Ludicrous State Economic Plan

Local Contra Costa County residents were infuriated to read the “Local News” front page headline in Tuesday’s Contra Costa Times that blared “Tunnels may be lucrative”.

The headline should have read “Tunnels may be ludicrous“. The slanted State Economic Report just released is easy to pick apart yet the Delta local newspaper aids in spreading the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) marketing hype.

BDCP economist, David Sundling, continues to try to make 2 – 2 = 4. Sunding continues to use “new economic activity” numbers based on Westland’s inflated agriculture numbers and other unjustifiable benefits. He does not subtract the negative impacts that the tunnels will cause to Delta communities due to the loss of boating and recreation among other impacts.

Gene Beley writes in detail about the numerous serious impacts that will occur up and down the Delta, a heartbreaking “must read”.

Although it seems obvious to Delta users that construction activity and loss of waterways would cause huge economic loss to marinas and marina-based businesses, home values, and property values, these losses are not adequately considered in Sundling’s analysis.

The BDCP claims these marinas “can still operate … ” Untrue. Those marinas will not be able to maintain operations. Boaters will move their boats to unaffected marinas; visitors won’t come to camp and eat at restaurants during construction where they will view tunnel muck trucks 24×7 and to listen to construction noise. Boaters won’t keep their boats at marinas where boating and recreation activity is blocked or greatly reduced. In Sundling’s economic analysis though, because the marinas “can still operate”, there is apparently no economic loss.

They admit that “Impacts on water‐based recreation (water‐skiing, wakeboarding, tubing) in these areas [the South Delta] would be long‐term and therefore considered significant and unavoidable.” The mitigation plan is to improve Brannan Island State Park and/or The Meadows (both in the north). Because of the BDCP Plan for “mitigation” in the north, they can count it as no net loss and can make up their own numbers about how many people will flood to the North Delta for bird watching and boating.

Since Discovery Bay (DB) young people can’t take their boats to Brannan Island after school or on weekends, due to fewer waterways, traffic will increase and with it more accidents and risk. Then people will move away. Communities will suffer huge economic losses. I haven’t seen any of this in Sunding’s economic analysis.

South Delta Now   Impacts2
Boating & Recreation Now:
Small boating near Discovery Bay and from Mildred Anchorage (red circles) and anchorages (blue circle)
  South Delta Impacts:
Loss of small boat recreation; almost no local anchorage sites. (Mildred will have construction blockages to the West, muck ponds.).

On the other side of the coin, the agriculture numbers are based on having an infinite supply of water even though the contracts already are for more water than exists in the Delta. Time and time again we’ve seen reports of the economic benefits of agriculture in the Central Valley that time and time again the legislature or independent economists have proven to be false.

According to Sunding, there is a “benefit” in the state’s report of making the Delta home to nearly 180,000 temporary new jobs, which will be full time but for one year only. Does the Delta have the roads and infrastructure for these workers? Is there a real benefit to the state in creating 180,000 temporary one-year jobs while taking away nearly 37,000 farm jobs, loss of marinas, and closure of recreation access resulting in abandoned homes?

The article even throws in a statement that the plan would preserve “the long-term economic vitality of the state [including] the defense industry, technology in Silicon Valley,” even though the plan does not provide one drop of additional water or reliability for urban users in Silicon Valley or LA.

Adam Scow, of Food & Water Watch seems correct when he says: “They’re either deliberately cooking the books or refusing to do a real cost analysis. It’s a misappropriation of taxpayer resources.”

Why did the State Release an Economic Plan?

The reason is on page 2 of the Contra Costa Times article: “Brown administration officials pointed out that Monday’s study is not required; rather it is part of the extensive research being undertaking in designing the plan, informing the public and helping guide policy makers.”

Isn’t that just another way of saying the release of this State Economic Plan was timed for and it’s total purpose was marketing? It was produced to sway public opinion into thinking the tunnels will be good for the state instead of only for the handful of powerful agribusiness corporations who will truly benefit? To sway legislators throughout the state that they can have a little pork through “mitigation” projects if they just drop their opposition and let the tunnels go through?

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta, was quoted with her answer: “It’s the purest piece of propaganda they’ve come out with yet.”

While the newspaper where the damage will be done’s headlines blare how “lucrative” the tunnels will be, a more balanced title was today’s Sacramento Bee: Study Touting Economic Boon of Delta water tunnels draws criticism. I also like mine.

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