A big issue in Marin is low income housing. Marin liberals feel guilty that they don’t have poor people living near them. Rather than hauling themselves into a nice slum, what they do is use legislative fiat to put poor people into the middle income neighborhoods of Marin. (Interesting, none of these low income houses end up in Marin’s really rich neighborhoods.) Marin has done this low income housing experiment before, most recently in the town of Corte Madera, which was forced by court order (love those activist judges) to build housing for poor people. (And the hell with the marketplace, community norms, or people’s investment in a safe, economically stable community.) A month ago, one of the residents in this court ordered housing was arrested for running a meth clearing house in one of the units. She wasn’t making the stuff, thank God, but she was acting as a middle man.
A similar fight is now shaping up in Novato, the northernmost town in Marin, and the most conservative. Hundreds of people spent their life savings to buy properties in what they anticipated would be a middle class neighborhood, with a “medium dense” population. Novato politicians are now planning to re-zone the entire district for densely packed, low-income housing. People who have already bought in the community are, unsurprisingly, devastated and quite angry. This is a government taking, and they fully understand that.
What few people know, but I’ve been hearing through the Marin political grapevine, is that this is part of a whole plan to turn the Highway 101 corridor into a densely populated, low income community that will vote Democratic in perpetuity. The rezoning goes along with the push to create a light rail (which will work only if there’s a huge volume of poor commuters) and a desalination plant, which is necessary only if the powers that be are contemplating vast increases in Marin’s water demands. These vast increases are tied to a projected growth in population which, in turn, is tied to high density, low-income housing.
If you’re a Marin resident, and you’re contemplating a choice between Democratic incumbent Jared Huffman and Republican opponent Bob Stephens for the California Assembly, and if you like Marin as a safe, affluent, aesthetically appealing community, you might want to think long and hard about making the knee-jerk decision to vote for the Democrat in this election.