The Coastal Post - July, 1998

Development Hypocrisy Leads the Way

By Judy Borello

It is amazing to me how much an elitist attitude mixed with socialistic values can lead the way to our decision-making in West Marin.

For instance, a few years back, Mr. Varlow wanted to build one home on his 90 acres of land approximately four miles to the north of Pt. Reyes Station and many miles south of the town of Marshall.

Granted the home planned to be built was large (6,000 sq. ft.), it was landscaped so it was well-hidden and was nowhere close to a village of smaller homes, so as to overpower them.

Nevertheless, even though he was in his rights to build one house on 90 acres, the mentality (political) was that the home was out of keeping for the town of Marshal, which was miles away and had no direct impact on the town. In fact, one of the homes in close proximity to the Varlow home, about a quarter to a half mile away, was at least a 4,000 sq. ft. home.

Now, in the heart of the business community of Pt. Reyes Station, there is a potential plan to possibly build 50 structures on 19 acres of land. The same people who killed the Varlow home on 90 acres of land will probably support 50 structures on 19 acres in the middle of a very small village.

Of course, the catch word is "low-cost housing," with a $48,000 a year income to qualify.

My point is that to begrudge a man one large home on 90 acres of open space and support 50 structures on 19 acres in the middle of a town with a population of 300+ people-this new plan could add 100-200 people just like that-is distorted judgment. The community had the foresight years ago to place the Coast Guard base on the perimeter of the town, well hidden from view!

Another issue that seems to be very unbalanced in judgment calls is the one that lends Invernesians the right to say "No" to any home being built on the east shore of Tomales Bay because the potential home could be in their viewshed two miles away. Of course, the east shore residents have to look at the west shore's multitude of domes, which poke out a lot more since the fire, and at night Inverness and its adjacent hillsides look like a mammoth Christmas tree glowing ever so brightly. In Sonoma County, I have heard that if a neighbor doesn't want his fellow neighbor to build a structure that impedes his viewshed, he pays for it which in just compensation for the one neighbor giving up his property rights and not building on his own property.

This sense of fairness should be adapted post-haste in West Marin so that one side of the bay can't control with this elitist attitude what I can build and you can't and too bad if you paid a lot of money for your land and continue to pay taxes on it. As far as the elitists are concerned you and your property can sit there and rot, and if you go broke in the meantime, that is your problem.

Another big issue is the Parkland Protection Bill along the east shore of Tomales Bay. Many people are disenchanted with the national park in our area for various reasons. The ranchers, because their herds could be diminished and they are very insecure that even though the original Congressional bill protects them and agriculture as a first priority, they never know if their lease will be canceled in the future.

The dog lovers are upset because there's no beach where they can allow their dogs to run free. The horse lovers because the park is disallowing many of the stables which conveniently let people ride in the park.

Many locals are fed up with the fact that funding to upkeep its 80,000 acres is very minimal and that they have to go to the private sector for donations, while still seeking more land at the taxpayers expense. As Congressman Young put it so succinctly in Congress, "It's a self-feeding cancer." Then why do the same people who see the writing on the wall want to force the ranchers into more of the park?

A June 18th editorial in the Pt. Reyes Light claims that Ken Fox, president of the Tomales Bay Association and chief operator for the Inverness Public Utilities District, who has 15 years experience simulating leaks and is familiar with water-quality issues as well, did not notify the Inverness public for six weeks that the water system which he operates had water quality failure. In a Water Quality Notice, released six weeks after tests from early April to mid-May were showing high total coliform counts, says that the IPUD acknowledged such coliform bacteria can cause "disease symptoms that may include diarrhea, cramps, nausea, and fatigue."

Why this is so inexcusable and hypocritical is because Ken Fox has been an environmental zealot in our area for years. Pointing the finger at community citizens with mean-spirited accusations of being a polluter, he's trying to back up his perceived facts with twisted half-truths, distorted facts and libelous public statements.

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