December 4, 1993
Board of Directors
East Bay Regional Park District
2950 Peralta Oaks Court
Oakland, California 94605-5369
Re: Motor Vehicles Don't Belong in Our Parks!
It seems that every one of your agendas includes another request to purchase more jeeps and tractors! Are you sure this is the same park district that is always saying it doesn't have enough money? How about disclosing the actual (lifetime) costs of those vehicles, including fuel, maintenance, repair, and insurance, before you vote on buying more of them?
Why doesn't the Park District set an example of environmental responsibility for the public, business, and other private and government agencies? EBMUD [the water district], I understand, is actually considering putting wildlife concerns foremost in the management of their watershed! This is the kind of attitude one would expect to come from the Park District.
Experts say that oil is expected to run out in 30-40 years in the U.S., and 50 years, worldwide. I would hope that we wake up to this fact soon, and begin saving this precious resource for making dental floss and bicycle tires, rather than continuing to let it go up in smoke. Other people are using motor vehicles as though there is no tomorrow; why do you have to be just like everyone else???
With a little creativity, I am sure that you can figure out how to do what is necessary to preserve the parks, without the continual use of motor vehicles. It can't be done halfway: having the vehicles around, "asking to be driven", makes it too likely that they will get used unnecessarily. They are too tempting for our flaccid, jejune generation. I know my limitations -- I don't keep sweets around where they can "call to me"! You should do the same with motor vehicles.
If you feel that you must use a vehicle to pick up trash, how about: (1) Ignore it; why should you pick up after members of the public too lazy to carry out their own trash? Replace trash collection with an educational program. I love that sort of work. I bought my own trash picker-upper, and periodically clean up my favorite hiking trail. (2) Contract with some homeless or unemployed to pick it up. In Berkeley, they walk enormous distances to steal the recycling from the sidewalk containers and carry it to the redemption centers. Not everyone is allergic to walking. (3) Buy some bicycles and bicycle trailers and collect it on a bicycle, perhaps sharing a bin with a nearby home, business, or government office. (4) Contract with a local nonmotorized transport business. They would love the work. Some of my friends are at this moment working to start just such a business. (Call Auto Free Bay Area, 510-849-0770.) I prefer # 1.
Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.