George Lucas' rich neighbors don't want him building a movie studio in their backyard. His response is the best thing he's done in years.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, for four decades Lucas has owned a large swath of land in Marin County in the North San Francisco Bay and has spent the past few years trying to transform the ranch on it into a massive, nearly 300,000 square foot, state-of-the-art movie studio complete with day care center, restaurant, gym and a 200-car garage. His neighbors, however, have rejected it every step of the way. Despite the promise of bringing $300 million worth of economic activity to the area, the already-well off neighbors are worried about years' worth of construction activity and the additional foot traffic it will bring into their neighborhood once completed.
The local homeowners association has been such a thorn in Lucas' side that he's decided to abandon the studio construction entirely, issuing this official statement about Lucasfilm's withdrawal of the new studio:
The level of bitterness and anger expressed 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.
We love working and living in Marin, but the residents of Lucas Valley have fought this project for 25 years, and enough is enough. Marin is a bedroom community and is committed to building subdivisions, not business. Many years ago, we tried to stop the Lucas Valley Estates project from being built, but we failed, and we now have a subdivision on our doorstep.
So what is George Lucas going to do with his property now that he's tired of his rich neighbors putting up a not-in-my-backyard stink? He wants to transform the property into low-income housing, naturally, ending their official statement with this zinger, "If everyone feels that housing is less impactful on the land, then we are hoping that people who need it the most will benefit."
He's working with the Marin Community Foundation to instead construct affordable housing for either low-income families or seniors living on small, fixed incomes. In order to smooth along the development, he's already given them all of the pricey technical studies and land surveys Lucasfilm spent years conducting. And we think that's just great. Because if there's one thing rich people will hate more than having movie magic made in their backyard, it's poor people moving in.
Mr. Lucas, we may hate you for turning your back on the original trilogy, but our hat is off to you on this one. Well played.