Thursday, November 3, 2022




If you are a California affordable housing developer, this article is for you.  It is intended as a quick reference guide for understanding the so-called “super density bonus.”  Part I below describes the four general components of a density bonus in California under Government Code Section 65915.  Part II describes the criteria for a “super density bonus.”  Part III describes two scenarios for applying the “super density bonus.”

Part I:  Density Bonuses Generally

Certain housing development projects qualify for density bonuses under Government Code Section 65915.  Typical ways to qualify for a density bonus include providing at least 10% of base units in a housing development project for low- or moderate-income households or at least 5% of base units for very low-income households.  If a project qualifies as a density bonus project, then the applicant can request four different categories of benefits for the project.  These include the following:

Increase in Density:  The project qualifies for an increase in density over the otherwise maximum allowable density pursuant to the general plan and zoning.  Importantly, an applicant is not required to take advantage of an increase in density to qualify for the other benefits of a density bonus.  In this regard, the term “density bonus” is arguably a misnomer.  Note also that for purposes of a density bonus, numbers are always rounded up.  Thus, if the maximum allowable density with a density bonus is 10.01 units, then the applicant is entitled to construct 11 units.

Concessions:  The project qualifies for one or more concessions.[1]  The number of concessions varies depending upon the level of affordability proposed and the basis upon which the density bonus is requested.  A concession is an exception from an otherwise applicable development standard.  A concession is supposed to result in a cost savings for affordable housing, and the local agency can deny a concession if it finds that a requested concession will not result in a cost savings for affordable housing.  The agency has the burden to prove the absence of cost savings, but the applicant can be required by the local agency to submit “reasonable documentation” demonstrating such a savings. 

Waivers:  Density bonus projects are entitled to unlimited waivers.  A waiver is an exception from an otherwise applicable development standard.  A waiver should be granted if the design standard from which an exception is sought would physically preclude a project that an applicant is otherwise entitled to construct at the allowed density and with any concessions granted. 

Parking Reductions:  Government Code Section 65915(p) establishes certain maximum parking ratios for density bonus projects.  A project that meets the applicable ratio under subdivision (p) may take advantage of the ratio without using a concession or waiver.  If a project requires a further reduction in parking standards from what the local agency otherwise requires, then that further reduction must be sought as a concession or waiver. 

Part II:  “Super Density Bonus” Projects

A special set of rules applies to certain housing development projects.  To qualify, all the units in the project must be affordable, excluding managers’ units.  A maximum of 20% of the units in the development may be for moderate-income households, and the remaining units must be for lower income households.  Note that normally for density bonus projects, HCD rents are used to calculate affordable rents.  However, for “super density bonus” projects, TCAC rents may be used for up to 80% of units.  A “super density” bonus project qualifies for the following benefits:

Increase in Density:  The project qualifies for an 80% density bonus.  This is calculated based only upon the lower income units in the project.  Moderate income units and managers’ units are excluded from the calculation.  However, if the project is within one-half mile of a major transit stop, then no maximum density applies.  Major transit stops include, for example, ferry terminals, train stations, and light rail stops.  A bus stop served by two or more bus lines with 15 minute headways during peak commute hours also qualifies as a major transit stop.  Distance from a major transit stop is measured from nearest property line to nearest property line. 

Concessions:  The project qualifies for up to four concessions, which is the maximum available for any type of density bonus project. 

Waivers:  Projects not located within one-half mile of a major transit stop may claim unlimited waivers.  Waivers are discretionary for projects located within one-half mile of a major transit stop, but in lieu of waivers, such a project is entitled to an automatic height increase of 33 feet or three stories. 

Parking Reductions:  Parking reductions under Government Code Section 65915(p) apply.  Importantly, subdivision (p) includes a special parking ratio intended for certain “super density bonus” projects.  Specifically, a rental project within one-half mile of a major transit stop is not required to provide any parking if all the units in the project, exclusive of managers’ units, are for lower income households.  Note that subdivision (p) includes several other special parking ratios that apply to certain types of projects and that may also overlap with the “super density bonus” classification.

