The Coastal Post - March, 1997

Home Safe Home


Marin Affordable Housing Problem-A Certain Solution

Marin County's affordable housing shortage runs across the county and deep into the past, but perhaps at no other time has the situation been more tragic than today, when our county tops the list as the richest county in America.

An estimated 15% of county residents, that is, 36,000 people, must live in so-called "affordable housing." These thousands of people perhaps do not call their homes "sweet home," but at least we have some shelter from the stormy elements of the weather. These shelter homes gives us some protection from the social disease of homelessness, and of total poverty and rejection by the society at large.

Thousands of less fortunate people cannot afford even the "affordable" housing any longer. Further, as the socio-economic gap widens, the county is enforcing a social cleansing, so there are only the economic hybrids living in the perfectly legal new homes and mansions on the sunny side of hills with picturesque views, while the not-so-new, the imperfect, "illegal" homes, people and places are being cleaned off the map, creating more park for the hybrids and tourists to enjoy.

On February 6, the West Marin Chamber of Commerce met in Pt, Reyes at a well-attended, vibrant meeting to work out some ways to ease the chronic housing shortage in West Marin.

The first proposed solution to housing problems was to build more units. Yet we've learned that new galaxies evolve faster than we build units. The town of Pt. Reyes managed to build, I think, 10 or so units in the last 30 years.

Comparing this figure to population growth, and decline in earnings against housing costs, we clearly see we are fast regressing. The solution, at this time, is ineffective and socially dangerous, and economically and politically irresponsible.

The second "really brilliant" solution, (?) to least hold down the decline, if not improve, housing, is simply not destroy what we have.

These various homes, however far from ideal, have housed countless thousands of people, especially the young, who go through the process of eventually having their own home and family.

But as we are sheltered and safe from the weather, we are unsafe from abuse by our local government's planning department and community development agency. The enforcement squad is pursuing a county cleansing. Under the guise of developing, with their fast-growing, already-excessive book of codes and ordinances, fees and penalties, they label us and our homes, as public nuisances. Further, by financial squeeze, harassment, intimidation, or plainly arrogant, inhumane threats of physical destruction, they ruin people's nerves, lives, disturb families, livelihood, cohesion of our communities and county diversity. All in the name of progress of developing community

And we, intelligent, respectful citizens, residents of this land of the free and of this progressive, richest county in America permit the aforesaid abuse, and further, pay for it!

We go to a great lengths, financial and political, to develop habitation for the coyote or the seals, while we destroy habitat of our own kind.

Too busy, I know. Too busy to think and ponder. Too busy to defend our own nest. Too busy making ends meet. I know, I am guilty of being too busy, permitting my life and home to be endangered.

Rejoice, come out! The tide is turning around. We have suffered enough! We need to halt the socio-economic cleansing before we are wiped off the map of Marin. Your presence is essential at the upcoming event, where our homes and shelters will be defended before the court. Change your work shift and make definite plans to be present at the Superior Court, Room L, Civic Center, on March 11 at 8:30 a.m.

The case: Rev. T.W. Silver, plaintiff, vs. Marin County Community Development Agency, defendant. Hon. Judge Lynn Duryee presiding.

After the court hearing, we, the people assembled, will go to the Board of Supervisors chamber, to further advise the Board about our burning concerns.

Landlords, tenants, friends and neighbors, let us take a half a day from saving the universe from too much, and from too hard work. Pack the courtroom. We have have voice, still. But only in unity. Let us celebrate! Please inform concerned persons.