San Rafael Newspointer
Dwaye Hunn, unedited version 7-23-1991
Last week Joe started his long weekend at the Positvely 4th Street bar where he started talking with two idealistic grad school graduates, Tommy Enthuse and Benny Design, about their desire to move to Marvelous Marin. After a half-time trip to 4th Street’s designer bathroom and the phone, he returns to his bar stool.
“Did you get through to your friend?” chirpy Tommy asked.
“Got his answering machine again. It says he left an hour ago to meet me, which means he’s probably trying to be environmental and ride his bike here from Mill Valley.”
“Yeah, well, if he’s not here in about 20 minutes it probably means someone ran him off of the bike pathless San Rafael hill and the ambuilance picking him up will polllute more than his little car would have.” Joe added, as he continued his aluminnum recycling campaign.
“So what did you mean about us having to soon become important players with Lucas or Autodesk in order for people like us to live here?” Tommy asked, resuming their earlier discussion.
“Fellows, over the last ten years only 350 of you outsiders a year have been allowed to move into this county. The average single family detached house sells for about $390,000, the average condo for about $190,000. The agenda calls for less of you outsiders to be allowed to move in, more expensive housing and more freeway commuting by workers coming into Marin.”
“Well, someone must be working on changing that.” Tommy said, as he showed his first frown of the day.
“Most polls and elections indicate that Marinites like doing business as usual. Most observers feel that the so-called Marin environmentalists control the electoral process by pontificating on the merits of preserving mice rather than air quality and people. And most politicians prefer to follow the polls, lead the mice and remain elected.” Joe responded.
For once the bubbly one did not have an instant reply, so Joe continued. “Now if you guys were policy makers with Lucas or Autodesk or their friends whose products train today’s kids so they can fly F-15’s and plant the images in grown up minds of what our world should be, then you could change that. You and those like you could have a chance to live around here.”
“Explain.” quiet Benny said.
“In days of yore, people and particularly people of impact probably read a lot more than most people do today. From their readings, they generated their own pictures in their own shoulder mounted computer of how things could or should be. They probably walked in the park, in the fields or in their neighborhood under that thought-provoking blue sky to embellish on those heady ideas. Often they then took those ideas and made them happen for the benefit of the larger community. Today, after being stuck in single occupant vehicle traffic, driving to the store, child care center, hither-and-yon, and working a hectic day trying to figure out how to get through their personal and work-life bureaucracy; they want the picture of how things should or could be drawn for them. After it’s drawn for them, they want someone else to take the time to implement it.”
“Are you suggesting that image makers can provide the answers to affordable housing, traffic and air quality problems?” Tommy asked.
“Look, in a county where 88% of the land cannot be developed and where the neighboring county wants to move toward setting most of its land outside of development, there are two places for young bloods like you to live compatibly with the environment and without being indentured servants. One is in the already developed urban cities. The other is in mixed-use, village settings along the rail line.”
“That’s the obvious, logical and environmentally sensitive answer that we work on in grad school often. Why isn’t it being done here?” the quiet designer asked.
“When implementing such ideas are proposed, a handful of influenital people distort what the results would be and it is killed.
Lucas, Autodesk and others could take the Northbay Rail Line and envision how sensitive, environmental planning along that corridor could provide a rail oriented future with jobs and housing balanced through a series of mixed-use villages linked to commercial, retail and light idnustry developed along the rail line. Clean, partially solar powered trains linked to demand responsive vans and interconnected ground travel could be part of the electronic visioning. Today’s traffic, unaffordable housing mess could be envisioned as tomorrow’s community planned for the environment and people. Electronic wizzardy is needed to get people to understand and support the doability of that healthy future.”
“Then,” Joe continued, “they could take almost any section of San Rafael — the Paul Street office park or the Albert Park area — use those Autocad programs to show how it is now and then show how adding some 2nd and 3rd story living spaces could provide affordable housing and a community to the unused air space above and community-less ground below. Now that air space is just breathing the fumes of those 101 commuters who could be affordably renting and owning and birthing a community in a downtown within walking distance of shops, parks and jobs.”
“You think Lucas, Autodesk, Industrial Light and Magic and their friends are interested in doing something like that?” Tommy Enthuse quietly asked.
“Somewhat interested. But they need a couple hot shots like you guys to get it going. Why don’t you ask them on Monday?.. Excuse me, I’ve got to use my other head again and call to see if my friend is in some roadside ditch.” Joe said as he carried his aluminum canteen to the back of the bar.
When not working on Northbay Ecumenical Housing (NEH), North Bay Transportation Management Association (NBTMA) or trying to put a solar powered train on the tracks, Dwayne sometimes rides his bike to help Joe recycle aluminum.