Several years ago, Congregation Beth David bought a pristine wetland property out in the country at Foothill and Los Osos Valley Road and built themselves a temple. By all accounts, it is a very green building, one the congregation brags demonstrates their concern for earth stewardship, or “tikkun olam” as they call it.
Now, in an act of pure economic self-centeredness, the congregation is about to seal its reputation not as protectors of the earth, but as its destroyers.
So that it can pursue subdivision of its temple site to pay down its mortgage, the congregation seeks to extend the city of San Luis Obispo out to both Foothill and Los Osos Valley Roads in a 3-mile loop to incorporate the temple. This radical expansion of the city, over all the sides and even the top of San Luis Mountain and surrounding Laguna Lake and its extensive flood plain wetlands, opens all these areas to urbanization, cuts off pristine upland and lowland wildlife habitats with bands of housing, commerce, and urban traffic, and creates the sort of sprawl no environmentally-concerned person could possibly advocate. It also destroys years of city greenbelt and open space planning, as well as long-standing Morro preservation efforts.
The question is: Does the congregation not understand the destructiveness of what they seek, or are they eco-hypocrites wrapping themselves in stories about a green building to hide their larger brown misdeeds? Let’s hope the answer comes quickly with the congregation’s withdrawal of its request to annex to the city, and its refocusing on the true meaning of tikkun olam.