.
Passage of Measure A is essential to confronting our climate emergency, protecting our environment, and fostering a sustainable, equitable, livable future for our children. The future of our smart growth General Plan, our regional climate action plans, and our dynamic, diverse county depends on it.
Vote against endless sprawl on March 3rd. Vote for climate action. Vote for a sustainable, equitable vision for San Diego. Vote YES on Measure A.
By Cody Petterson
There's been a lot of lying and betrayal regarding Measure A (the SOS ballot measure), which is par for the course when the Building Industry Association (BIA) and a dozen of the region's most notorious sprawl developers hire Tony Manolatos to smear an environmental measure.
But the other day the organization "Planning Today for San Diego's Future," a BIA front, pushed out a Facebook ad that would've made Donald Trump blush. It demands a rebuttal. Toward that end, here are the facts.
If you find genuine errors, inform me and I'll correct them. Unlike the opposition, the environmentalists volunteering our time to draft, qualify, and vote YES on Measure A actually care about the truth.
"What is Measure A?"
The fight to pass Measure A is a brawl between environmentalists and developers over the future of land use in our county. That's what it is.
It's the Sierra Club, Endangered Habitats League, San Diego 350, Climate Action Campaign, San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action, Sunrise Movement San Diego, California Native Plant Society, San Diego Audubon, Cleveland National Forest Foundation, Volcan Mountain Foundation, Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation, California Chaparral Institute, Southwest Wetlands Interpretive Association, Fallbrook Land Conservancy, Escondido Creek Conservancy, along with the League of Women Voters of San Diego, Citizens Coordinate for Century III (C3), and our labor allies in the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 1931 and Unite Here! Local 30.
Those who are against the SOS initiative include the Building Industry Association, California Association of Realtors, Lincoln Club, Chamber of Commerce, Republican Party, and a murder of Southern California sprawl developers, including Newland Sierra, KB Homes, Shea Homes, Baldwin and Sons, California West, Fanita Ranch, Brookfield, Lennar, and the paid propagandists at the Manolatos Nelson Murphy public relations firm. That's the whole story. They've been successful in flipping some of our allies in office and in the affordable housing community, but that's to be expected when we're broke environmentalists and they're the region's most powerful, deepest-pocketed interest group. They have plenty of inducements. We have only our principles and our commitment to climate action and habitat protection.
The goal of YES on Measure A is to discourage the sprawl and leapfrog development that continues to destroy our native habitat, undermine the integrity of our county's General Plan, defeat our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stave off climate catastrophe, and prevent housing from being built where we need it — near jobs and transit.
The goal of the opposition is to preserve their ability to reap massive windfall profits by inducing compliant county supervisors to grant them General Plan Amendments (GPA) for sprawl and leapfrog development. The San Diego region has been the plaything of land speculators and developers for nearly two centuries. Our sprawling, traffic-choked suburban landscape is largely the product of their machinations and profit-seeking. Instead of focusing their investments in areas zoned for residential density in our region’s smart growth plans, the building industry continues to try to build in fire-prone rural areas — precisely the wrong places.
"What would Measure A do?"
Measure A doesn't alter the General Plan in any way. Not a single word, not a single zoning designation. It wouldn't affect Board of Supervisors decisions on any parcels other than those zoned rural and semi-rural in the unincorporated portion of the county — no cities, no county towns, no rural villages.
In concrete terms, Measure A would "require voter approval of amendments to the General Plan that increase residential density in semi-rural or rural areas" of the unincorporated county, unless the increases are minor (five additional units or less), the parcels are within a village or rural village area, or the amendment is "required to implement state or federal housing law, including laws related to the provision of affordable housing." That's it.
By requiring voter approval of supervisor-approved GPAs in rural and semi-rural parts of the unincorporated county, Measure A would provide an additional check on the rent-seeking and regulatory capture that is the stock-and-trade of our region's sprawl and leapfrog developers.
Rather than buy appropriately-zoned urban parcels and building up, developers find it more profitable to buy elected officials and land whose value is depressed by rural zoning restrictions, and then have their bought officials hand them massive upzoning windfalls. This game has been played for so long that sprawl developers have come to think of it as their right, and to think of the General Plan as something that applies only to suckers without the connections, consultants, capital, projects, and contributions to corrupt elected officials and other stakeholders. Some of us disagree.
"What's so bad about sprawl development?"
Many in the environmental community are deeply committed to protecting the native habitat, wildlife, and vegetation of our county, which is still the most biodiverse in the nation.
Long before anthropogenic climate change was recognized as the greatest threat to life on Earth, conservationists were fighting against the suburban sprawl that has been steadily destroying our open spaces for decades. But with the rise of the climate emergency, stopping suburban sprawl and fostering transit-supportive urban density has become the single most important thing San Diegans can do to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, half of which come from transportation.
