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The Redwood Empire Fights Back

Looking for silver linings in the coming age of Trump

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AFFORDABLE HOUSING

The North Bay is already home to the grand-pappy of the tiny-house movement, Lloyd Kahn, and this is a part of the world where significant legislative attention has been paid to the growing unaffordability of housing. Whether that attention has yielded any tangible benefit to workers and middle-class strivers is subject to debate, but Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties have each in their own way tried to come up with humane and creative solutions to the chronic high cost of housing and the corollary of homelessness amid stunning wealth and beauty.

Organizations such as the Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California have already been doing the yeoman's work on behalf of homeowners and tenants around the Bay Area, and now the organization has changed its name to reflect the reality of the work it has been doing all along in the North Bay (it was formerly Fair Housing of Marin). The group has joined in two recent lawsuits and complaints that charge housing discrimination against big lenders like Fannie Mae and OneWest Bank. The organization's executive director Caroline Peattie says the fight is on.

Peattie's group has already pushed back hard against the proposed anointment of OneWest mortgage vulture Steven Mnuchin to head the Treasury Department. In a recent interview, she noted that "organizations like ours are feeling beleaguered and also feeling more strongly than ever that we really need to put our noses to the grindstone and work to ensure that we can do everything we can to help civil rights of consumers."—T.G.

IMMIGRATION

The state has already stood up loud and proud against any threatened return to ICE raids and dehumanizing policies around undocumented immigrants in the state. Cities are declaring themselves sanctuaries, and human rights commissions at the local level in places like Marin County are pushing out defiant memos playing off of Kevin de León's recent and well-received missive about California values and saying, in effect: Leave our workers alone.

It's not just talk. North Bay Jobs with Justice's Marty Bennett notes that his Sonoma County organization is one of many that has pledged to join a rapid-response effort being coordinated in San Francisco that would deploy mass protest in the direction of any promised ICE raid or beat-down of an immigrant at the hands of cruel policymakers or thuggish law enforcement officers.—T.G.

FIGHTIN' LYNDA HOPKINS

Sonoma County supervisor-elect Lynda Hopkins has come out swinging against Trump.

"I do think we need to pick a fight, because this isn't about Democrats or Republicans," she says. "He has essentially declared war on progressivism. He has declared war on environmentalism. He has declared war on labor."

During her hard-fought campaign against Noreen Evans, she jokingly wondered if she could move to Canada if she and Trump both won. But she's staying put and says she wants to move aggressively against the next president.

"I don't think we can reach our hands across the aisle and say, 'Let's be nice,'" she says. "Because that's not the strategy he is using. This is not an administration you can necessarily work with, in all the signals we have seen thus far."

She was heartened by state Kevin de León's "California values" legislation and says talk of secession and CalExit are misguided.

"We need to lead the country in the right direction. If we just secede, which is probably not even legally possible, then what happens to the rest of the country? I want to see us as the progressive beacon and a leader to a more progressive future. I don't want to just abandon the middle of the country."

Hopkins says she is most troubled by Trump's positions on immigration and climate change. On the immigration front, she is working with outgoing Supervisor Efren Carrillo, immigration attorney and Sonoma County Commission on Human Rights member Christopher Kerosky, state Sen. Mike Thompson and the county counsel's office to create a local effort to fight Trump-led deportation should it come to pass. One idea she mentioned is creating a conduit of resources for those fighting deportation proceedings.

"I think this is something we need to look at sooner rather than later," she says.

While Hopkins is not interested in breaking bread with Trump, she says she does want to reach out to his supporters, many of whom live in the 5th District, a region she says is a microcosm of America.—S.H.

LEGAL CANNABIS

While we thought Proposition of 64 was too much too soon, recreational cannabis is now legal in the Golden State. That's good news. Possession of marijuana won't land you in jail and clog up our courts and jails anymore. As the stigma of cannabis consumption ebbs and more research is done on medicinal uses, we hope more people look to the herb for its therapeutic properties as an alternative to Big Pharma.

Go Local's Terry Garrett has put the value of Sonoma County's cannabis crop at $3 billion. If he's even half right, the economic impact of this homegrown industry will continue to provide a sturdy leg to the local economy and a bulwark against any (God forbid) collapse of grape monoculture and wine-industry economy.

One of the thorniest issues will be how small-scale growers survive the mainstreaming of the industry. Last week, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors took the misguided step of banning cultivation in rural areas and thereby perpetuating illegal cultivation and crime there. Will that mean that only operators who can afford pricy industrial and agriculturally zoned land be able to compete? We hope not. The good news here is that the industry is coming out of the shadows and demanding a place at the table to shape their future.

Of course, if the odious Jeff Sessions is confirmed as U.S. Attorney General, the legal cannabis industry could all come crashing down, but our guess is that he'll leave it alone given the growing value of legal pot (both financial and medical) and the president-elect's claims in support of state rights.—S.H.

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