Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Here comes the ABAG Money! Important meeting Thursday at 7pm

A meeting potentially very relevant to those concerned about the  High Density Housing in Marinwood/Lucas Valley is occurring this Thursday, 7pm at the Marin Civic Center, details below. If you can make time this looks like a very interesting meeting where the dots are likely to be joined on how One Bay Area Funding is being released and controlled - the money trail may be revealed...



It is important that local Marinwood/Lucas Valley Citizens start showing up at these meetings and voice your concerns.  Remember,  these are the ABAG funding grants that caused the Board of Supervisors to "sell out" Marinwood/Lucas Valley to developers.  They are hoping you will stay home and don't bother. 


NOVEMBER 29, 2012 

7:00 P.M. 


3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael, California



This Thursday, November 29, at 7 pm, the TAM Board of Commissioners will consider the applications for One Bay Area Grant funding. The board meeting will be held in room 330 at the Marin County Civic Center, 3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael. 


Here is the link to the board meeting agenda and staff report:

See agenda item #8 “Programming of One Bay Area Grant (OBAG) Funds. The staff report for agenda item #8 begins on page 45 of the agenda packet.

Please note that before the TAM Board meeting, at 6 p.m., TAM [Transportation Authority of Marin] staff will hold an information session about the One Bay Area Grant (“OBAG”) program. Community members interested in learning more about the proposed OBAG projects or the review process are welcome to attend. The information session will be in Room 324A (the “Rug Room”) at the Marin County Civic Center.


Please forward this information to members of the community who may be interested in learning more about transportation funding in Marin. If you have any questions, give me a call.  

Linda M. Jackson

Planning Manager, Transportation Authority of Marin

415-226-0825 (w)

415-419-1523 (c)

On page 58 of the linked document:

Proposed project:

Marinwood Village


TLC There are two major components to the project: 1) reducing the width of the Marinwood Ave right of way, which is currently 89' and

vastly oversized for the neighborhood context; and 2) intersection improvements at Marinwood Ave and Miller Creek Rd, to

signalized or control traffic by means of a roundabout. The goal of the project is to ensure strong pedestrian and vehicular

connections to the redeveloped Marinwood Plaza Shopping Center, a roughly 5 acre infill site in unincorporated Marin County. One

of the keys to realizing the vision of a neighborhood village is to change the character of public right of ways to transform them into

inviting, walkable, bikable avenues, that also adequately handle vehicular traffic and parking.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Snooki loves "Smart Growth" for the Jersey Shore?

I wonder what Snooki thinks of Smart Growth coming to Jersey Shore? 
Is Smart Growth Really 'Smart'?
 first published in Bloomfield Patch  in Bloomfield, New Jersey
Many towns are engaging in some type of redevelopment or another.  And many are touting that it’s being based on Smart Growth Development.  While this type of development is being implemented, no one is questioning its validity.

So, what is Smart Growth?  And is it really all that smart?

Smart Growth development is a centralized land-use policy whose mission is to curb “suburban sprawl.”   In order to do that, the Smart Growth model of development is multi-use properties.  That is, retail on the bottom and apartments on top.  Some refer to this type of development as “stack ‘em and pack ‘em” housing.  These developments are built along transit lines, since that meets the other criteria of Smart Growth, to create pedestrian villages which extremely limit car use.

In the early days of our country, transportation was very limited.  This is why cities were the place to be.  It’s where commerce took place.

As our choices in transportation became better, people realized they would like to live outside the city limits and actually own a piece of property.  In the suburbs, they could have a one family home with a private outdoor space and some distance between their neighbors.

Companies then began moving their locations to the suburbs where more people were living.
But to some, the idea of moving to the suburbs and having more than an acre of land is unconscionable and unnecessary.  But according to whose value system?  And the implication of calling it “smart” implies that government bureaucrats are the all-knowing experts about how the rest of us should live.

But are Americans really ready to embrace high-density living?

The goals of Smart Growth are to control urban boundaries, reduce pollution and promote mass transit - all of which go against our American values of the right to own property, to live in the house and location of our choice and the ability to move about freely – not according to a transit schedule.
National Geographic recently did a cover story on “The City’s Solutions to Earth’s Problems.”  Do you really solve environmental issues by forcing millions of people to live in densely populated urban areas?  Here’s their claim:  “City dwellers tread lightly: their roads, sewers and power lines are shorter.  Their apartments take less energy to heat and cool.  Most important, they drive less.”

