Saturday, January 17, 2015

Marin Voice: Voters want leaders to limit growth in Marin

Marin Voice: Voters want leaders to limit growth in Marin

By Randy Warren
POSTED:   01/16/2015 03:55:00 PM PST

In spite of spirited arguing on both sides of the housing density issue, Marin voters speak with a remarkably singular voice: limit growth or you will not win election here.
There is a saying in basketball that the "ball don't lie." In Marin, the ballot box does not lie either.
For two years we elected nearly every conservationist candidate opposed to Marin implementing Plan Bay Area's housing politics.
At the same time, candidates closely associated with housing advocacy lost.
Highest-profile example: Damon Connolly's stunning landslide over incumbent county supervisor Susan Adams, who promoted a Marinwood development with unpopular density.
In contrast, Connolly, as San Rafael councilman, voted to rescind the Civic Center Priority Development Area (PDA).
Historically, it is difficult to defeat an incumbent; so it was especially stunning that voters booted Adams out of office by a margin of 20 percent.
Another candidate rescinding that PDA, Kate Colin, easily won election to the San Rafael City Council. Also winning was Maribeth Bushey who went even further: The IJ reported her call to rescind both planned PDAs including downtown San Rafael. The two losing candidates included Greg Brockbank, one of the pro-development platform's strongest advocates. (I also lost that election.)
Newcomer Jill Hoffman defeated incumbent Sausalito Councilman Jonathan Leone, following her declaration that she was no fan of the proposed Easterby Street high-density housing plan. In fact, Hoffman outpolled both incumbents, and joined conservationist Linda Pfeifer on the council.
David Kunhardt had a great shot at the Corte Madera Town Council — four candidates for three seats. Only one person could lose. But Kunhardt advocated more homes and higher densities.
In Marin, that is like saying, "Please don't elect me."
Kunhardt's three opponents each voted to withdraw Corte Madera from the Association of Bay Area Governments, which sets state housing quotas. Local voters voted all three incumbents back into office. Kunhardt, who dismissed ABAG opponents as "paranoid," was the only one to lose that election.
In Marinwood, site of Adams' last stand, voters swept Justin Kai, Deana Dearborn and Bill Shea onto the community services district board. Kai was high-profile in his platform of preventing the contested Marinwood development.
The 2014 election for Marin Municipal Water District was not housing-focused, though water shortages are a housing issue.
Conservationist Larry Bragman, with Sierra Club endorsement and cautioning against over-development, defeated Liza Crosse who was District 3's appointed representative.
As Crosse faced election for the first time, voters seemed gravely concerned that she had been administrative aide to county Supervisor Steve Kinsey, arguably one of the most vocal proponents of increasing Marin's population. Perhaps by association, Crosse lost.
Did the pro-development pro-ABAG social-equity coalition have any notable wins these past two years?
I think I covered most or all contests.
I find only one outright win against a clear conservationist candidate. That winner was Supervisor Judy Arnold, who faced opponent Toni Shroyer, making her first run for public office.
Arnold supported the county's housing element. Shroyer was clear in her opposition. Arnold had eight years of incumbency, powerful pension-based unions, money from Sacramento and Washington D.C., construction, iron workers, developers and carpenters — a 2:1 spending advantage and there was a last-minute hit piece defaming Shroyer.
With all that firepower, Arnold squeaked by with a razor-thin 215-vote margin.
That was the sum of victory for the housing side. Conservationist candidates won nearly all other county and local elections in 2013 and 2014.
Spin as you will, this is where Marin's voting majority stands on housing and preservation. The ball don't lie.
Randy Warren is a San Rafael attorney and was a candidate for San Rafael City Council in 2013.

The "American Dream" is alive and well in Marin County

Childish Things: So Many San Franciscans Don't Wanna Grow Up. But Who Can Afford To?

