The Peoples Paper: We welcome community participation. Send us your news stories, photos and story ideas.
Serving the Ranching community and the towns of Muir Beach, Stinson Beach, Bolinas, Dogtown, Olema, Pt Reyes Station, Inverness, Inverness Park, Marshall, Tomales, Dillon Beach, Nicasio, Lagunitas, Forest Knolls, San Geronimo & Woodacre.
See contact page for special subscription offers!
Subscribe to digital and/or hardcopy edition.. Dont miss the full story every week.. Keep community journalism alive.
(When emailing replace (at) with @ )
By Charles Schultz
The unfulfilled promise of West Marin
Let me tell you whom I found in Marshall when I arrived four years ago: retirees – professors mostly, some civil servants – general contractors, the representatives of the counter-culture who managed to buy homes before 1980, heirs to ranches, heirs to industrial fortunes and the Bay Area nouveau riche, recluses, more than a few recovering addicts, artists, and children who had grown up in West Marin and were lucky to buy a house early enough, or those assembled of the previous categories and conditions who joined the precarious rotating cast of renters like myself. And there were empty vacation homes and in between weekend rentals everywhere.
West Marin is a place where two forms of hereditary wealth dominate: ranchers who inherit the land (and of course, in every generation, many winnow out extra siblings in a kind of primogeniture). I once talked to a rancher on the Central Coast and told him that every ranch family I encounter feuds over their inheritance. He said he was aware of such problems, but had found an equitable solution among his children, that I now forget. Of course, he later went on to tell me that he owned 12,000 acres.I guess you can find a fair way to divide twenty square miles.
Our other local type of inheritor is our beloved trust-funder, or as I once heard said of a young group in Bolinas, “Trustifarian”. These are usually descendants of captains of industry, almost invariably of the most rapacious kind: oil, timber, shipbuilding, smelting, etc. They have good need of our primary local fantasy, that of ecological harmony, because their wealth is the rotten fruit of environmental ruin.
Social mobility, supposedly our highest social virtue in America, is dead in West Marin. Not because of de-industrialization, both necessary for our planet and the source of the majority of Americans’ immediate misfortune, but because the wealth created by industrialization is now held in the hands of a tiny group of individuals who own land here.
In the late nineteenth century, especially in parts of West Marin, there are numerous examples of first generation immigrants buying or squatting ranches that remain family owned till this day. Even in the first half of the 20th century, there are examples of the landless arriving. Two Jewish families, the Jews having been historically persecuted and denied the right to own their own farm land in Europe, acquired the ranch behind my house some seventy or eighty years ago.One of those families owns it till this day, and prospers. Only in America!
Now, I will never own a home or land in West Marin.The price of land and houses is now enmeshed in global financial markets, the electronic world of virtual wealth possessed by the masters of the virtual. The person who today owns the house three doors down from me is on the board of directors of Google, but they are never home – a virtual neighbor.
One couple I see once every twelve months, and I say to them, “You’re here for your annual check-up.” Out of my window in the opposite direction, I can see ten houses from Blue Bay down to Cypress Grove, none of them occupied by their owners.The rental value of these properties is so lucrative that their owners have great incentive not to live there – having primary residences elsewhere, no doubt helps in their decision making.
I call the people of West Marin misanthropes; I include myself.But I found there are good misanthropes and bad misanthropes.The former, those who view our civilization clearly, and in an act of self-preservation seek refuge, maintain our anger, so despised an emotion, at the destruction of our society. Why? Because fundamentally we see ourselves as citizens, as children of the Enlightenment, meaning that we do not merely suffer the fallout of industrialization and globalization as victims, but by our nature have a responsibility for that destruction. And, in as much as our lives have any meaning at all, must make an answer to it.
Then there are those who are motivated by pure aesthetic experience, sometimes called happiness, seeking a prelapsarian dream, this symbol of nature called West Marin – a frightening group, generally lacking ethical content, having empathy for an imagined Nature, and disdain for the reality of human suffering, if and when they come in contact with it.Here are the decadent frauds, rich third-rate artists and groovies, the fun squad, the spiritual escapists.In Buddhism, I’m told, the world doesn’t change: you change.
