A counter-petition starts in Strawberry

A new petition – still small – is trying to inject some sense into the Strawberry priority development area (PDA) debate. It’s about time.

The core contention of the petition is simple: the PDA is not about housing, it’s about transportation funding. To cut out the transportation funding just eliminates transportation funding, leaving any housing plans intact.

The success of Marinwood activists has been the removal of the PDA but intact housing plans. The success of North San Rafael activists was the removal of the PDA but an intact station area plan. What did they accomplish? Political victories that do nothing to advance their stated goal of downsizing housing plans.

What’s a PDA again?

As I’ve written before, a PDA, or priority development area, is a funding mechanism for a part of the region. It’s entirely voluntary and entirely without strings attached. Half of Marin’s transportation dollars must go to a PDA.

At the moment, the regional funds dedicated to PDAs are for planning, so shovels can’t go in the ground, but that just means we can start the process of building real improvements to the county’s transportation infrastructure.

What is the PDA not?

Critics, including frequent commentor on this blog Richard Hall, will point to the application process, which requires an area to have plans for more housing before it can become a PDA, to say that a PDA by definition is a housing plan.

But that’s like saying a credit card, by requiring a certain income level on the application, is income. Of course that’s ridiculous. You had your income before the card. In the same way, any housing zone or plan must be before and, therefore, separate from the PDA.

That’s why anti-housing activists have seen such failure in their stated aim of stopping housing plans.

Conflict roils Strawberry

There are two housing plans that are causing discord in Strawberry: the Seminary housing plan and the county’s housing element. Of these, the Seminary housing plan is what qualified Strawberry to become a PDA first place.

The arguments against housing are diverse but familiar – it would destroy the character of the area, add to traffic congestion and school crowding, cause crime and bring in the wrong kind of people.

Added to the mix are long-running concerns over the existing traffic. The roads in Strawberry are unsafe for anyone who isn’t in a car, especially Belvedere Drive and Tiburon Boulevard. If there are more people, the thinking goes, the problems will get even worse.

Simply put, every one of these arguments is not germane to the discussion of a PDA. Even if housing did do all these things – and, if they did, Strawberry’s high rate of rental housing would surely correlate it to having the worst crime in the county – housing plans are separate from the PDA.

Indeed, remaining within the PDA would provide money to start fixing the problems Strawberry has. Starting grants totaling $210,000 would pay for a comprehensive study of bike and pedestrian infrastructure needs in the area as well as designs for a new Tiburon Boulevard interchange.

Exceptional needs

There are serious gaps in the walking and biking infrastructure throughout Strawberry, and some of it has been the target of quite a bit of ire from local families.

Redwood Highway, Seminary Drive, Belvedere Drive and Reed Boulevard all have no consistent bike or pedestrian infrastructure. Belvedere Drive especially is a fast and dangerous road. Some segments lack sidewalks and all of it is bereft of bike lanes.

Considering that it is the principal route for kids walking from the park to the shopping center, it is an accident waiting to happen. Calming the road with more and better sidewalks and shallower turns has been on the agenda of the neighborhood for years. The PDA is the best chance to make that happen.

Tiburon Boulevard: why it matters to the rest of Marin

The interchange is the biggest project in the area. Caltrans wants to install metering lights at most interchanges up and down the 101 corridor to smooth traffic flow, especially during the evening commute. Tiburon is the start of the nightly Greenbrae corridor mess as service workers leave jobs on the peninsula and head home to Contra Costa.

With a PDA, the Tiburon interchange will be eligible for regional funding, ensuring the project will finally go forward. It would also give leverage to local needs, such as a safe bike path and sidewalk across the bridge and bus pads that don’t require riders to walk across a freeway off ramp. Caltrans has historically been quite hostile to these concerns, so any advantage in negotiating with them could go a long way.

Improving the Tiburon interchange is a project of countywide importance, as it’s key to breaking the Greenbrae Corridor jam. As well, improving that bridge would allow students to finally bike or walk to school in safety, helping ease school traffic through lower Mill Valley. Remember that traffic flow tends to drop off rapidly beyond a certain point; a drop in car travel of even a few percentage points can have enormous impact.

Time to stop fighting shadows

Citizen Marin and the (newly formed) Strawberry Community Association have done Strawberry a grave disservice by spreading myths and fear about their local PDA. Their petition is full of the patently absurd, arguing that the PDA would be a tax giveaway to developers and threaten endangered species.

