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Which Comes First? The Green Chicken or The Green Egg

I'm a big fan of shiny toys, but while I can respect the technology of electric cars, I'm concerned about their practicality. I've spent most of my adult life in condos and apartments and government housing. Street parking and driveway parking are facts of life, and the possibility of making alterations like running an electric line curbside & are questionable at best.

So when KPBS' Joanne Faryon gave me the opportunity to ask a question from the audience, I focused on practicality. I was hoping the guest had some statistics about how many San Diegans, or households in San Diego, could actually use an electric car if one landed on their doorstep tomorrow. If he had a responsive & answer, he kept it to himself at that point. He appeared to have & a script and he was keeping to it. The telling point came later on in the segment when the guest lamented that he hadn't been able to use his electric car to get to this Saturday taping at KPBS; the trip was beyond the car's range since there were no recharge options at KPBS, and he'd decided to & drive his Prius instead.

On the heels of that exchange comes an article in the North County Times on development in Escondido. Developer D.R. Horton has reportedly abandoned plans to include four-bedroom units in its proposed downtown & Paramount development in the face of city council concerns that included already tight parking in the area. &

That begs the question though, that while consideration of parking is certainly a concern for & urban development, at what point should support for non-gasoline vehicles enter into the urban planning process? Should reports of a development meeting be including discussion not just of the impact of parking, but add recharger parking as a special, preferred zone, like handicapped parking?

Should coin-operated & recharger stations be added to our city streets in residential neighborhoods like parking meters & to accommodate the garage less greens? Or should we wait for the market to demand such & improvements to accommodate existing cars? Do we as taxpayers really want to spend the money to build the infrastructure to promote one technology over another, bypassing the market as a decisionmaker?

Personally, as much as I want a greener future, these decisions have to be market- and consumer-driven. Tax breaks and skewed development of infrastructure can't take us to the future as well as practical, economical, innovation based on existing infrastructure, and as these issues continue to come up in this and future election cycles, hopefully more and more candidates will focus on the practical and immediate steps that can be taken now.

Editor's Note: The Envision San Diego special on global warming airs Thursday, April 17, at 8:00 p.m. on KPBS TV.

-Citizen Voices blogger Chuck Hartley is an attorney who lives in Escondido.

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