Saturday, April 20, 2013

Susan Adams confirms massive expansion in Marinwood-Lucas Valley

Editor's Updates: The recent revelation that the Oakview development and the Rocking H ranch proposals were previously uncounted. They will bring another 200 affordable units making our total burden of 900 affordable units in our 5.78 square miles.  That is 37.5 % increase in our housing stock.  Also, occupancy rates for low income units tend to be much greater than market rate housing. It is not unusual to see double the average amount of people in low income housing.  It is realistic to expect that if all of the low income housing is built half of our population will be low income. The other half of taxpayers will be forced to pay for the increase in government services and infrastructure most likely through parcel taxes voted in.

No other city or town in Marin or THE ENTIRE BAY AREA is faced with a housing allocation as severely challenging as ours.   Where are our leaders?
Susan Adams, Supervisor

From Susan Adams October 2012 newsletter,  686 units have been confirmed for the 2012 Housing Element for Unincorporated Marin. The article is printed on this site.  By the counties own estimate in the Housing Element an average 2.23 people per household  can be expected.  This means that approximately 1500 people may join us for a total population increase of 25%. By definition, most of these residents will be Extremely Low to Low Income meaning that they will contribute little, if anything to our property tax basis.  In contrast,  tax payers will be forced to upgrade infrastructure , schools, police, fire, safety, recreation services increasing everyone's taxes.  More traffic and pollution is inevitable.

This is not green. This is not economic.  This is not equity for all of us. This is not "fair housing".  It is government assistance housing to fulfill the Association of Bay Area Government housing mandate. 83% of all low income housing in unincorporated Marin will happen here.

Sure.  They will tell us that these are only "possibilities" and it is "highly unlikely" that developments will be built because of the economy and shortage of development funds.  It this is so, why pre qualify all of this property for high density of housing?   "Trust us" they ask of us.

This "vision"  is really a catalog of "projects" that have been pre-qualified for fast track development. All a developer needs is a pile of government or foundation cash to start the project.    They will surely come and build if there is cash.  HUD will bring the cash. The State will bring the Cash. Foundations will bring the cash. 

Each of us has a duty to stand up for our community and demand sensible, sensitive growth.  We cannot be the dumping spot for the rest of Marin's unwanted low income development.  Developers must know that the locals will not simply allow unbridled development of any kind that destroys our bond with our neighbors and our beautiful open space.  We want responsible development.

 Come to the upcoming meetings and speak up for your future. Commit yourself to become better informed. Talk with your neighbors.  Let them know our community will preserve what is good, fight what is bad and is prepared to grow our future responsibly.

P.S.Some politicians and "community leaders" would rather not have you pay attention to the housing element.  They want to get their fast track plans in place, so that State and Federal monies come to Marin and development can begin.  Then you will hear that it was a "public process" approved by "community leaders" years ago.  You don't have a voice because it was "decided long ago".  Baloney!

Where do you want our future to lead?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Still more photos of Apartment Overcrowding.

Pakistani Workers in Dubai
Editor's note: When I first graduated from university, I lived in similar "youth hostel" style living quarters in a loft in lower Manhattan before securing a permanent apartment in Hoboken. Low income workers are resourceful in reducing living expenses. I must admit it was fun for a while.

What Is The New Suburbanism?



Joel Kotkin, author of the November 2005 report "The New Suburbanism", introduces the new planning theory, clarifies what it means, and describes how it remains very much a work in progress.

Joel Kotkin
What Is The New Suburbanism?
Ever since The Planning Center published its original report last year on "The New Suburbanism", my colleagues and I have been asked repeatedly for a more precise definition of what we mean.
Put simply, New Suburbanism represents an effort to create better suburban communities. It is a philosophy of planning, design, and development that aims to improve all of the complex elements that make up a successful community -- governmental, physical, economic, social, and environmental -- creating a flexible template for a wide range of existing and newly designed suburbs. 
One critical aspect of New Suburbanism lies in its pragmatism. One cannot always assume, for example, that building a new town center, constructing denser housing, or introducing mixed-use development would automatically improve quality of life -- though these strategies can be useful, as we illustrated in our report. In some communities, physical infrastructure systems may be more important, such as schools, parks, and water systems.
New Suburbanism is not a new design paradigm that seeks to compete with or discredit principles of New Urbanism. Instead, our perspective represents a broad-based attempt to find the best, most practical ways to develop and redevelop suburban communities.