While Smart Growth advocates are completely concerned about congestion on the streets, they don’t seem to care about the people who are living in congested apartment buildings and all that brings with it.  More people in a congested, dense area mean more noise, more garbage, more pollution and more crime.  They have also left out the impact it places on local services –police, fire and the school system. 

How do you properly educate the increased amounts of students in the public school system?
Washington Township in Warren County had to address this exact problem.  While town officials embraced the idea of Smart Growth, they never took into consideration the unintended consequences, which are overflowing schools, skyrocketing property taxes and main streets that are congested.

They’ve had to turn trailers into school rooms, build a high school and expand two of its three other schools.

Not only that, most of the town does not get the benefits of a pedestrian friendly concept since the majority of residents live outside the developed area.  In 2007, they were looking at eminent domain to seize property to prevent developers from buying it and building more apartment buildings.

As this agenda has been forced upon us, none of their goals have been achieved.  What they set out to solve has been made worse.

First, if you limit people’s choices of where they can live, Smart Growth will actually end up driving up the cost of housing.  There will be less affordable one family homes.  Less housing logically leads to expensive housing.

Secondly, this development has also failed to reduce pollution.  As more people are living in densely populated cities, it only follows logic that pollution would be worse in these over-crowded urban areas.  One needs only to think of Los Angeles and its major traffic and smog issue.  The reality is, while some people may drive less, there’s plenty who are still driving.  On top of that, add the increased amounts of garbage and noise pollution.  Has anyone walked on a NYC street the night before a garbage pickup?  Smells wonderful, looks wonderful and it brings out the best in urban wildlife.

We Americans are not giving up our cars.  We like the freedom of car ownership and the ability to go where we want, when we want.

More importantly, we are not giving up our right to own property – the cornerstone of freedom – to live in an apartment building that houses hundreds of other people.

To all those Smart Growth advocates who think city living with no personal outdoor space, crowded subways, crowded streets, garbage, noise pollution and crime is the way to live, I challenge you to sell your home in the suburbs and join the masses in the city.

For those of you who enjoy home ownership, a backyard and a car - stand your ground!

Will Marinwood-Lucas Valley win the next New Jersey Future "Smart Growth" Award?

Stand up for the future you want.  Oppose the Urbanization of Marin.  Come to our meetings.  Vote!

Will Marinwood Plaza cost $45 million dollars and pay no taxes?

The Trump Family fortune of $500 million dollars was built by Donald's father with Affordable Housing.

Your tax dollars will be hard at work supporting multimillion dollar affordable housing developer Bridge Housing.  You better be working hard now to earn enough to pay them.

The big joke about "affordable housing" built by "non profit" corporations is they are built cheaply and no one makes any money.   

Check out Bridge Housing's latest project in Oakland  here

That project cost $500,000 per unit!  That is far more than market rate housing in Marinwood for many single family homes. The units are much smaller than standard apartments.  In fact on a per square footage basis, it is easily 4 times the cost of a Marinwood-Lucas Valley home.

On top of all of this,  Bridge Housing receives a 50 year tax abatement,  lowered development costs , special loopholes for environmental reviews, and mitigation.  

A private developer would be expected to pay significant impact fees to the community to make up for the costs of new schools, traffic impact, police and fire services, etc.   We taxpayers will be stuck paying for these fees for Bridge Housing. 

The proposed Marinwood Plaza neighbors are expected to add 150 children to our schools (roughly 5 classrooms worth) and will be able to vote to increase even more parcel taxes on all property owners.

We cannot afford this development.

The only "sustainable" solution for Marinwood Plaza is a retail development like the Farm to Table market concept.   It will actually CONTRIBUTE money to our CSD district in the form of tax dollars and jobs.  The big benefit, is it will provide the success for the market for years to come*.

We can have a properous future. 


