Saturday, December 8, 2012

VIDEO: Dream of the 1890s in Portland

Portland is said to be the model  "Smart Growth" city where people live close together in small apartments above local shops, ride streetcars and peddle bicycles everywhere. 
This satiric clip from the 2nd season of the  IFC Cable TV show "Portlandia" is worth a view.

It is time to laugh at the silliness of "Smart Growth".


Report on the meeting with Bridge Housing, hopeful developer of Marinwood Plaza

The Bridge Housing proposal for Marinwood Village was met with "open arms"

The Tuesday 12/4 meeting with Brad Wilban VP of Bridge Housing, Supervisor Susan Adams, staff from the Community Development Department, assorted politicians and professional housing advocates with several hundred local residents was a true town hall meeting in our democratic tradition.
The bright and very capable Brad Wilban tried his best for the second time to create a compelling vision for our only commericial plaza that abutts the 101 freeway.  He brought beautiful photoshop graphics and concept drawings but warned that the work was still in progress.  His slideshow presentation answered some of our questions but left many more unanswered.

Many of the same people attended and many of the famed "Neighborhood Leaders" that met privately for months and gave approval to the plans were missing from the room.  It would be nice to have at least one meeting where all of the leaders could explain their reasons for support of the development.  We did hear from Supervisor Susan Adams, Bruce Anderson, Kelly Smith, Cameron Case, John Hammond, Dr. Ralston and others who voiced strong support of the project.  I commend them since the crowd was 90% in opposition to the development.
Several key points were made .  The 82 unit Bridge Housing proposal will have many schoolchildren requiring new portable classrooms at $150,000 or more each.  The original estimate of 1.8 children per unit (150 +/- kids) was revised downward to .8 children per unit (60 kids).  Still with this many school children at least three portable classrooms will be needed and new teachers, administrators, staff will be required.  The $200.000 school mitigation fee will barely cover the cost of a single classroom. 
Property tax contributions will be minimal.  Bridge housing will receive a 55 year tax abatement.  Since Bridge Housing is a "non profit" developer,  the they will sell tax credits to provide ultra wealthy investors deep discounts on their tax liability.  Utilizing the valuation of Bridge Housing's recent Emeryville project,  The Marinwood Village project could be worth  40 million dollars. 
The annual parcel tax fees for Marinwood Village are a paltry $10,000 for all 82 units per year or roughly $ 147 per family.  Many neighbors expressed shock, especially those who purchased their home at the height of the market.  They are nearly paying the same property taxes for their single family home!

Washington politicians tell us that we are on the edge of a "fiscal cliff" and our federal taxes may increase as much as $3500 for the average middle class taxpayer.  We are reeling from the down economy  and high unemployment.  We all have suffered a the loss of 30% of the value of our homes since the crash. 

Now we must pay millions more in local taxes to support this "affordable" development?

Just who is it "affordable" for?  The developers get rich.  The politicians get power. We get .....ed! 
Many questions still remain unanswered or only answered superficially.  Here are questions I still have: 
·         Where will 300 cars park?

·         Who is going to pay for the upgrades to the roads, sewer and water?

·         How will the Dixie school district (especially Mary Silvera) be able to accommodate an additional 150 school children (5 classrooms worth)?

·         Does it make sense to place housing within yards of two microwave antenna towers?

·         What will be done about the toxic waste spill site at the dry cleaner?

·         When will we see an environmental impact report of the development?

·         How will the fire department be able to fight a multistory apartment fire without a ladder truck?

·         How will a apartment complex that is 50% taller than the next highest structure in Marinwood affect property values?

·         How many police, fire, teachers, CSD workers will be hired to accomodate the growth?

·         What tax burden for this housing project will be?

·         How much will we be giving the developer in addition to the $1,000,000 improvements already earmarked to provide parking on Marinwood Avenue?

·         What will this development do to my taxes? My property values?

·         When were we made the "Marinwood Priority Development Area for Urbanization"?

·         Who are the secret "Neighborhood Leaders" approving this development?

·         Why didn't "Neighborhood Leaders" tell the rest of us?