It reminds me of a documentary I saw in which our old friend Werner Erhard laughingly describes his philosophy as “Socialism in one person… …which is Capitalism. I think it’s funny!” When Oscar Wilde visited the Bay Area in the 1880s he went to the Bohemian Club and commented, “I never saw so many well-dressed, well-fed, business-looking Bohemians in my life.”Indeed in West Marin, I have never seen so many well-dressed, well-fed, business-looking Buddhists in my life.
Adam Smith, yes he of the Wealth of Nations fame, John Stuart Mill and John Maynard Keynes all saw the way toward a progressive society and economy would be to tax property rents highly. This would prevent a feudal economy from developing by limiting the value of renting property. Today we have the opposite, rental income is taxed at an extremely low rate, and property is seen as an excellent avenue for investment.
West Marin has no incorporated communities, no means of bringing about such a system of taxation, which the majority of owners would actively resist anyhow.There are community service districts, and Community Choice Aggregation, that could be used toward progressive aims, by using existing revenue streams to develop new infrastructure and socialize wealth.I for the moment am working to make that happen here.
I have a reflexive sympathy for the young people like myself who have come to West Marin, but I hold out little hope for us.Some may find benefactors, the fickle affections of the rich, others will marry land and money, a similar though more ancient tradition, but the majority will stay for a while and then look east, into the interior whence we came.The time of Robinson Jeffers, of escaping history in a forever expanding west, is over (I’m told his poem “The Coast Road” is displayed on the wall of a restaurant popular with tourists in Big Sur).
My hope is that we may return inspired by the real beauty and people of West Marin and begin a manifest destiny of the Enlightenment – self-governance in the pursuit of the responsible collective management of essential resources, a socialization of wealth out of which citizens may finally enjoy the freedom of their creativity – the tremendous therapeutic promise not of our superfluous liberty, but of community.
I am afraid West Marin will continue to molder, the final retreat of elites in a dying empire, a barn danse macabre of idleness, appetites, and sentimentality.
TBLA Book sale on the Commons. GREEN REVIVAL starts this week on the Commons!
The West Marin Citizen
April 17 , 2014
Subscribe : Use the button at top of page or email us. Digital subscriptions anywhere cost the same as mailed hardcopy papers in Marin County.
Now on newsstands !
Shoreline School Superintendent Tom Stubbs
unexpectedly asked to resign.
Housing crisis in West Marin, continued.......
Retirement Party for Nancy Hemmingway
Come celebrate Nancy’s 42 years of service to the Marin County Free Library and the communities of Inverness and Point Reyes. The party will be Saturday, April 26th from 5:30-9:00 at the Dance Palace.
Well provide tamales and salad. You can bring a potluck dish plus fond and funny “Nancy Stories.” And dont forget your dancing shoes!
Call the Point Reyes Library for more information: 663-8375.
Home for sale by the Community Land Trust Association of West Marin
73 Inverness Way, Inverness
3-bedroom, 2-bath, fully remodeled home
Central Inverness – walk to school, library, market
Priced in low $300,000’s
Join us to find out more
Community Meeting, Wednesday April 9, 6:30 - 8:00 pm
Dance Palace Community Center, 503 B Street, Point Reyes Station
Open Houses: April 12, 19, 23
Applications distributed at the meeting, and www.clam-ptreyes.org
The Roneil and EZ Powell Pledge.
Five Brooks Ranch in Olema will donate $1.00 from each paying customer for the whole year to the family. It will be paid out on a monthly basis. I am asking other local business owners and individuals to do something similar.A few of us joining together with this pledge will help make the lives of Alex Porrata and her children a little easier.This tragic twist of fate could strike any one of us. We have to do more than just express our support. We can cut down expenses a little here and there and the impact on our businesses will not be very noticeable but will make a huge impact for Alex and EZ and Lu.
Contact Andrew for information on how to set up your pledge: 415-663-1570 or email@example.com
New Coast Guide available, contact the Citizen for copies. Free
Point Reyes National Seashore Hosts Earth Day Electronics Recycling Collection
On April 22nd at the Bear Valley Visitor Center from 10am – 2pm, Point Reyes National Seashore will host an electronic waste (e-waste) recycling collection, joining thousands of local organizers holding recycling and other events across the country to celebrate Earth Day, the only nationally and globally recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating planet Earth and the protection of its resources.
