George Lucas forces housing plan forward

George Lucas middle-fingered his mega-rich NIMBY neighbors this week by unveiling a partnership with the Marin Community Foundation, following up on his vow to build low-income housing on Grady Ranch.

For 25 years, Lucas had been trying to build a state-of-the-art 260,000-square-foot Mission-style production studio on the picturesque site just east of Skywalker Ranch in Lucas Valley. But he withdrew his plans last month after many years of vigilant resistance from his movie-magic-hating NIMBY neighbors. Skywalker Properties issued a statement at the time that said:

“The level of bitterness and anger expressed by the homeowners in Lucas Valley has convinced us that, even if we were to spend more time and acquire the necessary approvals, we would not be able to maintain a constructive relationship with our neighbors.”

The statement went on to say:

“The land will revert back to its original use for residential housing. We hope we will be able to find a developer who will be interested in low income housing since it is scarce in Marin.”

Scarce by design, it is. Housing prices in Marin are among the highest in the nation. Lucas Valley neighbors are saying that affordable housing developments could never work in such a remote, environmentally sensitive place like Grady Ranch.

Now, in an effort to jump the plans into hyperspace, Lucas has chosen to pass on what he has learned.

Thomas Peters, president and CEO of the Marin Community Foundation, which promotes and funds affordable housing and economic equity opportunities in Marin, told The Chron yesterday:

“One of the incredible offers that Mr. Lucas made is that he would make available the extensive technical studies that have been done on that land, including water, topography, creek access and other engineering data that would give us a head start and help us determine whether senior or affordable housing can be built there.”

According to HuffPo, a board member of the Lucas Valley Estates Homeowners Association claims to have received death threats. The organization’s Facebook page is covered with angry comments, calling them “a bunch of NIMBY morons,” at best.

In response to such comments, the association stated on their website:

“These comments are unfortunate. All citizens and neighborhoods have the right to submit comments or request reviews on developments that significantly impact their immediate environment. This is a normal and standard process.”

Liz Dale, president of the association told the Associated Press:

“We don’t want to describe it as good news or bad news, but I can understand why another location would be better for this type of facility.”

Walnut Creek’s city manager has already sent Lucas a letter asking him to consider building his production studio there. Mayor Bob Simmons told the CoCo Times:

“I think the qualities Walnut Creek has to offer clearly give us a good shot… It would bring a whole different dimension to Walnut Creek.”