One man, his apartment building and a shrub

David Briggs
12/08/2011

Information regarding a certain despondent shrub in front of the four-unit apartment complex along Mesa Road, in Point Reyes Station, was unearthed on Tuesday, raising few concerns from anyone about anything remotely related.

The Community Land Trust Association of West Marin (CLAM), which owns the property and is planning to retrofit the complex once it secures funding, was unavailable for comment.

In a rousing 1984 column by former Light publisher Don DeWolfe, which described a particularly quirky incident that transpired one Friday in the mid-1970s, when its developer, Robert Worthington, was completing his application for county construction permits.

According to DeWolfe, who witnessed the event from the rear window of the newspaper’s office at the corner of Highway One and Mesa Road, Worthington showed up at the then vacant lot with an acquaintance and a monstrous backhoe and promptly began tearing into the asphalt at its far northeastern corner.

DeWolfe, bewildered by the activity, wandered out to warn Worthington that he was “fixing to get into a heap of trouble” with the county. But Worthington, a retired Marine who’d once been stabbed by Japanese forces in the South Pacific, didn’t seem to care. “The hell I can’t,” DeWolfe recalled him responding. Worthington explained that when the county had originally paved Mesa Road it had over-calculated its boundary, cutting over the corner of his property by a few feet–feet he now needed back in order to reach the size requirements for his permits.

“Look, Don,” Worthington went on, spitting into the low-slung sun. “It’s Friday afternoon. All the big wigs at city hall have already left for the weekend. By Monday morning I’ll have the forms all in and be ready to pour the foundation.”

As DeWolfe wrote, “Monday morning came, and so did the county.” After examining the newly battered corner, they called a road crew in to smooth it out, this time leaving the corner untouched. Worthington, elated by the success of his ruse, positioned a small cypress shrub surrounded by a concrete island to mark the spot.

And that was mostly the end of it: Worthington got his permit, and Point Reyes Station became the unintended beneficiary of a small but promising bit of vegetation.

Ironically, though, the decades since have proven unforgiving to the plant, which, according to resident sources, has been repeatedly hit by wayward vehicles and their negligent drivers as they try to cut the corner—as they had once been guided to do.