It’s a glimmer of hope in this never-ending, fearful, angry debate that some people have stood up to say enough. Perhaps you’d like to sign up and join them.

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About David Edmondson
A native Marinite working in Washington, DC, I am fascinated by how one might apply smart-growth and urbanist thinking to the low-density towns of my home.

24 Responses to A counter-petition starts in Strawberry

  1. Richard Hall says:

    This petition and article above mixes things up so poorly it’s hard to know where to start:

    1) COST FAR EXCEEDS BENEFIT: It contends that it will provide funding to address immediate transportation issues; yet it will only produce $175k. This is barely enough for a consultant to plan a solution, let alone anything near shovel ready.

    2) TARGETS THE AREA FOR INTENSIVE DEVELOPMENT: PDAs are the tools of Plan Bay Area, a plan that intends to meet goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by targeting new development in high concentrations near transit. Nevermind that Strawberry is not near SMART, somehow it was nominated.

    3) PDA DESIGNATION TARGETS THE AREA FOR AGGRESSIVE DEVELOPMENT:
    The newly published (Jan 2014) PDA Application Form clearly states the expectation, if not obligation, of the designation – there’s no gray area, extract from page 3:

    http://www.bayareavision.org/pdaapplication/PDA_ApplicationForm_Jan2014.pdf

    “the area has plans for a significant increase in housing units to a minimum density of the
    selected place type from the Station Area Planning Manual”

    This provides the utmost clarity of an expectation of not just growth but a “significant increase” in both housing units and density.

    4) RESIDENTS WERE NEVER CONSULTED: With a designation of such significance, for more significant than a neighbour building a new kitchen extension, one would have expected proportionate outreach – however there was no outreach.

    5) RESIDENTS DON’T WANT THE DESIGNATION: While many outsiders may believe that the PDA should remain, by far the majority of residents don’t want the designation – AND THEY ARE THE ONES MOST AFFECTED.

    Finally if you are still considering signing, and open to common sense, please read the appeal by the residents of Strawberry who want the designation rescinded:

    http://strawberry94941.org/?page_id=146

    Would you impose your views on a neighborhood that you don’t live in, if the neighborhoods views had been consistently ignored and dismissed? The designation without neighborhood consultation is an outrage, the neighborhood had to ask supervisors 14 times just to have the matter discussed on the agenda. PLEASE STOP IMPOSING VIEWS THAT DIVERGE FROM THE NEIGHBORHOOD – THESE ARE THE PEOPLE MOST IMPACTED

    • 1) Cost of what? The housing that preceeded the PDA?
      2) Through what mechanism does the PDA target the area for intensive development?
      3) How did the PDA create the plans it needed to qualify in order to exist? It’s like applying for college with your 4.0 GPA and then saying the acceptance to Harvard means you need to create a 4.0 GPA. Housing zoning is a necessary precondition, not a necessary outcome.
      4) The housing that qualified the PDA has been on the books for YEARS, including the Strawberry plan.
      5) What are the negatives? And don’t say housing because we all know the PDA and housing plans are separate.

      I guess if Strawberry doesn’t actually want what it’s said it wants – safer streets, safe routes to school – that’s their prerogative. But I actually believe them when they said they wanted these things, and I actually believe them when they say they don’t want housing.

      Rescinding the PDA means they won’t get what they do want (safe streets) and will get what they don’t want (more housing).

      • Richard Hall says:

        #1) Plan Bay Area grants likely provide $175k if the PDA remains; what is the cost of the improvements just to address the current traffic, bike and ped issues ?- far, far in excess of this (easily ten fold).

        Then add the housing expected by the PDA and the area’s infrastructure will be much, much further behind.

        #2) Using your own words…
        “A common understanding is that a PDA designation is actually to focus housing development” – Dave Edmondson

        “Plan Bay Area, which encourages localities to focus growth” – Dave Edmondson, [I would add that PDAs are the means to achieving this]

        Civic Center was designated a PDA, then somehow a Station Area Plan proposed zoning allowing 1,414 additional housing units when the city’s own General Plan identified the capacity of a larger radius at 640 units.

