Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Consider sources of criticism of Levine and Marin

Dick Spotswood: Consider sources of criticism of Levine and Marin

East Bay YIMBY activists lobby for more housing in Marin County.

When it comes to defining housing density, unincorporated Marin neighborhoods, Novato and San Rafael were all previously intentionally miscategorized by state law as “urban.” Perversely, burgeoning cities in Sonoma County, including Santa Rosa, were classified “suburban.” Thanks to 2014 legislation introduced by Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-Greenbrae, a short-term fix was passed allowing Marin to be properly categorized as “suburban.”

This seemingly semantic difference is significant for regional alphabet agencies’ allocation of affordable and market-rate housing. “Suburban” jurisdictions are assigned a density of 20 units per acre for affordable housing sites while “urban” locales are set at 30 units per acre.

This temporary fix expires in 2019. The state Assembly’s version of this year’s “budget trailer bill,” SB 106, has language again authored by Levine to continue Marin’s suburban designation until 2028. Since the next regional housing plan after 2028 isn’t in effect until 2032, the former San Rafael council member’s suggested extension — if approved by the Senate and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown — gives Marin 15 years beforeit has to again fight this silly fight.

Housing and pro-development forces are peeved at Levine’s common-sense language. They’re joined by others simply jealous of Marin’s prosperity.

Typical is an opinion piece masquerading as a news article by Los Angeles Times reporter Liam Dillon. He wrote, “One of California’s wealthy counties continues to get a pass under the state’s affordable housing laws. Lawmakers are considering a measure that would allow parts of Marin County to limit growth more tightly than other regions of California. The provision, inserted last week in a bill connected to the state budget, lets Marin County’s largest cities and unincorporated areas maintain extra restrictions on how many homes developers can build.”

Levine is taking heat from the Legislature’s bipartisan developer-labor union caucus. Conservative Republican Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Tehama County, criticized Marin as “hypocritical,” saying, “They love their lifestyles, but don’t bother us with low-income housing.”

Hypocrisy’s apex was a San Francisco Chronicle editorial about Levine, you and me titled, “Oblivious to housing crisis.”

The Chronicle ignores the elephant in the room: the city and county of San Francisco. The city delights in attracting high-paying jobs, but mimics Nero fiddling while Rome burns when it comes to providing housing.

The very reason metropolitan cities exist is they are uniquely equipped to serve as housing and employment centers.

Most western and northern San Francisco neighborhoods remain relatively low-density. See Full Article HERE

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