Thursday, December 13, 2001
If the President''s recent exhortation to shop for the sake of the country seems a little obscene, given the crying want elsewhere in the world, take heart.
On Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 10am and 7pm, the Unitarian Universalist Church in Carmel presents a screening of Escape From Affluenza, a PBS video about the "pernicious epidemic of stress, overwork and debt" that plagues American consumers. In this follow-up to the popular 1997 video Affluenza, host and Simple Living author Wanda Urbanska takes viewers on a tour of the waste and unhappiness caused by slavish devotion to the consumer culture. She offers tips on various ways to pare down and simplify, from recycling plastic bags to not having children.
Rev. Beth Miller of the Unitarian Universalist Church wants to urge people to think critically about their spending habits--and about President Bush''s proposed cure for America''s ills.
"In the past, when the nation was in crisis, we''ve been told to sacrifice and tighten our belts," she says, "and now they''re saying ''shop and spend money,'' and President Bush still wants to give us more tax breaks. How do we get our heads around that?"
Miller says the church is showing the video as part of a series of videos on the Middle East. "One of the charges that Middle Eastern people levy against us is our affluence and the consumerism we export all over the world," she says, "so this is a way to understand that.
"There might be some people who see this as unpatriotic, but I don''t think so."
Birds, Bees and Developers
"Eco-friendly" and "luxury resort" are words seldom found in the same sentence. Big Sur''s Post Ranch Inn is one exception. Post Ranch reps are hoping neighbors and the county''s planning staff agree as development plans make their way through the planning process.
Post Ranch recently applied to Monterey County for permits to add 10 new resort units and 24 new employee housing units, creating on-site housing for two-thirds of its staff.
Post Ranch''s Arden Handshy says the employee housing is designed to be affordable and to decrease commuter traffic on Highway 1.
"And we''ve tried to come up with some environmental improvements as well," Handshy says. "We''re putting in a wastewater treatment facility that will be able to generate treated water that can be used for 100 percent of our irrigation needs."
Post Ranch also will plant more buckwheat (food of choice of the endangered Smith''s Blue Butterfly) and reduce car and shuttle trips that pass by a pond inhabited by the California red legged frog, Handshy says.
"We''ve had this commitment from the beginning, when Post Ranch was actually born," says General Manager Dan Priano. "We were very conscious about the environment and also conscious about keeping the Ranch in that spirit."
Big Sur residents are invited to attend a guided tour of the planned development Saturday, Dec. 15 at noon. Call Elaine Hill at 667-2408 for reservations. A public hearing on the Post Ranch Inn''s development plans will be held after Jan. 1, 2002.
Not Everyone Gets Rental Rules
Now that four of the cities on the Peninsula have adopted voluntary guidelines for the fair treatment of tenants by landlords, affordable housing advocates are pushing for wide dissemination of the information.
"There needs to be individual information for every single resident," says renter''s advocate Sam Lipsky, who represents the housing crisis committee of the Coalition of Minority Organizations (COMO). "People need to know what it''s about or it''s meaningless."
On Thursday, Dec. 6, the Seaside City Council adopted guidelines that, among other things, ask landlords to warn tenants if they plan to raise rents. The guidelines are similar to those approved in the other municipalities. The Pacific Grove City Council adopted similar measures on Dec. 5. Monterey installed the original set of guidelines in the fall. Marina adopted Monterey''s version soon after.
Monterey has plans to send a copy of the guidelines to each residence. Not so elsewhere on the Peninsula.
According to Dennis Boehlje, community development director for Pacific Grove, a report about the guidelines will go out in the city''s quarterly newsletter, which will be mailed to every residence in January. Major landlords and property managers will get copies of the actual guidelines, but there isn''t the budget money to send a copy to each renter. Marina handled it the same way.
In Seaside, the decision for distribution was left up to staff and a plan is currently being developed.
City Manager Dan Keen says the guidelines will help the city help residents.
"We sometimes get complaints from tenants," Keen says. "Now we''ll have a way to refer them."