Part III:  Scenarios

Let’s look at how the “super density bonus” might work in practice.  Consider the following two hypothetical projects:

Project #1:  The project is located on a site where the maximum allowable density is 50 dwelling units per acre.  The project site is 1.5 acres in size.  The developer plans to offer two and three bedroom units only.  Exclusive of a manager’s unit, 100% of the units will be for lower income households.  The project site is not located within one-half mile of a major transit stop.  Assume that no special parking ratio applies under Government Code Section 65915(p). 

The site supports a maximum density of 75 units.  Assuming one manager’s unit, 74 of these base units will be for lower income households.  Applying an 80% density bonus and rounding up as required, the project would be entitled to 60 density bonus units, or 135 units in total. 

74 x 0.8 = 59.2 ~ 60 density bonus units
75 base units + 60 density bonus units = 135 units

The project would also qualify for up to four concessions, unlimited waivers, and a parking ratio of not more than 1.5 parking spaces per unit.

Project #2:  Same project, but now assume the project is located within one-half mile of a major transit stop.  Now the project qualifies for unlimited density and up to four concessions.  The project is entitled to a height increase of up to 33 feet or three stories, but any additional waivers would be discretionary with the local agency.  No parking would be required for the project.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Bill Hansell, Former CSD Politician in action

 Hansell, repeatedly smearing me at a public meeting while claiming himself a victim:

Hansell explaining why spending $250k for 1/2 of a fence for the Maintenance Shed project is a good investment.

Hansell, pitching a new project for Marinwood CSD after presiding over the most expensive Maintenance Shed project in Marin County history.

Hansell, advocating for harsh penalties for Fire Safety violations in Marinwood 

Friday, May 27, 2022

Punishing Loud "Mariachi Music" in Marinwood with a total ban on room rentals by "outsiders"

Note: This was filmed at a Parks and Recreation meeting held on June 26, 2018 in Marinwood Park.
Although several of the individuals expressed intolerance for Latino culture, it should not be conflated with racism. Everyone has the right to have an opinion on music. Loud music should be controlled 
by an objective community standard regardless of the type of music and the attendees.

Unfortunately, a few months after this meeting occurred, a crime occurred at party held at the community center. The guests were mainly Latino from outside our community.  Marinwood Community Center has been a very popular location for Latino celebrations, birthday parties, weddings and quinceaneras.

Marinwood CSD hires a building attendant for these events who is employed to maintain acceptable
sound levels, and ensure the basic rules are followed.  It appears that they were not doing their job well since complaints and crimes occurred anyway.

After an armed attempted rape 0n April 7, 2019, the Marinwood CSD quietly BANNED rentals to "outsiders" instead of improving security.  This put a complete halt to rentals by the Latino community and deprived us from rental income. The policy did not receive full legal scrutiny and COVID cancelled all events until late 2021. The policy to ban outsiders remains as of this writing.

Meanwhile, loud music and drinking continues in Marinwood with the Art and Wine festival and other events. These events bring a different demographic into our parks.

While the remarks by some on the board are completely inappropriate and ignorant, the RACISM was with the total ban on rentals to outsiders that targets  the Latino community for unequal treatment. The real issue is sound levels, security, and insufficient CSD staff oversight.   The policy is an excellent example of INSTITUTIONAL RACISM by Marinwood CSD.

Marinwood Community Services District is not a private club.  We must adhere to legal standards and treat all of our guests with dignity.  We are a PUBLIC GOVERNMENTAL AGENCY.

The real problem with Marinwood CSD is illustrated in this short clip. CSD politicians exercise their personal bias without regard to prevailing law or ethical standards.  CSD staff seem very willing to appease them instead of articulating the democratic principle of equal access for all .  

Fortunately, there is a new majority on the CSD Board. They have a fresh vision for our community and I believe they will abide by both the rule of law and the values of inclusiveness if they hear from you.

Two of the commissioners that still serve on the CSD Board and Parks Commission should consider resignation to allow us to have a fresh start.  At least Isabela Perry, injected common sense when she called for an objective standard but she is no longer on the CSD board.

Neighborhoods need healthy acceptance of "outsiders" to grow.  An inside "club" should not be allowed to quietly exclude outsiders.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Have we turned our back on Racism in Marinwood?