Sprawl development not only destroys and fragments habitat, it also increases commute times and total vehicle miles travelled (VMT), contributes to traffic and air pollution, burdens lower income households with significant transportation costs, and prevents us from hitting our greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets. Furthermore, in San Diego, sprawl means building in fire-prone chaparral in the canyons and ridges of the coastal foothills at the urban-wildland interface.
There are also substantial externalities of sprawl development that are ultimately borne by county residents and taxpayers. The general public is eventually forced to subsidize developer profits by paying for the costly expansion of freeways and extension of fire, police, and other public services. It is a ponzi scheme paid for by future taxpayers. And, of course, our children will have to struggle to survive in the climate catastrophe it accelerates.
"How does the county's General Plan limit sprawl?"
In 2011, the Board of Supervisors passed a comprehensive General Plan update, the first of its kind since 1978. This plan was the product of $18 million of studies, 13 years of analysis and public discussion, including 212 meetings with the full planning and sponsor groups, 109 workshops, and 216 subcommittee meetings.
The update was a compromise between a wide range of stakeholders, foremost among them environmentalists and developers. Like any compromise, no one got everything they wanted, but the update won acceptance from the environmental community by implementing a modest shift of growth from the county's rural periphery to the urban core — thus reducing habitat loss and ensuring future residential growth would be in closer proximity to existing services and amenities. It also won planning awards for its innovative implementation of smart growth principles and its limits on sprawl.
This shift involved a reduction in the zoned residential capacity of many parcels in the rural unincorporated county, and an increase in the zoned capacity of some parcels in the already developed areas. The plan therefore not only constrained sprawl, but incentivized transit-supportive urban density by eliminating the need for 780 miles of road by allocating development capacity near existing roads and infrastructure.
It's important to recognize that there is an inherent competition — for capital, home buyers, and public infrastructure and service subsidies — between urban density and rural sprawl. The region's finite supply of developers and equity capital has historically followed the sprawl path (i.e. buy officials, buy rural, obtain upzoning windfall, build out) which necessarily draws investment away from the path stipulated by our institutions and our General Plan (buy urban, build up). Sprawl and leapfrog development is not an accompaniment to climate-responsible and Plan-consistent urban transit-supportive residential development — it is a direct competitor for private capital, public subsidy, and home buyers.
The 2011 General Plan Update shifted the incentives toward smart growth and urban density, and General Plan amendments are almost universally attempts to drag us back to more profitable and environmentally-destructive rural sprawl that developers prefer. That's what SOS is trying to stop.
Now, as you can imagine, when you're taking on the sprawl development industry, there's going to be misleading, disingenuous criticism. I believe it's important to confront it head on, and I have rebutted the most common criticisms below.
"Isn't Measure A ballot box planning?"
The most frequent criticism, promulgated regularly by No on SOS and echoed by a number of candidates, elected officials, and other stakeholders is that the initiative is "ballot box planning."
Let's be clear. Measure A is NOT ballot box planning. It is not a planning document at all. It does not alter the zoning designation of a single parcel anywhere in the county. There's a lot of unflattering ironies in the claim, however. It's deeply ironic that this argument is being propounded by the BIA and sprawl developers, when the term was originally applied to attempts by developers to violate general plans and circumvent municipal officials by submitting plan-inconsistent developments to public vote.
Developers can and often do engage in actual ballot box planning when it suits them. If a local City Council or County Board of Supervisors refuses to give them the sprawl-facilitating amendments they need, they can, and often do, attempt to qualify a measure for the ballot.
Many of the same developers paying Mr. Manolatos to poison the public square with "but this is ballot box planning" have themselves happily circumvented elected councils with ballot measures that dramatically upzone their parcels. Manolatos himself is general consultant for Lilac Hills Ranch, which tried to pass Measure B in 2016, which was an actual, honest-to-God ballot box planning measure. The disingenuousness of these individuals is stunning. They're luminaries of the local disinformation industry. Give them enough money to pay their mortgages and luxury car leases and they'll kneel next to their beds and lie to God.
"Sprawl development can solve our affordable housing crisis."
No, it can't. Affordable sprawl development is a myth.
Let me say it loud for the folks in the back. There have been 17 GPAs approved or proposed since the 2011 County General Plan update and not a single one has included a single unit of deed-restricted affordable housing. That is, housing costing 30 percent or less of monthly income for a family of four making 80 percent or less of Area Median Income (AMI), which in San Diego County is $86,300.
Affordable sprawl development is a fairy tale that developers tell gullible, well-meaning progressives to help get their luxury developments past skeptical boards and councils. It's not a thing. The average price of a home in the unincorporated county is $30,000 more than in the City of San Diego. For households living on the margins, the transportation costs alone for living so far from jobs can eat up as much as a third of their income!