·         Who are the local investors, contractors and suppliers for this project?

·         What will happen to the retail space if Marinwood Market pulls out?

Many people who were originally inclined to support the project,  left in doubt.  They saw how much this affordable housing will cost the community.
The crowd simply did not accept the proposal despite Brad Wilban's best efforts.  I felt sorry for him.  He is a very nice guy and smart too.  It is just that we don't want our only commercial center turned into housing and we want to make certain that WE can afford "affordable housing".


Supervisor Susan Adams defended the project and her support for infill housing for the Marinwood Priority Development Area she helped create.  Last year she served as the Vice President of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and was instrumental in many of the policy decisions that are creating urban infill housing along the  Highway101 corridor. She came to office years ago with the promise of stopping housing development at Silvera Ranch.  Lately, she has become a Smart Growth advocate and supports 6 low income housing developments proscribed in the 2012 Housing Element for Unincorporated Marin. 83% of all extremely low to low income housing is planned for Marinwood/Lucas Valley.  Terra Linda has many affordable housing units along the Civic Center Northgate Plaza area that will provide homes for thousands of low income residents.  Without a doubt,  Susan Adam's District One will have the majority of government assistance housing for any Supervisor's distict in Marin County.   
I believe Supervisor Adams still loves the people of Marin/Lucas Valley and means well.  I believe even she is shocked that we did not approve the project.  I know that she will work with our community for a common vision for our future.  My hope is that she will be able to convince several other Supervisors to improve the plan for Marinwood/Lucas Valley.  A great first start will be to pause approval of the 2012 Housing Element until a genuine, open community wide dialogue discussing the actual costs and vision for growth can occur.  She is our neighbor.

If you would like to join our discussions about how we can provide a great future for Marinwood/Lucas Valley, come to our Monday meetings.  Email us at


Friday, December 7, 2012

VIDEO: Wendell Cox on Plan Maryland and the folly of Smart Growth

Wendell Cox is a leading academic and critic of the "Suburban Renwal" fad called "Smart Growth" which is the theory behind the redevelopment of Marinwood and the "Urbanized 101 Corridor"
This clip is provided to provide you a flavor of the intellectual criticism of "top down" style planning and the essential false claims made by Plan BayArea that will destroy our communities. 

Renewed push for a 55 percent threshold to pass parcel tax

Watch out for pickpockets!

Editor's Note: This story is particularly important for every Citizen in Marinwood/Lucas Valley.  Our education fees are expected to climb drastically if the six affordable housing complexes are built according to the 2012 Housing Element Plan. The units would increase our population by 25% and they would pay little or no taxes AND THEY VOTE.   Ordinary tax payers will likely see huge increase in their parcel taxes . We can save our community.  Come to our action meeting on Mondays and find out how you can help.


It didn’t take long for a Democratic senator among the newly empowered supermajority in the Legislature to go after a low-hanging fruit: lowering the threshold for passage of a local parcel tax for education.

On Thursday, Sen. Mark Leno of San Francisco announced he would introduce a constitutional amendment that would allow voters to pass parcel taxes for school districts and community colleges by 55 percent instead of the current two-thirds majority.

“This change in law would give voters the power to make decisions about public education at the local level, allowing schools much-needed flexibility to improve instruction, fund libraries, music, the arts or other programs, or hire more teachers to reduce student-to-teacher ratios,” Leno said in a statement.

Requiring a two-thirds majority to raise taxes was part of Proposition 13, passed in 1978. However, voters have already lowered the threshold for school construction bonds to 55 percent; they did that in 2000 with Proposition 39. Leno is picking up the banner from termed-out Sen. Joe Simitian, a Palo Alto Democrat who introduced legislation for the 55 percent threshold for parcel taxes during his time in the Legislature. But, despite solid Democratic support, Simitian could never find any Republicans to back it, so his amendment languished.

