AS A CATHOLIC SECOND-GRADER, first confession meant entering a small, dark closet- like room and waiting for the priest to hear our sins. Eighth-graders started the rumor that child-eating mummies were hiding in a secret passage behind the wall of the confessionals. Fear and pandemonium ensued, making it almost impossible for the good sisters to control the chaos.
I am reminded of this as I read the blogs, Lucas Valley and Marinwood doorway leaflets and letters to the editor about the horrors that will supposedly befall us if we allow workforce housing into our communities.
According to these literary works, education will deteriorate, property values will crash, high-rise Dubai-style apartment complexes will sprout up in Lucas Valley and thugs will terrorize our neighborhoods.
Misinformation and half-truths are being purported as fact. SPAM email petitions disappear in county SPAM filters and don't allow the opportunity for responses to concerned constituents.
Fear No. 1: Gangs and thugs equate with affordable housing. "Those people" increase crime and don't pay taxes."
Examples of affordable, high-quality, high-density housing exist in our county. Non-profit housing projects which are run by organizations such as EAH and BRIDGE exist in West Marin, Larkspur, Corte Madera, San Rafael and Novato and rent to low-income seniors, child care and home support workers, retailers, teachers, nurses and others making less than $65,000 per year who contribute to the fabric of our communities.
Properties are typically well managed. Anyone can drive down Lucas Valley Road and see what a high-density housing project with a three-year waiting list looks like for low-income seniors at Rotary Village.
The 80 units are clustered, small, one-story and well- maintained with residents engaged in the community.
Fear No. 2: The quality of public school education will deteriorate. There are already too many children and no capacity.
Established in 1864, Dixie is one of the oldest districts in Marin. It started as a small one-room school house serving the local farming and ranching families.
During the development surge of 1955-69, two junior high schools and eight elementary schools peaked at 4,900 students.
The lowest enrollment of 1,000 in 1985-86 left only Miller Creek Middle School, Dixie and Vallecito operational. As older people leave the district and new families arrive, another expansion is underway. In Basic Aid schools, property owners pay taxes regardless of whether they have children in school.
District taxpayers consistently vote for parcel assessments because it's good for our kids and our property values. Those without children in school continue to subsidize the educations of those with children.
While non-profit housing is exempt from ad valorem taxes, they are not exempt from the extra school parcel assessments and taxes.
Fear No. 3: Affordable workforce housing will ruin property values. A derelict strip mall with a toxic plume, drug dealing and vandalism ruins property values.
The Marinwood/Lucas Valley community and the property owner worked together over the past eight years to create a redevelopment concept for the Marinwood Plaza.
There have been many meetings over the years.
The concept of a mixed-use village has been in the works for quite a while and was memorialized at a board meeting about the general plan Sept. 26, 2006, which is archived on the county web for viewing.
Phase 1 brought our wonderful grocery store and farmers market. An eyesore has been transformed, the toxic waste remediated and a vibrancy is returning.
The county website is a great resource.
My door is always open and I welcome the opportunity to discuss your concerns and suggestions. Together, we can work through the challenges.
Susan Adams of Marinwood represents District 1 on the Marin Board of Supervisors. She has served on the county board since 2003.
This piece is breathtakingly deaf to the real concerns of accommodating 71% of all affordable housing for unincorporated Marin in Marinwood-Lucas Valley.
We would rather have productive communication and practical solutions.
P.S. State regulators confirm that the toxic waste spill at Marinwood Plaza is still not fully remediated. Although there is a slow process underway to clean it, the major removal of soil on the property and under the 101 Freeway on ramp has not begun. Even Bridge Housing acknowledges that only a portion of the clean up has begun. We cannot understand why Susan Adams claims it is complete. Perhaps she will be willing to speak to the subject in full detail. To accuse the public of "spreading misinformation" when there is lack of transparency and misinformation given to the public is misleading at best. Susan Adams lobbied to DELAY TOXIC WASTE clean up in February 2014 despite the health risk to the community. See this shocking video.
One thing we can thank former Supervisor Adams for is building community in Marinwood-Lucas Valley. We have met hundreds of our neighbors since this controversy arose.