So let's get something clear. There is no housing in San Diego County that is naturally affordable, period. When one adds together the costs of materials, labor, engineering, architecture, land, permitting, financing, fees, and modest profits, there is no conceivable way a unit can be brought to market at a price affordable to a family of four making $85,000 (low income), $53,000 (very low income), or $32,000 (extremely low income) per year. None. Zero. Which means that affordability is entirely a function of our society's willingness to subsidize those units. And no rational society would invest in putting affordable housing in its rural periphery.
Subsidizing rural affordable housing would be wildly at odds with best practices — far from jobs, far from public and private amenities and services, and inaccessible to mass transit. The idea of choosing to house a family making 50 percent AMI in the rural periphery is preposterous. A family making 50 percent AMI is already having trouble affording transportation. Trouble affording childcare. Trouble finding work. To extended families and social networks. To jobs. It needs access to social services. The only rational place to invest in affordability, either through public subsidy or developer mandates, is in our job- and amenities-rich urban and suburban municipalities and villages.
There is already ample capacity in the region's General Plans for multi-family residential density where it is rational, sustainable, and equitable. The county has additional capacity for roughly 400,000 units, with around 230,000 of it zoned for multi-family residential of 20+ units per acre. That's enough capacity, and specifically multi-family capacity, to accommodate our Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) targets for residential construction for decades. Capacity is not our problem.
And SANDAG has actually reduced the RHNA housing target for the unincorporated county from 22,000 in the 5th Cycle to 6,700 in the 6th, because it's prioritizing residential density where there are jobs and access to transit, both of which are lacking in the backcountry.
It's true that some coastal municipalities have attempted to use initiatives to curtail multi-family density where it is appropriate, but the rural and semi-rural areas of the unincorporated county are not appropriate locations for affordable housing development. The entire argument rests on the premise that violating our General Plan, destroying habitat, and lampooning our Climate Action Plan by building on parcels zoned rural and semi-rural is a viable and valid avenue to achieve housing affordability. Which, obviously, the environmental community unanimously condemns. It is a sad statement of the ideological poverty of the affordable development community that some have allowed themselves to be co-opted by for-profit sprawl developers.
"Okay, but what if Measure A actually WAS ballot box planning?"
While I reject the characterization of Measure A as ballot box planning, it's worth asking the question, "So what if it were?"
From a progressive perspective, plebiscites often get it wrong. California has had some doozies: Prop. 13 (1978), Prop. 187 (1994), Prop 8. (2008). I spend a fair amount of my time wrestling with the baleful effects of some terrible state and local initiatives. On the other hand, it also won women's rights to vote (1911), the abolition of the poll tax (1912), the Coastal Zone Conservation Act (1972) which became the California Coastal Act, Prop. 65 (Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, 1986), Prop. 162 (Pension Protection Act, 1986), independent redistricting (2008), and Prop. 35 (Ban on Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery, 2012). So, much like representative democracy's record, the picture is mixed.
Actual ballot box planning — in which developers use the initiative process to circumvent General Plans and elected bodies — is certainly problematic. That said, elected representatives also frequently get it wrong. The idea that the Board of Supervisors somehow has a better record of fidelity to the General Plan, and is therefore to be trusted more than the general voting public, is dubious on its face.
The ferocious opposition of the BIA and sprawl developers to Measure A suggests they know perfectly well that the Board of Supervisors is the weak link in the planning process. If buying Supervisors weren't the cheapest, fastest, easiest way to guarantee carte blanche for their property speculation and sprawl projects, they would have been doing 'ballot box planning' instead of successfully putting more than a dozen GPAs through the Board of Supervisors over the last eight years.
Ultimately, the question of whether or not direct democracy is good or bad is facile. It's necessary to balance the potential harm of direct democracy in this narrowly-defined context against the harm of not employing it. Every form of power has its shortcomings. I don't like any form of power, don't like standing armies, don't like bosses, don't like supervisors even. But these forms of power are desirable to the extent that the harms they prevent exceed the harms they entail.
Imagine if Measure A were an initiative to give voters the right to reject private prisons, or refugee internment camps, or mandatory invasive ultrasounds. Would you say, "Well, I don't like internment camps any more than the next person, but I guess we'll have to tolerate them because I have a real problem with direct democracy." Of course not. Any reasonable person would agree that the harm of refugee internment camps dramatically exceeds any philosophical qualms about direct democracy. And that's precisely how actual environmentalists feel when BIA dupes complain about 'ballot box planning.'
"I don’t like climate catastrophe any more than the next guy, but I have a real problem with direct democracy." Really? You have more of a problem with direct democracy than climate catastrophe? Than habitat loss? Than sprawl? Than sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic for two hours a day? Really? Direct democracy may have its weaknesses, but when narrowly constrained to ratification of supervisor-approved General Plan Amendments that increase density in the rural and semi-rural unincorporated county, the harm of sprawl self-evidently exceeds the purported harm of direct democracy.
