We Don't Want No Stinkin' Progress!The latest copy of the Novato Advance was flung onto my driveway at some indeterminate time this morning. When I bent down and picked it up mid-way through the afternoon, I noted a yellow square in the upper right hand corner that read: "Whole Foods Project Petition Sparks Letters To the Editor."
I should mention that I've driven by the alleged site of the Whole Foods project several times throughout the last couple of months, looking for signs of a construction site: a bright yellow Caterpillar, or a crew, or a mound of overturned earth at the very least. To my repeated dismay, I haven't seen a single thing. The Trader Joe's building is nearly complete, and now it seems that it was the lucky one that slipped under the radar.
Apparently, a minority of Novatoans (would Novato-ites be more poetic? I can't decide) have raised consistent and stubborn opposition to the project. Even though the developers have secured the venerable Book Passage as a tenant (be still, my heart!), the naysayers will not be silenced.
I regularly trek down to the Whole Foods in San Rafael for organic foods. It is a round trip of twenty miles, and I assure you that this matters to me. And so it was that I ran inside with the paper and eagerly leafed to page A-4, where the drama was explained in more detail.
Here, my fellow foodies, is the scoop: it appears that the Novato Whole Foods project is still being held up by appeals and petitions. The Letters to the Editor section showcased a tennis match of opinions. The main arguments against the project seems to be that the building will be "too high" and that the development will not be "in keeping" with the character of Old Town Novato.
Which all sounds terribly sentimental and might even be touching, except that Old Town Novato is a ghost town. It is dead. It is pathetic. To drive through it is to wonder at what might have been as one passes boarded-up storefronts and shabby liquor stores and the odd television repair shop. What character is in danger, I ask? What, exactly, is being lost? And where were these righteous opponents when the sprawling, mortifying spectacle of the Vintage Plaza took shape, with its Target and Marshalls and Starbucks and Costco all strung out in a terrible, endless row?
I want to be able to run to the store for a head of organic lettuce without having to drive thirty minutes. I religiously shop the farmer's market at the San Rafael Civic Center on Thursdays, but there is the occasional Thursday when I simply can't make it! And what then...?
The cost of a house in Novato is downright obscene, and there is no corresponding sense of civic pride. I feel like I got thrown back into some backwater country. I'm experiencing whiplash here, and to find out that the natives are still drumming to an old, tired beat is like a slap in the face.
The Advance reported that there is a signature petition taking place in front of Safeway and Albertsons to curry support for the Whole Foods opposition. I haven't seen it, because I avoid those places like the plague. But God help the petitioners if I do walk by, because I am absolutely furious, and I will not hesitate to give them a piece of my mind. The business climate in Novato is downright oppressive and claustrophobic, and bringing in Whole Foods is a much-needed step in the right direction.
Deep breath. I know: it's going to be okay. I'll be fine tomorrow. I will.