Grassroots Done Right

Monday night’s Council agenda includes deciding what to do about re-building Crestview Park. That’s an interesting topic in and of itself*. But it won’t be the most interesting part of the Council’s discussion, at least for me. No, that’ll be something which will be brought into the chamber by a group of San Carlos residents.

If you’ve read my posts, letters to the editor, op ed pieces, etc., over the years you know I’m a big proponent of people getting involved with government. It’s easy to forget, even living in a democracy, that “the government” is nothing more or less than the way communities work out their public priorities.

In a representative democracy citizens elect individuals to make many decisions on behalf of the community. That’s not because those representatives are assumed to have any special decision-making prowess. It’s simply more efficient and effective to have a few people develop expertise to make decisions than have every voter study up on every issue (but note that the most important decisions are generally reserved for the voters to decide themselves).

Grassroots efforts are vital in a representative democracy. They let community members express a collective, shared interest to their representatives. They also allow individuals who may not wish to engage in a public “shouting match”, or who are not personally connected to elected officials, get their voices heard.

That’s exactly what the group opposed to putting artificial turf at Crestview did. They organized themselves (check out , marched in the Hometown Days Parade…and collected over 2,100 signatures from residents supporting leaving Crestview’s field as it is, as natural grass.

I can’t recall the last time I saw that many signatures collected for anything in San Carlos.

So my hat’s off to the ordinary people who sacrificed time from their personal lives to make a difference. They’ve shown once again just how amazing a place San Carlos is.

* I favor sticking with natural grass, mostly because artificial turf constrains the ways the field can be used and enjoyed. More importantly, both those in favor of artificial turf and those opposed to it share a common interest: more natural grass fields and parks (most sports enthusiasts tell me they much prefer playing on natural grass, but you need more of it to meet the demand).

Let’s do something more than just fight over the limited, inadequate parks and fields we have. Let’s come together and develop more of both!

1 thought on “Grassroots Done Right”

  1. Mark,
    This round of “grass versus turf” is just the latest in a series of all too similar fights over the last few years. Unfortunately, these fights pit neighbor against neighbor and always leave one group or another very unhappy with the results. This not only generates animosity in our community, but simply consumes a LOT of energy that could be much better directed towards efforts that would leave everyone happy.
    I sincerely hope that you and the other city council members will utilize this divisive issue as an opportunity to look at a true long term solution to the critical field shortage in our community for competitive sports — a dedicated sports complex in a non-residential portion of our city. Such a complex could operate a nights with lighted fields without disturbing quiet neighborhoods and be covered with whatever surface material makes the most sense for all season play.
    Of course, such an effort would take substantial financial resources and require re-purposing land that may otherwise generate tax revenue for the city. However, just as I’m sure that the San Carlos community doesn’t support converting our neighborhood parks to artificial turf, I’m certain there is considerable community interest in finding and supporting a solution that will substantially enhance our community.
    Despite funding difficulties, other Peninsula communities such as Belmont have found ways to create sports complexes for their communities. If they can find a solution, so can San Carlos.

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