Comments (1) 
Earlier this year, an extremely clever married couple named Catherine Herdlick and Gabe Smedresman celebrated the latter's 30th birthday by throwing a citywide Logan's Run-themed chase game. What a perfect motif for a night out in San Francisco: A pastime for beautiful young adults in this city of beautiful young adults re-creating a movie about beautiful young adults enjoying a lavish, indulgent — and extremely temporary — existence.
In that film, the beautiful young adults of a dystopian future earth lived it up before aging out in the most extreme manner possible: They were vaporized to make way for more beautiful young adults.
Here in San Francisco, that would violate the city charter.
Instead, when aging young people reach the point in life when their parents "settled down," they tend to do so elsewhere. As urban historian Joel Kotkin told us, "San Francisco is Disneyland for adults, or a place people go until they grow up." And, like Disneyland, it's crowded and expensive here (and everyone drives in a vehicle the size of a teacup). We find ourselves with a surplus of young adults, and more arrive every day. The disrupting of San Francisco into The City That Tech Built is only accentuating a trend set in motion long ago. This has, for quite some time, been a city increasingly catering to the young and wealthy at the expense of most everyone else; San Francisco's existential quandary of near-infinite demand and limited supply is exploding as the former spikes while the latter dwindles.
This is the city of Peter Pan and, rest assured, someone will arrive soon toting a flying app. Pirates are already here; your humble narrator came across a young programmer in buccaneer garb sailing to work in the Mission aboard a BART train. When asked why he was decked out in piratical regalia, he calmly answered, "It's Friday."
If, for many of us, adulthood commences elsewhere, then our San Francisco adolescence extends into overtime. You can be 35 years old and a member of the San Francisco Young Democrats. They don't vaporize you when you turn 36 — but, increasingly, people decamp San Francisco before achieving that advanced age.
The hedonistic city that just won't put away childish things does away with other things: affordability, institutional memory, demands of accountability from our leaders. And, perhaps, a sense of context: The organizers of the Logan's Run event said that any statement about city dwellers' inability to grow up derived from playing a big treasure hunt game themed on an inability to grow up was unintended.
This is SF Weekly's Perpetual Adolescence issue (there's even an Activities Page!). In truth, we could have run an edition like this long ago. Well, there's no time like the present. And, in this city, it feels like there's no timebut the present.
And still, complaining about the loss of our San Francisco nostalgia has been going on so long that we can now grow nostalgic about how we used to complain. When he lived in San Francisco, Kotkin tells us, you used to be able to catch a bitter, salty whiff of the bay wind no matter where you were. That was a long time ago and he told us this a long time ago, back in 2007. But his observations about San Francisco hold up. Because, he claims, this is the city that pioneered gentrification. Why? Because it's the prettiest city: Educated Baby Boomers flocked here in the 1970s and '80s, and dot-commers, he concludes, applied the coup de grĂ¢ce in the 1990s (what's taken place since has essentially been mop-up work; gentrification's heavy lifting was accomplished long ago).
This city's extremely limited space, ever-increasing cost of living, and relentless influx of high-earners leads to a situation in which it's increasingly difficult to be fruitful and multiply. As we've noted in this space before, census data reveals this city has added 65,000 residents in the past 50 years, while simultaneously losing 31,000 families. In addition to the hordes of San Franciscans departing by around the age their Logan's RunLife Clock would begin glowing, research by professor Bill Watkins of California Lutheran University also reveals a steady uptick of residents arriving here in their golden years. Joe Montana was atypical in racking up four Super Bowl rings — but when he moved back to the city in 2010, that was pretty typical. Wealthy empty-nesters are a burgeoning subset of the population here along with twenty- and thirtysomething never-had-a-nesters.
San Francisco, in so many ways, is the city without a middle.
Older people and younger people aren't an entirely similar demographic. But, in this city, they do both possess a passion for living in the present.
And lots of money, of course.
Economic necessities force so many in this city to retain the trappings of youth: roommates, inability to invest long-term, pets instead of kids. Even our ascendent young techies exist in a protective womb harking to a lucrative extension of college life: all-nighters, slovenly attire, a campus-like work atmosphere, built-in peer groups.
It's not a sustainable way of life, which only adds to the allure. And that's sad. San Franciscans of yore could afford to live cheaply in this most beautiful of cities, work sane hours, and then go home to their families. No more. Now it seems you must be wealthy and work like a galley slave.
And all the trappings of extended youth — hoodies at the office, bacon-wrapped everything — can't make up for that. Nobody remembers anymore how the bay's supposed to smell.

