Saturday, October 20, 2012

Here comes the developers of Marinwood Plaza on October 27th!

Bridge Housing Corporation, members of the design team, Marin County planning staff and friends and supporters will be on hand for a spectacular open house.

It's an interactive meeting with updates on the design process and status of the plans!

You have a chance for input.

It's a visioning thing...

Meeting Agenda:
Welcome, Introductions, History and Process 10:00 - 10:45AM
Interaction with Development and Design Team 10:45-11:30 AM
Wrap up and discussion next steps!  11:30 AM to Noon

Saturday, October 27, 2012
Mary Silvera School
375 Blackstone Drive
San Rafael, CA.

Has ABAG Become Irrelevant?



Has ABAG Become Irrelevant?

Regional association keeps displaying signs of a disconnect with the people it is supposed to represent.
I recently attended a Marin County Council of Mayors and Councilmembers (MCCMC) meeting to listen to a presentation given by Ken Kirkey, the director of planning to the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). Kirkey gave an update on the One Bay Area plan and the latest Regional Housing Needs Allocation.
He was supposed to answer questions that councilmembers had submitted prior to the meeting but neglected to answer many of them. Residents were also given the opportunity to ask questions. In response, Kirkey oftentimes gave rote answers that had little to do with the actual questions, stated that the question(s) were outside ABAG’s purview, or simply stated that regardless of why a community would have difficulties complying with the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) numbers, they would have to plan for those numbers anyway.
The presentation was another display of ABAG’s disconnect with the counties, cities and people it is supposed to represent.
for more: Has ABAG become Irrelevant?

Friday, October 19, 2012

It's Dangerous to Trust Those with Crystal Balls

If you can count up the new ABAG numbers, thank those — such as Sharon Rushton — who protested the old ones.
Beware when the president of an organization starts out with "We of (blank) were puzzled ..."

For More:

Its dangerous to trust those with Crystal Balls

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Do you live in the Marinwood Priority Development Area?

Marinwood Priority Development Area (PDA)

The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) has determined all of the East of Las Gallinas to Highway 101 and North of Lucas Valley Rd  should be prioritized for high density development.  In addition to extremly low income (ELI), very low income (VLI), low income (LI) and moderate income "workforce housing", senior and disabled housing, permanent homeless shelters may be built. The locations for priority development areas are considered for their proximity to transportation and the communities need and willingness to build.  
see more at:
We will have high density housing in Marinwood Lucas Valley unless people like you are willing to be heard. Talk with your neighbor. Write the local media and politicians.  Join us in the mission to inform our neighbors what is planned for our community. 
Find out more about the 2012 Housing Element for Unincorporated Marin at :

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fighting Back Against the 'Monster' Known as ABAG


Fighting Back Against the 'Monster' Known as ABAG

By Lloyd Pittman

Once again a new deadline, Sept. 19, looms over us for the proposed 2014-2022 RHNA (low income housing) comments.

The Association of Bay Area Governments not only mandates an allocation of low-income housing but goes further and oversteps its mission by attempting to force Novato to build and provide what it terms moderate-rate and above-moderate-rate housing. It is demanding we increase the housing supply in Novato with forced high-density development.

This is a disguised effort to regulate not only affordable housing but all market rate development using SB375 as a justification. If we are serious about greenhouse gas reductions, we must reject ABAG mandates of unfunded new housing brought about by the importation of new residents and first provide for our current senior and working class residents.

Novato Citizens are fighting the Monster known as ABAG

Silvestri: Why One Bay Area’s Growth Plan Is Not the Answer

Greenwashed high density housing for developer profits/

In reaction to my Op-Ed piece, “Why Are Local Leaders Paralyzed Over ABAG’s One Bay Area Plan?” some people commented that we have no choice but to accept One Bay Area’s vision because the urgency of our climate change crisis demands that we do everything we can, right now, without hesitation. But doing “everything we can” and doing “more of the same” is an important distinction we need to make.
That said, there are three things wrong with the argument that says we have to take action indiscriminately. The first is the assumption that there is an egalitarian “we” that can respond effectively to climate change issues. The second is the assumption that One Bay Area is a viable solution based on the belief that high density development reduces greenhouse gases (GHG). And the third is that the automobile is inherently evil.

