Preservation proposal is elitist  

Marin Independent Journal June 29, 2001

Marin Voice


I WOULD LIKE to add my thoughts to the Marin Voice printed in the IJ (June 19), titled “A Golden Opportunity of Marin” by Madames Stompe, LeMieux, Salz man and Boessenecker. In this article we are presented with an opportunity of preserving more wildlife wetlands in Marin County.

Before I present my thoughts, I would like to give my background I am 24 years old, raised and living in Marin County, with a white-collar job.

Now, no one is a greater admirer of nature preservation than I.  I believe in the preservation of the rain forests, the restoration of the fish stocks in the world’s oceans and utterly appreciate the bountiful beauty of Marin County’s open space. I support the fact that Marin County is and should remain 83 percent open space, without any development in the open space.

But to insist that we start preserving more land in Marin County, land originally slated for development, outside of the 83 percent already preserved, is going too far.  Where are people supposed to live? Where are the people who do not own their own homes, or cannot afford to buy a home in Marin County, supposed to live? Has anyone checked out the rent rates in Marin County lately, if you can even find a place to rent? Has anyone surveyed how expensive it is to live in Marin County? Well maybe these ladies should look into the cost and availability of housing before wondering how to preserve more land for the Marin Baylands Wildlife Refuge.

With more and more work shifting to the North Bay, and more young people wanting to live in Marin, how are they supposed to afford to live in our county? If Marin is to grow and prosper, we need more affordable housing in already established areas such as San Rafael, Larkspur and Novato. Instead of talking about including more land in the Marin Baylands Wildlife Refuge, maybe we ought to think about how to make development of housing more available without ruining the natural beauty of Marin.

To bring this situation to a more personal level, let me give you my situation. I have a great job with a technology company, making a mid five-figure salary, am college educated and not a frivolous spender. I have lived in Marin since  I was 9 years old, and have only left Marin for four years to go to school.

I started looking for an apartment a month ago and nearly had a heart attack when I saw the prices for apartments. For a one-bedroom apartment, I was looking at anywhere between $1,000 to 1,500 per month, without utilities, expenses and deposit. At this rate, I will be lucky to be able to buy a couch in a year. And please do not mention a roommate, as two-bedroom apartments are really out of range.

If you think I am the only one who feels this way, I can name at least 10 people between the ages of 27 and 40 who have given up and left Marin (North Bay Area) because of the cost of living. Realize that this is the future of our community that is leaving our area because of the cost. And just so you know, I still don’t have a place of my own and have been forced to move back with my parents.

Has anyone also thought about whether wildlife so close to the cities of the North Bay will flourish? Not only do you have the unwanted intrusion of humans, but what of the waste, noise, and stress caused to the wildlife? Ultimately, this refuge will cost Marin in maintenance and preservation, as well as the talent of individuals who choose not to settle in our community because of extravagant prices.

The submitted proposal of Madames Stompe, LeMieux, Salzman and Boessenecker is very elitist. It is all nice and well to think about such grand proposals when you do not find yourself in the financial situation that most of the young and underprivileged find themselves in. Or maybe we ought to only allow those who have a certain amount of money to live in Marin County.

Think about it!

Patrik Smida is a Marin resident.


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