Monday, February 23, 2015

My Evening in Marin City with a "Facilitator" for Massive Redevelopment

Marin City residents talk about the community they love.

My Evening in Marin City with a "Facilitator" for Massive Redevelopment

Marin City meets slick "Facilitators" who will help find "Community Consensus" before they start Knocking down buildings. 

I took Royce McLemore up on her invitation to attend tonight's meeting on "the future of housing" in Marin City. I brought my video equipment to tape but didn't bring it out because I felt too much of an outsider and I really just wanted to listen and learn.

The community room was packed with people and they had a nice meal from Outback steak house for everyone.  A big semi circle of tables were situated at the back of the room with name tags for a massive advisory council of residents and "interested parties".   The discussion for the evening was about the future of "Golden Gate Village". the large public housing designed by Aaron Green, the same architect who supervised the building of the Civic Center.

The facilitator and his team had all of the typical tools of the trade.  He assured everyone that "everybody's input is important" and "we want to make sure we hear from everybody"  and at the end of the process, "we will decide as a group what is best for the community"   We have seen this process over and over again .  It is called "consensus building" by planners, we call it "Delphi manipulation" to achieve an appearance of community choice.

I stayed silent for the evening, observing.  The audience, 95% African American, spoke with great feeling about its history, family and good times. Many trace their roots to the old South and grandparents came to build ships for World War II.   I don't think I have seen a tighter knit community anywhere in Marin.  

The audience was shrewd and peppered the facilitator with questions. Many were suspicious of the plans and remembered bad experiences with redevelopment in Fillmore in San Francisco. They fear that they will be ejected from their homes and forced to live in Oakland and Antioch.  A lot spoke they have "no where else to go" if they are forced to leave. even if it is temporary it will shred their community.  Like many people throughout Marin, they consider Marin their home and feel privileged to live here. 

The facilitator announced that a "working group" had formed to help decide what is" best" for the greater community.  Of the 25 members only 3 or 4 actually live in Golden Gate village.  Many felt that it should be at least 2/3 residents for a fair outcome.   The audience had caught on to one of the first tricks of the planners to stuff shills into the audience and on voting committees.

The planner said that Golden Gate Village is just the first "phase" of the project but they will be talking about ALL of Marin City.

As many of us know, Marin City is one of the few "Priority Development Areas" left in Marin.  It will mean a massive "densification"  and population increase (perhaps another 10,000 people?)  

The African American facilitator has worked in Chicago, Cleveland, San Francisco Hunter's Point and all over the country.  He was articulate, charming and dangerous.   

Royce spoke passionately about preserving the community and the beautiful architecture, the people, the history.  Her vision is to enhance the beauty of the place and making it better in contrast to knocking buildings down displacing thousands and shredding their community.

Each of the golden gate building were upzoned from 40 units per acre to 60 units an acre.  This means, they will be coming down or the generous living area between buildings will become new apartments.

I am convinced once the word gets out across Marin City, they will be the most determined foe of developers and politicians. They have a deep abiding love for their community, have deep familial ties and will not give up. This is a land war.

The battle of Marin isn't the battle against housing.  It is a battle for our communities and our beautiful landscape.  Marin City is an important city to watch and lend our support.  We share a common enemies of a powerful over reaching government and crony development. 

We shall save Marin again!

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