Lagunitas local John Torrey’s LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Point Reyes Light, August 27, 2015
Hoffman’s site is historic

Regarding the “Tea Purveyor” article, the piece makes no mention of the legal framework behind historic documentation which is to protect the property from demolition acknowledging the site’s historic status protection from CEQA. A report documenting the property’s potential as County historic landmark was provided to Supervisor Kinsey almost 3 years ago.

I put it together. Kinsey simply sat on it.

The County needs a demolition permit in order to proceed with any destruction of the property. Even if the county waives the need for a demolition permit they are still liable to a CEQA challenge if there is any threat to potential historic structures on the property.

The property in its entirety is, like Watts Tower, a folk art environment and is, according to three historic experts, protected by two criteria of the California Register of Historical Resources. It should be noted that if the property is not listed but nevertheless meets the criteria specified in California Public Resources Code section 5024.1 (defining eligibility for listing in the California Register of Historical Resources), then it is presumed to be “historically significant.”

Nor did the article make any mention of perhaps the most egregious example of local political betrayal. A 1,000 person petition was provided to Kinsey along with the historic report. Speaking for the petitioners, I can state unequivocally that the petition makes clear that San Geronimo Valley residents want a cooperative plan developed to save the property. Kinsey never even acknowledged the petition. Again, he just sat on it. He doesn’t get it. We don’t work for him. He works for us. We’re the boss, not him. Obviously, ignoring petitions sets a very dangerous precedent for the entire county.

Kinsey has said many times to me and others that “he has always wanted to save Hoffman’s property.” Yet like a lot of politicians he has no intention of saving the property at all. He simply says things like that to make himself feel good. It’s a pure giveaway line. David, his attorney Paul Smith and I have worked tirelessly to come up with the basics of a cooperative plan to be developed in conjunction with the County to save the property based on the following:

Removal of tea from the site. Presentation to the County of an independent hydrology report documenting the site’s grey- water, blackwater, and drainage systems. A revision to the financial obligations of the property that will provide for necessary future maintenance of the property and payment of fines while not at the same time creating unsustainable debt. A third party professional agreeable to the County to act as an alternate to the receiver for the property designated by the County. This person would have the ability to evaluate and execute necessary health and safety upgrades on the property. Recognition of the property as an historic resource in accordance with criteria of the California Register of Historical Resources.

Will the County meet with us or will they simply ignore Valley residents and the state’s environmental law? Hopefully the Point Reyes Light will pursue this issue head on in the true spirit of investigative journalism and its Pulitzer Prize reputation.

John Torrey

Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang’s LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Point Reyes Light, August 20, 2015
Support Hoffman

Thanks to Samantha Kimmey for her report (Aug. 13, 2015) about David Hoff- man, tea purveyor par excellence, sustainability maven and artist of the first order. We were heartened to read that the county is considering special designations for some of the buildings at Hoffman’s architectural wonder, the Last Resort, in Lagunitas. We support this decision however it is important to recognize that every stitch of the Last Resort is important to the whole. Being there one feels the uplift of being inside a great vision, coherent and, above all, useful. It’s not a far stretch to feel the embodiment of great structures that were both useful and stunning to the psyche. What Hoffman has realized in stone and wood is nothing short of the wonder of Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers in Los Angeles or the standing stones of Stonehenge—beautiful in their own right and functional as an agricultural time piece.

We’ve known Hoffman some 40 years, since his arrival in the San Geronimo Val- ley, and have marveled at his energy for building and designing supreme useful- ness into the very structures crucial to our survival on planet earth. Hoffman has fashioned water systems, food systems, and waste systems that are self-sustaining. In our drought times his exemplary water works, that use grey water for his worms and garden, should be adopted as true alternatives to ameliorate our water crisis.

Everything at Hoffman’s home is beautiful and beautifully useful. The Last Re- sort is a work of art. Our vote is for the county receiver to re-shape the entirety of the Last Resort into a teaching center for the beauty of sustainability—as a precious resource for now and for the future.

We encourage everyone to sign the petition of support at http://thelastresortla- and write to Supervisor Steve Kinsey (

A.J. Marson has created a short film, a testimony to David’s fine work…

Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang
Forest Knolls

Letter from David Lee Hoffman to Jxxx Bxxx

 The Last Resort
July 15th, 2015 

Hi Jean, 

It was 15 years ago I read a little blurb tucked away in the back pages of a newspaper talking about species extinction rate had surpassed 100 per day! I remember thinking why wasn’t this information headlined on the front page of every newspaper? It’s taken me all these years to understand the answer to this conundrum. The attitude of the Planning Group reminded me of this. 