Photo of BLM protest May 2020. The chalk reads, "No lives matter till Black Lives Matter."  Seen in the photo is Bruce Anderson, former Marinwood CSD Director and moderator for Lucas Valley/Marinwood NextDoor. Photo courtesy

I was cancelled from Lucas Valley/Marinwood NextDoor  today for the following post:

Some people think that racism is widespread in our community. From BLM protest that made national news;

"For Bruce Anderson, who said he knew the man in the videos but declined to identify him, it wasn’t a surprise to see footage of what he called bigotry and anger in Marinwood.

Anderson, who is African American and a former board member for the Marinwood Community Services District, was among the supporters of a years-long initiative to change the local Dixie School District’s name, which, activists said, is linked to slavery and the Confederacy. The school board voted last year to change the name to the Miller Creek School District, but Anderson said the months of bitter debate leading up to that decision highlighted, for him, “the underlying sentiments out here that tended to lean toward racism.”

“There was a lot of anger from people who were able to kind of disguise their racism as protecting the Dixie name,” Anderson said."

      I agreed with the Dixie name change. It was named "Dixie"  during the bloodiest year of the Civil War. It was completely appropriate to change the name that reflects our common values.                                                                  


   I disagree that there is a lot of overt racism in our community.  I feel the racism exists in cultural insensitivity and laws meant to favor some over others.  It is important to identify and discuss it as a community.  So many have a good heart in this community and want fairness for all people. Let's make positive change.


The original post was about the policy to ban renting Marinwood Community Center community rooms to "outsiders" after several board members complained about "loud Mexican Music" and public safety incidents.  Most of our rentals were to the Latino community for birthdays, weddings and quinceaneras.  Similar celebrations like the "Art and Wine Festival" were left untouched.  This is clearly a racist policy since it affects only one community.  Many agree. Some people want to turn their back on institutional racism and censor those who dare speak about it.

write to reinstate fair and respectful discussions WITHOUT CENSORSHIP.

Bruce Anderson Speaks to change the "Racist" Dixie School District name


 Bruce Anderson, former Marinwood CSD politician speaks out to change the name of the "Racist" Dixie School District in 2018, 2019. He currently is the lead moderator on Lucas Valley/ Marinwood Nextdoor and removed this discussion below for "Misinformation and Dangerous Activity". 


Marinwood CSD practicing racist policies behind closed doors?
It seems incredible but the Marinwood CSD stopped rentals to "outside groups" quietly in 2019 after an armed sex crime at a birthday celebration. . Fortunately, no one was hurt but the CSD covered up the incident until the Marin IJ reported the story of the trial sentencing on August 25, 2019. The board quietly stopped renting our meeting hall for a "safety evaluation". Marinwood Community Center had been a popular rental location for weddings, birthday celebration and quinceaneras for the Hispanic community. Coincidentally, I attended a meeting of the Parks and Recreation commission where several members spoke openly to prevent rentals because of the "loud Mexican music and drinking" . I was shocked that only ONE community was being singled out for "bad behavior" in our park. The crime provided the excuse for stopping rentals to "outsiders". Covid lockdown happened a few months later but there is no word if the CSD plans to continue to ban now that things are returning to normal. Marinwood CSD is not a private club. It is a public agency with a duty to serve the public without prejudice. While the term "racism" gets used too much these days, there is undeniable racism when identical activities are treated differently in our rental policy. Few people complain about the "Art and Wine festival". Why should other celebrations be treated differently? This is why we need OPEN MEETINGS of Marinwood CSD AND COMMISSION MEETINGS. Directors need to be available to the public. All public meetings should be announced on a large sign board and must be accessible in person and on line and recorded. An "Annual Business Meeting" should be held every March to update the people. No secrecy. It is wrong to discriminate and hide behind closed doors. We have a new CSD Board that is more open and has new ideas. While a few people promoting the ban are still with us, I am confident that the new majority will DO THE RIGHT thing if they hear from you. PLEASE EMAIL to urge support Fair Access to Marinwood CSD park rentals. Marinwood CSD Board Members care of

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Why shouldn't Marinwood record public meetings?

Eric Dreikosen, Marinwood CSD manager explains that he doesn't record public meetings.  Since arriving at Marinwood CSD, he has ELIMINATED detailed reports. Political appointees are encouraged not to make their contact information public.   Dreikosen is responsible for nearly $5,000,000 in spending and does not want public accountability.  It is truly incredible that we allow this.  Chances are that you do not know much about who is serving the public or where are tax dollars are being spent.  We are building the MOST EXPENSIVE MAINTENANCE SHED in Marin County history and several of the prime consultants are former Marinwood CSD politicians.  Meanwhile basic maintenance and safety concerns are not addressed. 

