Letter to the Editor: Generational wealth: What is it, why you should care

| May 2, 2018 | 10 Comments

Back in March I promised to follow up on my letter with my thoughts on generational wealth. I now work for a Berkeley based credit union with roots in the protection of the generational wealth of disenfranchised groups. Practices of redlining and predatory lending are no longer an academic understanding, but personal stories like the gentleman whose Hispanic parents joined after their bank questioned the origins of their finances when they went to buy their first home. Newly divorced, single mothers, trapped in downward spirals of poverty due to the predatory practices of payday lenders. People denied mortgages because of the color of their skin. Second and third generation Americans loosing, cheated of, real property as the result of gentrification and the lack of basic financial literacy.

Hey Linda, that’s sad and all – really sorry for them, tell us where the next protest is and we’ll bring the signs but…what’s Berkeley got to do with Martinez? That last one where second and third generation Americans, as well as those who lack an understanding of how finances work, being cheated out of the full value of assets being passed down from parent to child (generational wealth) – I have two words, Measure I.

Imagine Measure I passes, what then? Public assets like parks are already publicly owned and cannot be sold without the consent of the public, now what? Now imagine a husband and wife worked all their lives, invested wisely and are now living off the five acres they own, supplementing their retirement with rental income. These two people have a couple of kids, a few grand-kids. Or how about a small business owner who just inherited rural property, also has a couple of kids with the prospects of more than a few grand-kids. How does Measure I impact them?

Let’s say one or both parents die and in their will the property is evenly divided between the kids and grand-kids how do they, the beneficiaries, divide up the asset? Does one take a house, one an apartment building? Or do they reach out to an appraiser to get a sense of the value of their asset? Do they hold out hope in finding a buyer looking for exactly this type of property mix or do they reach out to an investor?

Under Measure I, if an investor/builder is contacted Martinez voters get to vote on what they’d like to see happen with that property. In essence Martinez voters get to have a direct say in how much this asset is worth by dictating development rights. Friends and strangers alike dictating someone else’s future. There’s a name for this, it’s called eminent domain. Because investors/builders are business people they walk away and the property is suddenly worth significantly less as a result.

What about the rural property? This small business owner’s lifestyle needs may change, they may not but what if they decide they’d like to leverage the value of their asset to help secure the futures of their children and grandchildren. Their asset is suddenly devalued as the result of having their development rights stripped.

Wait a minute, how can that be? Is this property even in city limits? Under Measure I – city or county makes no difference. The measure is indiscriminate in stripping the property rights of private individuals in Martinez as well as our sphere of influence. The authors anticipating a time when both Alhambra Valley and North Pacheco are incorporated.

Even in the dense Hispanic neighborhoods of North Pacheco, those homes where first and second generation Americans live will have their property values dictated to by Measure I.

This sham of an initiative has far reaching consequences and while it’s has been deemed fatally flawed should it pass the only recourse for property owners will be to sue the city, or referendum its passage. Either way this measure seeks to negatively impact generations of Martinez residents.

In Mr. Platt’s neighborhood strangers get to dictate the private wealth of neighbors. Personally speaking, I preferred Mr. Rogers neighborhood over Mr. Platts. They both may be sweater wearers but that’s where the similarities end. Martinez residents have a reputation for being hospitable and giving. Now’s the time to prove it and vote No on Measure I.

– Linda Meza

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Category: Opinion

Comments (10)

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  1. Sarah B. says:

    No on I. Don’t let Tim Platt and other private citizens dictate what you can and can’t do with your property

  2. Mike says:

    Is it true that Measure I is endorsed by the the Sierra Club & Mt. Diablo Audubon Society?

  3. Luis says:

    Who cares?

  4. Martinez mom says:

    Is this measure supported by the thousand friends of no one?

  5. Dan Barrows says:

    I posted this on the Martinez Rants and Raves Group on Facebook and felt compelled to share it here as well. After watching the video debate between the Mayor and Mr. Platt, a production which I really appreciated as it gave me an opportunity to hear both sides of the argument, I thought this….

