I’m honored to be recognized in Monterey County Weekly’s 25th anniversary issue as one of 25 leaders who “helped get Monterey County to now.” Thank you to those of you who have supported LandWatch over the years and helped improve the political and geographic landscape of Monterey County.
Mike DeLapa, 57
Mike DeLapa fell hard and fast for Monterey – as hard and fast as he had for Oregon, where he spent three years starting in 1980 running the Columbia River Estuary Taskforce. He saw how much Oregonians were willing to fight to preserve the natural wonders around them; when he came to Monterey 1989 as general manager of Sea Studios, he took a long look around and found, to his horror, that Monterey County was on the verge of becoming another Los Angeles County: Sprawl was about to abound.
He and a small group of friends kicked around DeLapa’s idea of launching an organization to advocate for smart growth and smart land-use policies. He and his wife, Rebecca Shaw, managed to raise $10,000 and launched LandWatch Monterey County.
Throughout the struggles to bring the idea to life, DeLapa always kept in mind the words of former Oregon Gov. Tom McCall, a Republican who fought to keep Oregon from being sprawled to death.
McCall, by then dying, was battling a third initiative aimed at repealing a preservation law he had enacted. On the campaign trail, McCall said this: “If this initiative passes, I might as well have done nothing at all,” DeLapa recalls.
“It was a huge statement,” DeLapa says. “I always think, ‘What would Tom McCall do?’”