Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Controversy flared over a proposal heard by the Delta Protection Commission to brand the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta as the “California Delta.”

Editorial: Touchy politics of Delta hijacked branding campaign

Published: Thursday, Jun. 19, 2014 - 12:00 am

Quick quiz: What’s the name of the watery landscape stretching from Sacramento to the San Francisco Bay?

1) The Delta

2) The Bay Delta

3) The California Delta

4) The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

5) All of the above

The correct answer, of course, is 5. That’s because who you are, where you live and your level of awareness of the Delta’s importance determines what you call it.

But seek to put one of those names on a logo? Then things get touchy.

That’s what the Delta Protection Commission found out recently when it stumbled into the increasingly hot politics of the Delta. The commission at its May 22 meeting considered a Delta branding proposal from AugustineIdeas, which had done extensive community review and research to come up four different ideas to promote the Delta’s recreational, environmental and cultural aspects to folks far and wide.

The flashpoint was the suggested use of the brand name “California Delta.” Apparently, using anything other than the official name is troubling to some.

The controversy may seem frivolous, but it does point to the deeper discord surrounding proposed twin tunnels and simmering resentment among Delta stakeholders. But still – no one is talking about changing the official name of the Delta.

On maps and official documents it will remain the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, as it should be. This is about coming up with a brand name that people who couldn’t find San Joaquin River on a map can connect with.

“California is a well-known destination that has been marketed for decades,” said Nicole Bert, spokeswoman for the Delta Protection Commission.

Like Hollywood or Golden Gate, these words are evocative enough that people around the world can “see” the state’s blue skies, sparkling water and unforgettable landscapes in just a few letters. Besides, in a very real way, it is the California Delta – the watery heart of the state whose continued health it relies on it for survival.

To quell the controversy, the commission is seeking public input in the form of a non-scientific online survey though July 7. This begs the question: Why hire professionals if you’re not going to listen to their professional advice?

We think the 15 members of the commission, who include representatives from boards of supervisors of Delta counties, city council members, landowners and state officials such as John Laird, head of the state Natural Resource Agency, are smart and informed enough to make the right decision. Though they can use the survey results as a guide, they should not leave the choice entirely to the results of Internet survey that could be manipulated by a politically motivated few – or even one person with a lot of extra time.

What’s in a name – even a brand name – does matter, especially if it can raise awareness among the many people who rely on this sensitive habitat for their drinking water. It’s a decision that should not be hijacked by politics.

Read more articles by the Editorial Board



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