About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Newflash. Holder limits seized-asset sharing process that split billions with local, state police

Holder limits seized-asset sharing process that split billions with local, state police

Holder limits police ability to seize assets(2:21)
Attorney General Eric Holder is barring local and state police from using federal law to seize cash, cars and other property without proof that a crime occurred. The Post's Robert O'Harrow Jr. explains the most sweeping check on police power to confiscate personal property since the seizures began three decades ago.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday barred local and state police from using federal law to seize cash, cars and other property without proving that a crime occurred.
Holder’s action represents the most sweeping check on police power to confiscate personal property since the seizures began three decades ago as part of the war on drugs.
Since 2008, thousands of local and state police agencies have made more than 55,000 seizures of cash and property worth $3 billion under a civil asset forfeiture program at the Justice Department called Equitable Sharing.
The program has enabled local and state police to make seizures and then have them “adopted” by federal agencies, which share in the proceeds. The program allowed police departments and drug task forces to keep up to 80 percent of the proceeds of the adopted seizures, with the rest going to federal agencies.
“With this new policy, effective immediately, the Justice Department is  see full article HERE
Editor's note: Just minutes after publishing my stories below on civil asset seizure, the Washington Post published this story above.  It is great news for civil liberties.

Policing for Profit: Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuse

The Planning Commissioners and Community Development Staff who want to urbanize Marinwood-Lucas Valley

Leelee Thomas, Chief Planner, Marin Community Development Department lives in lovely Woodacre while pushing urban development on the rest of us.
Wade Holland, Planning Commissioner was appointed by Steve Kinsey
Margret Biele

Ericka Erickson of Marinwood also works for Marin Grassroots for "social equity" also a Steve Kinsey appointee.

Brian Crawford, Community Development Director and his staff
Don Dickenson, Planning Commission questions assumptions of Housing Element such as the density bonus that gives developers to build OVER allowable limits in the general plan.
Unfortunately, the other planning commissioners don't appear to care.

Katie Crecilious, Housing Advocate from Novato,  now Planning Commissioner advocated putting housing on school sites in Lucas Valley including Miller Creek Middle School and the Waldorf School in the last housing element. 

Pete Theran, Planning Commissioner listens to the public object to the Housing Element that has 400% MORE housing than required by the State.  300 of the 500 units are in Marinwood.
Wade Holland think most of the affordable housing should go in Marinwood because "they have the space".  He  blocked a senior development in the last housing element in his community of Inverness. 

Brian Crawford Community Development Director who lectures us on "social equity", owns a large tract of land in West Marin and Petaluma pushes big development on Marinwood/Lucas Valley.
He is one of the highest paid employees in the County.

John Eller, Architect/Developer of Affordable Housing , Planning Commissioner is an industry insider.

My Letter to Damon Connolly on the appointment of a New Planning Commissioner.

Damon Connolly is sworn in as District One Supervisor on January 6, 2015

I hope you are settling into your new position.  We are all so proud of you in Marinwood/Lucas Valley as our Supervisor.

As you know, four planning commissioners are to be appointed in the next few weeks.

Although we tried mightily to secure a local person to represent the average District 1 homeowner's concerns, no one I know was able to submit an application for appointment.  The job requires too much of a working person or busy parent.  

