With warmish summer weekends finally here, we Coastsiders are again enjoying the company of tens of thousands of our closest friends. Our guests are here for the same reasons we are: the ocean, natural beauty, great food, and summer highs usually below 90 degrees. What’s not to like?
I was discussing our summer traffic woes with local iconoclast Edwina Frobish over a drink (or two) at Sacrilege Brewery. As usual, Edwina was taking an extreme position, which I shall relate verbatim:
Edwina: “It’s a Malthusian disaster, I say! As greater numbers of people visit the coast each year, the entire ecosystem will collapse!”
Me: “Oh, they’ll be mildly inconvenienced driving in and out of town, I’ll grant you, but they’ll turn on the air in their cars, crank up the music, and hardly notice. That’s hardly an eco-failure. After all, the public beaches and forests belong to everyone.”
Edwina: “Exactly my point! We should convert everything south of the tunnels and down to the county line into private property, except what’s already private, and run the Coastside like Disneyland. They’d sign up and pay admittance fees online, make reservations at restaurants and hotels, and we’d bus them in and out.”
Me: “That sounds — forgive me — miserable. Besides, it would take the state Legislature to …”
Edwina: “Don’t get all lawyerly on me! We’re talking about survival.”
Me: “And who would provide the police, fire, and other services?”
Edwina: “Who does it in Yosemite? We’d be one big, private park, with park rangers and everything. We could even have costumed characters who walk around all day talking with people.”
Me: (Staring directly at Edwina) “Seems to me we already have some of those.”
Edwina: (Totally missing the mild barb) “And there would be apps! Apps on people’s phones they could use when they change their minds about where they want to have lunch, or to order a local car and driver to get them up to Princeton, down to Pescadero, or anyplace in between. We’d call the service ‘Moober’ in honor of our local cows.”
Me: “That sounds —”
Edwina: “Think of the jobs we’d create!”
This conversation was careening off the rails, as any discussion with Edwina eventually does. People at other tables were overhearing her and stopped talking to listen in. I had to interject a dose of reality — rare for me, I admit.
Me: “Look, Edwina, there are already systems that track the traffic on highways 1 and 92. We could encourage visitors to check the traffic and come to town or leave for home at off-peak times. Maybe extra weekend bus service would help a little. But privatizing entire towns is a drastic step to relieve weekend traffic.”
Edwina: “Hey, you stick to humor, leave the serious stuff to crackpots like me.”
firstname.lastname@example.org is not a fictional character, unlike Edwina.