View From Lodi, CA: Leaving California: Is It Inevitable?


Bad news about California and its future continues.
As a result many residents, myself included, are

contemplating
what may be the inevitable—leaving
the once

Golden State.

Among California`s most pressing problems is the
state`s

water shortage
. According to the Los Angeles
Daily News
, the Metropolitan Water District is
considering water rationing in southern California in
2008 for 26 cities in six counties including

Los Angeles
and

Ventura
.

The alarm bell went off when U.S. District Judge
Oliver Wagner ruled last week that water imports from
Northern California must be cut by up to 30 percent to
protect the delta smelt, a small fish threatened with
extinction.

In the meantime, the MWD has reasonably asked
residents to voluntarily cut back water usage by 10
percent. [Water
Shortage Ominous,
By Alex Dobuzinskis, Los
Angeles Daily News
, September 5, 2007]

Since Los Angeles area residents have either
forgotten or never knew that southern California is a

desert
, water is wasted in every conceivable
fashion. The MWD will have more luck if the state has a
wet winter than it will trying to convince consumers to
use less.

Complicating the water crisis is

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger`s
approach to solving it:
more debt. California is already in hock up to its ears.
Now Schwarzenegger proposes issuing $9 billion in new
bonds to build new dams and delta upgrades. [Governor
Seeks $9 billion in Bonds for Water Projects in State
,
By Tom Chorneau, San Francisco Chronicle,
September 19, 2007]

Another headache: earlier this week, the Texas
Transportation Institute of Texas A & M University
issued its latest

Urban Mobility Study
analyzing

traffic patterns
on major highways.

The report found that, no surprise to California
drivers, trips take longer, congestion consumes more
hours of the day, traffic affects rural and weekend
travel, makes trip times more difficult to estimate,
causes more gas-guzzling and wastes more hours of our
lives.

A personal note on unreliable time estimates to get
from here to there: a recent trip from my Lodi home to
Raley Field in Sacramento, normally 45-minutes, took
more than two agonizing hours. I planned to arrive early
for the pre-game Rivercats play-off festivities but
instead took my seat in the third inning.

Among the ten most terrible cities to drive in,
California has four of them:
Los Angeles
, the worst,

San Francisco
, in a three-way tie with

Atlanta
and

Washington D.C
. for third place,

San Diego
, sixth and

San Jose
, tied for eighth with

Orlando
and

Detroit
.

One possible solution under consideration by the San
Francisco County Transportation Authority isn`t very
consumer friendly. The SFCTA will hold a public forum to
discuss charging fees to drivers for using the most
traffic-clogged routes at the busiest time of the day.

Although usage fees have not been implemented in the
U.S., they are imposed in the European cities of

London
($16 a day) and

Stockholm
($9.00).[S.F.
Studying Congestion Pricing to Ease Traffic, Promote
Congestion
,
By  Rachel Gordon, San Francisco
Chronicle
, September 19, 2007]

The question that must be asked is where in
California could you drive without paying?

If California`s advantages include going to Los
Angeles`

beaches
, the San Diego Zoo and San Francisco`s
Embarcadero but you can`t get there without inching
along for hours or paying a hefty fee to arrive more
quickly, maybe it is time to move.

Many are doing it…and are glad they did.

The New York Times wrote about the Fischer
family who left

San Bernardino
for Kansas City, MO. In the process,
they bought a five-bedroom house twice the size of their
California home with an expansive yard and a lake view
from the hot tub on their deck. The Fischers had enough
money left to pay off the debt on their two cars and buy
a 21-foot motorboat.

Mrs. Fischer, a California native, told the Times
reporter that “all my friends who were raised there
are trying to leave.”
[Saying
Goodbye California Sun, Hello Midwest,
By Motoko
Rich and David Leonhardt, New York Times,
November 7, 2005]

For most California residents the choice boils down
to staying for the good weather or leaving in search of
more space, a lower cost of living and a better quality
of life.

More and more people realize that California`s
weather isn`t enough to offset its escalating troubles.
Saying good-bye to California would be tough. But,
unless its problems are resolved, leaving might be the
best thing to do.

Joe Guzzardi [email
him], an instructor in English
at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly
column since 1988. It currently appears in the


Lodi News-Sentinel
.