Please note which of the following items will be accepted:
All computers and related accessories and peripherals. Televisions/CRT Monitors .Audio/video equipment. Small printers, scanners, and faxes. Wires, cables, and power cords. Printer toner and inkjet cartridges. Cell phones, PDAs, and telephones . Small kitchen appliances.VHS, cassettes, and 8-track tapes
Dry cell batteries (AA, AAA, D, etc.). Light bulbs of any kind . Large household appliances such as refrigerators and stoves. Furniture. Commercial copy machines. HAZAROUS WASTE
All e-waste will be taken to Renew Computers in San Rafael, CA for recycling. For more information about e-waste recycling at Point Reyes National Seashore contact Dale Dualan at (415) 464-5286.
Empty homes can provide affordable rentals
By Paul Coopersmith
Paul Elmores recent column on the “hollowing out” of West Marin raised a number of salient points, and was an excellent beginning for an ongoing discussion of the housing crisis, here and elsewhere in the Bay Area. On the one hand, it would appear theres little we can do to slow down, let alone stop, the rapidly changing demographics and escalating housing prices that threaten the integrity of our communities. We cant prevent people from selling their homes to wealthy outsiders, nor can we prevent those outsiders from buying those houses. Thats one of the major shortcomings, to my mind, of our so-called “free market” economy. When housing “bubbles” occur, its the old, the young, and the less-than-well-heeled who end up being squeezed out of the market. And in the case of West Marin, theyre being replaced primarily by people who already have homes, but are looking for a second, third, or fourth house in which to spend the odd week or weekend.
On the other hand, there may be something we can do to address the lack of affordable rentals. Anyone living in Inverness, Point Reyes, or Inverness Park can attest to the fact that there is a significant percentage of houses that stand empty for all, or most, of the year. Would it not be in everyones best interest—-prospective tenants, property owners, local businesspeople, and permanent residents, alike—-to point out to the owners of those empty buildings, or vacation houses, some of the many benefits of full-time rentals? (Full disclosure: my wife and I had to leave our Inverness rental home of twenty years last month, when the owners put the house on the market. We are currently renting elsewhere for the short term, while we continue looking for a permanent home.)
Among those benefits of renting full-time to well-screened couples, individuals, and families:
-a steady flow of income, regardless of year or season. While its tempting for owners of vacation houses to think that renting their places out short-term, at exorbitant prices, via airbnb or VRBO, is the answer to their prayers, for some of those landlords it ends up being a pipe dream. Either there are too many better or similar rentals on the market, and/or their houses sit empty for several months of the year (but still require maintenance, as houses do).
-not having to worry each time a new group of folks youve never met before checks into your vacation rental. Were they being honest about how many people were coming to stay in your house? Or about the ages or recreational habits of those people, or whether or not they were bringing any pets with them? As someone whos been in the travel business for over thirty years, I can assure you that Ive heard my share of horror stories on this subject.
-assurance that your house will not sit empty all winter, making it less likely to be vandalized or burgled. Also, if a pipe should burst, or the roof should leak, there is someone there to see to it that a repair is made in a timely fashion, thus saving you, the property owner, unnecessary hassle, heartache, and expense.
-In addition, renting full-time can also translate into having someone on-site who can act as a steward of the property, taking care of the garden, fixing a leaky faucet, dealing with infestations, or handling any number of other maintenance chores that otherwise would necessitate calling in a professional, or doing the work yourself. Houses fare best when they are lived in, especially by people who care about them.
Then theres the whole other subject, gone into at some length by Paul Elmore, of what happens to a community when homes that were once inhabited full-time are converted to vacation or vacation-rental houses. Local non-profit organizations such as West Marin Community Services and West Marin Senior Services, find it more and more difficult to
recruit employees and volunteers (especially deleterious in the case of Senior Services, given the disproportionately large numbers of us who are entering, or soon to be entering, our twilight years). Local schools receive less funding, their classrooms emptying as fewer and fewer young families can afford to live here. Local businesses suffer as well, both from having a smaller labor pool, as well as fewer residents to patronize them. Post offices are threatened with closure, and libraries with shorter hours.
If you love West Marin, own property here that you care about but seldom, if ever use, and believe wholeheartedly that this should remain a vibrant, diverse, self-sustaining community, rather than becoming just another quaint tourist venue or playground for the rich, one of the best things you can do for all concerned is make that housing available: full time, to people who want this special place to be, or remain, their home.