With last month’s election, Democrats now have the two-thirds majority – 54 votes in the 80-member Assembly and 27 votes in the Senate – to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot or pass a tax on their own. Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez have tempered talk of raising taxes this year, but a constitutional amendment to give voters the right to pass them could be presented as giving voters more local control, a priority of Gov. Jerry Brown.
Parcel taxes are regressive; property owners of castles and cottages pay the same amount. But they have proven popular in those districts that have put them on the ballot, because all of the money raised stays in the district, for uses specified under the terms of the parcel tax. They have ranged from under $50 to more than $400 per parcel in wealthier Bay Area districts.

On Nov. 6, voters passed 14 of 22 parcel taxes. Had the 55 percent threshold been in effect, 19 would have passed. Parcel taxes for community colleges have been harder to pass, and few districts have tried. This month, two out of three failed to get 67 percent; the exception was a $79 tax for the San Francisco Community College District.

Over the past two decades, 55 percent of parcel taxes – 322 of 584 – have passed, according to Mike McMahon, a school board member from Alameda Unified, who has tracked the results.

Full story Renewed Push for 55 percent threshold

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Further proof that Marinwood/Lucas Valley may become the new dumping ground for the region's poor

The Board of Supervisors has determined Marinwood/Lucas Valley is the ideal location for affordable housing.

In the latest salvo against our community,  the Board of Supervisors and the Marin Community Foundation is seeking developers for low income housing at Grady Ranch.  In the Marin IJ article  linked below, there is no mention of the extreme financial hardship to our schools, environment and community will suffer as the result of 240 units of housing that pays virtually nothing into the community.  We middle class taxpayers are asked to pay for this "act of charity scheme" dreamed up by the 1%  super rich, The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) , the Board of Supervisors,  crony developers and special interest groups.  This is the second of six large developments that are headed our way as prescribed in the 2012 Housing Element.  Even more are being planned behind closed doors
Save our beautiful Lucas Valley from exploitation!  Come to our weekly action meetings on Mondays. 


Save Marinwood/Lucas Valley. 

Marinwood Village School children will cost Dixie school Children at least $656, 832 per year

The Marinwood Village affordable housing development will add one to three busloads of kids to Dixie Schools costing anywhere from $600,000 to $2.2 million dollars yearly.
Great Schools profile on Dixie Elementary School

Dixie School district profile ranking and per pupil $  $10, 947.21 per student per year. 

In addition each special needs child may cost $100,000 per student per year.

Bilingual instruction for students per child may range from $20,000 up

In California, approximately 1/3 of children are enrolled in bilingual education.  We have no way of telling how many children, special needs and languages spoken for the Marinwood Plaza residents so we provide this rough guide utilizing conservative costs.

60 students,   zero special needs, zero bilingual education $656,832

100 students,  one special needs, ten bilingual education   $1,394,721

150 students,  two special needs,  twenty  bilingual education $2,242,050

Does this "affordable housing" seem affordable to our small Dixie School district?

If you are concerned with maintaining the quality of our local schools, we must demand fair school impact fees from Bridge Housing plus a realistic yearly contribution for each child in the development.

The County Planning department and Board of Supervisors will be considering the Marinwood Plaza application for development as early as next week. 

Voice your opinion on the Marinwood Plaza project by contacting each Supervisor.

Remember, in unincorporated Marin, the five member Board of Supervisors have absolute authority to approve the Marinwood Plaza development.  Incredibly, they have made public statements that they "unequivocally" support the plan without hearing from our community or seeing the application from the developer.

Please sign the petition to request the Supervisors to at least allow a six month period for review by the Marinwood/Lucas Valley community.

If you would like to participate in our weekly discussions on the impacts of  6 affordable housing developments to be built in Marinwood/Lucas Valley and what we can do,  please email us at

Note: we need to revise the impacts upwards.  The Grady Ranch proposal may add another 240 households and  450 children to our Dixie Schools

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Alameda Grassroots Team rages against the TAX machine

