PressDemocrat – October 29, 2009
Measure A should be approved
By PATRICK MOORE
Published: Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 5:15 p.m.
The Mendocino Crossings proposed development, which is the subject of Tuesday’s vote in Mendocino County, will absolutely be required by law to go through the entire environmental permitting process if the measure passes. In fact, the developer will have to apply to each agency separately for permits, because Measure A would remove the “one-stop” approach to permitting.
In other words, if Measure A is successful, the development will have to follow the same set of rigorous environmental rules as any other project. It is unfortunate that opponents of the project have misled the public on this issue.
But as a lifelong environmentalist, I argue that the real benefits to passing Measure A go well beyond permitting.
First, the project will clean up a toxic site without disturbing any natural areas. I’ve stood on the site of the old Masonite plant in Ukiah that Developers Diversified Realty, the project’s proponent, wants to redevelop, and it’s obvious it should be cleaned up. Given DDR’s commitment to do that, the Mendocino Crossings development is an important step forward.
Second, the project will greatly reduce the distances local citizens are forced to drive to shop in towns such as Santa Rosa and Eureka. That will reduce fossil fuel use and the resulting emissions of carbon dioxide and air pollutants.
Third, DDR supports green building methods. For example, DDR and SunEdison, North America’s largest solar energy services provider, recently announced a program in which SunEdison will have the rights to deploy solar at more than 200 DDR-owned shopping centers.
That just seems like a logical step for DDR, a group that doesn’t simply build projects and then flip them, but instead operates them for the long term. A big part of green building involves spending more on capital cost in order to reduce long-term operating costs and energy consumption.
DDR is planning a development that will meet all smart growth principles. The Mendocino Crossings project will help the county stem the bleeding from the $169 million in retail sales lost to neighboring counties each year at a time when Mendocino needs more tax revenue for its schools, infrastructure and other community programs.
Since leaving Greenpeace in 1986 after co-founding and helping lead it for 15 years, I’ve focused on finding solutions to sustainability issues: Where should we live, how should we get our energy, materials and food, and how can we lighten our footprint on the planet while we do that?
My history shows I’m interested in not simply telling people what they can’t do, but in helping people, industries and governments figure out what they ought to be in favor of and in finding solutions to the challenge of providing for the human population while improving society’s environmental performance.
My organization, Greenspirit Strategies Ltd., works with organizations that have shown they are committed to carrying out their operations while reducing their footprint through better practices and improved technology, whether it’s in the realm of materials manufacturing, agriculture, energy or real estate development.
Yes, we’re paid for this service. No, my old friends at Greenpeace do not always agree with us. But it’s a service we think is important because many businesses want to do the right thing when it comes to sustainable development.
While I am a life-long environmentalist, I am not an environmental extremist who opposes virtually every development. Mendocino Crossings will benefit the environment, improve the economy and make the community more livable. That is the definition of sustainability.
This proposal would clean up a toxic site, operate under state rules that require environmental studies be completed and reduce your carbon footprint by allowing people to shop locally. I’d call Measure A a “win-win.”
Patrick Moore is a co-founder and former leader of Greenpeace. He is chair and chief scientist at Greenspirit, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, where he lives.