Open-space laws preserve common good for all to enjoy

In his April 25 Opinion piece, "The elitism of open space laws," Thomas Sowell attacks the successful movement in San Mateo County, Calif., to preserve natural landscapes for everyone to enjoy regardless of income level. Rather than embrace the "grow at all costs" mentality so common in American cities and suburbs, this region has instead invested in open-space protection.

Mr. Sowell describes purchasing and preserving natural landscapes as "selfishness" and "elitist." I would instead call this the most generous gift we can give to current and future generations. Best of all, it's completely egalitarian, for the views and natural resources we're protecting are available for all to enjoy.
Kathy Switky
Committee for Green Foothills
Palo Alto, Calif.

What Mr. Sowell describes is also the case in Boulder, Colo., and many suburban communities. If the residents want to close their area to more home building, at the cost of losing young families and new businesses, that is surely their option.

In the heartland, there is an opposite problem with somewhat similar effects: plenty of land, cheap housing, but not enough good jobs to keep the bright young people or attract new ones.
Douglas Lilly
Kearney, Neb.

I don't believe that the housing costs in San Mateo County are due only to environmentalists and open-space laws; things in this part of California have always cost more than in the rest of the country.

The open spaces we have are much more important to most of the residents than another housing development. Would you have them do away with all wildlife habitat and rolling hills just so a few developers can line their pockets? I can't think what it would look like without the open spaces.

I can't afford to purchase a home, so I rent; but I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. And I certainly don't want to look at row after row of boxes instead of trees or green hills when driving through the county.

If being concerned about the environment and what constant building does to the land and the inhabitants is being elitist, then I guess you could call me that.
Debra McDaniel
Alameda, Calif.

Tough moral questions in Patano case

Regarding the April 29 article on the Patano case, "Was it murder? A US marine faces scrutiny": Just because someone has significant past accomplishments doesn't excuse any acts of misconduct in the present. Also, killing someone in self-defense, no matter how threatened one feels, doesn't mean putting several rounds into that person's body.

The military has a duty to prosecute any criminal misconduct on the battlefield, not only to the United States, but also to the country and family of the victims involved to show that just because the soldier is from the US doesn't mean he or she won't face consequences for acts of misconduct.
Nessa Goodfield
Cleveland, Tenn.

If the two alleged victims had not been in the presence of explosives, this would never have happened. Mr. Patano was doing his job. Maybe if we had more like him, the Muslim hard-liners would get the message.

Have you forgotten how many died at the Twin Towers or the Marine barracks in Lebanon?

Lee Rosson Onalaska, Wash.

That marine charged with murder in a war zone would be faring better if he had made his shots in Florida under their new "I felt threatened" law, don't you think?
Lloyd Hargrove
Monroe, La.

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