Alameda County Property Rights Task Force Team
Alameda County Measure B1
(Transportation Tax)
No One Bay Area
 Volunteer Grassroots Team
Rages against the machine--and WINS
ACTC Shakedown 
Alameda County Measure B1-additional sales tax for transportation-was put on the ballot by the Alameda County Tranportation Commission (ACTC).  Most times, there is no argument presented on the ballot for these types of propositions and they usually pass.  ACTC  expected no opposition and thought it would pass easily.  Several people on our property rights team were paying attention.   They wrote the "NO" argument and submitted it under CAPRs name just before the deadline.  The transportation guys panicked because they had not written anything up justifying "YES".  Someone in the county tipped them off to our "NO" and they frantically put in the "YES" argument.  ACTC, builders, developers, contractors, architects, engineers and labor groups funded the 'yes on b1' campaign to the tune of over $600,000 this year (your TAX $ at work).  They lost by a narrow margin.   The areas where we were active, Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin were solidly in the "NO" column.  Since they lost, they asked for a recount.
We defeated the recount after just one day. Read about it here
Major Point:  Individuals  on a grassroots organized team with NO MONEY
can make a difference.
KUDOS all around especially to:
Pat and Judy for catching the ballot measure and recommending we write the "NO"
Chris Pareja and Al Phillips for signing the "NO" argument along with SFBay CAPR
Russ for making signs to put out on the street
Everyone who distributed flyers and spoke to friends and neighbors
Susan Morse and her Election Integrity Project Team for preparing us
Sue Caro and her team for helping man the recount on our side
Frank Lee and Pacific Justice Institute for supporting our efforts
Chris Pareja did an excellent job of being our spokesman in the recount and giving some great interviews to the media.
If we can do it, others can do it.  
This is one small step for the taxpayers of Alameda County
One giant leap for LIBERTY 


Sunday, December 2, 2012

TONIGHT! Tuesday, Dec 4th @ 6:30PM Meet with the Developer of Marinwood Plaza

"Wait.  You'll love our new offer!  We are going to sweeten the deal just for you!
Bridge Housing presents:
Marinwood Plaza
85 Units of Amazing Affordable Housing!


 Tuesday, December 4th, 2012
 6:30PM to 8:30PM
Mary Silvera Elementary School
375 Blackstone Canyon Drive
San Rafael (Marinwood), CA 94903
Meet the Developer!
Meet the Supervisor!
Meet the County Planners! 
See Color Pictures of the Beautiful Building!
Hear a Slick Presentation!
Hear housing advocates tug at your heart strings! 
Feel Empowered that they are Listening to you!
You will get to "vote" with little dots for your favorite building design.
All of your questions will be placed in a magic envelope to be answered at a later date.
If you still have questions about:
  1. Where will 300 cars park?
  2. Who is going to pay for the upgrades to the roads, sewer and water?
  3. How  will the Dixie school district (especially Mary Silvera) be able to accommodate an additional 150 school children  (5 classrooms worth)?
  4. Does it make sense to place housing within yards of two microwave antenna towers?
  5. What will be done about the toxic waste spill site at the dry cleaner?
  6. When will we see an environmental impact  report of the development?
  7. How will the fire department be able to fight a multistory apartment fire without a ladder truck?
  8. How will a apartment complex that is 50% taller than the next highest structure in Marinwood affect property values?
  9. How many police, fire, teachers, CSD workers will be hired to accomodate the growth?
  10. What tax burden for this housing project will be?
  11. How much will we be giving the developer in addition to the $1,000,000 improvements already earmarked to provide parking on Marinwood Avenue?
  12. What will this development do to my taxes? My property values? 
  13. When were we made the "Marinwood Priority Development Area for Urbanization"?
  14. Who are the secret "Neighborhood Leaders" approving this development?
  15. Why didn't "Neighborhood Leaders" tell the rest of us?
  16. Who are the local investors, contractors and suppliers for this project?
  17. What will happen to the retail space if Marinwood Market pulls out?
  19. and more!
Come to the meeting and speak your mind.
Remember, this is only the first of 5 more affordable housing developments in Marinwood/Lucas Valley.  The success or failure of Marinwood market will signal a clear sign to other potential developers.
Please also join us for a planning meeting in Marinwood on
Monday, Dec 3rd 6:30-8:30pm 
 If you would like to attend, please email us today at
Life is good in Marinwood! 
Let's have a prosperous future for everyone!

Elk Grove says "No" to Smart Growth plans that will destroy businesses, housing and jobs.

