Where do you draw the line and consider someone wealthy? Is it if they own a home that is now worth a million dollars? Does it matter that they paid very little for it 30 years ago? A million dollars sounds big. In today’s world it is not, which makes it even more depressing for young people.
But, let’s talk about massive wealth and not confuse it with some old person who bought a house 30 years ago. Think about the massive wealth that will buy and develop the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC), the Hanna Center project (Hanna), and Lefever Mattson companies’ purchase of over 120 commercial and residential properties in Sonoma Valley.
This is wealth with power. This is wealth with the power to change this Valley and all our lives.
Massive amounts of wealth translate to massive amounts of power, but what if that was not the case? Who gives this money its power? Two groups grant power to those with gargantuan amounts of money: government (local, state, and national) and the people who vote.
If we look logically at the big money-driven forces at play in the Sonoma Valley, it is easy to see there are few advantages for those who live and work here.
In the case of SDC, affordable housing could easily be achieved by creating a trust or district as proposed in the Next 100 Year Plan by Norman Gilroy. All of the housing would be affordable, existing buildings would be repurposed, and the trust or district would assure all the housing went to local workers or residents. Instead we have a luxury hotel, market rate housing that will most likely become second homes, and a token amount of affordable housing.
The proposed Hanna project follows the same plan as SDC, with a couple of variations. In both of these cases local residents with very little money are either using it to fund a lawsuit or contemplating one to halt and rethink these projects. Do they have a chance?
Lefever Mattson spending a massive amount of money to buy property is different. Taking a seemingly piecemeal approach, to buy anything they can. But, there has to be a plan, even though none of us know what it is.
One-hundred-percent affordable housing has been built locally, but not by big money developers. Fetters, Celestina Garden, and Siesta Senior Apartments are by not-for-profit builders.
Local politicians and residents often cite the need for housing and/or a love of unfettered capitalism. Why can’t they simply observe places which have embraced the same model, and have nothing but an overbuilt haven for more wealthy people and very little affordable housing?
Just bring up a real estate page and you can see actual housing prices. But, we get long winded, convoluted justification from government and those that support it on how building luxury resorts and homes for the wealthy will magically create housing for teachers, and hospitality and vineyard workers.
When thinking about whom to support for county supervisor or city council, think about who they care about, you or those who deal in billions of dollars. Remember you have power when you vote.