The Coastal Post - October, 1996

Kinsey Vs. LeMieux

Who Is An Environmentalist?

BY BRIAN STALEY

A debate I have heard raised more than once over the past year is "what makes an environmentalist?" Some would say that one must be staunch supporter of all radical environmental goals, while others define an environmentalist as someone who recycles bottles. Our lives are constantly fraught with moral dilemmas, and my job, more than any other, is caught in this paradox.

As a carpenter, I am faced daily with difficult choices, like either using 2,000-year-old redwood to build a deck for someone who probably doesn't need it, or refuse the job on principle, knowing that the tree shouldn't have been cut down in the first place.

Being caught in this situation I often ask myself: Do I misunderstand what it means to be a steward of the Earth? I don't think so, because I constantly consider the repercussions of my actions.

These questions are not only found in our lives, but in political races as well. The issue again comes down to, "What makes an environmentalist?" and should being one be a criteria for our leaders? In November, Marin will be faced with having to choose from the two candidates for County Supervisor for District 4 who both claim to be environmentalists. However, these two people have quite different approaches to important issues in this county.

Take the French Ranch development, mentioned in the Coastal Post, for example. Steve Kinsey has used his negotiating with the developer Bruce Berman to advertise his community "consensus building." Upon further investigation, we find that the endless hours people donated to developing a "Sustainable Plan" for French Ranch and some 600 signatures (of people who were strongly opposed to an elite enclave forced on them) were misused to sell the developer's original plan. Steve replaced the "Sustainable Plan" with his own Plan and submitted it to the County Supervisors.

The plan Steve drew up had all the million-dollar homes originally asked for by the developer plus six more, making a grand total of 32 ranchettes of 4,500 square feet. Maybe two or three structures will go for elderly or low-income people, but the rest will be a group of huge homes totally out of keeping with the rest of the community. The many people working on this development plan wanted either no development or a small development of diverse, relatively affordable housing. We got neither.

Another misunderstood issue Steve is using for votes is the Open Space donated from the developer to the county. The fact is, the property would have been handed over whether Steve was involved or not. The current County Policy (A1.4 of the Countywide Plan) demands 95 percent of the development be made Open Space.

So the close review of the facts create a completely different picture of a man who received large campaign contributions from the developer after insuring that the developer got his way.

The other candidate, Dotty LeMieux, has a record that is so public, you can hardly find a local paper without her name in a story detailing her accomplishments achieved through public consensus. A compromise towards consensus is something all parties participate in. Unfortunately, only one candidate for Supervisor understands this.

Who is an environmentalist? My answer is: Anyone who works with both the community and the sensitivity of the environment in mind, not with politics, developers, and campaign donations in mind.