It appears that Glen Starkey was too preoccupied with securing himself one of those pricey box seats at Vina Robles’ new amphitheater for affluent wine lovers to do any real reporting in “Living the dream,” Feb. 7. I’d like to interrupt all the back-patting and make an important distinction between a “green project” and a “green operation.”
The Vina Robles Amphitheater project removed more than 100 blue oak trees, obstructed a known wildlife corridor, and graded through a seasonal creek without a permit. The mitigation for these impacts are appallingly poor, such as the oak tree replanting, which merely supports the aesthetics of the venue (i.e. “oak dappled corner”), not environmental stewardship. I don’t disagree that a recycling program and stocking food kitchens around the county is a bad idea—kudos to Terri McKeon—but the environmental costs for building such a facility make it a long stretch from a “green project.”
People of SLO County, please don’t allow yourselves to be greenwashed by Glen Starkey (this article) and Vina Robles. You have already given up more than you will get in return from this project. I urge you to look deeper into Vina Robles’ impacts and decide for yourselves what’s more valuable: oaks, wildlife, and clean water, or an exclusive venue with a “parking meadow” for the elite. Decide for yourselves whether to support such an outfit—I’ve already made my choice. Maybe the real story is how the City of El Paso de Robles (The Pass of the Oaks) allowed this project to go forward with large-scale impacts and underwhelming mitigation—money in their coffers, I suppose.