19 Aug 2008

Death of a Community

This article tells of the Delta communities that oppose the Peripheral Canal:
"This is a living, vibrant community, another voice that needs to be heard in this process," said Larry Emery, pastor of the Walnut Grove Community Presbyterian Church. "Sometimes, the Delta has not always been well-represented."

In Manteca, longtime water watchdog Alex Hildebrand complained that a team of researchers from the Public Policy Institute of California refused to consider his advice when crafting their own report, which recommended a canal.

"The production of food is not considered to be of social importance" in their analysis, Hildebrand said.


Delta landowner Dino Cortopassi this month bought full-page ads in two newspapers, as well as radio and television spots blasting the canal. He started working on the Delta when he was 10 years old, and remembers looking across the morning mist at Mt. Diablo rising up in the west.

"I love the Delta. There is no question," he said.

Others share the same love - and concern. New Delta advocacy groups are forming. The Clarksburg Community Church recently held a 12-hour prayer vigil to "seek God and his guidance and help" in the future of the little town and the Delta.
Instead of prayer, these communities will have to offer money -- money to maintain the levees that are currently subsidized by the State. In addition, they will have to purify water that's increasingly saline.

Where will they get the money? Their land is falling in value as the probability of permanent immersion rises, and their crops will not fetch any more on the market. (Contrary to Mr. Hildebrand's intuition, food can be grown in other places besides the Delta.)

Bottom Line: Delta communities have been living in drained wetlands for years, sustained by subsidies from the State. Although they think the PC will destroy their communities, Mother Nature is actually taking back what was once hers. Stop praying and start packing.


  1. Your "bottom line" entry for Death of a Community makes me wonder about your thoughts on rebuilding or not rebuilding in New Orleans, Louisiana and other parts of the Gulf Coast where nature is also seemingly taking back territory. I know that this may not be your area of expertise, but I'm curious still.

    I enjoy thinking about resource economics, and therefore your blog as well. Keep up the good writing.

  2. I am all in favor of rebuilding NOLA, but the government's method (you must build HERE, etc.) has been a complete disaster.

    Give people $$, give them their property deeds (of varying values) and then let THEM choose where to live.

    I realize that there are some public goods issues (roads, water, schools, etc.) but that's no barrier to a "community".


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