PEOPLE THROUGHOUT MARIN have belatedly — though maybe in the nick of time — awakened to discover an in-force plan to urbanize their beloved county.
Under the false guise of affordable housing and "smart transportation" planning, developers reap the benefits of financial incentives, density bonuses and expedited approvals for highly profitable high-density housing projects, in which market-rate units can comprise up to 90 percent of the total.
And Marin's nightmare.
Traffic snarls will metastasize under this plan. Existing capacity and cost challenge supplies and resources for water, sanitation, schools, police, fire and other emergency services.
None of these can be considered as reasons not to approve a project under the skewed rules of this fixed game.
Marin residents are finally realizing what's at stake. People are getting educated — and mad.
On March 22, 300 to 400 people jammed a community-sponsored forum to learn more. The unwise last-minute withdrawal of previously-committed Supervisor Katie Rice did not slacken interest in the issue. Instead, the supervisor's absence created frustration that elected officials have not yet stepped up to assist.
Ms. Rice subsequently asserts, via the IJ, that upset constituents are only reacting to false "rumors" of "phantom housing" in Kentfield.
Had she attended the meeting, she would know that's untrue. No one frets that high-density housing is coming soon to Kentfield — though possible planning changes leave open forever that possibility along any transit corridor, including Sir Francis Drake.
What people are mad about is that the size, character and local control of our small communities are under siege. Marin was swept into a dubious regional planning vision, Plan Bay Area, which forces Marin to urbanize.
Few residents want this. So far, there is no county-level coordination — nor any apparent elected-official interest in — addressing countywide consequences of increasing densities of new development. Any Marin town or city can approve new high-density developments without consideration of neighboring locales or the county as a whole.
Ground zero of the assault on smalltown Marin — and the real focus of immediate concern at the Kentfield gathering — are plans for huge development now advancing in Larkspur — the Larkspur Station Area Plan.
One of the proposed alternatives envisions the addition of 920 housing units and 177,000 square feet of commercial, retail and hotel space.
Defying any connection to reality, the draft environmental impact report projects no "significant" negative impact on traffic, which common sense tells us will be ensnarled from Fairfax to the Richmond bridge.
Urban Marin's reward? A freeway maze rivaling Oakland's.
Meanwhile, Larkspur Landing's children will cram into multiple neighboring school districts — San Rafael, Larkspur/Corte Madera, Kentfield/Greenbrae and Tamalpais Union High School District — despite school board members' warning there's no space.
Fixing infrastructure for schools and services may well require major bond financings or rate/fee hikes — paid for by taxpayers, not drive-by developers.
Many opponents of urbanizing Marin are vocal supporters of real affordable housing. But high-density market-rate housing projects do little to benefit low-income people, and much to damage quality of life in Marin.
Drive-by developers win. Marin loses.