Elk Grove, CA rejects plan to cut greenhouse gases


Published: Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3B

The carbon footprint in Elk Grove will stay the same size, at least for now.
The Elk Grove City Council last week backed off on long-range plans to cut its greenhouse gas emissions, saying programs to encourage sustainability might hurt businesses and job creation.
The council put aside two plans crafted by city staff to reduce the city's emissions by about 15 percent by 2020. The plans promote green building, energy efficiency, alternative transportation and resource conservation. Council members, primarily concerned about the effects of green building requirements, unanimously voted instead to meet with business leaders and discuss how to soften any harmful effects of going green.
Key points of the plans called for:
• Requiring all new city and private developments to exceed state energy efficiency standards by 15 percent.
• Requiring large new commercial developments to have electric vehicle chargers and new residential homes to be pre-wired for plug-in vehicles. The proposal called for 300 charging stations citywide by 2025
• Tree planting programs.
• Expanding bicycle parking and storage.
• Converting the city's vehicle fleet to alternative fuels.
Elk Grove's plans were inspired by state Assembly Bill 32, which mandates the state reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, in an attempt to slow climate change.
A centerpiece of the state legislation is the "cap-and-trade" program, which began auctioning off carbon credits Wednesday.
Vice-Mayor Patrick Hume criticized the proposals, especially green building practices that exceed the state's standards, and pre-wiring homes for electric vehicle charging stations.
"What we have before us is not the right course of action today, if ever," Hume said at Wednesday's City Council meeting. "AB 32 is horrible legislation, and (its) carbon offset auction is a joke."
In 2009, the council directed city staff to draft an overarching 20-year "sustainability element" for the city's general plan, and a more short-term Climate Action Plan, which would focus on greenhouse gas reductions through 2020.
The city used federal dollars to pay for the draft proposals, and created a citizens advisory committee for input.
AB 32 doesn't require any local action, so technically the move toward cutting carbon emissions is voluntary, said Elk Grove planning director Taro Echiburu.
But having the plans in place could actually speed development by making the city eligible for certain types of funding, and streamlining environmental permitting on projects, he said.
Echiburu said a recent change in the California Environmental Quality Act requires analysis of greenhouse gas emissions as a condition of development.
"While a Climate Action Plan is not mandated, without it, we will have to comply with CEQA on a project-by-project basis, which adds time and costs to projects for developers and jurisdictions," Echiburu said, adding that projects challenged under CEQA could be delayed or halted. "With a Climate Action Plan in place, the chances of a challenge are low."
Many cities are struggling with whether and how to cut emissions. Because the state regulations are so new, there are no solid data showing they will spur development or save money, Echiburu said. While the city and county of Sacramento and Citrus Heights have adopted Climate Action Plans, the Lincoln City Council voted down its proposed plan.
Echiburu said the controversial green building standards will be needed for the city to meet its 15 percent emissions-reduction target. But it's not clear if there will be consequences for cities that don't meet AB 32 targets.
Like Hume, Elk Grove Mayor-elect Gary Davis opposed the proposed plan, expressing worry about saddling businesses with extra costs. He wants the city to shrink its carbon footprint by bringing in new businesses, particularly in an area slated for commercial development in the southern portion of the city, to allow residents to work closer to home.
"We need to be careful about putting financial burdens on businesses that ultimately prohibits our job growth, which ultimately will prohibit us from lowering our carbon footprint," he said.


Supervisor Susan Adams Sez

Supervisor Susan Adams, District One and Marinwood neighbor

Editor's Note: This is an article printed in entirety from Susan Adams December Newsletter.  Editorial comments appear in highlighted in yellow.

Marinwood Village Update: A second community-wide meeting will be held December 4th at 6:30PM at Mary Silveira Elementary, 375 Black-stone Drive

BRIDGE’s involvement with the redevelopment of Marinwood Plaza comes after nearly 7 years’ worth of extensive community participation (only a handful of selected residents and activists meeting behind closed doors), including the process that resulted in the Guiding Principles both with the County-led process and with prior efforts to develop the site.

