Farm land must be protected

Our entire OCP and Urban Growth Plan is about increasing housing developments that will destroy farmland.

Dear Editor:

Re: Urban Growth Plan

We talk of sustainable agriculture in light of California’s drought.

I spoke to my cousin about that and her story is really relevant to this issue. She has lived in Escondido, just north of San Diego, since 1968. When she moved there, the population was 24,000 and it was the avocado capital of the world. There were many dairies, chicken and turkey farms, lemon and other citrus orchards, vegetable farms and wild artichokes and mustard plants growing all over.

Now there are 175,000 people and very few farms. Trees are being cut down because all the water available goes to houses and lawns.

She wishes that California had an Agricultural Land Reserve and Commission.

In every report I read, (the Official Community Plan on District of Summerland website, the report on the Save Summerland ALR website and the Future Summerland website) the most important needs stated were

a) growing the local economy and increasing jobs;

b) supporting local agriculture and preserving farmland;

c) preserving natural ecosystems.

The least important concerns were

a) large housing; b) dense housing; c) reducing the carbon footprint.

The major dislike is loss of ALR. One of the major likes is ALR.

And yet our entire OCP and Urban Growth Plan is about increasing housing developments that will destroy farmland. The plan suggests on page 24 that public opinion does not equate with science which is based on the combined modelling idea.

The Quantitative Modelling Analysis put Barkwill/Cook, Aeneus to Blair, Quinpool to Blair, Downtown Infill and Mayne on the list as the five best bets. As a result, Deer Ridge, Hespeler, Trout Creek and others were taken out of the urban growth plan. The modelling should have been used only on these areas not in the ALR.

Page 23 says the farms are not big enough for small farm farming. However, most of that land is already being farmed and I’ve spoken to people who make a very good living farming there, so that is a moot point.

Prairie Valley West, which has been taken out of the ALR, could nicely be put back into the ALR, because with climate change it could easily become highly valued. But not as a swap. The best land is still the Quinpool to Blair land, no question.

The beauty of Summerland is all its valleys and rural areas where people live such as Prairie Valley, Deer Ridge, by the golf courses, Garnett Valley, Jersey, Paradise Flats, etc. People want to live close to town but still out in the country where they can do their walking and enjoy nature. Walking to town is not essential.

At the top of the list of characteristics valued by Summerlanders are

a) the beauty of the landscape,

b) the agricultural economy

c) the small town feel.

The OCP Regional Contextual Statement from Aug 3, 2012 says:

o protect agricultural industry by retaining farmland

o that preserving farmland leads to overall community wellbeing

o maintain the integrity of the ALR and economically strengthen agriculture by supporting local food production and farmer’s markets.

These sound like wise words and thoughtful ideas.

Please do not take any land out of the ALR. Please stop the swap.

Diddy Evans

Summerland