Incorporated as a 501(c)3 in 2005, the five-member Golden Gate Village Resident Council (GGVRC) is the elected representative for all of Golden Gate Village. During the ensuing years, the GGVRC has fought long and hard with the Marin Housing Authority, the Marin Housing Commission, and the Marin Board of Supervisors to share the residents’ renovation plan. Despite winning a lawsuit in 2014 that reaffirmed the Council’s legal status and authority, the GGVRC’s fight to be heard has continued to this day.
The redevelopment plan proposed by the MHA is the last straw.
“Privatization is not in the interest of Golden Gate Village residents. It will take money out of the community and continue a dangerous cycle in America of erasing affordable public housing,” says Royce McLemore, president of the Council and the named plaintiff in a current lawsuit filed August 6, 2020. “We have a plan that empowers and revitalizes our community. We’ve tried to present it to the MHA and the Supervisors for years, but no one would listen. Unfortunately, it’s taking another lawsuit to get their attention. Maybe this time they’ll join us on the right side of history.”
In 2013, after more than two years of research and development, the Resident Council unveiled their vision plan for Golden Gate Village.
According to the GGVRC, the plan was created “to address all the deferred maintenance needed, but not one fix at a time; rather, to create a path of growth of the local economy with shared opportunity for wealth.” The resident plan strongly aligns with the Green New Deal (and, in fact, preceded it). It upgrades all existing buildings to maximal energy efficiency; provides jobs with resources and training for local youth; provides affordable, safe, and adequate housing; builds community ownership; secures community resiliency; and counteracts systemic injustices that have been baked into the culture of Marin for at least the past 75 years.
While the plan enjoys the support of the majority of Golden Gate Village residents, the Marin Housing Commission, consisting of the five-member County Board of Supervisors and two public housing citizens (neither from GGV), has steadfastly refused to consider it. Instead, MHC and the Marin Housing Authority want to transfer ownership and management of GGV to a private New Jersey-based developer.
This proposed privatization sounds a lot like gentrification to many residents. Not only would the move result in new buildings (and greater density), it would also further delay critical health and safety upgrades to existing units, and eliminate the possibility of resident home ownership forever.
But the Resident Council is fighting back. “The County refuses to respect our right of self-determination,” says McLemore. “They have refused to acknowledge we have the ability to negotiate with the experts in various fields to execute the Resident Plan with a Community Land Trust for homeownership opportunities for those who want to participate. We have to look out for our own rights.”
“Privatization is not in the interest of Golden Gate Village residents. It will take money out of the community and continue a dangerous cycle in America of erasing affordable public housing. We have a plan that empowers and revitalizes our community."
- Royce McLemore, GGVRC President