Fortunately, you may have the option to reappoint Don Dickerson.  Although he voted in projects in the Marinwood Lucas Valley Area, many of us feel that he is thoughtful, sensitive to community needs and asks penetrating questions about planning.  He is well respected in the community and we think he is a good appointment.

The others commissioners do not have our support.  Most especially Enrika Erickson whose advocacy for Marin Grassroots seems to be inseparable from her objectivity in representing the community.  As a "social equity advocate" she appears to promote ideology over sound planning principles.


Here is a clip of Erika suggesting that Single Family Home Zoning should be eliminated in Los Ranchitos area as it is a main factor of segregation in Marin.   I do not know where she get's her data "proving" this.  From her logic NO single family zoning should be allowed ANYWHERE in Marin.  This is a radical proposition that would destroy the suburban rural character of our district.

Likewise Kate Crecilious is an affordable housing advocate does not have our hicommunity support.  She petitioned the planning commission to put multifamily zoning on school sites in the Dixie School District.  Although this was quickly dismissed as impractical, it demonstrates her resolve of building high density subsidized housing at all costs in Marin.

All I am asking for is people with commonsense and without a personal agenda to serve the community.  Don Dickerson is a fine example but I'd prefer someone who is even more committed to sensible local planning for Marinwood/Lucas Valley. 

We should not be forced to be burdened with 80% of all the affordable housing quota in just two high density projects for all of Unincorporated Marin.

Thanks for listening.


Stephen Nestel

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Bait and Switch in Marinwood, too? "Sorry no retail shops."

Wincup development aka "CorteMazilla" in Corte Madera. Officials were surprised at the size of the development.

Marin Voice: Marinwood proposal changes consensus plan

Posted:   04/16/2014 05:57:00 PM PDT

Dave Mitchell is a former Marinwood Community Services District board chairman. 

THE RECENT IJ editorial and Marin Voice article have been in favor of the Bridge Housing proposal for the Marinwood Plaza shopping center. It has been reasoned that the proposal is not much different from the one that, with community support, was approved by the Board of Supervisors in 2006.

So what's the problem?

As someone who was intimately involved in the various Marinwood shopping center committees that developed the earlier plan, I think there's a big problem. There are glaring differences, yet to be aired, that in my view make the current Bridge proposal unacceptable.

The most serious has to do with the phasing of the development.
The approved 2006 plan envisaged the housing, grocery store and other commercial to be developed in a single phase of all new construction by a single owner-developer.
The Bridge proposal envisages three distinct segments which may be owned and developed separately and not necessarily at the same time.

To quote from page 13 of the Bridge master plan submitted to the county: "The Marinwood Plaza Project Master Plan is separated into three segments — that will occupy the northern, central and southern lots as shown on this master plan map. While the uses and improvements on these separate lots are interrelated, they may be owned and developed separately, either simultaneously or in multiple phases."

What this means is that Bridge Housing will develop the southern lot as a 72-unit affordable housing complex. The central lot — the grocery store — will remain as is under separate ownership. The northern lot comprising a small commercial element and 10 small, single-bedroom, market-rate rental units will likely be developed (if ever) by someone else since this type of development is not Bridge's specialty.

By the way, the northern lot also contains the proposed public plaza, small stores and a restaurant. If it remains undeveloped it would be a huge loss to the community.
The second divergence from the 2006 plan is that this is an all-rental project as opposed to a mix of owner-occupied and rentals. The 10 single-bedroom, market-rate rental units on the northern lot may never be built and, if built, may never be converted to condominiums and sold.

To summarize, my fear is that the development of the northern lot may be delayed for years. Or may never happen. Then what we'll get is a high-density, three-story affordable complex on the southern lot, an existing grocery store in a 50-year-old building in the central lot and the current weed-infested eyesore in the northern lot.

This is a far cry from what the community agreed to, namely, a project developed in a single phase with all new construction and with a mostly owner-occupied housing element.