        We are consistently seeing development proposals all across Marin. Marin Community Foundation has a $1,963,000 grant to “influence zoning changes that support affordable housing” – why do you think they are spending that money if it’s all academic and nothing will get built?

        http://www.marincf.org/about/mcf-strategic-plan/affordable-housing

        #3 & #4) Suggest you listen to the mayor of Marin’s largest city at the time-point 3h 26s 30s

        http://cityofsanrafael.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=494&meta_id=38578

        #5) The negatives are that the community in Strawberry does not want to be the target of high density development. They never signed up for this designation. There has been no transparency, consultation or representation.

        It’s like you woke up one day and discovered the apartment buildings all around your apartment in Washington DC were rezoned to be single family homes – and you didn’t approve – then when you tried to raise your voice to object someone in San Diego said it needed to happen and lobbied others all across DC and the nation to push through their wishes that opposed yours. You kept asking your representative to discuss it but 13 times they refused to even talk about it.

        • 1) So if the full cost of improving the neighborhood isn’t covered before those needs have been fully assessed, we shouldn’t even assess the needs? Seems a silly way to plan:
          2) Wow, way to cut an out of context quote. The full quote: “A common understanding is that a PDA designation is actually to focus housing development, but that’s not always the case.
          2b) Encourages but does not mandate.
          3 & 4) It’s politics. Mayor Phillips ignored his own staff’s report.
          5) There is no targeting for higher-density growth under the PDA! Remove the PDA and you STILL have whatever planned housing was in place before.

          It is nothing like a rezoning because it is not a rezoning. That’s the core myth that keeps getting repeated over and over. It doesn’t make it any more accurate.

          • Richard Hall says:

            Join the out of context quote club! The pro PDA petition that you yourself promote here quotes me entirely out of context.

            Your petition states:

            “Fact: There are no strings attached. If Strawberry leaves the PDA in a year, it’ll get to keep the money. If no housing is built in Strawberry, Strawberry gets to keep the money. Even anti-PDA leader Richard Hall has said PDAs come with “remarkably no strings attached.””

            Here is my original quote:

            “The PDA designation seems to remarkably carry “no strings” right now, yet considerable pressure was applied by ABAG, TAM and others to stop the city from rescinding. ”

            The context of my statement was:

            – there are surely strings attached, it is entirely remarkable that they just don’t happen to be visible (but they are surely there – you can almost see the strings) they just happened not to be visible at that time

            – we can now clearly see strings attached thanks to the PDA Application form published since then in January 2014 which clearly states:

            “the area has plans for a significant increase in housing units to a minimum density of the selected place type from the Station Area Planning Manual”

            Source: (page 3)

            http://www.bayareavision.org/pdaapplication/PDA_ApplicationForm_Jan2014.pdf

          • Ah yes, I remember that quote. The full context doesn’t enforce your point, and the application form still doesn’t enforce your point. How could a PDA cause its own preconditions?

          • Richard Hall says:

            Extract from: Visions for PDAs

            http://onebayarea.org/file10010.html

            “The [Civic] Center PDA *will* be a livable and walkable mixed-use neighborhood near transit and services. The area also provides an excellent opportunity construct approximately 200 affordable units”

            Apart from the fact that I and many others find the area abundantly “livable and walkable” today – it’s interesting to note that the verb tense here – “will” – is future tense, and then focuses on the opportunity for construction.

            The same document says of the unincorporated Marin corridor PDA:
            “Both commercial and residential development are *encouraged* on commercially zoned sites, which will generate fewer commercial vehicle trips and allow residents to live close to jobs. Affordable housing is also encouraged; the county grant and loan funds support *high* *levels* of affordable housing development and related infrastructure”

            This “corridor PDA” is concerning as it hasn’t been clearly articulated. Again it talks in future tense – it doesn’t talk about a small amount of growth but instead “high levels of affordable housing development”.

            Then in the Plan Bay Are FAQ things get even more cut and dry…

            http://www.onebayarea.org/about/faq.html

            “What is a Priority Development Area?
            Priority Development Areas (PDAs) are locally designated areas within existing communities that have been identified and approved by local cities or counties for future growth… which are proposed to absorb about 80 percent of new housing and over 60 percent of new jobs on less than five percent of the Bay Area’s land. ”

            Just so we’re clear – PDAs will absorb 80% of *new* housing and 60% of *new* jobs – so no strings attached… they wrote this but they didn’t really mean it, did they? Those are just meaningless words, are they?

          • Nothing in Plan Bay Area is to override local control or local land use planning. Plan Bay Area was specifically amended to include that in the first pages even though it was already established elsewhere in the document.

