Holland advocates for West Marin housing

07/31/2014

County planners heard the first comments Monday night on the upcoming housing element that will plan for several hundred potential new homes over the next eight years. To meet projected growth, state mandates require the county to designate areas that could be developed to accommodate at least 185 housing units through 2023, an enormous cut from the 775 units required in the previous cycle. The county’s early list of sites exceeds requirements, with 502 possible units identified, including 361 for families with low and moderate incomes. Point Reyes Station’s vacant Grandi Building appeared on the short list of sites for two units of housing, but with larger projects elsewhere in the unincorporated parts of the county—Marinwood Village and California Park in San Rafael, Easton Point in Tiburon and Golden Gate Seminary in Mill Valley, for instance—the red brick building didn’t make this cycle’s inventory. As the night dragged on, Commissioner Wade Holland of Inverness called for a study of the housing problems that are unique to the county’s rural areas. Four decades after the county limited development in West Marin to center new homes along the 101 corridor, “it’s time to take a hard look at the full range of consequences of that decision and what it effects it has had over the long term on West Marin,” particularly in a shortage of available units, rising prices, unoccupied vacation rentals or second homes, fewer tools available to address the crisis and any other unforeseen consequences, Mr. Holland said. “We need to recognize that the problems are different in the rural areas from elsewhere in the county, and we need to get smart about how we deal with the housing and unemployment pressures that are already overwhelming our rural areas, especially along the coast.” Because heads were nodding—whether in agreement or drowsiness near 11 p.m.—commissioners gave the go-ahead to staff, who have already contacted the Community Land Trust Association of West Marin and the Bolinas Community Land Trust for input. The next hearings before the Planning Commission are scheduled for August 25 and November 17, and supervisors are expected to vote on the finished housing element by January next year.