Sunday, December 28, 2008

Dear Editor

Four years ago I hiked the coast from SF to the Oregon border, hitching most of the long road-walk sections. There is a set of guidebooks for the entire CA coast, and they have a blurb similar to this about a development at the northern end of Sonoma county called Sea Ranch. I remember it well because rather than walking the narrow shoulder of this long stretch of highway [route description] I hitched a ride with a local who it turned out was friends with some guy that had just endowed a chair in the Berkeley econ department, and he told me Milton Friedman used to own the big house(s) just south of Sea Ranch, and I told him I'd seen this goat that was freaking out because its head was stuck in the fence, so he stopped in somewhere to call the owner, whom he happened to know. ANYWAY, then I hiked the small section of Sea Ranch where visitors are actually allowed to hike along the coast, got leered at by private security, and picked up on the very obvious vibe (thanks to all sorts of signs) that visitors aren't all that welcome. Then a couple weeks ago I read this article in the NYT about how great a place Sea Ranch is. It doesn't mention the place's history except for one sentence that, if interpreted in a certain way, might be blaming bad architecture on public coastal access. So I wrote the following letter to the editor:
In Sunday's paper, Patricia Leigh Brown described Sonoma County's Sea Ranch as a Utopia by the Sea. If a utopia is a place that spoils scenic beauty, takes away miles of coastal access from the public to put it in the hands of the super-rich, and trails visitors to the few trails that supposedly remained in public hands with private security, then Sea Ranch may indeed be a utopia. Otherwise, the only good thing that came from Sea Ranch is the furor it caused that led to the creation of the California Coastal Commission, working ever since to ensure that Sea Ranch would be one of the last developments of its kind.

and today, this got published.

Not great or anything, and I realize that the entire plot wasn't exactly public property before Sea Ranch came around (apparently it was a sheep ranch), but still, the state owns everything up to the high tide line and should protect it.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool that your letter got published!