            The areas that are PDAs had zoning for new homes long before the PDA was actually designated. Again, how could a PDA cause its own preconditions?

          • Richard Hall says:

            “Nothing in Plan Bay Area is to override local control or local land use planning. ”

            ABAG IMPOSES LOCAL CONTROL
            Sure – and Urban Habitat/Public Advocates have never sued any city for not meeting their RHNA numbers. And when they sued the costs to the city were minuscule, and the consequences of not meeting the RHNA are inconsequential.

            And this document was completely made up…

            http://www.menlopark.org/departments/pln/he/he_faq.pdf

            ABAG’s issuance of RHNA numbers that cities and counties must meet or face such consequences represents clear control.

            PLAN BAY AREA IMPOSES LOCAL CONTROL
            – How is it that cities are being designated PDAs without any consultation with residents or outreach?
            – How is it that residents demand 13+ times to discuss the designation, yet are denied having this put onto the agenda?
            Answer: The attraction of these financial grants is very strong and represents clear control. Why else would cities not conduct outreach and then refuse to discuss the designation? Any way you label it – it’s control.

          • Sorry, who are “Urban Habitat/Public Advocates”? Do you mean how the federal government (last I checked, not Plan Bay Area) sued a city for discrimination (is Westchester County, NY, under Plan Bay Area, too?) and how the state of California (last I checked, also not Plan Bay Area) holds a threat of lawsuit against cities that don’t meet state laws? That’s not Plan Bay Area, that’s state and federal law at work. Gotta change those if you don’t like the outcomes.

            Cities aren’t being designated as PDAs. Cities are applying for areas of themselves to be PDAs. Whether to conduct public outreach or not is up to them. Given that the development aspect is before and separate from the PDA designation, and is probably the actual contentious part of the PDA designation, I would imagine that would be what needs to be discussed. Strawberry already discussed that part years ago. The misinformation being spread is that the PDA authorizes even more housing than already discussed or will pave the way for it, and that’s patently wrong.

            You know that RHNA isn’t connected to the PDA either. A city may choose to put its housing element numbers there but it is under no obligation to do so, whether legal, financial, or otherwise.

            Those vision numbers you were talking about? 80% of regional growth on 5% of the region’s land? That’s a compilation of the preexisting (i.e., pre-PDA) housing capacity in existing zoning and plans. They weren’t the result of the PDAs, the PDAs simply followed where cities were already going.

          • Richard Hall says:

            Dave states: “Those vision numbers you were talking about? 80% of regional growth on 5% of the region’s land? That’s a compilation of the preexisting (i.e., pre-PDA) housing capacity in existing zoning and plans. They weren’t the result of the PDAs, the PDAs simply followed where cities were already going.”

            Oh good, can we therefore cancel Plan Bay Area, which uses PDAs as it’s primary tools, costing us $92 billion and making major impositions on residents via land use policies?

            (and PBA will not move the needle on reducing GHGs, or more likely will move it the wrong way with its invalid assumption that in 2040 cars will get 25.03 mpg, when on average cars got 23.6 mpg in 2012 – EPA figures. Note mpg is inversely proportional to emissions).

            Source #1: Plan Bay Area Draft Environmental Impact Report, page 406. 2, PBA assumes cars will get 25.03 mpg in 2040.
            Source #2: EPA reports cars achieved 23.6mpg in 2012, an increase by 1.2mpg over the prior reporting year, 2011.

            http://articles.latimes.com/2013/dec/12/autos/la-fi-hy-new-vehicles-record-fuel-economy-20131212

            Time to dispense with unnecessary $92 billion projects that will increase greenhouse gases.

          • Stephen nestel says:

            David, One of the disconnects in the debate is the difference in the spin we hear and what we read in the documents. For example plan bay areA says that 80% of the growth is in PDAs and you say it doesn’t mean this. How do you reconcile the difference? There has been so much spin and false data there isn’t any trust in the plan it just seems like we are being told stories to sell a hugely unpopular plan to urbanize Marin.

        • Franz Listen says:

          Every region in California recently produced plans like Plan Bay Area. These plans have many of the same themes and objectives. However, only our region has “PDAs”, which actually pre-date SB 375.

