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Yes You Can Legislate Behavior


Nick Welsh’s article on the Santa Barbara City Council’s general plan amendments with regard to cars was certainly eye opening. Dale Francisco’s statement that “You can’t make people behave the way you think they ought to behave, short of a totalitarian society,” and Self’s belief that the “emergence of the automobile is one of the top five reasons for American prosperity” are frightening in their lack of reasoning and foresight.

People in the South were “made to” change their “behavior” with the civil rights act. Other examples of behavior changing would be the cigarette smoking laws, seat belt and helmet laws, and ADA laws. Locally, during drought years, we had water use laws.

We used to get our fuel from whales, until they were hunted to extinction. We now use unrenewable fossil fuels to move people and products. We are not “prosperous” because we have cars, rather we have cars, way too many, because we are prosperous, and greedy and use way more than our share of finite natural resources. Creating a general plan that foresees the limits of fossil fuels and makes necessary changes in regard to those limits is the kind of thinking that, for example, drove Pearl Chase’s vision of Santa Barbara so many years ago. Just as the 1925 earthquake gave Santa Barbara a chance to change it’s growth plan, the 2010 oil spill should make us all look at car dependence from a different perspective and adjust our general plan accordingly.

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