This is precisely why you never hear actual environmentalists — people who actually center the environment in their life and work — make the preposterous argument that we should vote against a patently environmental initiative because it might result in an excess of democracy. Even if one were strongly opposed in principle to plebiscites, it defies reason to argue that the purported sins of the plebiscite are of greater seriousness than the climate and habitat impacts of sprawl-promoting GPAs.
"But we're going to have a Democratic majority on the Board in 2020."
Well, we're certainly working toward that end this year, but another objection we hear is we're going to secure a Democratic majority on the Board of Supervisors in 2020, so there's no need to worry about sprawl GPAs.
First, there is no guarantee Democrats will take the Board of Supervisors. Most of those individuals pushing this argument already understand that. We'll almost certainly add D-1, but D-3 could remain in Gaspar's hands — hands that neither you or I would ever trust with our General Plan, our Climate Action Plan, and the fate of our backcountry.
Second, even if we secure a majority, I have no faith that our majority would be immune to the inducements of the BIA, sprawl developers, and the various interest groups they suborn with paltry cuts of their windfall profits. I trust almost no one to consistently do the right thing for the environment. Certainly none of our elected officials. Not without sustained pressure from the environmental community. Not when there are powerful, deep-pocketed interest groups inducing them to do the wrong thing.
I know and respect candidates for D-1 Supervisor, and I've endorsed one of them, but I still wouldn't trust any of them to invariably hold out against sprawl-promoting GPAs, especially in Otay. I respect Supervisor Fletcher immensely, but even he could falter if the right project or proponent found its way to his strike zone. I trust one supervisorial candidate and that's only because she's been one of my best friends for 25 years. I'm eager to backstop all the rest. And I'm even happy to backstop her, because a truly environmentally committed and centered candidate would not be constrained in any way by this measure.
The only Board of Supervisors votes that SOS submits to countywide vote are approvals of residential sprawl projects on rural and semi-rural parcels, that are outside of village plans, that are in the unincorporated county, and that are inconsistent with the General Plan. If a supervisor can avoid that, they can avoid ever having to deal with an oversight vote at all. Easy as pie.
"But SOS is a Republican measure."
That is the lie that pushed me to write this piece.
The claim that Measure A, the Safeguard Our San Diego Countryside Initiative, is a Republican effort funded by Republican millionaires to preserve a Republican General Plan is so disgusting it makes me physically angry. As I wrote in the introduction, every single Measure A supporter I know is a Democrat. The entire organizing committee. Every single endorser. There's not a Republican in sight.
Measure A is currently exclusively a volunteer effort to preserve our open space, protect the integrity of our General and Climate Action Plans, and reduce our county's GHG emissions. It is supported by all of our county's environmental organizations and opposed by the BIA, the California Association of Realtors, the Lincoln Club, the Chamber of Commerce, the Republican Party, Greg Cox (R), Jim Desmond (R), Kristin Gaspar (R), Ron Roberts (R), Bill Horn (R), Kevin Faulconer (R), John Minto (R), Steve Vaus (R), Randy Voepel (R), Bill Wells (R), Mike Diaz (R), Rebecca Jones (R), and all of San Diego's sprawl developers.
We requested contributions from local businesses and individuals who are aligned with our cause, and the Golden Door Spa provided a generous initial contribution to the SOS signature-gathering effort. The business model of the Golden Door demands solitude and natural serenity, and it has been allied with the rural communities with which it co-exists for decades. Successive attempts by sprawl developers to upzone neighboring parcels on Merriam Mountain threaten that natural setting and the surrounding communities.
As it happens, the Golden Door is fighting a parallel, unaffiliated battle against the proposed Newland Sierra development, which was approved as a General Plan Amendment by our pro-sprawl County Board of Supervisors. If voters defeat it, Measure A would incidentally add an additional hurdle to future attempts to upzone the Merriam Mountain parcels.
But that welcome infusion of cash was confined to the signature gathering phase. It's just passionate environmentalists and our cash-starved committee now. All volunteers. All committed to preserving our county's open space. Preserving our climate. Preserving our planet from the greed that's destroying it. It's the same folks who show up to City Council, to the Board of Supervisors, to SANDAG. The same folks that march, and canvass, and phone bank. The same folks who set up booths at Earth Fair and come out for beach clean-ups. Who lead hikes on weekends. Or plant trees. Or fix trails. Or manage community gardens. Who volunteer as docents at the Natural History Museum or Mission Trails Interpretive Center. That's who we are. That's who Measure A is.
Measure A would implement a narrowly-limited form of direct democracy, confined to the ratification of approvals by the Board of Supervisors of density-increasing General Plan Amendments (GPAs) in Rural and Semi-Rural parcels in the unincorporated county, excluding those within Village and Rural Village plans. Whatever qualms some individuals may have with direct democracy per se, the benefits of preserving our open space, protecting the smart growth strategy enshrined in our General Plan, facilitating equity and affordability, and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions far outweigh any hypothetical harm of this narrow application of direct democracy.
