It's been a while since "Star Wars" creator George Lucas did something bold to endear himself to longtime fans. But an unexpected announcement from the legendary filmmaker and producer may win him accolades with the public, if not his wealthy neighbors.
Lucas has spent nearly 25 years planning and lobbying to build a state-of-the-art movie studio on his Grady Ranch property in Marin County, near San Francisco.
But his neighbors have opposed the development for just as long, saying the noise from construction would disrupt their tranquil community.
And now it seems Lucas has finally given up on his studio development dreams. But he's proposed a seemingly brilliant form of revenge for his politically correct neighbors: If he can't have his studio, Lucas wants to install affordable housing instead:
"The level of bitterness and anger express by the homeowners in Lucas Valley has convinced us that, even if we were to spend more time and acquire the necessary approvals, we would not be able to maintain a constructive relationship with our neighbors," Lucas' Skywalker Properties wrote in a letter announcing plans for the housing project.
"We hope we will be able to find a developer who will be interested in low-income housing since it is scarce in Marin. If everyone feels that housing is less impactful on the land then we are hoping that people who need it the most will benefit."
As the website Affordable Housing Finance notes, the median cost of a sing-family home in Marin County is $672,620, compared with the California statewide median cost of $291,080.
The San Francisco Chronicle notes that a housing development on Grady Ranch may not be feasible because of the property's remote location. But that may not really be the point for the determined filmmaker.
And Lucas is already getting support from the Marin Community Foundation, who is teaming with his company, Lucasfilm, to look into the proposal.
"We are thrilled that George Lucas is seeing this as an opportunity to address one of the most critical issues in Marin County—making it possible for a broad range of individuals and families to afford to live in Marin," said Marin Community Foundation President Thomas Peters.
"In many instances, this is housing for people who work in the county but can't afford to live here and for people who grew up here but who now cannot afford safe, secure housing in their home county. And we have always paid particular attention to the need for affordable housing by the county's expanding senior population."
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