Bolinas land trust aims for Stinson complex

12/04/2019

An affordable housing committee in Stinson Beach has partnered with the Bolinas Community Land Trust to secure a five-unit property for affordable housing in Stinson Beach. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved the allocation of $250,000 from the county’s affordable housing fund to the land trust, a step toward the $2.3 million acquisition.

The trust, which will own and manage the property, hopes to close the deal in January. It is the second time the Stinson committee, a seven-person unincorporated association, has partnered with a local land trust to pursue an affordable housing opportunity: In 2016, the committee formed to help the Community Land Trust Association of West Marin purchase an eight-unit apartment complex on Calle del Embarcadero.

“With all the conversions of housing to short-term rentals in Stinson Beach, the need for affordable housing is perhaps even more acute than for the rest of the county,” said Chris Harrington, a realtor with Oceanic Realty who brokered the recent purchase pro bono. “We’ve tried to aim for a multi-family property simply because we get more units than if we try to buy a single-family residence, which are also fiercely expensive.”

The property, located at 3755 Shoreline Highway, just north of the town center, consists of two lots. One lot has a multi-unit building that includes a studio, three one-bedroom units and one two-bedroom unit; the other lot is vacant but a small portion of it may be buildable. 

Although the groups now have enough money for a down payment, fundraising efforts are underway. To date, Mr. Harrington, who also sits on the town’s housing committee, said the group has raised around $650,000. Besides the monies awarded from the county’s fund this week, the Bolinas land trust has applied for $250,000 from the Marin Community Foundation, which will consider the request later this month. 

Arianne Dar, the trust’s executive director, said her group plans to detail the project to community members within two weeks of making the purchase. It will be the first property the trust owns in Stinson Beach. 

“Stinson is close enough to get to from Bolinas that I think our current board is interested in properties in Stinson, though not any other towns,” Ms. Dar said. She added, “We are excited about it. It’s nice because there are no multi-unit buildings in Bolinas, or anything zoned that way, and it’s much more cost-effective.”

The property will be deed restricted for people with extremely low, very low or low-income levels. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development data for 2019, a $48,350 or less annual income for a family of four meets the extremely low-income threshold, and up to $129,150 for the same size family meets the low threshold. 

None of the people currently living in the five units will have to leave after the property sells, county planning manager Leelee Thomas told supervisors on Tuesday. If those tenants don’t meet the income qualifications, they will pay market rate rent; when any of them move out, only income-qualifying tenants will be brought in. 

The board’s award this week leaves the balance of the county’s affordable housing fund at $5.8 million. The fund, established in 1980, most recently received a chunk of funding from the county’s general fund; it also receives ongoing monies from countywide development fees earmarked to support affordable housing. 

The affordable housing fund contributed to the last project in Stinson Beach: in 2016, it gave CLAM $1 million, half as a loan and half as grant, toward the $3 million purchase.  

The allocation, according to Ms. Thomas’s letter to the board, aligns with two goals listed in the countywide plan: to provide an adequate supply and variety of housing opportunities for the county’s workforce and their families, and to maintain a diversity of age, social and economic backgrounds among residents throughout Marin.