Family and community mourn Rebecca Lyons
Rebecca Ruth Lyons, 41, passed away in Olema, California on Saturday, March 8, 2014, surrounded by her family. Rebecca was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1972. She relocated to Mill Valley, California in 1987, with her mother, Rita, and her sister, Anna, where she attended Tamalpais High School and later College of Marin. She was a preschool teacher for most of her career. Rebecca was an avid gardener, and especially loved her flowers and her two cats, Serafina and Scout.
On August 1, 2012, Rebecca was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. She won the hearts of all her doctors and nurses with her tireless humor and positive attitude in the face of such a devastating diagnosis. Throughout it all, she smiled and laughed every day. That was her gift; Rebecca was magnetic. Our entire community and all who had the good fortune to know her will truly miss her.
Rebecca leaves behind her sons Jack Murray, 8, and Ryan Murray, 5, her children with Kevin Murray, as well as Duncan Hutt-Lyons, 14, son of Rebecca Lyons and Mathew Hutt.
Rebecca came from a large family and is mourned very deeply by her mother, Rita Lockett, father, Winder Lyons, sisters Leslie, Anna, HariNarayan, and Mariah and brothers Kartapurkh and SatNarayan as well as all of her adoring cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.
A small private family service will be held on March 27. Family and friends are invited to a memorial gathering on March 29, 3pm to 7 pm at the Inverness Yacht Club, 12850 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Inverness, CA 94937.
In honor of Rebeccas passing, and to help defray expenses, donations can be made to the Rebecca Lyons Fund at GoFundMe.com.
Citizen launches new column – Birthday Celebrants wanted
If you’ve got a milestone birthday coming up, the Citizen wants to interview you. We define milestone as the following ages: 18, 21, 30, 40, 50, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 85, 90, 95, 100, 105, and every year after that as long as you, and we, are still kicking. And if you are a Latina celebrating your quinceanera, you too!
You will be interviewed in a question-and-answer format, your replies published verbatim, free of any spinning by a pesky reporter. Be prepared to reflect philosophically about the
passing years . . . . And of course we’ll want a photo of your smiling – or brooding – face.
Step right up and email Larken Bradley at
LarkenB(at)aol.com. Or telephone (415) 663-8232
West Marin Sheriff’s Logs
Curated by David van der Wal
Monday March 31
Stinson Beach 12:11am Person called from Indiana to report woman in ‘altered’ state. Deputies checked three properties listed for caller’s friend and were unable to locate her. They then checked with a bartender at Smiley’s, who reported knowing woman in potential danger for 30 years who said she seemed fine. Upon further investigation this call probably came from Kentucky
Point Reyes Station 4:28am Woman described a noise that she could not describe. Deputies unable to locate unknown noise.
Point Reyes Station 11:00am Owner would like advice regarding person who sits in her shop every day when it is raining. She reports that rain-avoiding transient hurts business and would like advice.
Muir Woods Park 3:42pm Woman called to report that her ex-boyfriend had punched his fist through a window in her home. She reported they were not fighting and that they have no history of violence, would not like to file a report but would like him to leave.
Tuesday April 1
Inverness 5:22am A woman called the sheriff’s department about various people trespassing on her property. Woman began rambling about other things that were not relevant to the call. Woman cautioned about what type of call should be made to emergency services.
Dogtown 10:36am A car was found abandoned off an embankment. Deputies determined that the car belonged to a man that had been reported missing. Missing persons report originally entered by Santa Rosa Police Department.
Point Reyes Station 4:51pm Neighbor reports that his neighbors often yell at each other loudly. Neighbors are not doing anything now but they would like advice for when inevitable fighting begins again.
Forest Knolls 6:07pm Tenant hit reporting parties’ car two weeks ago and has refused to exchange insurance information since then. Caller is seeking advice on how to resolve the issue.
Forest Knolls 11:54pm Neighbor was playing loud rock music. Music was turned off prior to deputy’s arrival and the neighbor soon left house for parts unknown.
Wednesday April 2
Tomales 8:21am A report of computer/phone fraud was made.
Forest Knolls 9:52am Loud electric guitar reported at neighbor’s house. Neighbor also made report last night. Reporting party does not need deputies to make contact.
