Saturday, June 13, 2015

The secret St. Vincents Vision, Peter Calthorpe and the 55 acres of Affordable Housing that may be in the works today.

Peter Calthorpe's Original Vision for St. Vincents/Silveira Ranch from the 1980s.  Note the SMART rail line and the Marinwood exit on 101  designed as a cloverleaf in the upper left hand corner. Apparently people won't be driving cars anywhere.  Each time parking has been ignored such plans have resulted in failure. Mobility is key to the modern world.

From the Congress of New Urbanism website regarding Peter Calthorpe's St. Vincent plan:

The pedestrian pocket

One of the West Coast strands began with the “pedestrian pocket” initiative that Peter Calthorpe launched in the early 1980s. That work started with a study—funded by a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and completed in 1982—of a proposed rail corridor in Marin County. After the study was released, Calthorpe’s ideas generated a great deal of interest within the academic community and some media attention, but they sparked very little interest on the part of citizens or elected officials within the study area. [Editor's Note: The Citizens of Marin rejected the high density urban vision of development. Ironically they elected Susan Adams to stop it.  Instead she carried the vision forward for the next twelve years at ABAG. After suffering a humiliating defeat at the polls, she now serves as a "citizen's representative" at ABAG. ]
Since that time, severe traffic congestion has prompted local officials to ask Calthorpe to update his earlier study. The current plan is much more ambitious than the 1982 study: the rail link in the latest iteration, Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit, or SMART, will connect Sonoma County to Marin, terminating in a ferry at Larkspur Landing with service into San Francisco. This 70-mile passenger rail line is now under construction, with an initial 37-mile segment due to open in 2016.
Peter Calthorpe, Architect, Developer and one of the Pied Pipers behind the New Urbanist movement.  He teaches at UC Berkeley and lives in a multimillion dollar compound in Berkeley Hills.  No high density housing for him.  He just sells it.

Just recently I learned that 55 acres of St. Vincents has been set aside for the "Affordable Housing Combining District" at 30 units per acre and can house 2227 units of housing for roughly 6500 people.  This is roughly the footprint of what you see above.  Without water, jobs and a significant tax base, it is difficult to image the real effects of building housing like this in the real world.  It will double the population of Marinwood-Lucas Valley with this project alone.  Affordable Housing usually pays almost no taxes and community costs are carried by the surrounding taxpayers.
 We believe the entire Community Development Planning department, Gary Giacomini (also involved in the first effort) and big interests from the world of finance and development are working to bring this vision to life.

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