Via the NYT (hat tip: Leslie – bolded emphasis added by me):
SAN RAFAEL, Calif. — In 1978, a year after “Star Wars” was released, George Lucas began building his movie production company far from Hollywood, in the quiet hills and valley of Marin County here just north of San Francisco. Starting with Skywalker Ranch, the various pieces of Lucasfilm came together over the decades behind the large trees on his 6,100-acre property, invisible from the single two-lane road that snakes through the area.
And even as his fame grew, Mr. Lucas earned his neighbors’ respect through his discretion. Marin, one of America’s richest counties, liked it that way.
But after spending years and millions of dollars, Mr. Lucas abruptly canceled plans recently for the third, and most likely last, major expansion, citing community opposition. An emotional statement posted online said Lucasfilm would build instead in a place “that sees us as a creative asset, not as an evil empire.”
If the announcement took Marin by surprise, it was nothing compared with what came next. Mr. Lucas said he would sell the land to a developer to bring “low income housing” here.
“It’s inciting class warfare,” said Carolyn Lenert, head of the North San Rafael Coalition of Residents.
Mr. Lucas said in an e-mail that he only wanted “to do something good for Marin,” waving away accusations of ulterior motives.
“I’ve been surprised to see some people characterize this as vindictive,” he said, adding that there was a “real need” for affordable housing here. “I wouldn’t waste my time or money just to try and upset the neighbors.”
Whatever Mr. Lucas’s intentions, his announcement has unsettled a county whose famously liberal politics often sits uncomfortably with the issue of low-cost housing and where battles have been fought over such construction before. His proposal has pitted neighbor against neighbor, who, after failed peacemaking efforts over local artisanal cheese and wine, traded accusations in the local newspaper.
The staunchest opponents of Lucasfilm’s expansion are now being accused of driving away the filmmaker and opening the door to a low-income housing development. That has created an atmosphere that one opponent, who asked not to be identified, saying she feared for her safety, described as “sheer terror” and likened to “Syria.”
Carl Fricke, a board member of the Lucas Valley Estates Homeowners Association, which represents houses nearest to the Lucas property, said: “We got letters saying, ‘You guys are going to get what you deserve. You’re going to bring drug dealers, all this crime and lowlife in here.’ ”
For those of you who don’t know much about Marin County, CA – it’s political make-up is not just left leaning. It is dominated by liberals:
Marin County tended to vote Republican for most of the 20th century (from 1948 to 1980, the only Democrat to win there was Lyndon Johnson in 1964). However, the county has become a stronghold of the Democratic Party in recent decades. Out of California counties, only San Francisco County and Alameda County voted more Democratic in the 2008 Presidential election, all three counties voted more heavily for Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama than Cook County, Ill., Obama’s home county.
According to the California Secretary of State, as of January 5, 2010, Marin County has 148,723 registered voters, out of 181,918 eligible (81.75%). Of those, 81,589 (54.86%) are registered Democrats, 29,088 (19.56%) are registered Republicans, 6,141 (4.13%) are registered with other political parties, and 31,905 (21.45%) have declined to state a political party.
And the city of San Rafael:
San Rafael is a stronghold of the Democratic Party. As of January 5, 2010, there were 28,169 registered voters in San Rafael, of which 15,646 (55.54%) were Democrats, 5,516 (19.58%) were Republicans and 5,932 (21.06%) declined to state a political party.
Now, speaking from a non-political perspective, I can certainly understand their concerns about the possibility for crime escalation, not to mention property values taking a hit. But looking at this from the viewpoint of a conservative Republican who has – along other conservatives across this country – been slammed for years by bleeding heart liberal Democrats as turning our noses up at the poor, I have to laugh at all the drama going on in Marin County between Democrats over the very thought (horrors!) of low income housing being built in the liberal haven of San Rafael.
What happened to the spirit of “diversity” and ”peace, love and harmony”, anyway?