*Marinwood Market is receiving generous rent subsidies while Marinwood Plaza is being developed. No one is certain that a gourmet market will achieve success with a low income housing project next door.  It is this writers opinion that only by widening the market's appeal to all of Marin by increasing visiability, parking and events, can it hope to survive.  Currently Marinwood Plaza is hidden from Highway 101 where literally millions of locals and tourists pass annually.  With small improvements to visability and good marketing,  a prosperous center can emerge.  One model is Oxbow market in Napa  and the revitalized Larkspur Landing rechristened as the Marin Country Mart.   .  Those "neighborhood leaders" that express the opinion that "Marinwood Plaza will never become anything but an eyesore, so we might as well build government housing"  are ignoring many successful retail makeovers.


If we want a food market in Marinwood, it must be successful.  No one will continue to patronize a market out of loyality alone (Remember the "buy American" efforts when Japanese cars took over Detroit? How did that work out?).  The market must be a place people want to come to and shop.

We can have a successful future.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

My Conversation with an ABAG Central Planner

"Hello, I'd like to learn more about the Marinwood Priority Development Area"

me: "Hello, I'd like to learn more about the Marinwood Priority Development Area (PDA).  Can you help?

planner (cheerfully):  "Well not specifically about the plan for Marinwood but I can tell you about   PDA program in general."

me: "Okay,  I am just trying to figure out what it means to be a part of the PDA in Marinwood.  I understand someone had to apply for it, so I would like to know who applied for it and on what criteria"

planner (cheerfully):  The PDA program means that there are more funds available for certain kinds of development to mitigate transportation issues. Transportation dollars will be given for improvements to provide access to equitable transportation access.

me: "Marinwood is a bedroom community,  we have hardly any transportation issues. We won't be building freeways here. What are we going to do with transportation dollars?"

planner (cheerfully):  "Improving streets, bicycle paths, crosswalks",.

me: " But why Marinwood? We are mostly single family homes. We hardly have bus service and the SMART train doesn't have a stop close by."

planner:  " Isn't there a run down strip mall that was proposed for redevelopment?  That project if it meets certain criteria will qualify the community for funds.  In 2007 Marin and community members approved the project for mixed use housing and retail"

me: "That is true but the other project was PRIVATE development and would be required to pay hefty mitigation fees.  The units would be high priced condos not the low income, taxpayer subsidized housing that is being proposed now."

planner (cooly): "It was decided by the County in 2007.  There were public meetings.."

me: " Wait a minute.  I have lived here since then.  There were never any public meetings or announcements.  Where can I find out who filled out the paperwork and made it a PDA. Most of the community doesn't know there is a PDA here.

planner: (cooly) " There were meetings and a resolution."

me: "But no one ever knew.."

planner(drone like): "meetings.  the community agreed...."

 [ In fact the community did not agree on the Bridge Housing proposal. Since 2007 there has been a renewal of the community with young families. Over 43% of current residents have moved in since 2007. ]

me: "this is crazy.  It sounds like very facist decision making.  We live here.  We NEVER were involved with the process"

planner (icely) :  "Have a nice day.  (click) " End of conversation.

Only a few political insiders knew anything about the coming plans. Most of the "neighborhood leaders"  were hand selected to provide the illusion of a "public process".  These leaders did not make their participation public until the October 27, 2012.  Even then, many of them did not dare to show up to share their support of the process. 

Four of the Five CSD Directors were "Neighborhood Leaders" participants in the planning process (Cyane Dandridge, Bill Hansell,  Leah Green and Bruce Anderson).  All had a duty as elected officials to inform the public of what was happening with the project from their date of participation.   Only Bruce Anderson showed up at the meeting (He orginally suggested a development in 2000). 

Cyane Dandridge actually served on the county planning group that selected six sites in Marinwood-Lucas Valley for affordable housing.  We have 83% of all affordable housing in all of unincorporated Marin.  When I asked her about her involvement, she told me that she "didn't attend many of the meetings" The effect of her recommendations, may grow the community by 25%.

Do we live in a democracy?

Cities Summits Joel Kotkin

Joel Kotkin is a California Based Demographer, Economist and Land Use Critic.  In this video series,  he outlines the fallacies of Smart Growth land use planning. 
Do you know that Marinwood-Lucas Valley will house 83% of low income government housing if the 2012 Housing Element for Unincorporated Marin is adapted.  Once adapted,  millions of dollars earmarked for development will flow into our Valley changing us forever.
Our population may grow more than 25% and have an additional 1000 children in the Dixie School system.  Since our new neighbors and developers will receive generous tax breaks for up to 50 years,  the current residents will foot the bill for all of this growth.