Today, I read of wealthy people buying sections of rural Marin, and then, wanting to block off historical access routes for those who walk, bike, and ride horses. It is quite a fight, with the winner not yet determined. One obstinate buyer wants to build their home AND a winery. I wonder how that can be allowed in a county where water is such a premium. Why change our open hills?
It is certainly a contrast to the article on Bill Bryson walking through England. As my book group discovered last summer, the walker has rights. The author of the article on walking in Britain, John Flinn has this to say.
"When I looked ahead on the map and saw the the Ridgeway crossed the grounds of Chequers, the country home of every British prime minister since David Lloyd George, I wasn't expecting much. I figured we'd be separated from the house by a couple of miles of heavily patrolled woods, half a dozen electrified fences with machine gun towers, a kennel-full of attack dogs and a small mountain range or two. This, after all, is the British equivalent of Camp David, the retreat where Blair comes to escape the pressures of Downing Street and entertain world leaders. So I was startled when we came out of a little strand of woods and got a close and unobstructed look at the mansion, which stood less than a quarter-mile away across an open field. If Blair had been looking out his window, we could have seen him."
"The path ambled through the grounds and crossed a driveway beneath a row of beech trees planted by Winston Churchill, and passed the unblinking eye of a mounted security camera. What amazed me was that the trail was on the inside of the front gate and security post."
"Why didn't they move the footpath?" I asked Bryson.
"It was here first," he said. "Public rights of way are ferociously guarded in Britain. This is a concept that goes back to the Middle Ages: You can't close down a footpath that's been here hundreds - or thousands - of years just because you want to put a house next to it, even if it's for the prime minister."
Read the article in the Chronicle today, and ask yourself what happened to the land of democracy that fought the land of kings. Who won? Who lost?
The address is not coming up in blue, but the article is by Peter Fimrite so perhaps you can find it in the SF Saturday Chronicle if you are interested. Some of the initial trails in Marin were Indian paths. Should they now be blocked off by private ownership? What happened to easements and public rights of way? How can people buy land with public access rights, and then, say, they want it to be private? We are becoming a nation of little dictators, and it is not a pretty thing.