Wetlands Warrior

Watching the forest of UCSB towers and housing grow on Storke and Phelps Road minus any parking structure and in or adjacent to the Devereux slough makes one wonder just how these abominations were ever permitted. After all, the construction is within the coastal zone and subject to oversight by the vaunted California Coastal Commission.

Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez goes a long way toward explaining the unfettered building. Coastal commissioners are meeting with consultants outside of hearings, staying at villas owned by consultants, and accepting their campaign contributions.

This disgusting betrayal of California’s coastline is orchestrated by McCabe & Company, a consulting firm headed by a former commissioner who greases the wheels for the likes of David Evans (a.k.a. U2 guitarist The Edge) who is building mansions on a pristine ecosystem above Malibu State Beach. UCSB, not surprisingly, employed McCabe & Company to help foist their tax-free monstrosities on Santa Barbara County.

The 3rd District needs a supervisor capable of putting the clamps on UCSB. Before Joan Hartmann’s tenure with the Environmental Protection Agency, President George Bush Sr. introduced a “no net loss of wetlands” policy that made the Army Corps of Engineers responsible for protecting “waters of the United States” — wetlands — under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The 3rd District includes contiguous Devereux and Goleta sloughs, wetlands that once extended to Hollister Avenue — indeed parts still do.

As an EPA attorney, Joan Hartmann successfully sued the Army Corps in James City County v. EPA, a historic case that rescinded building permits violating the Clean Water Act. UCSB’s buildout is taking place on and around Devereux slough. A Section 404 violation is not something the university can blow off the way it does our local community and the Coastal Toady Commission. Damage a wetland and federal law applies — requiring long and detailed studies where communities actually participate in the process with some chance of being heard.

Joan Hartmann is a supervisor who can stop this $26 billion behemoth from building all over our liver and kidneys. We need a wetlands warrior in the 3rd District, and Hartmann is the only candidate with the environmental credentials and experience to harness the elephant and also protect the Gaviota Coast.

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