Marin City tenants’ plan deserves a fair shake

Updated: Jun 2, 2018

POSTED: 03/18/18, 1:50 PM PDT

Author: Royce McLemore

Publication: Marin Independent Journal: Marin Voice

Royce McLemore and Daniel Ruark walk through Golden Gate Village in Marin City, Calif. on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017. The neighborhood has recently been given historical landmark status. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal)


As residents of Golden Gate Village, we have worked hard for the past four years to develop an alternative plan that responds to our needs and creates a path to a sustainable future:

• A plan based on federal precedents, identifying expertise/resources outside of HUD’s current funding sources.

• A plan vetted by people excellent in the industry, including project managers, architects and scientists. Not only did they deem our plan feasible, and a cost savings, they applauded the innovation that would allow us to stay in place, contribute to the work being done, and avoid all too common gentrification.

Golden Gate Village is a designated historic district that needs green renovation and retrofitting to preserve both “people and place.” The Resident Plan targets reinvigoration of the local economy as organic growth strategy.

We employ existing residents through apprenticeships in clean enterprises, manufacturing and installing renovations. It is a shared growth plan as opposed to the sell-off of land and import of wealth typically seen in redevelopment and prominent in the Marin Housing Authority’s developer-driven plan.

We bring back the legacy of Marinship local economy with workers working, making living wages!

It is quite clear the housing authority has all intentions to tear down Golden Gate Village and overbuild our neighborhood, with an additional 100-150 units, taking away the very nature of place that makes us a true part of Marin County.

The housing authority is using the “guise” that residents do not want to leave Marin City, so it says it must build and says no one will be displaced. However, purposeful negligence of the property is designed to create permission to condemn vs. rehabilitate.

It is common knowledge that building in areas the housing authority is targeting will destroy underground infrastructure, artificially justifying loss of open space.

It is pure politics and the worst face of redevelopment that needs to stay in the last century.

If “tear down and replace” is allowed to go forward it will further a disparate impact in Marin City. We are 300 percent more dense than neighboring cities, having borne the burden of many “tax credit funded developments.” To tear down historic architecture and build more density will destroy what the National Historic Register just protected. Yes, destroying both “people and place.”

Residents cannot approve any plan that came out of a process that was not fair.

The working group vetting process was supposed to equally vet two plans.

It didn’t.

It was supposed to look at the feasibility and cost of two plans.

It didn’t.

It was supposed to be resident-led.

It wasn’t.

Lastly, since 2014, we’ve kept Rep. Jared Huffman in the loop. On two occasions, he told our team that if Golden Gate Village was placed on the National Register, he would do all that he could to find federal dollars for renovations.

We continue to help him keep that promise.

We simply request he follow up to designate Golden Gate Village as a special project of National Renewable Energy Lab, reproducing the Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building in Grand Junction, Colorado where an historic building was restored and improved with a focus on green technology and energy efficiency.

Our congressman has told us he is waiting on an agreement between the housing authority and residents.

*Royce McLemore is president of the Golden Gate Village Residents’ Council and a former member of the Marin Housing Authority board.

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