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Clean air, Lafferty and fireworks

Jack Balshaw 5/22/02

A recent news story reported, "Sonoma County air quality D" as measured by an organization that monitors air quality. This would seem to indicate quite a bit of bad air in the county. Looking into the numbers on the organization's web site discloses a different story.

In the three full years of 1997,98 and 99, (1095 days), we had just eight days when air quality was less than fully acceptable. Of our eight unacceptable days, seven were minor and one moderate and none were severe. Not bad really.

It was further noted in the story that many of those days were the result of bad air being blown here from polluted areas in the south bay. So there was nothing we could have done about those days, the pollutants didn't come from Sonoma County.

This is another example of an instance where the headline of a story (Sonoma County air quality "D") gives misinformation if the reader doesn't look further into the facts. Eight less than perfect days, some of which weren't our fault, out of 1095 days doesn't seem to deserve a "D" rating to me.

Perhaps we should look at the positive here. If this auto centric society is only mildly polluting on less than 8 days in 1095, then perhaps we should quit beating on the auto. As a matter of fact, the numbers would seem to indicate that Sonoma County doesn't have a pollution problem worth noting.

Now to another subject.

The latest chapter in the Lafferty story is that the City Council is requesting that the Open Space District purchase the Lafferty property to save it from future development!!! This might seem bizarre considering how hard the council has fought to make it a park.

Their "concern" is that some future council might need money and would be willing to sell Lafferty for development. (Similar to what they're now considering doing with the fairgrounds). The rub here is that the present council could simply deed over the development rights to the Open Space District and end any chance of development.

The real reason for asking the Open Space District to purchase the development rights is this council wants the money. For all the talk about preserving open space, to spend money "purchasing" Lafferty to "save" it will just mean that much money won't be available to purchase other land that is really in danger of being developed. Do you think the council would really sell Lafferty for development?

Perhaps the Open Space District should purchase all of our parks to "save" them from some future council that might need the money.

And now the third topic, fireworks.

The recent action by the council to prohibit use of safe and sane fireworks along the western border of town will no doubt be followed by eventually banning all fireworks. This is another example of creeping regulation.

The Fire Dept will wait until there is some fire or injury within the city that can be blamed on fireworks and then propose a total ban. The City Council will wring its collective hands, deplore the need to take such drastic action, and then take the action prohibiting fireworks in town. What kind of wimps are we becoming? The next thing you know, they will ban use of Lafferty (after it opens) because some kid got Lyme's disease or snake bit while hiking there.

I'm getting fed up with this society (or at least some people in it) always trying to make everything super safe and antiseptic. Our air is clean. Our public open space is safe. People get hurt in recreational pursuits, even at Disneyland. There comes a time when we need to say, "good enough" and stop reaching for perfection.


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