On Monday night, as was reported in the Daily Nexus (Jan. 29, “SPF Delays $10,000 Plover Fence Proposal”), our very own Shoreline Preservation Fund took up a proposal in which Coal Oil Point Reserve is asking for $10k-plus to build a permanent fence at Sands Beach to protect the snowy plover – at the cost of blocking access for the students and community members. Luckily, they decided to wait a week until making a decision.
For many students, this issue is probably not completely understood. There are many intricacies involved, and they fluctuate in importance with each person. I do not want to debate whether the snowy plover should have a protected habitat, though, which is contentious in itself. Instead, I want to debate why COPR is asking for money from SPF, and why they can’t pay for it themselves or through some other means.
For those who do not know, here are the basic facts: SPF is a completely student-funded group under the auspices of the Associated Students, your student government. Each student, both undergraduate and graduate, pays a fee to SPF every quarter, enabling them to have a budget upwards of $90k each year which they generously dole out to worthy causes. The COPR, on the other hand, almost gives the impression that they have absolutely no money to spend, or why else would they be asking us students to pay for their project? In fact, the COPR is regulated by the University of California Natural Reserve System, and therefore is under state-control and gets at least a portion of their money from state taxes. Does something seem amiss? Even if the COPR cannot get enough money from our state taxes, why can they not go to the UCSB administration and ask for money, since it is they who actually have local control for this reserve?
As reported in the Nexus, the director of the COPR, Cristina Sandoval, does not want to go because she does not want to have to deal with their “battles.” So, instead, she feels it would be much easier just to get the money from the students without even trying our university. We’re suckers for this type of stuff anyway, right?
Maybe so, but in actuality it’s not us who get to decide this one.
But wouldn’t it be nice if it was up to us this time? With such a contentious issue, it would be great to hear from the students instead of letting the seven members of SPF decide it. This is exactly the issue I brought to SPF Monday night. As an elected official to Legislative Council, I felt the need to represent my constituents before SPF by proposing that we put a plebiscite on the Spring Election Ballot, asking the students directly if they feel their money should go towards blocking off part of Sands Beach for the benefit of the snowy plover. Unfortunately, SPF has decided to ignore this plan and continue to debate how much money they will give to this project. The main issue they have is that they do not want to wait that long to give out money; I was even told by one of the board members of SPF that if we waited that long, then COPR will have to fund it out of their own budget.
What, may I ask, is wrong with that?
So, I am writing today in an effort to conjure up support from the students to let SPF know that we can handle this issue through a plebiscite, and we would rather not let them decide this one for us. If you feel this way, or even if you feel the opposite, let SPF know about it.
Write them a letter, send an e-mail, or even better, show up to their meeting next Monday night to let them know how you feel. Feel free to also let your elected representatives know how you feel by contacting them at . The time to speak up is now.
Joshua L. Baker is an A.S. Legislative Council off-campus representative.