          PDAs are not zoning, as Dave has noted. They are really not necessary to achieve any particular goal – be it housing development, compact growth, TOD, or land conservation. This is why they don’t exist in the L.A. region, or San Diego, or Sacramento, or anywhere else.

          They are merely a confusing designation that ABAG/MTC created with the promise of some transportation dollars attached. The policy goal was probably to throw a little bone to those places experiencing the most growth and/or to incentivize local jurisdictions to accept projected growth in the region.

          In reality, I don’t think any local jurisdictions are up-zoning solely because they want to be part of a PDA. The transportation incentive money is too trivial. Rather, local jurisdictions simply identify an existing area in their town that may see future development per their general plans and call it a PDA so that they won’t lose out on very small amounts of regional transportation money. They play the little game.

          Then, local elected officials have the unenviable task of trying to explain to their constituents that PDA’s don’t really mean anything. A “PDA”, however, freaks people out since the name itself strongly implies that it’s a critical regional Priority to Development their Area. Not surprisingly, since so little funding is on the line and since they have no real impact on development, politicians have been willing to abandon them if people complain.

          The result is a little less money for the PDA area but maybe more piece of mind for some residents. That piece of mind may be completely illusory, but that’s what happens when ABAG/MTC create formal zones with the words “Priority Development”.

          I think that Dave is technically correct in many of his points. However, I see no reason to sign a petition that perpetuates the tone deaf and unnecessary PDA framework.

  2. Richard Hall says:

    And I forgot – the $175k will hardly make a dent in addressing *current* infrastructure issues, yet will encourage and herald in intensive development sure to create new additional acute pressures on infrastructure. This will put Strawberry into a cycle of falling further and further behind; causing increased traffic delays – and the reality is that almost all in the area have a major dependency on cars for transportation.

  3. Clarity and truth, and odd combination when talking about housing and transportation in Marin, Good Job!

  4. Stephen Nestel says:

    David, I am sad at the vitrol in your recent posts towards those of us who desire responsible planning. At no time, has anyone in the Citizen Marin community has expressed they are “anti-housing”, they simply want sensible planning that incorporates reality of resources, demographics and local control.

    You and many of the most vocal advocates of urbanizing Marin don’t live in the community that you want to change “for the better”. Many of the local advocates also do not contribute to the tax base or vote in the community they want to change. Would you welcome my views on how you should live in Washington, D.C.?

    Perhaps we should have a counter-counter petition against the angry housing activists demanding change but contributing nothing to the local community.

    • Michael Smith says:

      Nice…..many don’t live here that are advocates but many do and I am one that probably is paying far more in taxes than most because I haven’t owned my home very long. Do I get more say than most because of it? I hate that kind of Archie Bunker style take down of people. It’s shamefull, it’s classless and what an undignified route to take. You talk about being a “victim” of vitrol and then in the next breath you breathe it like fire coming from a dragons nose. Perpetrators always see themselves as victims for that is how they justify being perpetrators. I see this kind of thing constantly being resorted to by the anti-anything crowd in Marin. I’ve had the pleasure of very briefly meeting David once but what I know of him is mostly through this blog. I believe that David grew up in Marin. I believe his family still lives in Marin and there might be a possiblity, probably a strong possiblity, that he hopes to return to Marin one day. There are a lot of these young folks out there who grew up here and hope to come back one day when either a million dollars drops on their head or housing options grow. One of my neighbours who has lived here for 25 years would like his grandchildren to live in Marin but his son and daughter-in-law’s teachers salaries make it difficult. I hope that people out there don’t find resorting to insulting and degrading Marin’s children as an intelligent or acceptable way to debate the issues. Personally, if I had a son or daughter who grew up here and still had enough love for Marin as to involve themselves in the issues I’d be very proud. There’s a reason that people refer to the places they grew up in as “home” or “hometown”. It’s usually because that’s where there hearts are. What kind of person would ever make someone feel unwelcome in the place they grew up in? Vitrol? Seriously, thou doth project too much.

      • Richard Hall says:

        @Michael: You state “One of my neighbours who has lived here for 25 years would like his grandchildren to live in Marin but his son and daughter-in-law’s teachers salaries make it difficult.”

