It'd be comical if it wasn't so serious – the games Measure 37 claimants play when they get desperate to build 42 homes and wells on groundwater limited farmland.
Today I opened up the newspaper and saw that my name had been used vainly in a letter to the editor from Greg Eide, one of the owners of 125 rolling acres near us that would make a beautiful vineyard if greed wasn't overriding honor and common sense.
Common sense, because this Measure 37 claim is a horrible financial proposition. A Marion County report has proven that the area has water problems. Forty two more wells are almost certainly going to dry up existing wells and springs.
And guess who has senior water rights? The people already living here, including the Spring Lake Estates neighborhood association, which will act strongly to protect the spring-fed creek that feeds our commonly-owned lake.
So someone would be crazy to buy a lot in a Measure 37 subdivision when (1) they don't have transferable development rights, and (2) will be first in line to have their well shut down when, as is likely, surrounding water users start to have problems.
Regarding honor, read my Statesman Journal online response to Eide's letter.
Veeper and others, good comments. Glad I waited a few hours to respond to my name being used vainly in Greg Eide's pitiful attempt to justify the selfish greed of he and his fellow Measure 37 claimants.
Yes, Mr. Eide is one of the applicants who wants to put 42 homes, and wells, on groundwater limited farmland that Marion County's own water experts said shouldn't be developed until an extensive Hydro Study is conducted.
Contrary to Eide's misleading assertion, Marion County staff admitted that they simply rubber stamped the applicant's "fuzzy math" attempt to throw a 92 acre lot that isn't even part of the subdivision into an average lot size calculation.
That sneaky effort to subvert the county groundwater ordinance resulted in an average lot size of 5.05 acres, just above the 5.00 cutoff, below which a Hydro Review of the area is required. The Marion County Planning Commission saw through this game-playing, recognizing that the actual subdivision would have an average lot size of three acres (five usually is needed to support a well in this groundwater limited area).
So a Hydro Review was required. And Eide, Laack, and his partners agreed to conduct this assessment, using their hydrogeologist, Malia Kupillas. They said, "We'd never do anything to harm existing water users." Yeah, right. Words are cheap. Honor is expensive.
A price Eide and Laack weren't willing to pay, because their Hydro Review was failed by an independent consulting firm hired by Marion County to review the Hydro Review. Repeat: FAILED. The firm said it's likely that surrounding wells and springs will be harmed by the subdivision.
The groundwater ordinance calls for a one to two year collection of new water data in this circumstance -- a Hydro Study. However, the County Commissioners ignored this law. So contrary to what Eide said, actually the commissioners broke the law. They didn't follow it. We'll prove this when we win our appeal.
Main lesson here: you can't trust Measure 37 claimants to do the right and honorable thing. They're out to make money, even if it hurts people already living in an area. This is why it's so important to vote for Measure 49 this November.
The one thing Eide was honest about was his conclusion. Notice how he's only concerned about how many houses he can cram onto 125 acres. "Ooh! Money, money, money! Give me more!" He and his partners don't give a rip about neighbors' wells going dry, or the springs that feed Spring Lake not flowing any more.
Yes. Write the County Commissioners. Tell them they made a big mistake by playing political games with the water we and our neighbors rely on.
We and our neighbors who've formed a Keep Our Water Safe committee often are accused of being anti-development. And even more – socialist. One of the Measure 37 claimants told me that I must love Cesar Chavez, since I hate free market capitalism so much.
"Dude," I wanted to tell him, "you're way off the mark, just like your subdivision plans." I come from a family of businesspeople (mostly men, but some women too). I was reading National Review and William Buckley almost as soon as "Dick and Jane."
As noted now and then on this blog, Conrad Hilton, the hotel man, was my great-uncle. And godfather. (Before asking me for money or free rooms, let me assure you that he left me nothing when he died . "Uncle Connie" gave me a loan when I started a health food store in San Jose in the late '60s, but believe me, I had to pay every dime back to him.)
So I know something about what a real developer is like. As a kid I spent quite a few hours listening to adult conversation about Uncle Connie's deals. Most importantly, I got to know Conrad Hilton as a person, as my great-uncle.
I can tell you, he'd be aghast at the lack of honesty and honor being demonstrated by Laack, Eide, and the other would-be Measure 37 subdivision builders. These guys said that they would never go ahead with their plans if neighbors would be harmed by more wells going in.
Now, their own water report was assessed by independent experts and the conclusion was, Yes, existing users likely will be hurt. Where's the promise of Laack and Eide now? Forgotten. Like I said, to them money trumps honor.
My great-uncle wasn't perfect. His life, told in his autobiography "Be My Guest," testifies to that. But in a final chapter he talked about being honest through thick and thin. I wish every Measure 37 claimant would take these words of Conrad Hilton to heart.
Be Honest: What I have in mind is something more than the negative virtues of not cheating, not lying, not stealing. It is a bold, direct, open stand for the truth as we know it, both to ourselves and others. My mother had two old-fashioned quotations she dished out with our oatmeal.
The first was Shakespeare: "To thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man." The second was Sir Walter Scott: "Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive."
Once you start it, there's no place that deception can stop – and of course it has to start with self-deception, even if it's only the self-deception of believing we can get away with it.
Vote for Measure 49 this fall. Don't let them get away with it.