Supervisors deny Bolinas affordable housing appeal

06/09/2021

The Bolinas Community Land Trust’s downtown affordable housing project cleared another hurdle this week when the Marin County Board of Supervisors denied a neighbor’s appeal. Roland Crotts, who owns the property next to the proposed eight-unit development, contested many parts of the project, including its size, parking and impact on water and sewers. His most prominent concern was that the project would eliminate two-way access to the driveway between the two properties, which he says his family has used for 80 years. The land trust plans to convert the driveway, which is on its property, into an exit only and connect it to a second driveway next to Smiley’s to use as an entrance. Mr. Crotts said driving up to Smiley’s and looping around through the complex is not something he wants to do. “And I certainly don’t want to have to ask my tenants to be doing that,” he said. At the hearing on Tuesday, the vast majority of commenters spoke in favor of the project, stressing the dire need for housing as families and workers are pushed out of Bolinas. The vacant parcel is the only property in Bolinas that is zoned for multi-family housing, and because the project is entirely affordable housing, height restrictions and parking requirements were waived. Eight low-income families would live there, with rents determined by their income. Lawyers for the land trust and Marin County told supervisors they had little choice in approving the project. The Housing Affordability Act says that counties cannot deny affordable housing unless there is a “significant, quantifiable, direct and unavoidable impact” based on written public health and safety standards, county lawyer Brian Case said. Mr. Crotts’s lawyer, John Sharp, argued that emergency vehicles wouldn’t be able to access his property, and he showed a crowded stretch of Wharf Road. But the department of public works approved the parking and traffic plans, and the fire department signed off and said they would not bring a vehicle up the driveway anyway, because hoses can reach from the road. Before the unanimous vote, Supervisor Dennis Rodoni said he thought the project was great, but that he wished the conversation was less divisive. The two sides negotiated over the project design, but talks broke down and the appeal was filed, potentially delaying the project. “I wish the community could’ve worked together more to resolve these issues. I know it wasn’t for a lack of trying, but it was probably for a lack of listening, on everyone’s part,” Supervisor Rodoni said. Mr. Sharp had no comment after the meeting. Because the project is located in the coastal zone, Mr. Crotts can appeal the county’s coastal permit to the California Coastal Commission. If that were to fail, his only option would be litigation. The land trust still must create construction drawings and obtain building permits before breaking ground next year.