Portland, where I grew up, and where I will soon return, has lately been in the news as the “Whitest City in America.” It’s also one of the most rapidly gentrifying. OregonLive, aka the Oregonian, recently reported on how minority communities are doing.
Marin County is known for a number of things: German automobiles cluttering its roads, George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch and the stereotypical affluent California lifestyle in general. It’s also rolling hills and, miles from anything, the town of Nicasio, home to a church, a little league field, a volunteer fire department and the venerable Rancho Nicasio. The roadhouse was built in 1941, a year after the 1867-vintage Nicasio Hotel burned.
Oregon Governor Oswald West in 1913 signed legislation designating its ocean beaches as public highways. “The shore of the Pacific Ocean from the Columbia River on the north to the Oregon and California State line on the south, is hereby declared a public highway and shall forever remain open as such to the public.” Driving on the beach used to be common, as did the sight of a motorist frantically trying to get free from soft sand before an incoming tide claimed the vehicle. The law was revised in 1947, changing “public highway” to “recreation area.” In California, beaches are also, by law, public. The wealthy and the famous find that outrageously unfair to them.
The economy in California has been getting better. Californians are increasing their production of trash: 33.2 million tons in 2015, compared to 31.2 million tons the previous year. That’s 4.7 pounds per person per day, up from 4.5 pounds in 2014. Here in Sonoma County, we did much better, swelling our output to 4.3 pounds per person per day, 19.4% more than 2014’s 3.6 pounds, but still less than the state as a whole. California overall had a meager increase of less than half a percent.