Thursday, December 1, 2005

What's "conservative"?

I had an interesting exchange yesterday over who was being "conservative" in approaching a problem. The City of San Jose is trying to figure out much it will require from Coyote Valley developers in terms of providing health-care facilities for the uninsured people who will be living in the proposed city. They said they estimated that 15-20% of the population would be uninsured and underinsured, that they were concerned about requiring more facilities than would be actually used, and that they were planning for 10,000 people who would not have sufficient insurance.

I took notice of those figures and said they didn't add up - I thought 10,000 represented less than 15-20% of the expected Coyote Valley population. We worked out that it was just under 15% of the estimated population of 70,000 people (a smaller estimate than I've heard before, by the way). That's when the fun began.

"Well, we're being conservative."

"No you're not! You're being the opposite of conservative."

We went back and forth for a bit before a third person figured we BOTH were being conservative. They were being conservative with the commitment expected from developers. I was suggesting that conservative meant being conservative in mitigating the effect on public health that the developers created in establishing a city with thousands of uninsured people.

I guess it all depends on your perspective.


P.S. And what does this have to do with protecting open space? If thousands of acres of farmland are to be destroyed (as is proposed in Coyote Valley), then the people doing the destruction should be responsible for all the impacts they created. Letting them out of any of their financial obligations will just encourage even more sprawl.

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