VOLUNTEERS recently gathered almost 1,000 signatures in Fairfax to overturn the town's new zoning ordinance. That law, subsequently repealed by the Town Council, would have permitted building 142 housing units in the community's downtown.
In a town with barely 2,000 registered voters, that's a substantial outpouring against what some perceived as enabling excessive concentrated growth.While there are two sides to debate over the zoning law's merits, few dispute that town staff and the council majority were deficient in effectively communicating their message.
The large number of signatures on the referendum petition is revealing about those opposing urbanization of the east side of Marin.
These folks are occasionally labeled by some high-density housing activists as "Tea Partyites." That slam doesn't wash.
Fairfax is Marin's most politically left-leaning municipality and one of California's most progressive towns. It would be amazing if there are 20 Tea Party members in the whole place.
A leader behind the referendum is former Fairfax mayor Frank Egger. Over four decades on the Town Council, Egger earned a reputation as one of the North Bay's most progressive elected officials.
Then there's Bob Silvestri. He was the speaker at Saturday's gathering attended by almost 425 residents upset about Larkspur's SMART Station Area Plan. The Mill Valleyan is at the intellectual center of efforts to thwart regional agencies' efforts to encourage "transit-centered" high-density housing.
Silvestri, who spent most of his professional career as an affordable housing developer, is a certifiable progressive on most issues.
There are some conservatives opposing the regional agencies' housing initiative, but the effort to retain Marin's small-town character is locally based and nonpartisan. Similarly, there are both liberal Democrats and big business-oriented Republicans backing high-density development.
The demonization that most citizens opposed to densification are Tea Party acolytes is just spin. While it's fair to disagree with those wishing to preserve small-town Marin, this stunt quickly collapses under examination.