We’re Moving. Fire And Money Are Driving Us Away.

marthature
5 min readMay 21, 2021

I have almost finished emptying and packing up the upstairs bathroom. There’re only 4 closets, 2 offices, 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, a kitchen, laundry room, living room and dining room to go. Also one carport. Of course, we don’t yet have a house to go to. We just need to get rid of stuff. Lots of stuff. It’s a process.

It’s like this. Fire and money are driving us away. We don’t want to leave, but we just can’t stay. (Yup, I wrote a song with this lyric…)

To unpack that, we don’t own a house, and we can’t afford to buy one anywhere in California, except in redneck country that’s far away from health care and friends. We’ve thrown away $2100 a month in rent in this house since May 1, 2004. That’s $680,400. We still couldn’t buy a house here for that money. Our house has no insulation, bad wiring, and is a fire trap on a fire trap road. It’s May, and there has been a fire in San Rafael, a fire in Topanga Canyon ascribed to arson, a fire in Martinez, kids playing with matches, a fire in Santa Barbara. With grief and ambivalence, we began looking for a place to live in October 2017 when we got back from a vacation and walked into the smoke of the Tubbs Fire and the Carr Fire and all the others since.

The people who have moved into our town and are taking over the culture have the money. The ones who buy a $350,000 uninsulated wooden house up in the high-fire-hazard hills for $1.1 million, and then add insulation, replace the roof, do all the work the previous owner, a retired…

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marthature

Award-winning wildlife and nature photographer (https://mttamalpaisphotos.com), retired from California PUC, EPA, NOAA. Recovering journalist.