Let the Force and Permits Be With Him

George Lucas has lived in Marin County, California, for decades, where he first purchased a 3,000 acre parcel of land. Since 1978 he has added to his humble abode, named the Skywalker Ranch, at a cost of about $100 million.

Lucas is, of course, best known for his Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. The multi-billionaire has done pretty well.

He had plans for the use of all that acreage surrounding the Ranch—to building a state-of-the-art film production studio. His wealthy Marin County neighbors, members of the Lucas Valley Estates Homeowners Association, were none too happy about that plan and successfully blocked the project.

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Since the plans for a studio were out the door, in 2012, the billionaire movie maker/philanthropist decided to donate the land to the county for use in building affordable housing, which, one might imagine, is sorely lacking in the affluent San Francisco suburb. Lucas said, “If I’m not going to do what I wanted to do there, what can I do that would be really beneficial to this community?”

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But in 2013, that plan was also abandoned, due to the fact that the Marin Community Foundation would be unable to obtain the necessary state and federal financing for the project.

Still, that did not deter Lucas. If they can’t the obtain financing, he would just do it himself.  Yesterday, the Daily Mail reported, “The complex of affordable housing, funded and designed by the Star Wars director, would provide homes to 224 low-income families.”

“The project, submitted for planning on Wednesday, would span 52 acres and cost around $200 million. One would contain 120 two-bedroom and three-bedroom homes for low-income families. The other would be for pensioners [retirees]: a four-story building with 104 one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartments,” writes the Daily Mail.

And the kicker is that, since it’s on his land and he is fully funding it, there’s nothing his uppity neighbors or the Lucas Valley Estates Homeowners Association can do about it, although a Lucas spokesperson insisted this was not a form of retaliation.

Lucas is quoted as saying: “We’ve got enough millionaires here.  What we need is some houses for regular working people.”

His lawyers also add that, because Lucas proposes to fund the project himself, he has the right to select who lives there.

Personally, I think this is great. A private citizen has taken it upon himself to fit the entire bill to build 224 homes and apartments for people—mostly aging Marin County residents, who could otherwise not afford to live in the area.

Normally, what we see is some Hollywood celebrity lending his or her face to a project, strictly for the good publicity, claiming they care about one cause or another, but doing nothing else. Lucas is literally putting his money where his mouth is.

And to top it off, the community will be but a stone’s throw from his own residence – not worlds away in some inner city hellhole.

I applaud George Lucas for this. He could have chosen to give his money to some feel good, do nothing, lefty organization who would just squander the money.

This is what America is supposed to be about – people helping people, without the intrusion of government. Hopefully, it turns out that way.

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