    I really appreciate the video and the opportunity to hear from both sides. I feel that both gentlemen were civil (unlike some of the posts elsewhere in R&R) and made strong arguments for their side of the issue. Personally I am not sure how I’ll vote, but leaning in favor of Measure I. Before those who disagree start berating me about my lack of concern for private property rights… hear me out. I agree that allowing 5 individuals on the city council to have the power to decide to change zoning on a property (and actually it would only take a majority of 3 of them) is a lot of power and however honorable our current city council members may be, there is the potential for future corruption and financial enticements by developers. So, giving the citizens of the city a chance to weigh in on these big things will simply hold our politicians accountable. On the other hand, I agree that someone who wants to add a small in-law house to their property shouldn’t have to go through an election to get permission to do so. But, I don’t see that Measure I is preventing someone from doing that now…. if their property is currently zoned to allow it. So, if it wasn’t, they’d still have to go at least through the city to get a rezoning. This primarily, in my opinion has to do with large parcels and substantial changes in use… like converting a huge golf course into a housing development… something which will impact traffic in the area, add more kids to our schools and affect the density of our area, the wildlife, etc. I would be open to a more modest residential proposal in Pine Meadows which the developer could propose and, I believe if reasonable, the citizens of Martinez would approve. I did take issue with the Mayor’s statement that the zoning of pine meadows on old maps was a mistake. I haven’t looked into all of the details of this, but if it’s been that way on the maps for 50 years or so, enough people have seen it and agreed with it, that it likely was correct. Lastly, is there a fear that the citizens of Martinez would not vote in favor of things that are in the best interest of the community? If that interest is more development, I believe the citizens will support it. But, I also believe there are plenty of old industrial and derelict residential properties in this city that could be converted to meet the needs for more affordable housing and thereby avoid bulldozing and building on large open spaces. I bought my home in Martinez, specifically because the community was not over crowded and has a lot of open space. So, what about the rights of people like me who invested hard earned money to live in a community that isn’t over crowded? You can look all over the Bay Area and see communities that did not restrict growth and allowed development on every hillside and open area. Concrete and buildings everywhere! I say we try to avoid that here.

  6. Dan Barrows says:

    Does anyone else find it ironic that Martinez was the home of John Muir, a man who dedicated his life to protecting open space from being over-developed, and now the city he called home is engaged in a fight over open space? He’s probably rolling in his grave…. you know… the grave that is now (also
    Ironically) located in the middle of a housing development.

  7. Linda says:

    What I find ironic is the farce of naming a golf course “open space” and then using this fight to steal the development rights of your neighbors. More than a little ironic, really, more like a confirmation of the Me Generation’s entitlement attitudes.

    Pine Meadow Golf Course had been limping along since 2010, with people well aware the owners were looking to get out of the golf business. Neighbors who are so enraptured with “open space” could have formed a REIT, purchased the land, then deeded it to the city via a conservation easement and none of this would have been necessary. But that would have meant plunking down your own hard earned cash.

    Instead people have been bullying the family, demanding they give up their retirement and inheritance. This entire performance has been ugly.

    Now, instead of continuing on in true Me Generation fashion and taking their balls and going home when they didn’t get their way, instead they’ve decided to pop everyone else’s ball while telling them how much fun they’re going to have.

    Dan, John Muir did not steal his neighbors lands, nor malign Teddy Roosevelt. And he certainly would not have considered a 27 acre golf course in the middle of a housing tract a majestic cathedral. Or do completely unaware of whose bones you’re rattling in your self-serving pursuits?

  8. Kristin Henderson says:

    I am not part of the open space milieu. However, no one is allowed to do what they want with their property–anywhere. That is the point of a government: to balance the desires of one or few with the good of the commonwealth. Otherwise, we would not need a government, or a building department, or a design review, etc. You cannot smoke your own cigarettes where ever you like, park your car wherever you like, let your unlicensed pet roam all over, bury or prostitute your body however you like. You cannot drink your own alcohol wherever you like. Neither can property owners do whatever they like with their properties because we, as represented by our legislators, live in an environment together. Hence, environmental law. Otherwise, mercury factories would slough off into Kindergarten classrooms and lice removal salons next to restaurants. Strip clubs next to libraries…anyway, you get the point. This argument that property owners (and especially favored property owners) get to do whatever they want with their properties is typical of the myopic corruption of Martinez. That being said, I do not know enough about I or F to comment on their specifics. I do remember a Rudyard Kipling poem, however. PS. I have scolded Platt about wearing Mr. Roger sweaters too. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46473/if—

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