I hasten to add that everyone on the today's boards seem to have their heart in the right place.  They just seem to think of their authority is beyond reproach.  Democracy requires public accountability.

This is why we fundamentally IMPROVE public interaction by publicizing meetings and encourage public dialog on matters of our future. 

Every jurisdiction in Marin County records public meetings. Managers write reports prior to important government actions.  Why should Marinwood CSD lack basic, commonsense accountability?  As the Washington Posts says "democracy dies in darkness."

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Do you need a water fountain in Marinwood Park?

On April 26, 2022 Marinwood CSD Parks and Rec Commission, Luke Fretwell, Marinwood Parks Manager tells the board that he is "investigating" why the water fountain in Marinwood Park isn't working but is waiting instruction if he should remove or repair it.  ( HINT: It was shut off during COVID and it is behind on routine maintenance).  Jon Campo, appointed Parks Commissioner is of the opinion that it is located in a strange location that receives little use.  Like hundreds of people that use this area regularly, I am dismayed that the board is hostile to upkept of our park.  They are only talking about REMOVAL of park assets, like grills, water fountains and picnic tables instead of MAINTAINING and BEAUTIFYING our park..

Please join us to SAVE MARINWOOD PARK from destruction and neglect.  We pay MILLIONS to the Marinwood CSD  each year to maintain our park.  Shouldn't we at least have a picnic area with a water fountain? Talk with your neighbors.  Show that you care about your community.


Ask them to keep Marinwood Park Safe, Beautiful and Accessible for ALL.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Marinwood CSD manager justifies removal of handicap accessible fountain 4/12/2022

Keep Marinwood Park accessible for all.  For some reason, Eric Dreikosen has the notion that the only drinking fountain at the Fireman's Picnic Area must be removed.  He justifies it by claiming that another fountain "is only 100 yards away" .  In fact it is 500 yards away. This is a long distance on a wheelchair or walker.  
Marinwood Park should improve facilities accessible for everyone.  They have refused to improve the
accessibility at the Western Quietwood Path entrance despite a generous donation that would pay for the entire improvement.
We should be improving our parks, not destroying them.  

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Save Marinwood Park's most lovely picnic area from destruction.

 Save Marinwood Park's most lovely picnic area from destruction. 

Crews have already begun removing grills and tables from the Fireman's Picnic Area

Tonight while I was walking my dogs I notice that crews are in the process of removing grills and picnic tables from Fireman's Picnic Area WITHOUT PUBLIC APPROVAL.

It is quite a shame.  As many local residents know, this group picnic area is one of the most lovely spots in the North Bay.  It is under a tall canopy of trees that keeps it pleasant year round. Miller Creek cools the air and many birds sing in the trees.  It is the perfect place for an informal gathering or just to sit and enjoy nature.

This grill had been allowed to completely rust through.

Over the years, maintenance has been neglected and one grill had completely rusted through.  Instead of maintaining and replacing the grills, the CSD has decided to decommission the area.  They claim they need no input from the public. Neighbors disagree.

For years, hundreds of residents have used this areas for birthdays, block parties, weddings, and memorials.  It is a cheerful place. 

I ask you to be a Friend of Marinwood Park and save this lovely area from destruction.  I ask you to write an email right now to tell them stop the removals. General Manager   Rec and Parks Manager

and  (Friends of Marinwood/Lucas Valley)

A petition to save the Fireman's picnic area will be coming shortly.  For now, please send your email to let the Marinwood CSD that you care about our park and our community quality of life.


Fireman's Picnic Area aka Quietwood Grove can be reached by walking down this path
at 401 Quietwood Drive in Marinwood.

