Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Marin IJ: Marinwood ousts incumbents; housing issues took center stage in election discourse

Marin IJ: Marinwood ousts incumbents; housing issues took center stage in election discourse

By Megan Hansen

Justin Kai, winner CSD Director
Concerns about housing drove Marinwood's election and some believe the ousting of all the incumbents highlights the community's growing fear of high-density, affordable development.

Tuesday's election came during a perfect storm of housing issues, when residents are fretting about the regional housing effort Plan Bay Area, priority development areas, the county's housing element and plans for the still-undeveloped Marinwood Village property near Highway 101. With tensions high, three vocal newcomers opposed to high-density, subsidized housing stepped forward and swept the polls.

Justin Kai, a 33-year-old real estate agent, garnered the most votes on Election Night. He said the No. 1 topic residents are talking about is affordable, high-density housing.

"Residents are concerned about large tax-exempt developments and how it will impact the community," Kai said. "Our community is very much in support of doing our part for providing affordable housing for the county, we just want to make sure it's done responsibly in a way it can sustain itself. Not in a way where it's fully dependent on the rest of the community having to pick up the slack."

Bill Shea, winner, CSD Director
Kai was followed in the polls by Bill Shea, a 62-year-old accountant, and Deana Dearborn, a 43-year-old facilities project manager and architect, who secured a two-year seat in a second race for a community services district position.

Shea said he believes the government shouldn't subsidize anything and doesn't want to see the "projects" he grew up seeing in San Francisco come to Marinwood. He said he's opposed to the proposed plan for Marinwood Village, which has most of the 82 units slated to be affordable, and doesn't want government agencies dictating where multifamily housing should go.

"The idea now that they want to put high-density, low-income housing in a rural area, I just think it's a horrible idea," Shea said.
He said people are looking at the apartment complex being built at the former WinCup site on Tamal Vista Boulevard in Corte Madera — which will be market-rate units — and fearing a massive development like it could be built in Marinwood.

Deana Dearborn, winner, CSD Director
Ousted incumbent Leah Kleinman-Green, 35, said people's fears of having affordable housing in Marinwood won the three aligned newcomers their seats. She said the community appears to be so afraid of change and different demographics that they'll let their emotions trump reason.

"Housing is completely outside the purview of the community services district," Kleinman-Green said. "The (newcomers) think they are going to be able to do things that they can't."

The district, which provides fire protection, park maintenance, recreation programs and street lighting for about 1,750 households, doesn't make housing decisions. The county Planning Commission and the Board
of Supervisors make those calls.

Supervisor Susan Adams
Campaigned on No Grow in 2002:
This is something county Supervisor Susan Adams said voters didn't understand about the race.
"Any campaign promises that were made that the community services district was somehow in a position to make a decision about the (Marinwood Village) project was misinforming the public," Adams said. "There's been a lot of misinformation provided that has created fear."
Adams winning campaign slogan was
"Cows not Condos" in 2002.
She created the Marinwood Priority Development Area
 in 2007 and voted for the Housing Element in 2013
 that gave us 71% of all affordable housing for
unincorporated Marin and may grow our community by 35%

She said everybody in the community will have an opportunity to weigh in on the plan for the project during community outreach sessions.

Bruce Anderson,
has been lobbying for housing
since 2004 as CSD Director now
claims housing is not
of interest to the CSD
See Bruce promote Marinwood Village
as CSD Director HERE
Bruce Anderson, a 66-year-old retiree who has served on the board for 10 years and lived in the district for 27, said it may have been his ties to Adams and support of affordable housing projects that lost him re-election.

He said the newcomers are anti-affordable housing and led voters to believe housing issues could be addressed by the district.

"Tying the whole community services district to the housing issue turned people off," said Anderson, who also cited low-voter turnout as an issue. "I don't yet think the (newcomers) understand what they're getting into."

Dearborn, who could not be reached for comment, states on her website that she knows housing developments are not within the district's jurisdiction. She also said the Marinwood Village project needs to be changed, according to the site.

"I fully expect the community services district to review any development proposals and to ask for impacts under their purview to be mitigated by either modifying building designs or through monetary means," Dearborn wrote.

Leah Kleinman-Green former CSD Director is disheartened that
her neighbors are unable to accept low income people.
In August 2013 she had plans to move to Ross but changed her mind.
See Leah submit her resignation in August 2013: HERE.
Kai agreed and said it's not that he and his fellow election winners are against affordable housing, it's that they're concerned tax-exempt builders will place a financial burden on the district and residents.

"A large portion of the district's budget comes from property tax," Kai said. "By bringing in hundreds of new residents without the proper funding to support them, who does the rest of that bill fall onto?"

Appointed incumbent Michael Dudasko, a 56-year-old environmental consultant, was ousted by Dearborn in the election. He couldn't be reached for comment.

Kleinman-Green said it's horrifying to her that people feel so entitled to live in Marinwood that they are unable to accept low-income people living in the community. She said the attitude seems to be: "I worked hard. I made it here. It has to stay this way."

"It's been disheartening," she said. "There's no acknowledgement of change and other people having that same dream of living here."

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