        Tell me, which solution do you propose so that any Marinites children or grandchildren will be able to live here if they choose?

        a) Build so much new housing that there will be sufficient affordable housing for anyone who wants to move to Marin (consider that 82%+ of Marin is off limits to new development, what remains is built out, or in locations subject to toxicity, in unhealthy locations near freeways or in areas subject to flooding). In this scenario you will need to build high rises the length of Marin along 101. You will need multiple desalination plants. 101 will become gridlocked, yet SMART can only carry about 156 x 4 riders peak hour (while the 101 carries 330,000 peak hour). Even if you do this housing may still not be “affordable”.

        b) Build less new housing, but give priority entitlement to children or grandchildren of residents? (I strongly disagree with this approach).

        c) Build new housing at the rate we have done in the past, maintaining architectural character; but recognizing that there are limits based on available space, available water, sewers… and applying a responsible approach that builds only what is truly sustainable?

  5. Michael Smith says:

    Richard, Marin isn’t going to stay the same, at least not for very long. The fight to keep it this way is actually a waste of energy but it’s not my energy so go ahead. San Francisco is bursting at the seams. Rents and prices are through the roof and people are paying them. Tech companies are being lured into the city and as more and more do Marin is going to catch the eye of those who previously thought that going south of the city in order to have a reasonable commute was their only option.
    As these younger, more progressive, more open mindsets buy homes here they are also going to demand lifestyles that align with their thinking, values and culture. (have you been to the shopping center at Larkspur Landing on the weekend, that’s just a taste of whats coming) They will be the ones paying the taxes and casting the votes and they don’t need nor want a bad 1960’s ranch house that’s in walking distance to nothing to be their homes. You’re right, we probably won’t see all of Marin’s children living in high rises up and down the highway. We will probably see those of lesser incomes living just north of us and in order to fill the service industry jobs that serve the high wage earners in the city and adjacents areas. They will be traveling through Marin. We are going to have gridlock with or without growth if we don’t figure out some way to transport people through the county. What we will see is what you fear but they won’t be the dumps that you try to portray them as. We will see high-end apartments, luxe condos and “clustered homes”. There were still be homes on large lots but they will for those at the upper end of the scale and they will probably remain in the existing, wealthier towns of Marin. All this will be cradled by the 80% of open space land.

    This phenomenom is happening to all the world’s most desirables cities and their adjoining regions and unless Marin can gather up quite a collection of billionaires to buy up everything and sit on it, it’s going to happen here. Fighting it will just mean that something bigger will come in and force it and then it won’t be as nice as if everyone just accepted life on life’s terms and worked together to create something wonderful. The days of the plastic, middle class “estate” adjacent to a highly sought after city are over. It’s just the way it is and the only people causing it aren’t wicked politicians, Wall St. money or Orwellian type conspirators. Not even that black man in the White House who was born in Kenya but really born in Hawaii isn’t doing it. It’s the brilliant, progressive, innovative and creative people who have no choice but to be connected to each other. They are pushing humankind forward at an amazing pace and for those who don’t want to go in this direction…. Mississippi will always be there.

    • Richard Hall says:

      Michael – given your new contradiction – that we won’t see all of Marin’s children living in the county – I think we share some common ground and can dismiss this preposterous myth that somehow we should build enough to support that option so that affordable housing is there for this set of people. This is another example of the arguments being used.

      Note that I’m not for “no growth” – I’m for measured growth. Growth continuing at the same rate that we have seen historically. But what’s being proposed is accelerated fast growth – by ABAG’s population growth projections – by Housing Elements and Station Area Plans pushing for hundreds more units. And you are right – the plans are really pushing for luxury apartments (when at first it is being claimed to be for “affordability”).

      We also have to be responsible, not add to the burden upon highways, water, sewers, parking etc… Not deluding ourselves that the new folks won’t use their cars. Not somehow imagining that a train that can carry perhaps 600 people an hour can somehow alleviate freeway traffic of 330,000+ people an hour at peak.

      I’m one of those tech company employees. These companies surely attract people in their 20s who may love an urban lifestyle; but come the mid 30s when they have children a continuing significant proportion turn to the suburbs – for more space for a family, for a yard. Sure some won’t, and there are great options for them in other cities. And sure we can accommodate some more – more who support the low rise, low density aesthetic of Marin.

      But remember a great many people who came here, including this techie who was young once – didn’t come to Marin to turn it into a mid rise city. They came to enjoy our beautiful natural county. They never volunteered to be developed, they were frustrated when their voices were near systematically ignored and dismissed. And it’s this group who will be the most affected – by water rationing, declining schools performance (unless the tax base increases), by the traffic, by sewer spills into the bay and groundwater. We need to continue responsible, measured growth. Not jump on a rapid growth bandwagon that will irreversibly change Marin for the worse.