Marinwood CSD meeting 4/12/22

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Mary Sackett speaks to RWQCB on behalf of Marinwood and the Environment

Mary Sackett. Asst. to Marin County Supervisor Connolly speaks to California Regional Water Quality Control Board on April 13, 2022.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

How Affordable Housing Developers Scam Taxpayers

Here is a transcript from the full video

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Three Minutes of excuses why Marinwood Plaza is not cleaned up 3/9/22

Curious why Marinwood Plaza toxic waste is STILL not cleaned up and has remained vacant for well over two decades ? Here are the dangerous chemicals present as reported by the Regional Water Quality Control Board as of today. Yesterday, the Clean Up Marinwood Plaza Committee (est. 2012) attended the RWQCB meeting and we got 3 minutes of excuses. The RWQCB has ordered the owners to cleanup since 2014 under financial penalty. As of today the "hotspot" of PCE toxic waste remains in the ground, poisoning the groundwater and creating toxic gases that seep everywhere on the site including a site just outside Casa Marinwood. Supervisor Damon Connolly and Asst. Mary Sackett has been steadfast in the support of clean up but the RWQCB has not imposed penalties.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

No, mountain lions won’t drop dead if California builds duplexes.

No, mountain lions won’t drop dead if California builds duplexes. But some towns are in their habitat

March 8, 2022


Woodside was ridiculed after claiming itself a mountain lion habitat in seeming attempt to avoid a state housing law.

Woodside was ridiculed after claiming itself a mountain lion habitat in seeming attempt to avoid a state housing law.  Brontë Wittpenn/The Chronicle

The Bay Area town of Woodside recently found itself in the international spotlight, and not in a good way. Officials in the town of 5,000 in the heavily forested foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains wanted to pause housing applications under SB9, a law meant to encourage construction, because they believed Woodside is habitat for mountain lions and wanted to await a determination from the state on whether the species would be protected.

The issue raised a question that has garnered widespread mockery: To what extent should developed areas with single-family homes be considered habitat for mountain lions?

California Attorney General Rob Bonta gave his unequivocal answer in a statement he issued last month chastising Woodside officials. “Habitat is land that has the capacity to support a specific species, including providing food and shelter,” he said. “Land that is already developed — with, for example, a single-family home — is not, by definition, habitat.”

Bonta’s tone was undoubtedly meant to send a message to all California communities who have been reluctant to get on board with the state’s new housing laws. But his rationale in rebuffing Woodside’s claim is incorrect.

Bottom line: Building a house — or a duplex — on a plot of land does not eliminate the ability of that land to support wildlife and native plants.

For those who have never been, Woodside isn’t the lawn-filled suburban enclave you might have guessed from its recent media depiction. The town is adjacent to large, natural open spaces, part of what’s called the wildland-urban interface — that is, a place where people and wildlife share space and resources. In these areas, homes are intermingled with redwood forest and coast live-oak woodland, accessed via narrow, winding mountain roads. Deer are much more common than transit stops (the only bus that serves Woodside only runs on Saturdays). And not coincidentally, these heavily wooded hillsides with their challenging terrain are also wildfire hazard zones.

Whatever you may think of state housing policies, one thing is true: Woodside is indeed mountain lion habitat, and treating that habitat responsibly is critical to the survival of this species.

Mountain lions, also knowns as cougars, once freely roamed the hills, forests and grasslands of the Bay Area. Their habitat has been severely degraded by development. But these big cats still live here. There are only around 2,000 to 3,000 cougars left in California. They are currently a “candidate species” under the California Endangered Species Act, giving them the same protection as threatened and endangered species. Mountain lions are at the top of the food chain. A robust cougar population keeps the whole ecosystem in balance.

That ecosystem includes many California neighborhoods. Unfortunately, the controversy in California over housing density has raised the political stakes to the extent that it has generated gravely misinformed public statements about wildlife habitat. The assumption that anything short of a state or national park isn’t habitat and has no conservation value is inaccurate and damaging to efforts aimed at preserving biodiversity.

Indeed, the Bay Area is a biodiversity hotspot equal to Madagascar, and towns in the foothills to the west of Interstate 280 contain much of that biodiversity. These areas are threatened by human development; they make up just 2.5 percent of the planet’s surface but represent an outsize opportunity to protect a large variety of species. This demands land use planning with extra care.

Woodside inarguably has areas of mountain lion habitat. We therefore have a particular obligation to take account of the habits and needs of cougars when building here. Most importantly, we should prioritize protecting key wildlife corridors when planning for development. Our plans should account for the needs of wildlife, especially large mammals, that require room to roam, feed and breed.