Suburban Inspiration, Old And New

New Suburbanism embraces many of the principles championed by the smart growth and New Urbanism movements, but finds most of its inspiration in already successful developments dating well before the development of New Urbanism. These include The Woodlands, outside of Houston, Texas; Irvine, California; Columbia, Maryland; and Reston, Virginia.
These market oriented developments have successfully incorporated a mix of uses and ethnicities, while providing a well-balanced ratio of jobs and housing. They have also usually managed to preserve a significant amount of open space, featured neighborhood centers, steered away from strip commercial development, and integrated extensive bicycle and pedestrian paths.
In addition to an examination of relatively recent suburban development in the United States, an even longer historical perspective has also been critical to our viewpoint. Looking over the historical evolution of cities, particularly during the writing of The City: A Global History, it became clear that suburbia grew not merely as a result of "white flight", or a conspiracy of oil companies, auto firms, developers and governments. All may have played a role, but we believe suburban, multi-polar places flourished mostly because they offered consumers something traditional cities all too often could not: safety, good schools, privacy, and space.

Flawed Anti-Suburban Arguments

As a result, we do not approach suburbs with the disdain and contempt that unfortunately informs much contemporary thinking. Many students I run across now equate suburban development with monotonous, irresponsible sprawl. More extreme New Urbanists, such as James Howard Kunstler, regard suburban development as inherently wasteful and evil, adding hopefully that due to rising energy prices, suburbs "are liable to dry up and blow away." "Let the Gloating Begin," he says, predicting a general catastrophe will impact the suburbs, and urges people to leave these places as soon as possible.
A less extreme but still flawed notion contends that metropolitan areas dominated by auto-centered suburbs somehow lack the intrinsic community values that informed traditional cities. Andres Duany, for example, has written that in sprawling, multi-polar cities like Phoenix and Houston "civic life has almost ceased to exist" and that many people in these areas complain about their quality of life.
Yet one would be hard-pressed to say a Phoenix or a Houston has a less vibrant civic culture -- witness the remarkable grassroots response of Houston to the Katrina disaster. Nor can one say that there has been more widespread disenchantment there than in more traditional transit-oriented cities like Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco. After all, these cities have been losing population and jobs while the sprawling ones have been growing. Places like Houston and Phoenix are also developing many of the elements of civic culture, such as great hospitals, museums, and cultural centers, that tend to arise in vibrant, commercially vital cities.

