The Coastal Post - September 2000

Never-Never Land

By Judy Borello

On the evening of Monday, Aug. 14, I attended a meeting at the Dance Palace in Pt. Reyes Station. It mainly addressed the concerns of the community toward the Environmental Impact Report for the proposed affordable housing project right smack in the middle of the commercial part of town. The project will require rezoning the property and amend the Countywide Plan, Pt. Reyes Community Plan, and Local Coastal Plan. Why have these plans if, at any time at the County's whim, they can change the rules depending on who's in office and where his or her personal agenda lies.

Take this project and wanting to change the rules so that there can be more density of buildings, and then compare that with the dilemma of the private property owner who is allowed under present zoning to legally have three homes on the property yet the county tells the owner of the property that in order to build one home on his land, he has to extinguish his other two building rights. On one hand, they (the county) are taking someone's rights away and, on the other hand, they are giving more land use rights than what the rules allow because of a personal perception. The county sits on its little throne awaiting the lawsuits that are sure to come because of people being denied their legal land use rights and the inconsistency of their judgment calls in denying or approving a whole array of projects. And now the "new" innovative idea is to form committees on everything from agriculture, septic, the Tomales watershed, the Park, and so on. The problem is that most of the people assigned to these committees are not adept or truly educated on what they're assigned to do. It's like me telling a mechanic how to fix his car.

I felt that David Sox, a Coast Guard environmental protection specialist was very eloquent when describing his concerns of storm runoff flowing into the Coast Guard housing facility and whether the runoff might carry effluent from the projected new houses' leach fields.

Pat Healy, owner of the Station House Cafe, the Taqueria, and the Gray Whale Pizzeria was very adamant in her concerns over noise and light pollution and dogs running loose.

Jeanette Pontacq, a Pt. Reysin (pronounced raisin) was stunning in her heartfelt concerns over the traffic not just in the immediate township but on the outskirts of Mesa and Cypress roads, which are speedways (dangerous) now let alone with any more substantial traffic.

As I was listening to these people, I was thinking to myself that this town deserves so much better than this project. Overnight it will drastically boost the population by one third to one half and most of the people who want it live in other towns which is really unfair. And then it dawned on me, since the institution of the Federal Parks, almost 80,000 acres strong, the land around it has gone up so high that middle-class working people around here cannot afford a home hereabouts.

I contend that the National Park owes it to this community to give up 200 acres of its over-abundant parkland that it can't afford to keep up without going to the public sector for donations. Two hundred acres is a drop in the bucket compared to the 80,000 acres and what a neighborly good deed it would be.

Even if EAH had to spend a million dollars to acquire this land, think of the people they could house on 200 acres instead of 19 acres as proposed in the current project. The homes and apartments could be clustered properly and not overwhelming to any single West Marin town.

I ran this thought by Dave Mitchell, editor of the Point Reyes Light Newspaper, and he told me that the Park would never relinquish any land and I went home and pondered more about it. I thought to myself that "never" is not in my vocabulary. I was never supposed to live when I suffered an aneurysm over a year ago, and I did! I was never supposed to walk again and I do! And I was told that we (two thirds of the West Marin ranchers) would never beat the Woolsey bill that would take our lands to expand the Park, and we prevailed!

I am sure that with enough people from every group or contingency around West Marin, we could enlist the Park to help in a dilemma that they helped cause.

We could put together environmentalists, ranchers, business owners, and some of the local citizenry of West Marin to be high-spirited, determined, and positive energy to make this happen. All it takes is the vision. Believe in it, work at it, and anything is possible.

P.S. I believe the county, which is now saying that the ranchers can have B&B;'s on their land but they can't rent out their homes, is a farce extraordinaire. First of all, the county would collect the monthly T.O.T. (hotel tax) of ten percent monthly from the B&B;'s gross income. And since the county is over 50 percent off the tax role due to federal, state, and county parks, they have to think of new ways to get more revenue. And with affordable housing such an important issue, it sure reeks of lunacy that the county would stop a rancher on private land from renting out his or her house. And yet it's perfectly okay to have a B&B; which uses much more water and sewage, and creates even more traffic. How absurd it is!

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