Please, join San Diego's environmental community and our allies in civil society and the Labor movement in supporting Measure A — the Safeguard Our San Diego Countryside (SOS) initiative. The future of our smart growth General Plan, our Climate Action Plan, and our beautiful, dynamic, and diverse county depends on it.
By Tommy Hough
Cisterra Development's "Preserve at Torrey Highlands" office complex was approved by a 6-3 vote of San Diego City Council on Aug. 5, by way of an amendment to the Torrey Highlands Community Plan that will enable construction of the office park over the objections of neighbors, the Rancho Peñasquitos Community Planning Board, the Del Mar Mesa Community Planning Board, and almost every major environmental outlet focusing on land use within the city. It was upheld by council on its second reading on Sept. 10, again by a 6-3 vote.
Located south of State Route 56 near Del Sur and just west of Rancho Peñasquitos, the 420,000 sq. ft. multi-story, multi-structure complex will be built on an 11-acre notch surrounded on three sides – through a fluke of previous ownership – by the city-owned Del Mar Mesa Preserve.
San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action and our allies have noted, in a variety of forums, the environmental effects the construction will have on the Del Mar Mesa Preserve, which contains not only the last remaining portions of native San Diego coastal habitat left in the city, but the last remaining acreage of this ecosystem in California. This area was considered so vital and so worth keeping at arm's length from development, even the route of State Route 56 was altered in the early 2000s to give the area as wide a berth as possible.
Unfortunately, that hasn't stopped developers from picking away at virgin acreage on either side of the 56 freeway. Over the years we've seen the strip malls and 24-hour gyms and gas stations and casual dining restaurants move in to the north, while office parks eat away to the south toward the preserve, and space for habitat and nature is left ever more denuded – sliced away from the wholeness of our remarkable countryside and larger natural ecosystems.
We have a housing crisis and a housing shortage in San Diego. There is no doubt about that. We don't have a shortage of office parks or office space. Opposition to this project isn't about trying to prevent housing, it's about radical upzoning of property that benefits a select few. It's about neighbors saying, loudly, this is an absurd place for a needless office complex. It's about protecting one of our city's great natural preserves from the death by a thousand cuts it is currently suffering from. There is no meaningful transit in the area, and the Cisterra project does nothing to advance our city's Climate Action Plan. On that basis alone, it should be rejected, and another site found for it. It is indefensible.
Representatives from Cisterra admitted in testimony before council on Aug. 5 that they are essentially "built out" in UTC and Carmel Valley, and need to move on to find new areas to build in. Why do we owe them that pleasure? Especially since there is abundant empty office space in the area, and in areas like Kearny Mesa and Miramar that are already within our built footprint, closer to neighborhoods, homes, and potential transit.
And this is not a matter of the Cisterra development being a "one and done" project beside Del Mar Mesa Preserve. Rather, it's just opening the door. The Preserve at Torrey Highlands is the vanguard of other developments to follow, and more concrete to be poured alongside the preserve, joining Merge 56 and the inevitable holiday traffic jams of the incoming shopping center in Torrey Highlands, all further isolating the preserve like a native habitat freak show.
This project marks the beginning of more and more land being set upon for use within sight of, and within affecting range of, the Del Mar Mesa Preserve. This isn't what was intended when this area was protected. And if it was, it's not too late to change that dynamic.
Our parks, special places and preserves survive today as islands of conservation, cut off from one another, with only the most tenuous connection perhaps being a dry stream bed or a canyon bottom within the mesas that may have escaped development or being buried in fill. The proposal of this office complex is an affront to our reasonable obligations of stewardship. It is needless. It is an impediment. It is not housing. It solves nothing, while taxpayers lose out and speculators quietly benefit from the very solace the preserve was meant to protect.
The Orwellian-named Preserve at Torrey Highlands does not compliment the site on which it is to be built, or the native plants and species of the publicly-owned and accessible Del Mar Mesa Preserve that lie on three sides of it. It is the worst kind of monument for the city to jam into a space beside a locale that it should otherwise take exceptional pride in, and exceptional care to protect.
It is a terrible shame a majority of this council is unable to see open space beyond what it can be zoned for, or how the value of it can be increased, especially a parcel already within a protected preserve. Neither you nor I, nor the wind along the mesa tops, the dense oak woodland along Deer Creek at the bottom of the canyon, or the wildlife that silently live and pass through this valuable natural corridor will benefit from this development. The only beneficiary is San Diego-style business as usual.
Photos by Renée Owens and Tommy Hough.