Suburbs Are The Future

Rather than reject such cities, we are committed to their improvement. All our analysis of current and likely future trends reveals that sprawling multi-polar cities with overwhelmingly auto-dependent suburbs will continue to enjoy economic and demographic growth over the next several decades.
Specifically, we looked at where jobs are being created. Fortunately, my work for the annual Inc. Magazine "Best Places" survey with economist Michael Shires has given me access to the latest data. Overwhelmingly, the fastest job growth -- including in fields like information and professional business services -- has taken place in suburban areas around older cities, or in the famously sprawled out multi-polar cities of the west and the sunbelt, places like Boise, Ft. Myers, Las Vegas, and Reno.
We believe developers and planners must look at what consumers are communicating through their migration patterns. Although there is a strong market niche for traditional urban living, surveys and census data reveal that this niche remains relatively small, perhaps no more than 10 to 20 percent of the total population. Surveys conducted in California, a heavily urbanized state, show that most people -- upwards of 80 percent -- want a single family home.
Now, some will say, "yes, but if you asked them if they wanted a single family home that is two hours away from their job, or a condominium loft only 15 minutes away, they would choose the loft." Yet this may be a false choice. As jobs move to the suburban periphery, the commutes for residents there, as Harvard's Ed Glaeser has demonstrated, tend to be shorter than those who live in denser, more transit-oriented places. Far-flung Houstonians, for example, suffer much shorter commutes on average than New Yorkers or Chicagoans.
For these reasons, it seems a bit quixotic to push for a future that takes its signals from the dense, centralized, transit-dependent urban past. We instead should follow a pragmatic, market-oriented approach to improving the areas in which people increasingly choose to live. For example, in a low-density suburban community that seeks to retain its single-family character, it may be more appropriate to introduce small-lot, single-family detached housing, rather than assume multi-family apartments and lofts must be part of the solution.
Yet for all the growth and evident market appeal of suburban areas, we do agree with critics that many suburbs clearly need to improve, particularly in terms of their public spaces and treatment of the environment. Most importantly, however, we also know from past experience that better suburbs are possible.
This is the primary focus of New Suburbanism. We started last year by setting up roundtables with various developers, suburban government officials, planners, and environmentalists. Our concepts have been informed by their suggestions and insights. We will continue this interactive process, both in our next report and at a conference scheduled for mid-May, to discuss next steps with interested parties from across the country.
In the short run, we will seek to learn how to make the increasingly decentralized metropolis work better. Looking to the future, we envision a heavily wired "archipelago of villages", with relatively compact and economically and culturally self-sufficient communities spread across our landscape. The time has come to acknowledge the dispersed reality of our metropolitan future, and to find out how to make it a better one.
Joel Kotkin is an Irvine Senior Fellow with the New America Foundation and a senior advisor to The Planning Center, a development and environmental design firm based in Costa Mesa, California. He is also the author of The City: A Global History. 


More people = More Pollution in Marinwood Lucas Valley

Smokestack belching black smoke
More People = More Pollution in Marinwood-Lucas Valley

Current plans in the 2012 Housing Element will increase the population of Marinwood Lucas Valley by 37.5% if built.  This means that pollution and traffic will increase by at least 37.5% too.


Increased Carbon Emissions
Plan Bay Area claims that housing 2.1 million new residents in transit-based apartments will decrease carbon emissions and traffic congestion. However, here's the fact: even if individual emissions drop 15 percent by 2035 (the goal of S.B.375) if population increases at the same time by 30 percent (2.1 million), then total emissions will rise by 10.5 percent (.85 x 130 = 110.5% of current emissions). The math is the same as asking whether you'll have more money if 130 people give you $0.85 each ($110) than if 100 people give you $1.00 each ($100). That would be the right choice for dollars coming in but not for carbon emissions going out into the air.

  • From the State of California Air Resources Board - Resolution 10-31, Sept. 31, 2010, page 6: "WHEREAS, on July 28, 2010, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) Board took action to recommend Regional Targets of 7 percent per capita reduction by 2020 and 15 percent reduction by 2035 for its region;..." This per person measurement contradicts the intent of the California Global Warming Solutions Act (A.B. 32) by allowing for an actual increase in total Bay Area emissions.
  • From the Bay Area Air Quality Management District Report, December 2008, pages 8-9: "In 2007, 102.6 Million Metric tons of CO2-equivalent (MMTCO2E) greenhouse gases were emitted by the San Francisco Bay Area (95.5 MMTCO2E were emitted within the Bay Area District and 7.1 MMTCO2E were indirect emissions from imported electricity)." Factoring the emissions increase from a 30 percent population increase outlined above, 10.5 percent of 102.6 MMTCO2E means a net increase of 10.77 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year.
  • Indirect emissions: The numbers used by developers, lobbyists and state agencies do not include the indirect greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacture of products for the individual needs of all those additional people - from hairspray to horseradish to heaters - whether they drive cars or take public transportation, nor the emissions from demolition of existing structures, production of building materials or operation of heavy construction equipment. Here's a helpful graphic illustrating global sources of total emissions.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average American household is responsible for 59 tons of CO2 annually (including indirect emissions). If each new resident in the Bay Area emits 15% less than that, that figure will be 50.15 tons per household. So those 903,000 new households will add over 45 million tons of CO2 emissions to the air in the Bay Area each year.
  • These emission reductions are not even mandatory. From S.B. 375, The Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008, page 8 (B): "Each metropolitan planning organization shall prepare a sustainable communities strategy... ...(vii) set forth a forecasted development pattern for the region, which, when integrated with the transportation network, and other transportation measures and policies, will reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles and light trucks to achieve, if there is a feasible way to do so, the greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets approved by the state board; and (viii) allow the regional transportation plan to comply with Section 176 of the federal Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 7506)."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Marinwood Plaza development vision in 2006

