Their Ocean

Can wealthy developers and business execs do for the environment what grassroots activists havent?

Makarechian says this kind of coalition building is precisely what makes miocean critical to OC's environmental future. "So many of these problems are cross-jurisdictional, so that one city or agency cannot solve them alone," he says. "That's the value of our team's expertise. We come up with plans that work."

That's encouraging, although the track record of these public/private, government/developer partnerships has not always shown benefit to the environment. To some, miocean's rustic-looking press kit—with the understated lower-case logo presented on ridged cardboard by the PR firm Ogilvy & Mather's Beverly Hills office—looks like it hides wolves in printed-on-recycled-paper-with-soy-ink clothing. They suspect miocean is just the same OC good-old-boys network, using these cleanup projects to protect current investments and justify further development down the road.

"They are just eco-frontmen, shills for the St. Regis," charges Roger von Butow, the longtime local environmental warrior who heads the Clean Water Now! Coalition. "They are wing-tipped, armchair semi-activists. They have some faux enviros but are committed to Republican politicos in Dana Point."

The story goes that miocean was founded by Dana Point attorney John Moody after he contracted a serious staph infection while surfing at Doheny Beach; most members of miocean live along the South County coastline. Further, the future of some of OC's most valuable resort property is threatened by water pollution in the area.

"The St. Regis and the Ritz-Carlton are freaked by pollution coming at them from both sides," von Butow points out. "San Juan Creek and Salt Creek are both toast."

Then again, one of the biggest obstacles to environmentalism is the misconception that it is, or ought to be, based on altruism. The best environmentalism is the highest form of selfishness—what could be more self-centered than demanding clean water, air and earth?—which may be the point that miocean is mining in its own dollars-and-cents way.

"When a beach is closed by pollution, it has an impact on income," says Bizzack, "in addition to the health of kids and families."

For more information contact miocean, 3 Park Plaza, Suite 1490, Irvine, 92614. (949) 252-2853. www.miocean.org.

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