It is so easy in wealthy, comfortable Marin to disregard the cries of the planet and believe our money can fix the ills and protect us from future personal discomforts and inconveniences. We separate and isolate ourselves from nature and real sustainable life. We forget that we too are just creatures of the planet dependent on clean water and air, and healthy food. It’s from our ignorance and arrogance that blinds us to our beautiful planet’s current fate, the Sixth Mass Extinction. Unlike the other five, this one is caused by the way we have chosen to live on the planet. It comes as no surprise that this information isn’t on the front page either! 

It’s a folly to think our complacent leaders and politicians will resolve the problem (let alone even have a dialog that a problem exists). We are living in difficult and challenging times. We need bold and innovative action. We need leaders and politicians with a backbone strong enough to stand up and fight for the planet. It is not enough to put in a few bike trails and then boast that Marin has “one of the greenest counties in the country”? 

We are in the midst of a drought the likes not seen for 500 years. The same ridiculous and archaic laws with regards to water are still in place. Greywater systems that function are illegal. Composting toilets are illegal. It is illegal to capture and store winter rainwater running down the driveway. I know because I am being penalized for all three. 

I eat almost exclusively out of my organic garden all year around and have done so for 40 years. I enjoy fresh fruit off my trees that I planted. My water supply is meager but I’ve so far managed to grow 

my own food and still have some left for friends and neighbors. My MMWD water usage is less than a third of county average. Why? Because I irrigate using grey water and stored rainwater. 

I can also grow great tasting and healthy food without purchasing any input for the soil. All fertilizer is generated in situ on the premises. In 42 years on the property, I have never used herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides and have never had an insect problem. Frogs, snakes, lizards roam freely in the garden. 

My carbon footprint is minimal; 3 •••lbs of firewood cooks an entire meal. That’s less than a SUV uses to drive to Fairfax and back. Or I can easily cook the same in my solar cooker when the sun is shining. But wood ash provides valuable minerals and nutrients for the soil and is an important addition to my earthworm’s diet. 

I have lived and have worked out of my home for 42 years. From the beginning, the County of Marin has been selling me a business license for my tea business. Now they want my little business moved off the property. I will probably close up shop as I’m too old to begin anew somewhere else. 

All these years of unpermitted labor has been done with one purpose in mind: to build a demonstration model of sustainability. With that I am successful. Many visitors come here and see only the whimsical architecture and eclectic structures. John Torrey was motivated to pursue Historic Landmark Status because of the overall Folk Art theme. Walter Scott was impressed by the designs and construction techniques. But for me, first and foremost, are the systems in place for handling “waste” and water recycling. I am not proselytizing theories, but can demonstrate in practice viable alternatives to our common polluting and wasteful practices. 

I recently had a tribal leader from Africa visit me where the preciousness of water is clearly understood by all who politely asked, “you Americans strange. Why do you shit in your drinking water?” 

And wash our cars, do our laundry, hose down the sidewalks, all with purified drinking water! As an ever-increasing thirsty planet struggles with the lack of clean, safe water, isn’t this a good time for a paradigm shift? 

I’m a worker, I make things, I invent things. I’ve been using my hands as tools for construction all my life. But I also seem to have a knack for getting on the wrong side of the law. Now I’m at the end of the road here as far as being able to live in my home. The majority of the $350,000 fine the County has levied against me has been applied to my tax bill. This will allow them to sell my property for unpaid taxes. I’ve already spent over $100,000 in legal fees. Unless my current attorney can convince the County to go back to an earlier reduced fine of $60,000.00, which I have agreed to pay, I think its time for me to give up the legal battle and leave Marin. 

Jean, I’m not asking for any help from you. I knowingly and willingly built without permits for forty-two years. I will accept my fate. But I do want you to know I have been, and will remain, a big fan of yours. The work you have done to preserve the beautiful character of this valley is your legacy. I am honored to have been your neighbor and friend all these years. 

My best wishes to you and your family, 


P.S. By the way, we are having an open house on Saturday, August 8th, from 10:00am to 5:00 pm. Please drop by if you can. I don’t believe anyone on the Planning Group has ever been to my property. They are welcome to come as well…



Letter of Support from Sim Van der Ryn

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Sim Van der Ryn, an acknowledged leader in sustainable architecture pledged his support for The Last Resort in a letter to the Marin County Board of Supervisors. See the full letter here.

Marin Independent Journal Editorial in support of The Last Resort

WE HOPE Marin Supervisor Steve Kinsey can find a way to resolve Lagunitas artisan David Lee Hoffman’s county permit problems.

Hoffman’s backyard creations are supposed to be models of sustainability. His efforts also have created run-ins with county enforcement officials.

Kinsey hopes he can work with Hoffman and county staff to come up with a compromise where the 68-year-old Hoffman can bring his creations up to county codes and reduce his numerous fines “to a more manageable amount.” An administrative law judge has ordered Hoffman to pay $226,000 in county fines and to tear down the 30 or so structures he built as models of sustainable living. The judge threw the book at Hoffman. [Read more…]