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Seven years ago,  the Supervisors discussed a very different vision for Marinwood Plaza.  Although it included a market and housing, the majority of housing was at market rate and would be contributing standard development and impact fees to the community.  The current 100% affordable housing plan proposed by Bridge Housing is only superficially similar as it requires massive community investment and support for the residents for at least 55 years.

Over 43% of the population of Marinwood Lucas Valley has moved in since 2007.  Old assumptions about this previous for profit development cannot be projected on to the current affordable housing and a younger population of families with children packing all of our local schools to capacity.

The above is the Board of Supervisors Meeting on September 26, 2006.

LEARN: The Saratoga-Los Gatos Town Hall on the One Bay Area Plan

Excellent overview of the One Bay Area Plan and how it affects suburban communities like Marinwood-Lucas Valley. Interestingly, this community of 29,000 is rallying to fight about 400 units of affordable housing thrust upon them by ABAG.  We are fighting 900 units (when you include Oakview and the Rocking H plans) in our community of 6000. This is a growth of 37.5% in our total housing units and they will pay virtually no taxes to support our schools and services!

To my knowledge, no other single community in Marin or the entire 9 bay area counties is being asked to host so much growth in their community.  Other residents in Marin county explain, "That is simple.  You have the room in Marinwood-Lucas Valley" while they keep housing out of THEIR back yard.

Monday, April 15, 2013

VIDEO: Bridge Housing snuffs dissent and Susan Adams ends meeting with filibuster

At the October 27, 2012, Bridge Housing VP, Brad Wilban does his best to convince  skeptical residents that the Marinwood Village 85 unit affordable housing complex will be a positive addition to the community.  Expecting an audience of "white NIMBYs ",  they instead found a diverse audience that shared common concerns of the impacts on the Dixie School district, government services, traffic and the environment.  Almost all in attendance understood the need for some affordable housing but Bridge's presentation did not address the practical concerns of the community.  When it became clear that the audience was not being convinced,  Brad Wilban signals to his supporters in the audience who dominated the rest of the presentation and Supervisor Susan Adams finally finished with a filibuster and ended the meeting.  Bridge Housing and Susan Adams promised to address the community concerns at a later date.
We are still waiting....

Sunday, April 14, 2013

VIDEO: Bridge Housing promises transparency

At the October 27, 2012 meeting with Bridge Housing,  Brad Wilban, VP promises transparency in the financial aspects of the development and projected impacts on the community.    At their next meeting in December, they estimated their contribution would be around $10,000 annually.  The crowd gasped and later they posted this financial worksheet to their website to revise their estimate.

Financial worksheet posted on in January 8, 2013
When we saw this "transparent" worksheet, we burst out laughing.  They include presumed taxes on retail businesses, Hoytt development property taxes and sewage bill at their "tax contribution".  That is like one of us taking the tax bills of our next door neighbors and their income tax as "our tax contribution". 

If Bridge Housing was a publicly traded company passing out this "financial information" they would be facing severe penalties.

You are claiming how much taxes!?

We know Bridge Housing is capable of building attractive and managing well run communities.  By all reports, the 80 unit  Rotary Village complex in Lucas Valley is one such project.  It is a seniors only community and built at the appropriate densities for the neighborhood at 11 units per acre.   This project doesn't have the problems of their big box developments for families that bring many more community costs and burdens to the Dixie School district. 

If Bridge Housing wants to build affordable housing in Lucas Valley, they should consider a development similar to Rotary Village.