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April 2002

The Zany World of Politics

By Judy Borello

On March 19, I attended the meeting of the Marin County Board of Supervisors pertaining to the EAH affordable housing proposed for smack dab in the middle of the historical downtown area of Point Reyes Station.

I have always contended in this column that as right as the project appears to be, it is proposed for the wrong location. My contention is based upon the following thoughtful reasoning:

1) This project would gobble up all the remaining commercial property available for the town's future growth.

2) It would congest the town even more than it already is and add one-third to the town's population in one fell swoop.

3) Housing development of any kind, be it low-cost, mid-cost, or high-cost, should be built on the perimeters of the town, as was done with the Coast Guard Housing, which also was originally planned for the same land on which the proposed EAH project will be built.

4) The most important reason of all, the hillside that this project would sit on leaks like a sieve in winter when there is heavy rainfall. This could possibly inundate the village, creeks, and our most beloved Tomales Bay with effluent from the septic systems and leachfields due to the 100 toilets being flushed on an average of four to five times a day.

It would be a far better idea to give landowners some type of financial incentive to build second units with a signed agreement that the owners would keep the rents reasonable for working families. With this type of handling, the affordable housing problem would be spread out over all our small communities- Inverness, Olema, Marshall, Tomales, Bolinas, etc. -rather than a conglomerate which has accepted federal funds and which, more than likely, will not allow many locals to live there due to federal discrimination laws.

At the March 19 meeting at the Civic Center there were approximately 30 speakers with a 50-50 split of those for the project without reservation, and those of us with major concerns. The major concerns were the septic and run-off which could cause potential problems.

The female speaker, whose name I do not recall, whom I found to be most distasteful was from the League of Women Voters, an organization that previously assisted in conducting a vote here in Point Reyes Station at the Red Barn on the proposed project. When this speaker stated that seven thousand votes were counted and most were for the project, I was angered again, just as I was when I first heard this after the vote was taken. I spent hours at that Red Barn polling some of the voters, and found there were some from as far away as San Francisco, Sonoma County, Larkspur, San Rafael, and other locations. I felt taken then, as I do now, that Point Reyes Station, a little town of some 1,000 people, was raped by the hordes from "over the hill." If you lived in a hovel in San Francisco, wouldn't you just love to have an apartment renting for $500 in beautiful downtown Point Reyes Station by Tomales Bay? It was so indecent it just stunk, and most of the community-minded people thought so also.

At the Supervisors' meeting, I was totally amused by the statements of Phil Fradkin, a history buff who has written books on the history of various places. I don't have his quote down perfectly, but he was literally accusing "us" (the people who had concerns about the project's septic issues), as being "Henny Pennys." If memory serves me correctly, at a meeting at the Dance Palace some years ago concerning the Grandi Building, this same history buff stood up and stated that he was for tearing down this most historical focal point in our town as he was scared to even walk near it because of the chance of a brick falling and hitting him on the head or injuring him in some way. Well, folks, if that isn't "Henny Penny," I don't know what is!

When Mila Caceres spoke, she mentioned the fact that it was a done deal before we ever got there, and this took a lot of courage on her part to say. I could hear guffaws from people seated behind me indicating they felt her statement was ridiculous. These "guffawers" must be either naive or just playing stupid, as it is a sad but well known fact that behind-closed-doors dealings is common among politicians. Sometimes it works for us, sometimes against us, depending upon what side of the fence we're on at the time. As a member of the general public, it is very disturbing to know that the politicians we have elected are merely patronizing us-letting us spill our guts at a public meeting when they have actually made their decision in regard to the issue way before hearing. Once in a while we may luck out by having undeniable proof in support of our position or a room filled with enough citizens that makes it impossible for the politicians to ignore such evidence and are forced to take heed since their political careers may be at stake.

All I can say is it's not over 'til it's over and the fat lady sings, because there are more hurdles to come and if this project does goes through, we will be able to congratulate ourselves for making sure that it is safe for our community. I will say that most of the people who are in favor of the housing project do care very much about our town and do not want it harmed. There are only a few who want this housing at any cost-be it financial or environmental.

P.S. Folks, go see Teatro Zimzanni playing near Pier 29 in the city, It's absolutely marvelous entertainment, food and fun! Totally Zany!

 

 

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