This issue is not unique to the Peninsula. Ventura County just passed ordinances requiring environmental review for projects that may hinder wildlife connectivity. Wildlife crossings being built across Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz Mountains and across Highway 101 northwest of Los Angeles show efforts to connect wildlife habitat are necessary and possible. Both wildlife crossings will save human and animal lives and increase efforts to keep species from dying out by allowing cougars and other animals to access additional habitats and populations. Recognizing the ecological crisis caused by divided habitats across the U.S., Congress recently allocated $350 million to support these types of crossings.

In other words, “habitat” is not something only found in remote wilderness areas.

Even as we must plan for adequate affordable housing for all Californians, we must also protect sufficient habitat for our state’s wild animals and plants to survive, particularly in the wildland-urban interface.

No, that doesn’t mean mountain lions will drop dead if we build duplexes. But it does mean housing goals can and should exist alongside our obligation to preserve our environment, keep people safe in an era of increasing wildfires and create housing policies that recognize the importance of wildlife in our extraordinary state.

As our planet faces an existential biodiversity crisis, let’s remember that mountain lions deserve a place to live, too.

Nancy Reyering is a 35-year resident of Woodside and is president of the San Mateo County Harbor District.

EDITORS NOTE:  Lucas Valley is also home to mountain lions.  They have been spotted in Marinwood Park on rare occasions.  They are extremely shy and seldom seen.  Most often the bobcat is seen in our neighborhoods. Many people mistake them for mountain lions which are much bigger.

Monday, February 28, 2022

My Letter sent the Marin Community Planning and Supervisor Damon Connolly today

 Dear Marin County Supervisors and Community Planning Staff:

The 2022 Marin County Candidates site for Unincorporated Marin and especially Marinwood/ Lucas Valley/Silveria Ranch is absurd.  It targets just 5 square miles with 80% of the housing allocation for affordable housing in one community WITHOUT essential planning for schools, roads, government services, water, sewer and other essential services.

Why "plan to fail"?

Shouldn't a good faith effort to build affordable housing in our community also include a comprehensive plan for accommodating growth?  It doesn't.  This is why it should be rejected today.

Instead, let's address the core questions for growth AND the financial impact of adding massive amount of largely non profit housing to a single community WITHOUT ADDITIONAL TAX BASE.

Marinwood/Lucas Valley currently has approximately 2700 housing units for 6000 residents.  The proposed housing sites could add 2300 apartments and 5500 residents who ALL WILL NEED schools, water, government services, transportation, access to shopping, etc.  Shouldn't a proper plan for growth precede approval for housing?

One of the sites listed is Marinwood Plaza, our communities ONLY commercial plaza within walking distance for thousands of residents.  If the plan for 160 units is approved, this would squeeze out a vital community center to the detriment of all.  This is not including the problem of TOXIC WASTE contamination clean up suitable for residential dwelling is a long way off despite community pressure on the Regional Water Quality Control Board who will not enforce its own clean up orders on the current owners.  

Despite the harsh criticism of the RHNA process, I believe there is a real community desire for more affordable housing in a community that will be planned appropriately,  won't redevelop our neighborhoods and utilize open spaces like Silveira Ranch, St Vincents and other sites. 

While everyone I know supports the idea of more housing, not a single one wants a poorly conceived plan that forces large housing projects without considering the impacts.

Reject the current RHNA plan until a comprehensive community plan with real public input can be drafted.


Stephen Nestel

PS.  The "Balancing Act" tool is NOT a serious tool for community input.  Less than 25% of the homes under consideration were ever included in the database.  I do not find "our database could not handle the data" as a credible reason from the Community Development Department.
If you want REAL success seek REAL community support.

Public comments on the 2023-2031 Marin County Housing Element DRAFT Candidate Housing Sites are due TODAY

 Public comments on the 2023-2031 Marin County Housing Element DRAFT Candidate Housing Sites are due on February 28th!  Marin County Board of Supervisors & Planning Commission will discuss the proposed sites at a joint session on March 1st at 5 PM!