By Kathryn Burton and Lisa Ross
On behalf of Protect Our Preserves San Diego, we'd like to ask you, at the Tuesday, Sept. 10, meeting of San Diego City Council, to reconsider the majority decision to approve an amendment to the Torrey Highlands Community Plan that enables construction of a 430,000 square foot office complex surrounded by the publicly-owned and habitat-sensitive Del Mar Mesa Preserve. The Council based their Aug. 5th vote to approve the rezoning on incomplete and erroneous information, listed below:
We thank Council President Gómez (D-9), Council President Pro Tem Bry (D-1), and Councilmember Montgomery (D-4) for their opposition to a project that simply benefits one developer at the cost of what is left of San Diego's habitat heritage. We ask that others reconsider their decision.
We had hoped that Cisterra Development would have allowed more time to pursue a land option appropriate for a swap with the City, and that public officials and staff would have made this win-win idea a priority.
Please note this letter from attorney Cory Briggs addressed to San Diego City Council.
Thank you for your kind consideration.
Club members Kathryn Burton and Lisa Ross serve as co-chairs of Protect Our Preserves San Diego.
By Richard Ram
Our third endorsement meeting of the 2020 election cycle is on Sunday, Sept. 29. If you're a member in good standing, or if you just want to see what our club is all about, join us as we determine how our club will weigh in with endorsements in several key races.
We want the endorsement seal of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action to remain the gold standard by which Democratic candidates and incumbents in San Diego and Southern California are considered on issues affecting our climate, health, development and transportation, green jobs, animals, open space, public lands, coastal ecology, and so much more.
Eligible voting members may fill out their ballots, vote, and leave at any time, but we strongly encourage all our members to stay, speak with, and hear from the candidates. We'll have forums for each race with multiple Democratic candidates, and we'll provide ample time for questions and discussion among members as we consider pertinent environmental issues. There is no better opportunity for you to ask questions and consider answers.
Club endorsement requires 60 percent or better among voting members. Carrying our endorsement means candidates may use our club logo and name on their website and related campaign materials.
As a result of bylaws changes voted on at our June club meeting, our endorsement process includes paper ballots formatted for ranked-choice voting, which will maximize member participation and help us arrive more quickly at consensus.
When voting, be sure to check off only one selection in each column. In addition to selecting a candidate, you will also have the option of choosing a No Endorsement option, in which the club may take a formal position of not endorsing any one particular candidate.
Any ballot with multiple markings, unclear voter intent, or "writing in" of other candidates may be counted as invalid.
If, after counting ballots in sequence of members' ranked choices, no selection receives 60 percent or greater of member support, the default of No Position will prevail, meaning the club will not take a position, but reserves the right to revisit the race later in the year.
Frequently Asked Questions
May I Bring a Guest Who is Not a Club Member?
Yes. Guests are welcome to attend, but must sign in with us at the meeting. Guests and new members who have just joined are not permitted to participate in the discussion, candidate questions, or in casting ballots.
Who May Cast Endorsement Votes?
Members in good standing may cast votes and participate in candidate questions or discussion. A "member in good standing" is defined by our club bylaws as having paid dues 34 days prior to the endorsement meeting, or have attended at least one previously scheduled club meeting. New members who joined at and attended our July 17th club meeting are eligible to vote at our Aug. 18 endorsement meeting.
Any member whose membership has lapsed within the last 45 days will be eligible to vote upon payment of their dues in advance of the Aug. 18 endorsement meeting, or at the start of the meeting. If you are unsure about your membership renewal status, please e-mail us immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I Can't Attend the Endorsement Meeting. Can I Still Vote, or Have Someone Vote for Me?
No. This is referred to as proxy voting. Proxy voting and absentee voting are not permitted by our club. Ballots are only handed to members who have checked in at our endorsement meeting.
How Can I Find Out More About Candidates' Positions on Environmental Issues?
All participating candidates must complete a candidate questionnaire, which offer specific answers to environmental questions. Questionnaires are available for browsing at our check-in table. Candidate questionnaires are forbidden from leaving the room, and you may not photograph them.
Can I Record Any Part of the Meeting?
No. Video or audio taping of our endorsement proceedings, discussion, or candidate forums is forbidden. Any person found to be recording during the meeting will be asked to show that the recording has been deleted or erased, and may be asked to leave. Still photos are permitted of the meeting, but you may not photograph candidate questionnaires. Any person caught doing so will be asked to show that the photos in question have been deleted, and may be asked to leave.
Will There Be Refreshments?
Yes. The club will provide coffee, water, juice, bagels, fruit, and other related snacks. Please help keep the union hall clean, and re-use plates and utensils as you are able. You may also bring in outside food. No alcoholic beverages are permitted.
What Can We Expect On Ballots?
Paper ballots for races in which we have multiple Democratic candidates will be printed in a Ranked Choice Voting format. You may select your first, second, and third choices in order of preference. At any stage of your ranked choices you may select "No Endorsement" if you do not feel that any candidate or remaining candidates should earn the club's endorsement as the environmental choice in that race. Ballots will be distributed to each eligible club member, and may be completed and dropped into our ballot boxes at any time.
How Will Ballots Be Counted?
