By all reports residential lawns in drought-stricken California are fast becoming another one of those quaint 20th century anachronisms . Unless you still have a compelling need to play futbol, polo, or golf in your front yard (Anglo-Saxon bowling or tennis anyone?) it’s getting hard to justify why to still keep one.
How many lawn conversions can you count in your neighborhood?
By last count, one nearby two-block span had at least five in progress (or recently completed). Here in Sonoma, we are not alone. Water agencies throughout the state report a surge in interest in turf replacement and conservation rebate programs as our unprecedented statewide drought continues. Savvy homeowners will want to take advantage of the generous incentives before the free money inevitably runs out.
Many have read local news accounts of the water balloon incident that took place at Sonoma Valley High School this past Friday. After interviewing several eyewitnesses, we believe that unless student perspectives are taken more seriously, the root causes of this event may be misunderstood by the community at large. If that happens, matters at the high school are likely to continue to get worse before they get any better. We should all hope to avoid that if we can.
Last Friday at lunch, the senior class arranged for a water balloon fight in the school’s parking lot, intending just a harmless prank and some innocent fun. A majority of seniors brought their own ammo of balloons from home and prepared themselves for the event. The fight continued on for about 15 minutes, with administrators filming the entire sight with their smartphones. At around 12:45, an announcement was reported over the intercom, declaring that the school’s lunch had been cut short and all students were required to return back to classes. Students were disappointed and walked back to class hesitantly.
Once seniors approached campus grounds, most noticed that many students from other grade levels were not listening to the orders. Likewise, most of the school population then refrained from going back to class and gathered around the school’s rotunda. Students began badmouthing the unfairness of losing their lunch and that the entire school had to face consequences for the actions of the senior class. Soon, all abusive remarks were directed towards the school’s administrators and the school as a whole. There, a mob mentality was brought into the atmosphere.
While consultants and staff continue to work on Sonoma County’s long anticipated Climate Action 2020 plan for mitigating our local share of greenhouse gas pollution, two recent lawsuits in San Diego County may already be setting precedents that could effect us here in the North Bay.
In the first case settled last month, the state Supreme Court decided not to review the Fourth District Court of Appeal’s decision in a suit originally filed by the Sierra Club. The environmental organization had sued San Diego County after it failed to include enforceable measures for curbing greenhouse-gas levels in its Climate Action Plan, a long-range planning document that addresses everything from transportation projects to housing construction and other types of development. As a result, that county will now be required to set tangible targets for dealing with the effects of climate change.
In the second case, the California Supreme Court will review a lawsuit filed by the Cleveland National Forest Foundation against the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). Many anticipate that this case could result in a ruling that determines exactly what California’s rules are for dealing with carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases linked to global warming. The central point in this appeal will be whether Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2005 executive order [S-3-05] sets an enforceable timeline of 2050 for cutting greenhouse gases by 80 percent below 1990 levels.
While Sonoma County’s plan is expected to at least affirm or even exceed these statewide targets, such case law precedents should help make the path forward much clearer for all concerned.
UPDATE: On March 2, 2015, the Sonoma City Council voted 3 to 2 to send a modified letter to the Board of Supervisors outlining why we as a community oppose adding fluoride to our water supply at this time. Transition Sonoma Valley thanks our Mayor and other council members who voted with us on this challenging issue.
To those who felt that taking a stand at this time was premature, we respect your opinions. We hope everyone on both sides of this issue will join us in promising to keep an open mind as new scientific evidence may become available.
On Wednesday February 18, 2015 at 6:00PM, the Sonoma City Council will consider whether to send a letter of opposition to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors regarding fluoridation of our local water supply.