Bridge withdrew from the earlier discussions in 2004 to 2006 when it became clear the community did not want an all-rental project with a very high affordable ratio. Now it is back with the same all-rental proposal, a higher affordable ratio and worse, no assurance that anything more than the 72 units in the southern lot will be built. 

Its proposal should be rejected and the Board of Supervisors held to the agreement it made with the community in 2006.

Most of us recognize that the redevelopment of the center will need to include a housing component some of which will be affordable. However, we should not feel pressured into accepting something that we don't think is in the best interest of the community.

David Mitchell is a longtime Marinwood resident and a former elected director of the Marinwood Community Services District.

How a 5' 5" Basketball Player learned to Dunk.


Frank Egger: "What have elected representatives learned from 2014?"

Marin Voice: What have elected representatives learned from 2014?

By Frank Egger
POSTED:   01/14/2015 06:05:11 PM PST

Click photo to enlarge
Frank Egger, candidate for the Ross Valley Sanitary District. Wednesday, April 18, 2012. (IJ...

Marin voters sent shock waves throughout Marin in 2014 — Damon Connolly's win in the 1st Supervisorial District, Jill Hoffman's city council win in Sausalito, Larry Bragman's Marin Municipal Water District election in the San Geronimo and Ross valleys and Toni Shroyer's almost victory in the 5th Supervisorial District.
What should have been cakewalk elections for well-known, respected Marin elected officials went sideways in three of four elections.
Was this just a matter of voters fighting "city hall" or is there more to the story?
We live in what many refer to as paradise: wonderful , safe cit i es and towns with excellent educational opportunities, semi-rural, small communities with real home-town character.
It's human nature, if you love something, to preserve it. A common thread throughout Marin, whether you live in a small apartment or large home, is "wanting to preserve" what we have here.
The so-called state mandates regarding housing and the Association of Bay Area Governments' high-density housing requirements have had an impact. Thirty or even 20 units per acre ma y be more than what can be accommodated in some of our communities.
The statement of elected officials that "we don't build high-density housing, we just have to plan for it and it may not even be built" does not ring true. Voters know that high-density requires additional water supplies, more classrooms, more and larger sewer pipes and treatment facilities and the ever-increasing traffic congestion.
Who is going to pay for all the improvements? 
This is one reason we see ballot-box zoning with initiatives and referendums.'Of California's 58 counties, Marin has the  highest property tax rates, which take a toll on personal finances whether you are a homeowner or renter whose landlord passes on the tax increases. Unfunded pension and post-employment medical benefit liabilities take huge bites out of property tax revenue.

This fiscal year, our governmental agencies, cities, counties and special districts will be required , for the first time , to show those liabilities in real dollars, not just percentages . It will be sticker shock.

When local government retirees are retiring at an earlier age with six-figure retirements and many folks in Marin are on fixed incomes with Social Security, these posted liabilities will be quite an eye opener . Some governmental agencies even approve annual bonuses for their high-paid managers, bonuses greater than some Social Security recipients' annual income.

We have been taught over the years there are three branches of government — legislative, executive and judicial — in place for checks and balances to protect the public's interests . Here in Marin we have seen the creation and runaway rise of a fourth branch of government — consultants .

Elected officials spend much of their time selecting million-dollar consultants and our managers end up managing consultants.

Annually, tens of millions of our tax dollars go to consultants for everything from planning and zoning to design and project management to public relations .

Just look at the millions consultants have been paid over the past seven years for "planning" flood control projects in the Ross Valley. Will we ever see real flood control improvements?
Our county, cities, water and sewer districts spend millions of dollars a year on consultants and voters are wondering why our own employees can't do this work.
We have a great workforce at all levels of government and they can do the job.
Voters believe it is time to rein in the consultants, the high-paid "experts" they have no control over whatsoever.
So, have we, the elected officials the public put into office to represent them, learned anything from the elections of 2014? Is change coming, or will 2015 be more of the same?
Frank Egger is a former seven-time mayor of Fairfax, an elected director for the Ross Valley Sanitary District.