“The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward” ~ Ijeoma Oluo
Golden Gate Village in Marin City is one of the last remaining African American communities in Marin County. Over the years residents have demanded adequate maintenance and renovation of their homes. These calls have gone unheeded to the point where the most recent Physical Needs Assessment (PNA) states that
“…the renovation costs do qualify the property for a demolition/disposition application.”
Essentially, years of deferred maintenance mean that it is so bad that it’s better to tear it all down and start over. According to the PNA, it will now cost $90 million to renovate, and it will cost $98 million to demolish and rebuild. Five years ago when the last PNA was completed, costs to renovate were only $16 million.
The Marin Housing Authority (MHA) has long been involved in a process to determine next steps for the property. The MHA Commission (all five Marin County Supervisors plus two community members) have agreed on a vision for the property which includes demolition of 16 units of existing low rise housing, the renovation of the units in the mid-rise apartment buildings on the site, and the construction of 156 new market rate multifamily housing units.
The project will be converted to private corporate ownership and change from HUD subsidized public housing to low income housing for Section 8 tenants, administered by MHA.The redevelopment plan also includes vague guarantees that there will be no displacement of current residents. There is some concern that the infrastructure in Marin City is not adequate to support any additional housing.
The Golden Gate Village Resident Council has proposed its own plan, one that includes deep green retrofitting and renovation of the existing buildings and transforming the ownership of the property into a community land trust, where permanent access to low income housing and the possibility of home ownership could become a reality.
It is clear that the MHA’s plan for the renovation and rehabilitation of Golden Gate Village does not provide for the self-determination of this community. It is clear that the County’s plan does not provide for any reparations for a community that has been red-lined and is facing extermination.
In the 1940’s and 50’s, the population of Golden Gate Village was predominately African-American. Years of systemic racism, gentrification, lack of investment in the community led to where Marin City is now, which is a community that is only about 30% African American. And many black people do not feel safe or welcome in white Marin.
It is essential at this moment in time, when the Black Lives Matter movement is accelerating social change, that we hold ourselves accountable. We have to move past performative events, past holding “Black Lives Matter” signs, and marching, and become collaborators who use their privilege to crumble systems of oppression.
Participate in the Marin Housing Authority meeting on Tuesday, June 16 at 1:30pm
Discussion of this topic is Item 15e on the agenda.The meeting will be held remotely, not in person. To attend the MHA Commission meeting on Zoom or by phone.
Visit www.zoom.us/join and enter the Meeting ID (947 4251 8384) and Password (352 533). Use the “Raise Hand” button to inform the moderator that you would like to comment.
To join by telephone, call (669) 900-6833 and enter the Meeting ID (947 4251 8384 #), Attendee ID (#), and Password (352 533 #). Press *9 to inform the moderator that you would like to comment.
If you cannot participate, email the MHA Commission
Email the Supervisors at BOS@marincounty.org
Email the two community members of the MHA Commission at
Please refer to the talking points below, and use your own words. You may have up to three minutes to speak but plan for two. You can email your comments in advance and then ask to read them at the meeting.
- Demand that the County obtain a second opinion on the physical conditions at Golden Gate Village. The report they will be receiving, the PNA referenced above, has such dire consequences that a second opinion is warranted.
- Ask, should the cost to renovate now actually be $90 million? How did a $16 million problem, five years ago, become a $90 million problem?
- Demand that the County go beyond its rhetoric and demonstrate that black lives really matter in Marin by adopting a plan or vision for this property that includes some form of reparations and uplifts this community.
The current county plan is silent on this issue. The residents have been asking for this HUD property to be converted to a Community Land Trust. The answer, up until now, has been that it is impossible. It has never been done, it can’t be done, they say. Our answer is if not now, when?
If the remaining useful life of this property has expired, insist that the remaining useful life of this community not be extinguished when considering options for the property. The best laid plans to avoid displacement for renovation of public housing have often been failures.
See the Guardian article about GGV here.
Address the ways your community is unwelcoming, inaccessible, and unsafe for Black and Brown people.
Don’t think that “inviting more Black people to our group” is the answer. Do the work to become an anti-racist community. This is an excellent list of Anti-Racism resources for Marin County (develope by firstname.lastname@example.org).
Join SURJ Marin (www.surjmarin.org).