31 Jan 2008

Growth versus Nature

The Sacramento City Council voted unanimously...
Tuesday evening to annex and rezone 577 acres of North Natomas farmland just outside the city limits and allow construction of 3,500 houses and apartments."

Building is unlikely to begin before 2010, however, because the federal government has announced it intends to designate North Natomas a flood hazard zone, essentially halting construction.

The Sacramento Area Flood Protection Agency has said it expects to complete sufficient levee improvements by 2010 to ensure the minimum level of 100-year flood protection required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which would allow growth in the Natomas basin to resume.
Thank God that growth in Natomas can continue -- otherwise the city council couldn't get those developer donations, tax revenues and MORE HOUSES BUILT IN A FLOOD ZONE. I see a problem of mortgaging the future here, and the taxpayers who "bail in" Natomas (by paying for levees) are probably going to "bail out" Natomas (by paying for flood cleanup). Too bad for us.

A related story reports a collapse in the salmon population:
In his e-mail to members of the fishery management council, Executive Director Donald McIsaac offered "an early alert to what at this point appears to be an unprecedented collapse in the abundance of adult California Central Valley ... fall Chinook salmon stocks."

About 90,000 returning adult salmon were counted in the Central Valley in 2007, the second lowest number on record, the memo said. The population was at 277,000 in 2006 and 804,000 five years ago.

More worrisome is that only about 2,000 2-year-old juvenile chinooks returned to the Central Valley last year, by far the lowest number ever counted. On average, about 40,000 juveniles, or "jacks," return each year.
Bottom Line: Nature moves last. We are seeing the impact of poor policies towards fish. Can we imagine any different from building behind levees? The trouble -- as always -- is poor property rights: Nobody owns the salmon, so they are overfished; the public pays for levees and floods, so developers build in stupid places.

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