Woodacre 10:06pm Reporting party helped owner move ex-tenant’s property out of house. Now he is concerned about possible retaliation as ex-tenants belongings are standing out on the curb. Advice given.
Thursday April 3
Lagunitas 8:36am Reporting party saw a crashed vehicle and was concerned for occupants. Reporting party stated that driver was slumped over the steering wheel.
Bolinas 4:36pm Woman called deputies to report that another woman in Kentucky has been calling repeatedly to request welfare checks. She states that she is fine and that Kentucky woman has been harassing her- calling 911 and her cell phone up to 40 times a day. She states that woman in Kentucky has been calling the La Grange Police department as well. Woman will be at Smiley’s if anyone needs to contact her.
Point Reyes Station 11:33pm Caller reported a person sleeping in front of a business/home in a sleeping bag to keep out of the rain. Reporting party states they don’t know the sleeping party’s ethnicity. This probably did not change the deputy’s response to the call, which was to tell wayward traveler not sleep in front of local businesses. Traveler will be taking a bus to San Rafael tomorrow.
Friday April 4
Inverness Park 9:31am 80 yr-old friend called sounding terrified. Reporting party stated that his friend allows his caretakers to live with him and that they have been acting strangely. Welfare check conducted on man. Advice given on tenant/landlord dispute.
Inverness 2:24pm Woman called to report that she believed her Costco card had been compromised. She doesn’t believe that there was any loss of money.
Bolinas 5:11pm A woman in her 50’s was reported yelling, “God will get you!” Reporting party states believes she may be having a “meth meltdown.”
Olema 10:16pm Subject arrested and booked on an outstanding San Mateo warrant.
Inverness 11:41pm A man who was tired of running called and asked to turn himself in for an outstanding warrant. He said he couldn’t make it down to the jail and that he didn’t have a phone, but would be in front of the store at midnight. Man arrested and booked at Marin County Jail.
Saturday April 5
Inverness 9:58am Man lost a paddle that says ‘Werner” on the side. Paddle is 7 feet tall and worth $400 dollars. He is checking out of hotel in one hour and is running out of places to look for it.
Lagunitas 10:58am A resident was yelling at Comcast cable installation crew who were running cable from pole to a house above their residence. Public easement law was explained to resident and argument was abated.
Point Reyes Station 11:48am Caller reports a stolen car
Forest Knolls 2:47pm Two men were reported driving around on a scooter with no muffler or helmets. Scooter was very loud. Men were reportedly fixing scooter but were warned not to drive scooter until it was fixed, and not without proper headgear.
Sunday April 6
Muir Woods Park 4:30pm A fire broke out in basement of a house. Two residents escaped the blaze and the accompanying smoke. Fire crew on scene controlled the danger.
Stinson Beach 11:18am Hikers on Matt Davis Trail reported two suspicious males in their 20’s walking along the path- one wearing a camouflage vest and the other wearing a gas mask.
Point Reyes Station 1:45pm A woman in her 30’s, apparently jammed her foot in a door, but somehow was able to walk into town and report the incident to deputies. Woman was alert and conscious.
Point Reyes Books
TOBY'S FEED BARN
Reliving the Dipsea:
Dipsea Trail - Nomination for national and state historic registries by Dewey Livingston
Welcome to the blog of David Mitchell, editor & publisher emeritus of The Point Reyes Light. In 1979, The Light won the Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service for an exposé largely written by him of the increasingly violent Synanon cult. Mitchell retired in November 2005 after 35 years of newspapering, 27 of those at The Light.
During his newspaper career, he also worked for the old San Francisco Examiner, Sonora’s Daily Union Democrat in the Sierra Nevada, and Council Bluff’s daily newspaper, The Nonpareil. In addition, he edited the weekly Sebastopol (California) Times. Mitchell holds a master’s degree in Communications and a bachelor’s degree in English from Stanford University. He is 68 and lives in Point Reyes Station on the rural coast north of San Francisco.
Herd Out West
By Larken Bradley
Couldn’t help but hear.
“Self-knowledge is 70 percent bad news.”
Teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center.
Citizen readers: When you hear or observe something amusing in West Marin, over the hill, while on vacation or a business trip or perusing blogs, we want to join in the fun. E-mail submissions for publication to Larken@obituarywriters.com. Or telephone: 415-454-3552
Also provide your name, town and contact information.