Article: One Bay Area Plan is not the answer

Monday, October 15, 2012

How SB-375 affects development in Marin

Having trouble understanding what SB 375 means to you?

The following is an article from our fellow Citizen Marin affliate in Tam Valley and Almonte:


by Sharon Rushton, Ann Spake, Ann Burke, and Clayton Smith


Please note that this summary focuses on how SB-375 encourages development in Tam Valley and Almonte.  [Ed. Note:  San Rafael and Novato also have Priority Development Areas (PDAs) that encompass SMART train station stops. Marinwood has a PDA that involves a bus stop]


Background Information about RHNA

“Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) is a state-mandated process for determining how many housing units, including affordable units, each community must plan to accommodate. The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) determines the total housing need for a region, and it is the Association of Bay Area Government’s (ABAG's) responsibility to distribute this need to local governments. Working with local governments, ABAG developed an allocation methodology for assigning units, by income category, to each city and county in the nine-county Bay Area. This allocation of need shows local governments the total number of housing units, by affordability, for which they must plan in their Housing Elements for each planning period. 
Allocations for each jurisdiction are published in the annual housing report.”

Senate Bill (SB) 375 Overview

California State Senate Bill (SB) 375 was signed into law in 2008. “SB 375 requires that our Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) contain a Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) that integrates land-use planning and transportation planning. For the 25-year period covered by the Regional Transportation Plan, the Sustainable Communities Strategy must identify areas within the nine-county Bay Area sufficient to house all of the region’s population, including all economic segments of the population. It must also attempt to coordinate the resulting landuse pattern with the transportation network so as to reduce per capita greenhouse-gas emissions from personal-use vehicles (automobiles and light trucks).” (Bay Area Plan – Initial Vision Plan 2011 by ABAG & MTC: Page 1)

SB 375 does not supersede local laws and local governments are explicitly not required to update their general plans in accordance with the law’s centerpiece, the Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS). However, SB 375 uses incentives (I.e. transportation funding, etc.) and penalties (I.e. court sanctions; accelerated Housing Element update cycles, etc.) to entice local jurisdictions to follow the law.

Moreover, under the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) state law, a local government is still required to amend its Housing Element and rezone its land in order to accommodate the quantity of housing it was assigned under the RHNA — and SB 375 requires that the RHNA be consistent with the Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS). In that sense, local governments will still be called
upon to implement major aspects of the SCS (via the RHNA), whether or not they want to.

As a result, when local governments select Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) sites, the sites should be close to mass transit. Furthermore, when local governments update their Housing Elements and zoning, these updates should allow for compact, high-density, mixed-use commercial and affordable residential development at the selected RHNA sites.

ABAG’s  MTC’s Implementation of the Sustainable Communities Strategy

Two major regional planning agencies – the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) are leading the Sustainable Communities Strategy process. In March 2011, they released the Plan Bay Area - Initial Vision Scenario that represents a starting point for implementing the Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) and making the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) consistent with the Sustainable Communities Strategy. This Initial Vision Scenario will eventually develop into the final Plan Bay Area - Sustainable Communities Strategy. In Marin County, the Initial Vision Scenario focuses RHNA sites near transit hubs in City Centers and along the US Route 101 highway corridor.

The Plan Bay Area - Initial Vision Scenario incorporates Priority Development Areas (PDAs) and Growth Opportunity Areas (areas in close proximity to public transit). When selecting sites for RHNA residential units, local jurisdictions are encouraged to select sites that are located within PDAs or Growth Opportunity Areas.

Priority Development Areas (PDAs) are locally-identified, infill development opportunity areas within existing communities. They are generally areas of at least 100 acres where there is local commitment to developing more housing along with amenities and services to meet the day-to-day needs of residents in a  pedestrian-friendly environment served by transit. To be eligible to become a
PDA, an area had to be within an existing community, near existing or planned fixed transit or served by comparable bus service, and planned for more .”

 The Plan Bay Area - Initial Vision Scenario indicates that Unincorporated Marin County should plan for 2738 more RHNA housing units between YEARS 2010-2035 in Priority Development Areas and Growth Opportunity Areas.  Based on the Initial Vision Scenario map, the Almonte & Tam Valley lowlands that are within ½ mile from the freeway, are targeted for growth and have been designated part of the Hwy 101 Corridor Priority Development Area (PDA).


