Is George Lucas Inciting Class Warfare With a Proposed Development?

Norimitsu Onishi describes a feud ripe for the pages of a Hollywood script, between movie mogul George Lucas and his wealthy neighbors over his plans to build affordable housing in Marin County.

2 minute read

May 25, 2012, 8:00 AM PDT

By Alesia Hsiao

More than three decades ago, in the years immediately after "Star Wars" was released, George Lucas began to build and expand his movie production empire in Marin, County, one of the richest areas in the nation.  In the face of staunch opposition, Lucas recently decided to call off plans for his third sequel - a major expansion to his studio - with an emotional statement posted online stating Lucasfilm would build instead in a place "that sees us as a creative asset, not as an evil empire." Critics were likely mollified until he made public a major (viewed by some as vindictive) rewrite to his plans - he would sell the land to a developer to build low income housing.

"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."

Moving forward, Lucas will sell Grady Ranch to the Marin Community Foundation (MCF) to develop affordable housing.  Both supporters and opponents seem to have come to terms with the decision.  A project advocate, Jeffrey Tanenbaum said, "It's likely that if affordable housing were to be built in the neighborhood, it would have a negative impact on property value. But that's not a major factor for me. Affordable housing has to go somewhere."

Monday, May 21, 2012 in The New York Times

Satalite image of a bright green lake surrounded by brownish-green land

California’s Largest Natural Lake Turns Green With … Algae

A potentially toxic algal bloom has turned Clear Lake in Northern California bright green, fed by increased runoff from human activity.

June 4, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

Three colorful, large beachfront homes, one khaki, one blue, and one yellow, with a small dune in front and flat sand in foreground.

Florida Homeowners 'Nope Out' of Beach Restoration Over Public Access

The U.S. Corps of Engineers and Redington Shores, Florida are at a standstill: The Corps won’t spend public money to restore private beaches, and homeowners are refusing to grant public access to the beaches behind their home in return for federal assistance.

June 7, 2024 - Grist

Multistory apartment building under construction.

New Tennessee Law Allows No-Cost Incentives for Affordable Housing

Local governments in the Volunteer State can now offer developers incentives like increased density, lower parking requirements, and priority permitting for affordable housing projects.

June 10, 2024 - Nooga Today

Gravel walkway along lake at Earvin Magic Johnson Park in Los Angeles County.

‘Parks After Dark’ Helps LA County Communities Thrive

Los Angeles County's popular Parks After Dark program continues to serve communities in need and offer multiple important benefits, as documented in a recent UCLA study.

15 minutes ago - UCLA Newsroom

Delivery drone holding a brown paper wrapped box hoveringin air with city in background.

Utah Establishes Air Mobility Framework

The program outlines a statewide approach to delivery drones and other air transportation options.

1 hour ago - PR Newswire

Amtrak train at Union Station with Chicago skyline in background.

St. Paul-to-Chicago Borealis Rail Line Launches

The Amtrak service, 12 years in the making, doubles the number of available trips on the corridor.

2 hours ago - Route Fifty

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.