West Coast
In the Coastal Zone good planning also means balancing statewide policy interests with the quality-of-life and community character interests of those who live on our coast. Photo: SonomaCounty.com

CA - How to Avoid Loving a Place to Death: Cumulative Impacts & Land Use Policy

We have all been to places which are magnificent in their natural splendor but are so congested with people who love them that the experience is degraded along with the natural environment. In this case we are talking about the Sonoma County Coastline which stretches from Marin to Mendocino.

The basic challenge is to love the place without bringing on its ruination.

As the process of updating the Local Coastal Plan unfolds (and soon also the county General Plan update) the foundation of analysis should be an understanding of the carrying capacity of the natural environment and man-made infrastructure.  Focusing for the moment on the latter, what is the carrying capacity of the roads, water systems/wells, the septic systems and sewerage treatment plants which constitute the core elements of infrastructure supporting human habitation of the area.  

And beyond the infrastructure required for those who live on the coast it is critically important to understand the infrastructure demands and impacts of those who visit the coast.  The interests of these two groups can and do conflict from time to time.  

Carrying capacity is all about understanding limits.  The limits of man-made infrastructure and the limits of the natural environment.  Good planning is all about staying within those limits.  In the Coastal Zone good planning also means balancing statewide policy interests with the quality-of-life and community character interests of those who live on our coast.

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