Stinson addresses housing crisis

11/17/2011

With young adults and workers hard pressed to find inexpensive rentals in Stinson Beach, residents are exploring the possibility of establishing an affordable housing program. At a community meeting on Tuesday, Stinson Beach Fire Chief Kenny Stevens said the problem has reached such a crisis point that soon the fire department will no longer be able to respond to calls because younger employees cannot find housing. “You’re not gonna have the young people that are gonna take over this town in another 10 or 15 years,” he said. “It’s gonna be like a ghost town with a big ‘for rent’ sign on it.” Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey said the most important issue would be selecting the right site. “Because of the combination of our environmental protection and our Coastal Act, we face a significant challenge here,” he said, suggesting the town focus efforts on existing structures, like renovating commercial buildings or renting second units. Residents questioned the costliness of permitting second units and how new structures would get through the local water board, and some suggested limiting the number of empty properties through taxation. “It’s a societal problem,” farmer Will Scott, 23, said. “The fact that half the houses here are empty. The hard way is building affordable housing. The reality is there’s housing here—how do we make it affordable?” Chris Harrington, who organized the meeting, said the challenge would not be generating public support. “I don’t think getting the community organization headed the same way on this will be a big challenge,” he said. “The challenge in affordable housing is always money.”