On Wednesday April 15, 2015, George Lucas, submitted his plans to build affordable homes on his Marin County estate. Lucas had plans in 2012 to build a film studio on his own property, but neighbors did not approve. His neighbors said they did not want the neighborhood to be viewed as an “Evil Empire.” This is a title he would prefer not to be called. Carolyn Lenert, the head of the North San Rafael Coalition of Residents, said that building low-income homes was “inciting class warfare” and said that he is only suggesting building affordable housing, because his request to build a studio was turned down.
This is the second time Lucas has planned to build homes on his estate, but the first time his partner backed out of the deal. This time, he will be funding the $200 million project himself. 244 low-income homes will be built on 52 acres of the picturesque estate. Lucas’ Bay Area ranch is 1,039 acres, and he has lived there since 1978.
According to Lucas, the area has plenty of millionaires, but not enough affordable housing for the working people. This endeavor is receiving criticism as well, but he only wants to reach out and benefit the people. Over 21,000 of the residents in Marin County are living below the federal poverty line. There is not enough affordable housing in the county for the working class.
120 units will be for low-income, working people whose income is between $65,700 and $101,400 a year. This will be, according to the non-profit organization, PEP Housing. The median income of Marin County is $90,000, according to the Census Bureau. It was these numbers that helped Lucas to make the decision to build affordable homes on the Ranch. The average home in the county costs $1 million. The other 104 units will be for senior citizens. The housing project also includes a community center, an orchard, a pool and a micro-farm.
The project’s application for construction and building permits was submitted April 15, but Lucas is not expecting to break ground until 2018. The project will be west of the famous Skywalker Ranch. Jurassic Park was scored at this ranch, which is 40 minutes from San Francisco.
This project is of great significance to the area. The members of this community have been fighting against affordable housing projects.
Lucas has received threatening letters. These letters tell him that he will get what he deserves. They have also accused him of drawing crime, lowlifes and drug dealers to the community. All he wants to do is benefit his community. He is surprised that some of his neighbors believe he is being vindictive.
This project will fill a true need. There are people who work in Marin County but cannot afford to live there due to their moderate incomes. Lucas guarantees he would not waste his time, money and personal property to get revenge on his neighbors. Damon Connolly, a County Supervisor is concerned the size of the development would alter the Marinwood and Lucas Valley landscapes, figuratively and literally. Another County Supervisor, however, believes that it is a welcomed opportunity. This is also a generous offer to those who will be able to live in Lucas’ affordable homes that he will have built on his estate.
By Jeanette Smith