After the closure of voting in any given contest, ballot boxes will be taken for counting with club-designated vote counters. We allow one observer from each campaign to view the vote counting process. A candidate (or "No Endorsement" position) must receive 60 percent or more of first choice votes on ballots to win the endorsement of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action outright. Keep in mind that as a Democratic club our bylaws require a threshold of 60 percent of member votes for endorsement, as opposed to 50 percent plus one (+1) in a general election.
Any ballots that are illegible, marked in an invalid manner, or where voter intent on given ballot choices cannot be determined will be designated as "soiled," and will still count toward the overall number of ballots cast for meeting thresholds.
What About Members' Second and Third Ranked Choices?
If no one candidate wins 60 percent or more on the count of first choice votes, but at least one candidate receives a threshold of at least 50 percent in a two-candidate race or 40 percent in a race of three or more candidates, ballots cast with first choice for the candidate receiving the fewest votes will be re-tabulated for those members' second choice.
If this does not result in a candidate (or "No Endorsement" selection) earning 60 percent or more of members' consensus for endorsement, this process may repeat with ballots cast for the next-lowest vote recipient being re-tabulated for their second choice. If, after tabulating all ballots in order of ranked choices, no candidate (or "No Endorsement" selection) has reached a threshold of 60 percent or more of member votes, the default result will be of the club having "No Position." Members may elect to notice the same race for consideration at a later date in the campaign cycle.
If the "No Endorsement" selection attains 60 percent of the member vote at any point in the tabulation, the club will take an official stance of not endorsing any candidate in the race.
What Does It Mean to Rate Candidates As "Qualified?"
If, after counting ranked choice ballots, we have not arrived at any consensus for a formal endorsement or a position that demonstrates the will of 60 percent or more of our voting members, we may, at the motion of the membership, proceed to rate one or more candidates in a contested race as "qualified."
Qualified ratings are not endorsements. Qualified candidates are, however, recognized as being fully supportive of principles laid forth in the environmental planks of the California Democratic Party platform (as measured by responding affirmatively and unequivocally to all related questions on the club’s candidate questionnaire), and enjoying a significant measure of support from our club's membership.
Candidates rated as qualified may not use our club logo or name to imply endorsement or preference over other candidates that are similarly rated. Club members must be present to participate in discussion and voting to rate candidates as qualified.
For an illustration of how Ranked Choice Voting works in a general election, have a look at this short YouTube clip from FairVote.
Richard Ram serves as communications chair on the San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action executive board.
By Richard Ram
San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action had our biggest, most successful turnout of club members at our Aug. 4 endorsement meeting – the first of the 2020 election cycle. Thanks to all who came out and participated. We had a record 144 voting members in attendance, and we may even exceed that number when we meet for our next next endorsement meeting on Sunday, Aug. 18. In addition, we've received positive feedback on our club's move to ranked-choice voting on our paper ballots.
We've also heard, in no uncertain terms, our members express their concerns about whether our club's political endorsements are properly reflecting the urgency of the environmental situation before us. There's a lot of pain and sense of loss felt throughout the conservation community, especially these past few years, as we've seen decades of hard-fought progress reversed by a tyrannically anti-environment, anti-science administration that was able to take office without earning the popular vote, and with mass voter disenfranchisement in swing states.
Time is short and the political will appears to be lacking. If we are going to take meaningful action to address the climate crisis and avoid a mass extinction of species that is already underway, we must act now. Failure and hand-wringing are not options.
We need real leadership on these issues, not just lip service on climate change. We cannot wait for some share of elected Republicans to "evolve" in order to establish some kind of across-the-aisle celebration of bipartisan support on bills that simply do too little, too late. We need leadership that is willing to stand up to powerful interests and their lobbying money. We need leadership that is willing make tough decisions that may cost them political support in some corners. We need leadership that seeks to do the right thing now because we don't have time on the clock to reverse bad decisions or weak compromises affecting our ecology and the viability of life on this planet.
The active participation of environmentalists in our club is critical to ensure we get it right. We've built a strong brand based upon standing up for a variety of environmental issues and engaging our membership on them. That the endorsement of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action is sought after – and fought over – is a credit to our membership, which have shaped our club into a powerhouse of issue-based advocacy within our local Democratic Party.
So as we move forward, let's be mindful of the responsibility we have to our mission, and to voters who may be less engaged but still care a great deal about the environment. In five years' time we've built one of the largest and most influential Democratic clubs in Southern California. Our brand matters when it comes to conveying who we trust as good stewards and bold champions for the green future we envision.
Richard Ram serves as communications chair on the San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action executive board.
By Frank Landis
Remarks on the Preserve at Torrey Highlands to San Diego City Council on Aug. 5, 2019.
President Gómez, President Pro Tem Bry, Members of the Council,
Thank you for taking my testimony. I speak for the California Native Plant Society and for myself on this matter. In addition to being a former union member and a PhD botanist, I am also a resident of Rancho Peñasquitos, and I've been a park volunteer caring for the Del Mar Mesa Preserve since 2010, driving three miles a day to clean up trash and weeds. In all these roles, I urge you to vote no on this project.