**Please note that this is not yet a permanent designation but will become permanent in March 2013 unless the community convinces the Board of Supervisors to remove Tam Valley and Almonte from the PDA.  The blue outline & shaded area in the below area map shows the parcels of Tam Valley and Almonte that are included in the Hwy 101 Corridor Priority Development Area (PDA).

SB-375 Incentives for Developers to Build the “Right” Type of Housing:

SB 375 includes specific incentives, including State and Federal funding, ford developers that build the “right” type of housing:  Streamlined CEQA Review and Total Exemption from CEQA for Projects Consistent with the Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS).  The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) usually requires that the potentially significant impacts of a new development project be evaluated in an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), along with mitigation measures and potential alternatives that reduce the impact of the project. However, SB-375 streamlines and exempts from California Environment Quality Act (CEQA) categories of development that meet specific criteria.

“The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) has sometimes created a legal barrier to infill development. SB 375 adjusts CEQA and streamlines or exempts Environment Impact Reports (EIRs) for projects that are consistent with either an approved Sustainable Community Strategy (SCS) or, if the SCS does not meet its targets, an approved Alternative Planning Strategy (APS).” (SB 375 Fact Sheet by Stuart Cohen, Executive Director of Transform (a Bay Area transportation advocacy group) -  Thus, SB 375 mandates local governments to plan for concentrated housing near transit hubs and then gives incentives to developers to construct the housing units in those areas.

How this affects Tam Valley and Almonte as Plan Bay Area implements SB 375ʼs Sustainable Communities Strategy, it mandates Marin County to plan for concentrated housing in the PDAs and then gives incentives to developers to construct affordable housing in those PDAs.

Therefore, as long as Tam Valley & Almonte remain in the Hwy 101 Corridor PDA, these districts will be targeted for accelerated development and growth.

Questions Regarding SB – 375 That Were Answered by Stacy Laumann, a Marin County Planner on 8/1/11:

QUESTION: In order to comply with SB-375, when local governments select RHNA sites, must all the sites be close to mass transit?(OR) Does the law simply encourage RHNA sites to be close to mass transit and a local jurisdiction can choose to ignore this preference? (OR) Does SB 375 require that a certain percentage be close to mass transit? [Background: SB 375 requires that the RHNA be consistent with the Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS).]

ANSWER: Housing element law (not SB 375 or RHNA statutes) specifies how a jurisdiction may satisfy its housing need (as identified by the RHNA). Housing element law does not specifically require proximity to any amenity, such as transit. However, it does require (Government Code Section 65583(a)(3)) “ analysis of the relationship of zoning and public facilities and services to these sites.” Energy conservation and efficient land use are considered in the certification of the housing element. SB375 is intended to produce a regional plan (SCS) to reduce greenhouse gasses, and align transportation and land use planning. RHNA consistency with the SCS has to do with how the regionʼs projected growth is distributed to jurisdictions in the region.

Although the SCS has no direct control over local land use decisions, SB375 and the SCS are intended to locate housing in proximity to transit and employment growth opportunities, retail centers and other amenities.

QUESTION: Must all selected RHNA sites be zoned for compact, high-density, mixed use commercial and affordable residential development?

ANSWER: No. The housing elementʼs site inventory must demonstrate opportunity for a
range of housing types and income levels. A jurisdiction must also demonstrate that land
use conditions exist to promote and facilitate lower income housing, including zoning for
multi-family housing.

QUESTION: If a local jurisdiction does not accept the incentives offered by SB 375, how much of the law may a local jurisdiction avoid? (E.g. If a local jurisdiction does not accept SB 375 incentives, may the local jurisdiction keep CEQA intact and require that all developments be evaluated by a full EIR?)

ANSWER: Many incentives offered through SB375 are related to transportation infrastructure improvements. But it sounds like you are referring to CEQA incentives for new structures. If a development project is consistent with SCS and certain other criteria, then it could qualify for streamlined CEQA incentives. Please see the following website for information on SB375 CEQA incentives.


QUESTION: Could the local jurisdiction ignore the law entirely, provided it did NOT accept any incentives? If not, what parts of the law must a jurisdiction adhere to and what may it ignore? –

ANSWER (Given by Brian Crawford): The incentives of SB375 are basically access to regional transportation funding and the CEQA streamlining measures referred to above.

