Star Trek changed everything, as William Shatner once reminded us in a classic routine about Star Wars, but one thing neither sci-fi world could change was the NIMBYism of Marin County, California. Despite the fact that George Lucas is perhaps Marin’s pre-eminent citizen, prolonged local opposition to his proposal to build a new film studio on his large ranch land has led him finally to let out a Wookie-howl and abandon the project and build it somewhere else. The local Marin NIMBYs have been blocking Lucas’s expansion plans at every turn for more than 20 years, despite concessions and modifications to minimize the impact his studio facilities would have, such as permanently preserving 95 percent of his land as open space, and spending multiple millions to restore a local stream.
But as Trek taught us, revenge is a dish best served cold, and Lucas is going to let his land revert to its original zoned purpose—residential development. But not just any residential development: low-income housing. That should put a few foul bubbles in Marin hot tubs. (These are the folks, after all, who opted out of the BART rail transit system back in the 1970s because You Know Who rides the subway.)
From Lucas’s statement:
We realize our solution to creating open space by placing low-impact commercial facilities on farmland, while permanently preserving over 95% of the total acreage, has not been accepted by our neighbors. Nor are they or many of the public agencies interested in the $50-70M restoration of the stream. Maybe we’re ahead of our time.
We plan to sell the Grady property expecting that 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. If everyone feels that housing is less impactful on the land, then we are hoping that people who need it the most will benefit.
It’s the ultimate revenge of the Jedi against the Sith lords of Marin. Lucas is even going to give all of his site planning work to developers to help speed their process. Heh. May the Force be with them. They’ll need it against the Marin mystics.