Cheat-Seeking Missles

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Torah Vs. The Coastal Commission

God can move mountains, but can He move the California Coastal Commission?

It looks like the all-powerful Yahweh may have met His match with the Commission over a plan to string 1 5/8" fishing line through coastal LA to serve as an eruv.

"Eruv?!" you say. It's a string, or in this case a fishing line, strung at exact distances around synagogues that some strict Orthodox Jews use to make it possible to do things outside that would otherwise be considered work, which is forbidden on the Sabbath. Other Jews shun the eruv and keep stricter Sabbath laws.

Oy vez! The LAT picks up the story:
The Pacific Jewish Center in Venice wants to string fishing line between lampposts and sign poles for several miles through the coastal communities, creating a symbolic unbroken boundary. ...

Orthodox Jews within the boundary can consider themselves to be "at home" on the Sabbath. That eases restrictions of the holy day and allows people to carry food, push strollers and bring their house keys with them when they go out.

Such lines have been up for years in religious neighborhoods throughout the world. A large eruv encompasses a swath of Hollywood, Hancock Park, West Hollywood, Westwood, Beverly Hills and surrounding communities.

But never has anyone in Southern California attempted to run an eruv along the beach — and this has created debate.
Rabbi Ben Geiger of the Pacific Jewish Center told the LAT the eruv would be a good thing:
"Part of being a Sabbath-observing Jew is that there are certain restrictions as to how we observe that day of rest," Geiger said. Observant Jews, he said, can't even push somebody in a wheelchair on Saturday, which has meant that at his synagogue a child who is confined to a wheelchair has been forced to stay inside for 25 hours at a stretch — the entire night and day of the Sabbath.
The eruv would run along a walking path that connects the ritzy coastal communities of Santa Monica and Marina del Rey, along several miles of prime beachfront and through a nesting area of the federally protected California least tern. And that concerns some folks:
Carol Katona, a Venice resident walking her dog Ginger, said she was mostly concerned about the birds.

"If the string is kind of invisible, I don't want to be finding injured birds around because they're flying into it," Katona said. If the Pacific Jewish Center "puts up things that mark it for the birds, then that's trashing up the place. If you try to fix it so the birds can see it, then we can see it, and that wouldn't be OK with me."
I hate busy-bodies like Katona, by the way. Instead of finding charm in something like an eruv and wanting to do something to help people, she sides with birds. What a bird brain.

That thinking dominated the Coastal Commission staff, and the LAT article said the staff recommended against the proposal. But MIRACLE!, the new staff report now recommends for approval.

But don't think Jehovah slammed the Commission staff with lHis mighty arm, leaving them groveling in the corner. It must have been more like a wrestling match that ended in a draw because the approval recommendation comes with a ton of conditions:
  • The approval is only good for three years, but can be extended.
  • "Bird incidents" must be reported to the California Department of Fish & Game and the US Fish & Wildlife Service.
  • Downed lines, which presumably would cause us dumb humans to stop in our tracks, denying us beach access, must be reported to the Commission.
  • Visual impacts must be mitigated -- poles holding up the wire must be painted to minimize their visibility using a Commission-approved color scheme.
  • A pole maintenance company must be named and be available on 24-hour notice.
  • The poles and lines must be removed if it is determined they caused damage to an endangered species.
Some wrestling match! Rabbi Geiger of Pacific Jewish Center must be very happy.

God, however, must be very exhausted.

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