We expect there to be a correlation between the amount of regional transportation funding a local jurisdiction receives and the amount of regional growth that is planned for the jurisdiction through the SCS. Based on the Initial Vision Scenario, Marin County has a very low percentage of the Bay Areaʼs projected growth over the next 30 years (I believe its somewhere around 1%). In that regard, Marin doesnʼt appear to have much of the incentive as compared to other places in the Bay Area that have thus far been assigned much higher projected growth numbers in the vision scenario process and presumably will receive a larger share of the Bay Areaʼs regional transportation funds.

Although the SCS process is still in the planning stages, every county and city in the BayArea should be assigned some portion of the total projected future growth and the portions will vary, in some cases dramatically, based on the number of future households and jobs are assigned to specific jurisdictional areas through the final SCS. The growth projections will, in turn, affect the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) each jurisdiction is responsible for in the next Housing Element update cycle (2014-2022), to what extent remains to be seen. A Housing Methodology Committee
omposed of officials from around the Bay Area is currently working on that issue. So while you may hear that local jurisdictions are not required to comply with SB 375, how the legislation is implemented through the SCS (i.e., how regional growth projections are allocated at the local level) will most likely affect their Housing Element update requirements for identifying housing opportunity sites (both market rate and affordable). I donʼt see that connection being avoidable. Also, I donʼt think the CEQA streamlining procedures are contingent upon the extent to which a local jurisdiction takes part in the SCS process. Itʼs more likely a matter of whether a project is proposed that is consistent with the SCS and meets all of the other required criteria for streamlining.

Silvestri: The Big Con that led to housing mandates for Marin

The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local governments for state mandates. “Unfunded mandates,” which are orders that induce “responsibility, action, procedure or anything else that is imposed by constitutional, administrative, executive, or judicial action” for state and local governments and/or the private sector, are not allowed, or at the very least are not enforceable without compensation.
If this is true, how did we end up in a situation where the State of California is sucking more and more of our tax dollars up to Sacramento while making more and more demands on local county and city governments about educational requirements, health and safety requirements, and particularly on local planning and things like affordable housing Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) quotas without providing any funding to accomplish them?

more:   Article:The Big Con

Sunday, October 14, 2012

In the future, all of us will be living in mud huts in Lucas Valley?

Your Future home in Lucas Valley?
In the future we will be all living in mud huts?   Cool!
This house was featured in ABAG's regional housing needs allocation report 2007-2014 published on this blog.  I really think it is a great house.  When I dreamed of moving to California in my younger days,  I imagined I might live in a cool dwelling like this.  I'd have a beautiful wife and children,  make art, have an organic garden, live simply and cheaply.  It would be my cabin at Walden Pond.
The profound irony is that this house is featured in a ABAG report.  This house specifically may be prohibited under the SMART GROWTH objectives of compacting living zones along transportation corridors and building multifamily dwellings.  
The goals of  SMART GROWTH are completely opposite of idiosyncratic lifestyle as depicted here.  It is about rigid conformity based on a central planning approach to organizing a region.  Sure, the Transit Orient Developments will be pretty.  They will be Disneyland cute.  The core concept behind  SMART GROWTH is to place controls on everything that makes us unique and free in order to serve the goals of the regional government.  They will tell it is for the "greater good" i.e. as they alone define "greater good".  It is a quiet tyranny like the Bay Area has never seen.
Let us remain free to decide our neighborhoods, choose our lifestyles, build our dreams.  This is the America we inherited.  This is what we must protect.  This is what we must keep alive for our children.
Speak out!  Talk with your neighbor. Call your Supervisor. Save your home. Save our community.

ABAG dictates Regional Housing Needs Assessment Report 2007-2014

ABAG gives us our housing quotas for 2007-2014
Here is the final report for the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) given for the entire bay area.  I am amused at the the use of cool alternative dwellings like houseboats and rammed earth huts as examples.  They are pushing high density apartment buildings around bus stops, highways and train stations to "reduce our carbon footprint".   How they justify bulldozing land, ignoring CEQA, building on sensitive land,  massively increasing our population in concentrated zones as "green" boggles the imagination.

I think "green" refers to developer's cash,  government grants and consulting fees. 

Here the report in entirety:

ABAG Regional Housing Needs 2007-2014