Supes signal intent to buy Coast Guard site

08/14/2019

Marin has officially announced its desire to purchase the Coast Guard facility in Point Reyes Station for use as affordable housing. On Tuesday, county supervisors agreed to vote during their Sept. 17 on the purchase of the property from the United States, at a cost of $4.3 million.

Their notice of intent will be published in a newspaper for three consecutive weeks, as required with any property purchase by the county over $50,000. The purchase will be funded by the Marin County Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

“I’m looking forward to closing this deal, hopefully by the end of the year, and moving forward with this project,” Supervisor Dennis Rodoni said. “It’s so badly needed.”

The property’s 36 residential townhome units and eight ancillary buildings were vacated and deemed surplus by the federal government in 2014. Representative Jared Huffman orchestrated legislation that was signed by the President in 2016, mandating the property be sold to Marin County at fair market value so it could be used for public benefit.

Since then, county staff has conducted title research, property boundary survey verification, a facility needs assessment and a sanitary sewage disposal feasibility study, which will all remain private until the purchase is final. 

A third-party appraiser valued the property, a half mile east of downtown, in 2017. 

A household income below $129,150 qualifies a four-person household for subsidized low-income housing, based on the county’s median income of $136,800 in April.

At two public information meetings held last year, residents expressed a desire to give locals first dibs, in part because many agricultural workers commute from over the hill. Still, staff maintained that fair housing laws block this kind of preferential treatment.

The county will explore how exactly to use the property once the acquisition and a 90-day escrow are complete, but last year’s meetings and a community advisory group will inform its request for proposals to renovate the outdated and deteriorating housing units and install a new septic system.

The county will develop a use plan that is consistent with the Local Coastal Program and Countywide Plan, which currently zones the land for open area and allows for only limited residential and agricultural use. (The federal government was exempt.)

The Community Land Trust Association of West Marin has been instrumental throughout the process and plans to submit a bid to own and manage the property.

“Our only request at this point, together with our congratulations, is that the county demonstrates that the federal government’s timeline is one thing, and the county’s timeline is a very different thing,” said Kim Thompson, executive director of CLAM. “Let’s bring this property online for residents of the county and residents of West Marin as soon as possible, with expedited permitting and an expedited request-for-proposals process.”

On behalf of the Point Reyes Station Village Association, Mark Switzer expressed support for the purchase on Tuesday, saying that one of the principal tenets of the community plan is to provide affordable housing. He was one of several local residents who voiced their excitement about this next step.

“People are anxious to move forward on the purchase,” county planner Leelee Thomas said, “but unfortunately there’s still a lot of work to do.”