Thursday, March 24, 2016

Victory in Marin! County cannot use irrelevant EIR data to justify Overdevelopment DONATE TODAY!

Dear Supporters, Donors and Neighborhood Leaders:

Last June we sent out notices to you with this headline:

Superior Court Strikes Down the Marin County Housing Element SEIR for Violating CEQA

The Marin Community Alliance filed its legal challenge against the Board of Supervisors 
County Housing Element SEIR in Oct. 2013 on the grounds that it failed to comply with 
State Environmental Quality Act requirements. In a long awaited court ruling, Marin 
Superior Court Judge Roy Chernus ruled in favor of the MCA and ordered that the County 
Housing Element SEIR, approved by the Board of Supervisors in 2013, be set aside as invalid 
unless the County conducts additional study and analysis.

The Court’s Conclusion:

“The court finds that the Housing Element SEIR violated CEQA by not conducting its own 
environmental analysis for the significant traffic impacts discussed above, which impact 
was not adequately covered in the prior CWP EIR. The petition is granted on this ground…. “

Pursuant to Pub Res Code 21168 (9)b, it is ordered that a preemptory writ of mandate shall 
issue directing Respondent County to set aside the certification of the SEIR, the Approvals for
the Housing Element and its Statement of Overriding Considerations, and take no further action 
until Respondent conducts the necessary environmental review consistent with CEQA” 
(California Environmental Quality Act) “… and to recirculate that new document as necessary.” 
(Read more

Today I am attaching MCA’s appeals brief to that decision for your review. Even though our
 earlier decision was a victory for our Marin and its citizens, MCA decided to appeal to the 
higher court to expand its victory to make certain that the county will not resuscitate its 
far-reaching SEIR after a band-aid traffic study. Please circulate and share this information 
with your email lists, neighbors and friends.

This has been a long and arduous journey as most court battles are. However, once you 
review the document attached, you will know why it is critically important that we 
continue to prevail in this legal challenge against the County of Marin. In this document, 
MCA attorney Michael Graf outlines systematic and multiple layers of failures in how the 
county implemented adverse and far reaching land use laws which have significant potential
 and actual consequences to the lives of Marin citizens and beyond.

The brief was expertly and brilliantly crafted by Michael Graf. Please read it. For any person 
who did not understand our lawsuit or the esoteric nature of planning decisions that the 
county made, Attorney Graf's brief was written in a way for the average layman to understand 
what the county has done and the consequences of those actions. At a minimum all should read 
its introduction and conclusion and then its table of contents for areas that are pertinent to you.

Some important excerpts from brief:(in Red)

On Zoning change: as you may recall many opposed the change which was done illegally with no 
notices to public. Note the dates. Public, staff, and the county all argued about the zoning change 
in 2013 when the deed was already done in 2012.

To implement this approach, on January 24, 2012 the County amended its zoning code to allow
 affordable housing to be established at the “maximum Marin Countywide Plan density range” 
in any area that allowed residential uses. See AR-19-1146 (referring to County Code § 22.24.020(A)). 
The County also exempted affordable housing projects from master plan and precise development 
plan requirements. Id. § 22.44.035; AR 19 E1143.

Subsequently, on November 13, 2012, the County amended the CWP (Policy CD-1.3) to exempt affordable 
housing projects from the requirements that developments be limited to the minimum density on lands
with sensitive habitat, within the Ridge and Upland Greenbelt [RUG] or the Baylands Corridor, or lacking 
water or sewer systems. AR-28-F2922.

On SEIR: we argued about its merits in 2012/2013 and it was a supporting document to the Housing Element. 
The county argued that these 49 HE sites are potential sites and once the housing element was certified, it 
would not be of concern to its citizens. It was just a planning exercise…

The 2012 HE present and future housing inventories ostensibly reviewed in SEIR will confer legal entitlements 
to housing projects at the stated densities. Appeal Brief P.87.

What this means is that when you wake up and see another Win Cup rising next to your neighborhood(49 HE sites) 
you will have no legal authority to stop it from happening. We hope that the MCA lawsuit will permanently vacate 
SEIR so Marin Citizens will have a voice to say we do not want another Win Cup like fiasco in their neighborhood.

Lastly, this lawsuit that benefits us all, still costs money. MCA needs to raise just over $10,000 to cover 
legal fees and cost of the appeal. Please donate what you can. Thank you to all who have donated their time
 and money to this effort!

Meehyun and MCA team

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