First, the project will cause significant and unmitigated impacts to greenhouse gas emissions. We all know the city of San Diego is failing to meet its Climate Action Plan goals. This project will only make it worse. On that basis alone, please reject Cisterra, and send a message that you are serious about dealing with climate change.
Second, this project is a fire risk. To my knowledge, Otay Ranch Village 14, Newland Sierra, Valiano and Harmony Grove Village South in the county are all projects that being sued, in part, because they put a few thousand people in danger from fire. We are getting tired of developers putting people in harms' way, and quite honestly, so are the insurance companies.
The Cisterra project puts over 2,000 people in the way of wildfires, on a little peninsula sticking into the Del Mar Mesa Preserve, without an evacuation plan, without a brush management zone, without all the fire-safe features of an up-to-code house, without even properly analyzing the fire threat in the EIR (environmental impact report). The leapfrog sprawl developments I just mentioned at least had a fire hazard analysis in their EIRs. This one does not. On this basis alone, please reject Cisterra, and tell them that you don't want them to put lives and property at risk in their projects.
Third, there is the damage to Del Mar Mesa. As you've heard before, these are old-growth scrub oaks, one of the rarest oak species in California, forming chaparral so tall it's a miniature oak forest that you can walk under. It's the biggest remaining patch of its kind in California, and it's downstream from this project.
And what does Cisterra propose to do? They propose to dump their landscaping effluent into Del Mar Mesa.
They're going to use reclaimed water, which is too salty to drink, put pesticides and fertilizers on their landscaping to drive away the pollinators, then collect the runoff and eventually dump it into a gully, where it will erode an existing trail and flow into Deer Creek. What do you think is going to happen to the oaks around the runoff and those downstream? Del Mar Mesa belongs to the entire city, and the city requires properties surrounding such precious areas to take care of their runoff. Cisterra does not, and on that basis alone, you should reject their proposal.
Fourth, they want to plant large trees that are not native to the mesa next to a vernal pool, in a sad attempt to put green lipstick on a pig of a parking structure. There are two outcomes. Either the trees will die, because the mesa soil has a big layer of hardpan, or the tree roots will rip up the hardpan and destroy the vernal pool 70 feet away from the parking structure on the National Wildlife Refuge. That's a stupid design choice, and you should reject it too.
Fifth, I expected Jim Whalen to point out that the project's chaparral is only chamise, which is a low value chaparral. I agree — if we're talking about the top. If we're talking about the north side of the parcel, it's scrub oak chaparral. If we're talking about the south side, it borders on the National Wildlife Refuge and a vernal pool. If someone tells you this place is low value, ask them to give you a detailed opinion about the entire parcel and its surroundings, not cherry pick one detail.
You have heard from union members saying they support Cisterra because of construction jobs. We support unions too. And their families and children. People worked for months to try to negotiate a land swap so Cisterra could build somewhere else and this problematic parcel could become parkland. Cisterra walked away from this solution.
The Del Mar Mesa Preserve is a public park, open to everybody, including union members and their families. It's the only remaining place in the city where you can walk in the shade and see what the coast looked like when the first European explorers arrived.
I'll ask the room, by applause: How many of you would be happy to join a union member, or their families, on a hike on Del Mar Mesa? How many of you would be happy to take the city councilmembers or their staffers on the same hike? I personally would be thrilled. We want you to build, but we don't want your buildings to destroy their neighbors, and we don't want your buildings to put their occupants at risk from fire. Please join us in rejecting this project.
This project is not infill development. Everyone in Carmel Valley has a job, either in their spare bedroom like me, or commuting from somewhere else. This project won't magically cause mid-career professionals to change their jobs just to fill an empty office building. All it's going to do is force employees to commute from somewhere else. This will generate more traffic on Highway 56, which is not scheduled to be widened anytime soon, and will increase demand for public transit in an area that has none. Councilmember Bry has waxed eloquent on this problem many times, and I agree with her. It's unsustainable. On this basis alone, reject it.
Finally, there's the business case. There's over a million square feet of unbuilt office space already sitting in the immediate vicinity. It's been permitted, and it's sat unbuilt since before 2004. If there was a need for offices or industrial parks in that area, it would be trivial for a company to get a complex built to suit, with fewer environmental problems and less hassle. But there's no demand.
On this basis, and on all these bases, please reject the Preserve at Torrey Highlands and support Del Mar Mesa. Thank you for taking my comments.
Frank Landis serves as the conservation chair and council delegate with the California Native Plant Society, San Diego Chapter. He lives in Rancho Peñasquitos.
Photos by Renée Owens (top) and Tommy Hough (bottom).
The blog component of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action welcomes content from SDCDEA members, guests and leadership.