George Lucas Just Did Something Amazing For Income Inequality

April 17th 2015

Star Wars creator George Lucas is fighting back against his northern California neighbors in the best way possible. Three years after Lucas' neighborhood voiced opposition to his "evil empire" vision to expand his Skywalker Ranch film studio, he was forced to look for an alternative. Instead of expanding the studio, Lucas is now streamlining and financing a $200 million project to provide 224 affordable homes on the largely empty 1,000+ acres of land in Marin County, according to CBS San Francisco.

Marin County is experiencing a rental housing shortage that is hurting middle and low income people. While the booming tech industry in nearby San Francisco is creating jobs in the area, there is not enough housing supply to keep up. As a result, rents keep rising. Last year, the Marin Independent Journal detailed just how difficult it is to find housing, and the North Bay Business Journal reported last month that rent in Marin County rose 12 percent in 2014, due to "continued hiring in the San Francisco tech industry and a shortage of rental housing."

Lucas' 224 affordable homes would surely help, but some of his neighbors aren't thrilled with the idea of low and middle income people moving nearby. One residents' association is accusing Lucas of “[inciting] class warfare” and potentially hurting the local housing market by providing low-cost homes. Members of the association have expressed fears of “drugs, crime, and low-life” infesting the community, according to The Telegraph. In 2012, CNBC included Marin in its list of America's 10 Richest Counties. The median household income from 2009-2013 was $90,839, according to the Census Bureau. The Bay Area at large is home to many of the country's most expensive zip codes.

"[Lucas] said ‘we’ve got enough millionaires here,'" Lucas’ lawyer Gary Giacomini told CBS San Francisco. "'What we need [are] some houses for regular working people.'"

Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey told CBS San Francisco that Lucas was motivated to find the positive in not being able to expand his studio.

“George 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?’” Kinsey said.

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