Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bay Area Kills Talent

Vivek Wadhwa once commented on how Berkeley was stifling innovation, pushing talent away from East Bay. I was dismissive of the idea. I made a hasty conclusion. Trouble in Marin:

[George Lucas], whose "Star Wars" films ushered in the digital arts age, withdrew his plans last month to build a large mission-style movie-making studio on Grady Ranch, blaming the Lucas Valley Estates Homeowners Association for being Nimbys and torpedoing it.

Several Lucas Valley Estates homeowners had, in fact, said that they considered the historic Lucas-owned farmland their back yards. They claimed the proposed 263,701-square-foot digital technology production complex was too large, would displace too much dirt, would change the course of a creek going through the area, create too much traffic and hadn't been studied enough.

In the letter withdrawing the plan, Lucas said he no longer believed he could maintain a constructive relationship with the neighbors and castigated Marin for being "a bedroom community" that is better suited for subdivisions instead of business. The letter said he would build the studio in another more welcoming community and "find a developer (for Grady Ranch) who will be interested in low-income housing since it is scarce in Marin."

That's great news for Pittsburgh, the next great hub of animation movie production. There is plenty of space available in the city for any digital technology business. There is also a glut of talent. Lucas should stake his claim in the urban frontier.

Global entrepreneurial greenfields are found in either developing countries or Rust Belt cities. Like Chicago, the Bay Area is beginning to collapse under its own weight. Yesterday's Creative Class darlings are tomorrow's dying cities.

1 comment:

OctaviusIII said...

It's frustrating to see Marin painted in such stark colors over the actions of a few people. Lucas called the neighborhood a "bedroom community", not the county, and the rest of Marin pleaded with him to stay.

The Board of Supervisors were poised to approve the plan unanimously; it was only the threat of lawsuit that ended Grady Ranch.