With a donation of up to $10 million and two grants, the Bolinas Community Land Trust has secured all of the funding it needs for two affordable housing developments: downtown townhomes and farmworker housing next to the fire station.
A $400,000 grant that county supervisors approved this week will be combined with the anonymous donation and $500,000 from the Marin Community Foundation to build 15 affordable units in Bolinas.
“These projects, which are not common at all, will make a really big impact on our housing needs in Bolinas,” said Evan Wilhelm, the managing director of the trust. “It’s a huge step in sustaining our community. The work isn’t done, but it’s a really exciting thing.”
The development of the downtown property may begin next spring; the trust will present its building plans for the property—a 2.5-acre parcel across from the Bolinas Market currently used for parking and dumpsters—at a community meeting on Nov. 14.
On a sloped half-acre at the front of the property, the trust is proposing two rows of townhomes that will include four three-bedroom units, four two-bedroom units and 22 covered parking spots. At the front of the property, two commercial units will fulfill a requirement of the California Coastal Commission.
“Visually from the street one will mainly see the storefront and some porches above it that serve the street side row homes,” the trust wrote in its grant application to the county.
The trust has not determined what businesses will operate in the commercial spaces. “We have not gotten that far yet,” said Arianne Dar, the executive director of the land trust. “They will not involve a lot of water.”
The trust will have to shuffle its water meters to accommodate the project. The property came with one meter, which the trust hopes it can swap with a higher-capacity meter it has at the Gibson House, where seven residents now live. To accommodate the Gibson House’s water needs, a meter the trust purchased years back would be assigned to it. “It’s all water that we already control,” Ms. Dar said. The trust will meet with the Bolinas Community Public Utility District on Nov. 20 to work on water usage plans.
The property destined for farmworker housing is a 20-acre parcel adjacent to the Tacherra Ranch. Its development has a longer timeline. On the four buildable acres, on the north side of the property, the trust aims to construct three buildings—a number limited only by water availability. The property is allotted just one water meter, and the project requires three.
This week, the trust is drilling a test bore to determine if a well is viable; if it is not, it will look to obtain two water meters.
The trust proposes two houses comprised of four living suites and a shared kitchen each, along with a three-bedroom accessory unit. It is also considering solar panels, a playground and a communal garden. The plans must comply with a Williamson Act agreement, which provides landowners with reduced property taxes in exchange for 10-year agreements to keep the land in agriculture. “We are trying to come up with creative solutions,” Ms. Dar said.
The $400,000 grant comes from the Marin County Affordable Housing Fund, which raises more than $1 million yearly from a tax on short-term visitors, levied by the passage of Measure W in 2018. The housing will be reserved for low-income, very-low-income and extremely-low-income families. In Marin, a family of four is designated as extremely low income if the household makes less than $48,350 per year; low-income households make $80,601 to $129,150 per year.
In November 2018, the anonymous donor agreed to pay for the land purchases and construction and asked for predevelopment to wrap up within 18 months.