Scenic status sought for Lucas Valley Road

11/29/2012

Homeowners in Lucas Valley and other parts of the county showing support for a petition meant to designate Lucas Valley Road as the county’s first scenic route could once again block development plans along the same road.

The effort, which could lead to building and other restrictions along the entirety of the mainly rural corridor, has emerged amid plans by the Marin Community Foundation to build some 200 to 300 low-income housing units on the Grady Ranch, along the eastern end of the road. The property was the site of plans to build a digital production studio, which were scrapped in the spring by Lucasfilm after homeowners raised environmental and traffic concerns.

Dr. Tom Peters, president and CEO of the community foundation, acknowledged that the prospect of low-income housing might raise consternation among some homeowners who live in nearby wealthy neighborhoods. The proposed housing project is planned for the southeastern corner of the Grady Ranch—most of which was donated by Lucasfilm to the county as a conservation area—about four miles east of Route 101.

“We really believe in the notion that a more equitable county is a stronger and more healthy county,” Dr. Peters said.

In the past month more than 100 homeowners, many of whom live in San Rafael, have signed the online petition that calls on the county to “honor the unique, natural and scenic resources of Marin County.”

No one yet has come forward as the author of the petition, said Michael Paulick, a Lucas Valley homeowner who this week sent out a press release about the petition, which he described as a way to “make development more compatible with the environment” along the route.

County officials, including Supervisor Susan Adams, plan to meet in the middle of next month with homeowners to determine whether to seek approval from a program a part of the state’s Department of Transportation. The state would use certain criteria to decide whether the county road is eligible for scenic status.  

If approved, the county would follow state regulations that include limited roadside development and a ban on certain advertisements. The state also gives municipalities leeway to adopt additional guidelines for county roads.

Whether new state and county restrictions would affect the proposed housing project and other plans for development, an aide to Ms. Adams said, is “questionable.”