The Big Picture
Marin’s issues are solvable; the world’s may not be.
BY JIM WOOD
And this litany of world
woes doesn’t include freakish
weather resulting in floods,
forest fires and the destruction
of entire towns, many of them
closer and closer to Marin.
parcel tax for the next 20 years. And, lest we
forget it, the recent land-use debate over the
future of Drakes Bay Oyster Company.
Sure, Marin County has problems, but I
started this discussion by agreeing we’d look
at the big picture, the really big picture. In that
regard, Marin is in fantastic shape.
Every day, the world’s headlines get worse.
As I write this, Russian troops are massing on the Ukrainian border and, while the
U. S. and Europe are imposing sanctions on
Russia, Russia is banning the import of foods
from America. Though President Obama
vows not to be “dragged into another war,”
two F- 18 jets dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs in an effort to protect Iraqi
Kurds. And as the war bet ween Israel and
Hamas continues, Palestinians demand the
blockade of Gaza be lifted, while Israelis
demand Hamas disarm. These issues need
to be settled before any truce can be deemed
significant or lasting. Meanwhile, in West
Africa, more than 1,000 people, including
several doctors, have died in an outbreak of
the Ebola virus, for which there is no known
vaccine or effective treatment. And this
litany of world woes doesn’t include freakish weather resulting in floods, forest fires
and the destruction of entire towns, many of
them closer and closer to Marin.
Minds far more in tune with global trends
than mine are saying that what now divides
the world are matters of order versus chaos.
And — as a result of globalization, computerization, growing economic and technological
inequality, population growth where it isn’t
sustainable and the impacts of global climate
change — chaos is winning.
Sure, Marin County has its issues.
However, compared to the rest of the world
we are extremely fortunate to be living here at
this time in the world’s history. Our problems
are problems of progress. That’s my point of
view. What’s yours?
FOR A MOMEN T, let’s look at the big picture, the really big picture. We can all agree Marin has its con- troversies, points of contention or, simply put, issues. But those
problems seem to pale in comparison to some
of what we see happening in the world today.
Most will say traffic has become unbearable and something must be done about it.
Others say possible solutions — the SMART
train, widening Highway 101 through the
Novato Narrows and improving a major
Southern Marin interchange — will cause
more harm than good. Many also insist that
high-density housing has no place in our
suburban environment; others say it’s a way
of limiting suburban sprawl and reducing
greenhouse gas emissions.
Several activists claim the current statewide drought is a valid reason for halting
all development. Yet those seeking to build
point out our reservoirs are currently at 69
percent of capacity, not even 10 percent off
the average for this time of year (marinwater.
org). Speaking of development, those who’ve
lived in Marin for more than 25 years argue
the county has become way too crowded.
Meanwhile, many newcomers say — in comparison to where they came from — the county
is ground zero for the no-growth movement.
Other county controversies and
questions: Are immigrants, illegal and semi-legal, a vital part of Marin’s economy? Or
are they a drag on our schools and social services? The county’s pension fund and health
care obligation — is it manageable? Or is the
burden sure to someday bankrupt us? Then
there’s the million-dollar emergency shelter, or is it a clubhouse, in Sleepy Hollow;
the Ross Valley Flood District’s progress,
or lack of same; the possibility of development in Strawberry; and MERA’s, the Marin
Emergency Radio Authority, November
ballot measure asking for an annual $29