Letters to the Editor: June 16, 2015

Go Local sailing; Not easy being small

Sail On

Great article about the “Marco Polo exception” (“Eat Like Marco,” June 3) and sail transport!

I wanted to let you know of some similar local efforts. The local chapter of Sail Transport Network (www.sailtransportnetwork.org) is trying to drum up and organize interest in two local San Francisco Bay sail transport projects. First is a scow-schooner for transport on the bay. Petaluma was founded where it is because that’s as far as the scow-schooners (local Bay transport of the 1800s) could get up the Petaluma River.

The second project is similar to the Tres Hombres but for the Pacific. One of the best-ever Pacific sail transport ships, the Galilee, was built in San Francisco in the 1880s. She could move 300 tons of cargo from SF to Tahiti in 19 days on wind power alone—in 1885! A record that remains unbroken. A replica of that ship is being built in Sausalito (www.educationaltallship.org). This replica, named the “Matthew Turner” after the designer, will be used for educational purposes. We would like to build a second “Matthew Turner,” but use it for Pacific transport like the Tres Hombres is doing in the Atlantic. If anyone is interested in either of these two projects, feel free to contact me at [email protected].

Santa Rosa

Small Problem

After reading “Small but Mighty” (June 3) I felt compelled to dispel the hype. It seems every other weekend I meet Bay Area transplants, artists, vagabonds and, sadly, young entrepreneurial farmers who are under the illusion that tiny homes and mobile, modular housing are a viable option.

Sonoma County has extremely narrow stipulations on how these dwellings may be occupied, which utterly excludes those of limited means. Under current conditions, these units will only be additions to pre-existing homes as backyard guest rooms, office spaces or, worse yet, Airbnb rentals.

Many people who grew up in this county and imagined staying dream that they may find a bit of land to live simply on. But a leftover bit of legislation meant to quell the growth of communes in the 1970s prevents those who choose to live small to do so. I feel that it is dishonest to hype this movement as a legitimate solution to housing, to environmental concerns, to simpler lives, and most importantly, as a means for young farmers to occupy and work land.

Many of these issues were not addressed in the article and remain under-addressed whenever the tiny-house movement is written about.

Although the concept is great and the designs exciting, it is the legal constraints that prevent it from actually becoming a reality for those who could truly benefit from the movement.


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