Photos: Deerfield Farms and Forests

These photos were taken on October 11 in Deerfield, Massachusetts. Deerfield borders Greenfield. They show a field of purple top turnips, the Connecticut river from Mount Sugarloaf state park, a field of cover crop, and a forest of trees with red and yellow leaves. To enlarge a photo, click on it, then scroll down and click "see full size image." photos by Eesha Williams

Comments

Hi Eesha and everyone – I

Hi Eesha and everyone –
I just read and submitted a comment on Eesha’s piece about land protection in Oahu on Surfline.com. This note doesn’t have much to do with the Connecticut Valley, but I wanted to post it publicly, and I couldn’t figure out where else would be good.

Oahu is gorgeous, and it’s really important that key places be protected as described in Eesha’s article. But I have a question: From what I read, Oahu is rather like San José, where I live. It costs a fortune to live there, and the children of those who built the houses that are there now have to move to the mainland to live. There was even a comment on Eesha's article that indicated that was true. (In San José the children of blue-collar people tend to move to Nevada, Arizona, and Texas who don’t do well in college. Blue-collar work is done by immigrants whose real incomes – because of housing costs – are way below the incomes of people who did the same jobs 40 years ago. As a result of the way California regulates housing, it has the highest poverty rate in the U.S. [https://www.evernote.com/l/ATIHju-MpoZOApFeqzgraM0WlyOcNkXIBlE ]. I don’t know the poverty rate on Oahu, but I’d guess it’s significant.)

My question is: Shouldn’t articles on land protection in places like Oahu and northern California say something specific about housing? Or if this is not possible on sites like Surfline for some reason, shouldn’t there be a place where people who care about both housing and the environment discuss both together?

I’ve been looking into this in the Bay area, and there’s absolutely no reason why there has to be the absurd housing crunch we have now. Santa Clara County, which includes San Jose (the wealthiest private sector city in the U.S.) is 25.6% urbanized. For comparison, Westchester NY is 63.9% urbanized. Most of the protections that keep most of Santa Clara County undeveloped are good. But to understand how ridiculous their overall effect is, you just have to look at what happens along our existing train lines. There is, for instance, a train line running south from San Jose (toward Los Angeles). It was built for freight, but a good deal of it is 4-track and most of the rest has enough land for expansion to 4-track. A while ago commuter passenger trains were added. But they carry only 400 people per day!! The reason is that nowhere beyond the original urban border 2 miles south of downtown are new stations or reasonably dense development permitted! I believe the same situation exists along the Altamont Commuter Express line to the East.

There was a considerable amount of ridiculous sprawl built with large lot sizes from the 50s through the 80s, and one of the barriers to letting middle class and poor people live decent lives in places like Santa Clara County and Oahu is that when people think of ‘development’ they think of that sprawl. I personally think another barrier is the crumminess of a lot of current architecture. And the behavior of typical developers.

But sprawl, at least, doesn’t have to happen. At the state level, California has adopted codes that strongly encourage high density. My guess is that development that would have a major impact on poverty and the middle class in Santa Clara County would require increasing the amount of urbanization by about 0.6% - that is, to 26.2% in Santa Clara County. Of course, other Bay area counties with low rates of urbanization would have to allow creation of transit villages along their train lines, too. Or decent transportation would have to be built from San Jose to the Central Valley. Or both. A friend of mine is involved in a project in Santa Cruz County that seems to be getting some traction. But nobody seems to be paying attention in places like Oahu and Santa Clara where so many more people live (and where there are decent numbers of jobs).

Why isn’t this discussed?

Woody (Robert Wood)

Autumn fields of New England

Lovely! Thanks for sharing.

Beautiful!

Beautiful!

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