Perhaps one of the quickest ways to start an argument in California is to suggest that land use policies might legitimately include prohibitions on urban growth for specific reasons.
I’ve posed that in the form of a question in the past as I’ve watched California cities expand their urban boundaries as part of an insatiable appetite to consume good farm land.
The Los Angeles Times reports a similar situation in the southland, though the proposed expansion of homes is not on farmland. Still, it calls for planners to answer some basic questions.
How much water will the project require and from where will the water come?
While we just came through a period where people were asking similar questions of those planting almond trees in various parts of California, we now read where the County of Los Angeles wants to plant upwards of 3,680 new single-family homes in the high desert portions of northern LA County.
Though the headline claims environmentalists are worried about the proposal, I suggest farmers pay attention and speak up as the last few years has demonstrated how quick state and federal officials can take farm water and use it for anything other than growing crops.
To quickly summarize the story, some people want to build houses on property with no apparent water supply. To get around that detail, some are proposing trucking water to these homes.
Doesn’t the United States send missionaries and non-governmental organizations to third-world countries to solve this very problem? Now folks are proposing with a straight face that we create the same third-world conditions in parts of California, just as long as we cover it up with fresh spackle and paint.
How does this plan coexist in a state that just passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act after curtailing farm water supplies and ordering homeowners to use a third less water?
How can nearly 3,700 new single-family homes bank on a sustainable water supply in a state unable to meet the water needs of the 38-40 million who already live here?
Why doesn’t LA County, in an effort to meet these projected water needs, simply stick a straw in the nearby Los Angeles Aqueduct and suck water from it as it flows south? Wouldn’t that be a quick and equally irresponsible solution?
This brings up the main question left unanswered by the story: what is the source of water proposed that needs to be hauled by truck?
Those aren’t the only questions.
Where will the water be stored for delivery?
Will it be treated before it is trucked or after it is hauled to the communities?
What happens if the transportation means dry up and trucks are no longer available to haul the water?
Has anyone considered the environmental and other impacts of the truck traffic needed to haul that water?
Farmers should be extremely worried about stunts like this as the water they rely on remains an easy target for urban planners, and the irresponsible, unthinking speculators seeking to sell dry plots of sage brush and rock for another bedroom community in the California desert.