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Choose land over money for the Morro Bay power plant property



There's an opportunity coming up very soon for the citizens of Morro Bay to come together to restore the land that was once just plain beautiful—without the power plant and its remnants of toxic waste. What's on the table for us? Another corporation, this time with a different idea, wanting to build the largest battery storage plant in the world.

Our city has begun community meetings to come together and brainstorm what could become of this land. They even set up long tables for us to sit at and discuss in groups. The mediator (name and association unknown to us viewing on tv), was able to lead us through all five discussion questions relatively peacefully. And each table provided a speaker to address the attendees with a microphone to voice the majority summation.

Great. The next meeting date was unknown at the time. So let's take it upon ourselves to follow up.

I feel an urgency to blockade this battery storage plant idea. And I can already feel the engine of this train; it's all about the money. Our city is "broke" and has been for years. (For example, we are always scrambling to dig up money to repave our streets and when we do, it's bare minimum—we can't afford the right way that incorporates a full renovation so we provide another superficial layer that lasts about two to three years.) There are environmentally destructive impacts if this large battery storage unit gets placed here. (Others can provide you the facts and stats.) And yet, this corporation is offering to purchase the land and help us remove the stacks; problem solved. Right?

The easy solution equals we get the money we need to remove the stacks, and the land receives a new occupant that pays us rent! Pause! I invite you to take a step back and view this solution with a different lens.

What if the land could speak? Did we ask these beautiful acres of coastline what they would want? And realistically, can we afford to offer the land a chance? That's what everything comes down to these days: money.

So, what if we considered the land and played the money game, to give the land a chance? The first step is to learn how much it would cost to clean up the land without the help of a new energy company coming in to replace the old one. I know ... everyone will balk at the number. And yet, let's just put our rosy glasses on and stay positive. In my experience of facing brick walls, if the dream is bright enough it creates a window, and if the window is clear enough it creates a lot of energy toward the goal/intention, and if the energy builds big enough it creates the solution!

Possible outcomes could include: a philanthropist with a drive to restore the land to its natural wonder, a wealthy man or woman who wants a legacy after they pass (and the land gets a new name), or a climate crisis advocate who is looking to invest in stopping companies from taking over lands in environmentally sensitive places (i.e. Morro Bay's fragile bay). We do have a choice if you consider these options to save the land.

There were two expressed views that caught my attention that I think represent both sides of this impending decision. One was powerfully voiced at the meeting by our very own Salinan (a native Indian nation, in case you didn't know). He declared that we should clean up the land and give it back to its people, the Salinans, make it a place where nature can thrive once again and people could enjoy the land as a park. I personally love this idea. Imagine, if you will, being able to walk around on this land that has been covered, barred from the public for so many years! Imagine just driving by it without all of the barbed wire and cement! And yet there are some who live here who are more concerned about their money.

Someone I spoke to voiced her concern about a property tax proposed in our next election. That's where her attention went after I brought this idea up to her. And I express this viewpoint here, not to be of judgement but because there are a lot of people who are scared about not having enough money. Their attention and focus is on inflation, high gas prices, and increasing interest rates. It's too much of a stretch for their imagination to go beyond that and restore the land the way it used to be. I get it. How the bleep can we even afford to consider restoring the land? If this is where your attention and focus is, then no, "we can't afford it."

So then we go back to how we as humans have been traditionally selling out the land that this beautiful planet has given us to inhabit. And we count the years we have left on this planet, because our planet will go on without us.

Is there hope? Our decisions about how we use/protect the land are being more fully realized now. We are waking up to the awareness of our human impact. Maybe this very current decision of what to do with the acres of land the Morro Bay stacks and its surrounding buildings, barbed wire, and cement occupies on such an amazing stretch of coastline could possibly be an example to others to save the land! Δ

Karen Croley in Morro Bay also goes by Karyn DoveHawk. Respond with a commentary or letter to the editor by sending it to [email protected].

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