BRIDGE’s master planning process has been aided tremendously by the work that has been completed since 2005(the previous plan while similiar, was primarily market rate housing that would add to the tax base The current plan is for tax exempt property and subsidized tenants. The previous plan was by no means decided as it was only fleshed out in general terms. It still was quite controversial). In order to further refine the conceptual plan adopted by the County Board of Supervisors, we have been meeting with a smaller group of local residentsa group of about 20 people, all of whom have been actively involved with this site and the plans for its rede-velopment for many years. This group includes members of the Marinwood Community Facilities District, representatives of the Casa Marinwood HOA, a board member of the Dixie School dis-trict, and other long time Marinwood residents. ( Over  43% of residents have moved in since 2007. Are current resident's opinions less valid? The group include government contractors, housing activists, smart growth advocates all of whom have a vested interest in the development.  If it was truely a representative body, why were the meeting held in private?)

We held 4 meetings with this focus group to develop the outlines of a plan that would satisfy the goals that the original planning process identified (Guiding Principles). (Guiding principles were predetermined by staff and political insiders) The 4 meetings focused on the elements of the Northern portion of the site, which continues to be a location for neighbor-hood serving retail and a neighborhood gathering place (having an affordable grocery store closeby was the main concern of 95% of the residents, housing was only accepted when the developer claimed it would not be profitable without housing.  The insistance by the county that the developer gift 50% of the housing to affordable housing made the deal financially unreasonable), alterations to Marinwood Avenue to re-duce the width of the right of way and to create a street that is more in line with a residential neighborhood, and, lastly, we discussed the massing and architecture of the residential compo-nents planned for the southern end of the site.
The Community-Wide Open House held Satur-day, October 27th (This was the first meeting every held for the public.  The crowd was overwhelming opposed to forcing affordable housing on the community without key questions about the impact on our schools, parking, environment and our taxes. Other residents were concerned that  Marinwood Plaza should be 100% commercial since it is the only site that abutts the 101 highway.) It is focused on those same key elements of the plan and sought feedback from the broader community to inform the development of a final master plan. More questions were asked than answered.

A second community-wide meeting will be held December 4th at 6:30PM at Mary Silveira Elementary to report back on a number of questions that were raised at the October 27th meeting and to discuss alterations that have been made to the plan in response to some of the specific feedback we received (and wish to answer. Controversial questions regarding details of the project may not be answered.)  

A notice will be sent by email to those that are on our contact list, as well as by mail to a broad radius of homeowners in Marinwood and Lucas Valley. If you would like to be added to our contact list, please click here.

Thank you to those who joined us for the Community Meeting and Open House On Saturday, October 27th to solicit ideas and feedback on the proposed plans. Nearly 150 community members came together to discuss the plans for Marinwood Village, offer feedback on architecture and ask questions of BRIDGE Housing and Supervisor Adams.

The materials can be viewed on the website: If you have other questions, please feel free to email us at

We look forward to an earnest question and answer session with room for followup questions.  As this is only the second public meeting on the Bridge Housing proposal, many residents will be attending for the first time and will have questions.  Questions concerning parking, taxes, fees,  housing, setbacks, environmental concerns, funding, access have yet to be answered fully.

Supervisor, Steven Kinsey, voiced the opinion that all supervisors are behind the plan "uneqivocally" but are uncertain that densities can be achieved to make the project affordable and still qualify for government grants. 

The fate of Marinwood Plaza is far from certain. At the TAM meeting, on November 29th, I pointed out that the loss of the Marinwood Plaza site to housing would be devastating on the community. Housing will take away the one thing our community needs to be "walkable, bikeable and sustainable", a successful, vibrant commercial center.

The Marinwood Market is currrently receiving rent subsidies and may not survive once it is surrounded by low income housing and parking is eliminated.  A much better option would be a "Farm to Table Market"  with Marinwood Market as the anchor tenant (for an example see It will serve the local community and provide a tourist gateway to West Marin cheese, organic farms and wineries. It is a natural fit with Sonoma and Napa wine country and benefits from its proximity to San Francisco. 

Oxbow Market, Napa, CA.
Marinwood/Lucas Valley can have a prosperous future!