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Posted by on May 18, 2016 in Business, Cities, Environment | 29 comments

America’s vanishing West: California losing most land to development


SAN JOSE, Calif. — The natural landscape of the American West is gradually disappearing under a relentless march of new subdivisions, roads, oil and gas production, agricultural operations and other human development, according to a detailed mapping study released Tuesday. From 2001 to 2011, an area totaling 4,321 square miles — or 15 times the size…

photo credit: Tassajara Road at 580, Dublin, March 22, 2008 via photopin (license)

  • KP

    You gotta love conservationists.

    Nothing like thinning the heard with an occasional “purge”, plague or chronic poverty.

  • KP

    Ever notice how conservationist mostly live on the west coast in Eureka, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Palos Verdes or San Diego?(!) Once in awhile they are up on a large ranch in Montana with names like Rising Wolf Ranch or Apex Angus Ranch.

    Rhetorically, why don’t they live in Kentucky or Tennessee.

    Because they got theirs beach side and they don’t want you moving in.

  • Bob Munck

    From 2001 to 2011, an area totaling 4,321 square miles — or 15 times the size of San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco combined — was modified by development in the 11 Western states,

    OK, I’m disgusted by urban sprawl; we’ve just moved from the DC suburbs to NC to get away from a serious case of it.

    But talk about your unconvincing argument!! 4,321 square miles of the West over ten years is about 0.03% per year. It’ll take 3500 years to fill the place up. There are other trends that are much more immediately threatening: global warming, reality shows, Donald Trump to name a few.

    (We picked our new home site in part by its geographical immunity to sprawl: a wide stretch of water (Lake Norman) between it and us.)

    • KP

      I agree.

      Rock on …

      Not directed at you Bob.

      If only everybody could get away.

      Getting away is why there is urban sprawl in Cali. It’s hard to reconcile being ‘for’ immigration and against sprawl. San Diego takes in more immigrants than anyone else in “America”. The quotes are for Canucks and South American cities who want to pony up.

      • Bob Munck

        It’s hard to reconcile being ‘for’ immigration and against sprawl.

        It’s a big country; about 8 acres per current resident. We can afford a lot of immigration before we get crowded. Our population density is about half that of the world average.

        • KP

          Of course we can afford immigration.

          More than one quarter of Californians are immigrants (foreign-born), and more than half of Californians are Latino or Asian. That is a quarter of about 33 million people.

          So, we get it. My family is part of the mix.

          • KP

            What percentage of immigrants is the population on your side of Lake Norman?

            Are you a conservationist or a conversationalist?

          • Bob Munck

            What percentage of immigrants is the population on your side

            We’ve only been here 9 days (plus 8 trips down while the house was being built, bringing 12 cases of wine each trip), so we don’t have a good sample. I’d say 40% native southerners, 40% immigrants, and 20% invading yankees.

            conservationist or a conversationalist?

            Those aren’t mutually exclusive.

          • KP

            Keep us posted as you get more comfortable. Sounds wonderful.

      • Brownies girl

        KP writes: “The quotes are for Canucks and South American cities who want to pony up.”

        Just so you know, in 2015, Canada (with a population *1/10th* that of the US) admitted just under 300,000 new permanent legal immigrants. In addition, over 25,000 Syrian refugees were admitted between November 2015 and early March 2016, about 20% of them privately sponsored by local citizen groups, church groups and various corporations. Canada’s goal for 2016 is somewhere between 285,000 and 305,000. So we Canucks are, in your words, wanting and willing to “pony up”.

        I realize that most American’s knowledge of what we’re doing up here with regards to immigration is scant. (Who’d’ve thunk it.) They should just remember, google is your friend.

        • dduck

          Kudos to Canada for their humanitarian attitude and actions.

        • KP

          Your city … specifically, is pulling more than their relative weight. As well, Canada as a whole. more than most of the world.

          My city, San Diego, and my state, California, are pulling as much or more weight than Toronto.

          I’d like to walk back my comment and highlight Toronto as shining example.

          San Diego and California // Toronto and ONtario // we are focused.

          We shouldn’t talk past one another.

          • Brownies girl

            KP writes: “Your city [Toronto]… specifically, is pulling more than their relative weight. As well, Canada as a whole. more than most of the world.”

            We’re pulling our weight, but not as much as Germany, Sweden, France, England and other countries over there. Europe, as a whole is doing much more than we are, and the US. That’s a fact.

            As to what Toronto is doing, yeah, we’re doing a lot, but per capita, we’re not doing near as well as Fort McMurray in northern Alberta, recently become almost a ghost town due to the massive fire up there that’s still going on. But folks are coming back, and rebuilding will commence soon — a lot of those folks, immigrants and refugees. Vancouver, Montreal, Halifax, Winnipeg, St. Johns NFLD are also doing great work in welcoming refugees. NFLD is especially good at welcoming folks in trouble (see 9-11 planes that had to land in Gander with thousands of folks with nowhere to go, many of them Americans).

            I’m not here to say, yeah, KP, you’re doing better than we are, that’s not the point. The point is, you seem to be bragging about what San Diego is doing and poo-pooing whatever other places in the world are doing. Like you’re the king of the castle.

            Like when you write: “My city, San Diego, and my state, California, are pulling as much or more weight than Toronto.”