County Staff is asking the Supervisors & Planning Commissioners to do the following at the March 1st joint meeting

SUBJECT: Marin County Housing Element Update

RECOMMENDATION to Supervisors & Commissioners:

1. Receive report on community outreach and feedback received related to candidate housing sites and site scenarios.

2. Review and provide feedback on staff recommendation for candidate housing sites and alternative scenarios that address the State-mandated Regional Housing Need Allocation for housing production for the 2022- 2030 planning period.

County of Marin News Release

A view of Edgewater Place, an
                                affordable housing complex in Larkspur

Future Housing Sites on Agenda for March 1

County prepares to update long-term plans to meet needs and state mandates

San Rafael, CA – A master list of all potential locations in unincorporated Marin County that are under consideration as future housing sites will be the subject of online-only meetings on Marin 1 and March 15.

The Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission, which are co-hosting the meetings, will then select sites to be evaluated in an upcoming Housing Element environmental review. During the March meetings, members of the two governing bodies could direct County staff to narrow down the list by eliminating some eligible locations.

The March 1 joint session of the Board and Planning Commission will be held as a 5 p.m. videoconference only because of the topic’s high interest in unincorporated neighborhoods and the need to prevent large crowds from congregating due to COVID-19. The Civic Center’s Board chamber will be closed.

That session will be a follow-up to December 7 and February 1 joint meetings between the two bodies at which staff from the Marin County Community Development Agency (CDA) presented details about the Housing and Safety Elements, which are required plans to accommodate future housing needs and address climate change. Staff has been hosting community meetings throughout the unincorporated county to share information on candidate sites and gather feedback, which will be shared with the Board and Planning Commission.

“Residents in the local workforce struggle to find suitable affordable housing close to their Marin jobs, which leads to longer commutes, negatively affects the environment, and erodes quality of life,” said CDA Deputy Director Leelee Thomas. “We see this as a chance to make marked progress with racial and social equity. At this stage, we are asking our residents to participate in this process and help us identify places where we can add housing within our communities.”

The County has been directed to plan for at least 3,569 new housing units in unincorporated areas during the eight-year cycle that begins in 2023. Those must be distributed among all income categories, from extremely low to above moderate. Parcels have been identified as potential housing sites in all areas of the unincorporated county. Land owned by schools, houses of worship, businesses, nonprofits, private owners and the county government is all open for consideration. While housing is allowed in almost all local zoning districts, including commercial, the update to the Housing Element will increase the maximum number of homes allowed in some areas.

The consequences of noncompliance with housing requirements could be stiff. If a jurisdiction does not meet its housing goals, it becomes ineligible for state funding to serve local transportation needs and may be subject to statewide streamlining rules, which allow for housing development with limited public review process. California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has a new division that is designed to enforce accountability with plans to meet housing needs.

“It behooves us to listen, collaborate, and come with our own locally designed plan rather than risking state reprimand and losing local control on decisions,” Thomas said.

The Housing Element, along with the accompanying Safety Element, needs to be completed by the end of 2022 so it can be submitted to the State of California for approval. This winter, CDA staff is engaging in community discussions, speaking at local homeowners association meetings and design review boards. Three online tools are being used to encourage residents to provide feedback on where housing could be located.

  • Balancing Act allows residents to select sites on a virtual map and watch the allocation numbers change as allotments are distributed from location to location.
  • Atlas allows users to see the potential housing sites and how they relate to information such as population density, environmental constraints, and equity data.
  • The site suggestion map allows the public to suggest a site that is not already on the candidate list. It also displays all candidate sites for public comment.

“Our outreach has received positive feedback, and several thousand people have visited the Balancing Act website,” said CDA Senior Planner Jillian Nameth Zeiger. “The meetings with design review boards and other community organizations have allowed us to describe the process, answer questions, and gather a lot of public comment that will be reported back to the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission. We have more sites on the candidate list than we need for the plan, so we are looking to the public for guidance on where they think we should be planning for more housing. Balancing Act, public comment at meetings, phone calls, and emails are great ways to get involved.”

Questions and comments can be emailed to staff and phone inquiries can be made to (415) 473-6269. Regular updates can be found on the Housing and Safety Elements update webpage.

For disability accommodations, please phone (415) 473-6358 (voice), CA Relay 711, or e-mail the Community Development staff at least five business days in advance of the event. The County will do its best to fulfill requests received with less than five business days’ notice. Copies of documents are available in alternative formats, upon request.

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