Marin Real Estate

Should Marin County get a pass on building affordable housing?
It’s no secret that California is in the middle of a housing crunch, and that cities and counties are struggling to meet the goals set out for them to provide affordable housing.
Marin County, one of the wealthiest regions in the state, seems to have come up with its own solution. It’s trying to carve out an exemption for itself within the state rules.
Under a bill by Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, Marin County’s largest cities and the unincorporated areas would be allowed to bypass the affordable housing mandates and have growth limits that are tighter than other parts of the state. The argument is that more than one-third of the county is made up of parkland and open space areas and much of the rest is covered by tight growth limits. Marin argues that it simply doesn’t have the space needed to meet its affordable housing mandates — such as a requirement of having a minimum of 30 units per acre. According to the Marin Independent-Journal, Levine was able to have that requirement lowered to a 20-units per acre minimum, but that exemption is due to expire in 2023. Levine’s proposal, which was tucked into a bill connected to the state budget, that exemption would be extended for another five years.
But here’s another way to look at it. Marin also has a responsibility to its own residents. The median price of a single-family home in the county has hit a post-recession high in May of $1.25 million, according to an Irvine-based real estate research firm. Overall, the median price for all homes in Marin was up 16.8 percent from a year ago. When one considers recent census data on income, this means that more than half of Marin’s current residents are struggling to make ends meet — and are struggling to pay for housing.
Marin shouldn’t be allowed to ignore those needs or export its housing obligations on neighboring counties. That is not smart growth. At the least, if Marin is going to be given another pass on its housing obligations, it should have to go through the normal legislative process — with public hearings and all — and not have an exemption squeezed into a state budget as it’s raced through the streets of Sacramento.
David N Swaim Owner/Realtor -107078 Town of San Anselmo Planning Commissioner 415 710 5504 phone/text 609 San Anselmo Ave San Anselmo CA 94960

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