            This isn’t a damn contest, you know. It seems to me that sometimes, American folks brag a lot without having even the slightest clue about the sacrifices other countries, all over the world, are making to help. With not half or a quarter of the amenities the US has to offer – and that includes warm weather, at least when it comes to San Diego. At least your city didn’t have to provide parkas and winter boots, mitts and toques for thousands of people in the midst of winter, as well as home with heating. The cost was enormous — but all of us up here, we think it was worth it. Glad to have helped, is our attitude.

            I personally don’t give a darn as to who’s doing better for refugees, just so long as we can rescue as many as possible, that’s all I care about. Just please think a little bit before you complain that there are countries that aren’t “ponying up”. That’s wrong and it’s insulting — and I’m not talking past you. I am directly addressing your words that ticked me off, royally.

            All that aside – it’s a long weekend up here, Victoria Day weekend, lots of sun and high temps and I’m getting the hanging planters going. Perhaps there will then be time for a cold glass of oaky chardonnay when I’m done and my blood pressure will go down. All best to you ……. BG

          • KP

            I can always count on you to be negative. Especially when it comes to America. Thanks for not disappointing.

          • Brownies girl

            I wrote earlier: “I am directly addressing your words that ticked me off, royally.”

            KP wrote: “I can always count on you to be negative. Especially when it comes to America.”

            I am probably more pro American than most Canadians. You, KP, are not “America” itself, you are simply one of 330 million or so, last I heard — and I am not being negative toward Americans as a whole. I am simply addressing *your* words as you posted — “pony up”. If you didn’t understand my post, or the reasoning behind it, there’s not much else I can say.

          • KP

            “I am probably more pro American than most Canadians”

            No wonder we have a friendly rivalry if you are the friendly 🙂

          • KP

            On a side note, mom was born in Montreal.

            I am a Canadian, eh?

          • Brownies girl

            “I am a Canadian, eh?’

            Immigration Canada would give you an argument on that. If your mom had been born in the UK, you’d have a solid case — not here. Not today. Sorry.

          • KP

            You are mistaken.

          • KP

            But thanks for being so welcoming 🙂

          • B.G. I just happened to read an article yesterday where Amnesty International ranks Canada as the the 4th most welcoming country for refugees. Kudos!

          • Brownies girl

            Thanks Dorian, and dduck above too for your kind remarks. We’re just doing what we can, same as everyone else round the world. I sometimes find it strange, walking these downtown street on a quiet afternoon, to realize that I, as a white woman, having moved to this city back in the early 60’s when bars couldn’t open on Sundays; dept stores curtained their display windows on Sundays and restaurants couldn’t even serve wine or beer, even with a meal, on Sundays — that today, I’m in the minority, colour-wise. And I’m an immigrant, myself for heaven’s sake. And yet, somehow, I kind of like it.

            I feel like that the world has come to me/us, with all its unique ways and views — and I don’t need to travel anymore, put up with cramped tiny seats on airlines and annoying thousands of tourists everywhere, no matter where you go. Glad I saw it all back in the 60’s, when things were a lot quieter. And civilized and saner.

            We live, we grow, we learn new things. Life goes on. Never been to Ethiopia — but I’m now on a first name basis with the Ethiopian owners of a fine little restaurant, a couple of blocks away where the food is incredible. I like the way things are here. I like the changes. Am looking forward to a Syrian restaurant opening here soon. Won’t be long. I’ll go there too. All best…. BG

          • Enjoy! The Ethiopian food that is. Never had that.

            Had a good Syrian friend and enjoyed the food he prepared.

          • Bob Munck

            Ethiopian food that is. Never had that.

            Oy! Have you ever missed out! Get thee to an Ethiopian restaurant.

            I remember clearly my first taste of injera, used to pick up a bite of the hottest (not thermally) stew I’d ever tasted, sitting on the floor in a little cafe off Bloor Street. My (now) wife did her graduate work at U. of T. and under slightly different circumstances we might have ended up residents of Toronto or Vancouver, two of my favorite cities in the world.

            I think that the coffee service at the end of an Ethiopian meal was the source of my coffee addiction, but that probably came from the high-end Ethiopian restaurant across the street from Symphony Hall in Boston.

          • That makes two “Michelin” recommendations for Ethiopian cuisine.

            I guess I’ll have to try it now. Wondering if there is one in Austin.


  • Didn’t we just have a group of right-wing nutjobs try to TAKE OVER federal land in the western U.S.? This groups wants us to increase the amount that we make off-limits? Maybe they should have been sent to Oregon for target practice for the “occupiers”. I sure as hell don’t want innocent, federal agents being the target practice test dummies!

    • KP

      it is crazy how much left-wing nuts and right-wing nuts have in common.

  • this article is just flat out silly. California is a massive state.

    • KP

      Massive area losses meaning in this conversation.

      Rather we should focus on economics.

      Canada has huge land mass. So does the US and parts of Europe and Australia.

      The thing is refugees and immigrants focus into small areas where their friends and family are. Recently, Europe has failed miserably to assimilate refugees. I would suggest Canada and the US, better. Aussies not as well.

      My point is not to argue who accepts more, rather who is failing the new population as well as their population who opts to accept them.

      The Catholic Church who converts people and then abuses them should not be praised for accepting the vulnerable.

      You may agree, Europe is a travesty relative to recent generational assimilation.

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