  6. Michael Smith says:

    I never said that we should or even can build enough housing that would allow all of Marin’s children to live here. Please, just because you preach an all or nothing philosophy don’t project that upon me. I don’t think that ALL of Marin’s children even want to come back but some do and we can do a better to accomodate them. The biggest turn-off I have toward the Citizen Marin types is the all the black and white, all or nothing thinking they espouse. Do any of you ever entertain the notion that there is something in the middle?

    I think that it’s impossible to keep growth at the historic pace and it’s impossible, outside of Marin’s wealthest towns, to keep density at the same rate. If the historic pace is what is happening two street down from me then NO, NO, NO! A church was sold, torn down and 4 or 5 in your face MacMansions being built in it’s place I’m not for that. There is nothing tackier than a collection of new, over-stated houses designed to appeal to a bunch of insecure “wannabes”. Ironic that they are right across the street from the west coast version of Rush Limbaugh.
    There are that a lot of people only seek the burbs because either they are just barely able to buy or rent something in the city. One can be a very high wage earner and still not be able to quite get their hands on something in the city, especially if they need something that will accomodate a family. Also Marin’s age demographic speaks for itself. The median age in Marin is 44.5, In Alameda County it’s 36.6 San Francisco is 38.5 and Santa Clara County is 36.2 and it’s not just because it’s pricey. San Francisco and Santa Clara County proves that.
    Marin has not attracted a younger demographic because it doesn’t provide what that demographic wants out of life. We have lots of friends and my spouse has lots of collegues and reports who are are part of this demographic and can well afford Marin but they don’t want to live here because of it’s lack of diversity. They find it “white bread” and boring. They don’t want their children to grow up here. Our neighbourhood has had lots of turn over in the past few years and only one couple has a child and the rest are past the age of having any. But that’s only true for today. The younger folks are coming for aforementioned reasons and they will change it’s complexion. The other counties can only absorb so much of the bay areas explosive growth so many will feel forced into Marin. We’re going to see a lot of these older, more middle class Marinites succumb to being offered 2 to 2.5 million for their 1950’s tear down and they will take the money and run. That happened and still is happening back in Vancouver and those that do this are sailing taking the money and sailing into the retirement sunset. They are not being replaced by an older, conservative demographic but a younger one. Adjacent burbs to highly sought after cities are really not burbs anymore. Like Manhattan’s adjacent boroughs such as Brooklyn, they are really just extensions of the city itself and not psychologically as separate as they once were.
    South and central Marin is probably headed toward looking more like a combo of the Marina district and Presidio Heights.

    • Richard Hall says:

      When I hear “we should build enough housing so that our kids / grandkids can afford to live in Marin” it must garner the same reaction as when you hear about MacMansions being built… the same as when you first accused me of being a NIMBY, or even now assuming that “Citizen Marin types” describe things in black and white terms.

      I too shudder at the building of MacMansions given limited remaining land constraints – there should be measured, responsible growth.

      I’ve already conveyed my repellence to Kinsey in West Marin allowing the Hyatt hotel family (the Pritzker’s) to build a 54,000 square foot family compound in 2003:

      http://articles.latimes.com/2003/mar/16/local/me-pritzker16

      Marin, like any suburban area, is not going to be as appealing to younger demographics as cities. I lived in West London for this reason. But does that mean we need to urbanize Marin, against the majority of Marin residents wishes?

      33 N San Pedro in San Rafael surely fits the mould of what you describe – small, luxury apartments. But the developer went bankrupt and after many years it’s not fully rented. The market, the ultimate judge, isn’t doing what you are presuming.

  7. Stephen Nestel says:

    Why is it that if the PDA designation is *only* about transportation/safe routes funding….that the Pro-PDA petition now being circulated, is being signed and endorsed by the pro-development/pro-growth contingent w comments reflecting?

    • Richard Hall says:

      To use Dave’s own words, because the pro-Strawberry PDA petition is “patently absurd”.

      Specific comments by signatories acknowledging how this petition (and by implication the PDA) will lead to growth:

      Gerald Belleto, Sustainable San Rafael: “Plan for growth”
      Jennifer Henerlau: “Our county is growing, let’s make it work”

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