San Luis Obispo County, CA November 7, 2000 Election
Smart Voter

Quality of life here won't survive unless we work together to protect it.

By Colby Crotzer

Candidate for Mayor; City of Morro Bay

This information is provided by the candidate
Morro Bay isn't immune to the forces that spoiled the quality of life in other beach communities like Monterey. Residents have worked hard over the past 25 years to protect our small town character, and this kind of public participation is essential if Morro Bay is to remain an environmental treasure.
Quality of life is why most of us live here, but, you know, it won't survive unless we work together to protect it.

Don't kid yourself into thinking that Morro Bay--a true environmental treasure--is immune to the forces that spoiled the quality of life in Monterey, Newport Beach and other beach communities that once resembled our town.

We face immediate threats and more are sure to come.

For at least the last 25 years, our citizens have withstood assaults on our qualify of life, banding together to pass numerous ballot initiatives ranging from a ban on development around Morro Rock to a limitation on residential growth. They also have elected representatives who shared their values and have spoken loudly on crucial issues, such as the city's proposal to destroy a scenic bluff along Morro Avenue.

I want to emphasize that this kind of public participation must not wane or stop if our quality of life is to be preserved. But will it?

It's all about control--whether we feel things are too far out of control to make a difference. I talk to a lot of people, and too often they assume government is out of control.

They see the county, state and federal governments as often being out of touch with people, whose voices go unheard. That kind of hopelessness is a terrible waste.

Here, it is different. In a city this size, with less than 6,000 households, it is possible to know not only your neighbors but the changing mood of the community.

Although some people here do understand that by expressing their opinions they can influence the future of Morro Bay, too many feel hopeless about preserving our quality of life.

To overcome that, we on the City Council should try to find out what people want and listen to those who have taken the time to study issues, attend workshops, voice opinions, write letters and make calls. This enables them to be responsive to our people and gain a sense of the community's standards and values.

I want to encourage that kind of behavior and hope you will help me do that.

Residents have sent a clear message about the extremely high premium they place on quality of life. During workshops on the city's General Plan update, 95% said that our scenic and natural resources were the things they cherished most about Morro Bay. Another 76% wanted the town's small-town, fishing-village character maintained.

How do we do that? One way is to elect leaders who reflect those quality of life values, who care and will be responsive to the desires of residents to make quality of life the highest priority.

The residents themselves have to take a stand. Another town can look just as nice as Morro Bay, but it won't necessarily stay that way without residents feeling they can control their destiny.

People have to feel that building a bigger power plant, developing condos to block our hillside skyline or allowing the entrance to our town to look unappealing aren't inevitable and can be helped.

We do that not by shedding tears after the quality of life is gone, but working to avoid that happening. Picking up trash on the beach and planting trees are laudable and need to be done, but that won't stop pollution, the blocking of scenic views and allowing our entry to become an eyesore.

The fact is it is much easier to protect quality of life, rather than try to restore it.

The only way government officials will gain the will to hold everyone to the highest standards of qualify of life is to make them accountable. We have so much at stake that it should spur us to speak out so that we do hold them accountable.

Government can even become proactive in maintaining our qualify of life here. The communities of Los Osos and Cambria are moving to develop greenbelts of open space along their perimeters. It takes money to do that, and there are funds that should be available from the state and from foundations. But Morro Bay hasn't asked for the money--yet.

I think we need a greenbelt, too, and would like the city to pursue it.

That's how you take the initiative before our quality of life disappears.

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