Friends of West Tam Valley
The Friends of West Tam Valley is a grassroots community organization created to provide a forum to discuss land use and development issues affecting our community, to more effectively communicate our concerns to government decision makers, and to advocate for solutions that do not overly impact our neighborhoods and infrastructure, now and in the future.
The following letter has been sent to the Marin County Planning Department in response to a proposal to develop a new subdivision in West Tam Valley.
May 22, 2016
Ms. Alicia Giudice, Project Planner
Community Development Agency/ Planning Division
3501 Civic Center Drive, Suite 308 San Rafael, CA 94903
Re: Brown Design Review (#P1151)
Dear Ms. Giudice,
On behalf of The Friends of West Tam Valley, we are writing to commend the Tam Design Review Board ("TDRB") for their unanimous decision regarding the Brown Design Review (See attached letter Re:576 Alta Way, Mill Valley, Assessor’s Parcel 049-041-42, #P1151). We are in agreement with TDRB’s recommendation that County Planning require a new Master Subdivision Plan with all its requirements as well as a full Environmental Impact Report. In a letter to Brian Crawford dated April 21, 2016 on which you were copied, TDRB voiced their concern that the project is a “Trojan Horse” meant to obscure the full extent of the potential future development.
While we respect the right of any property owner to build on their property, we agree with TDRB that the Brown Design Review application was “misrepresented as a single home on a paper street.” There is considerable evidence demonstrating that future development of additional homes is planned.
For example, several references to a “subdivision” and “additional” homes are made in Mr. Brown’s submissions to the County, as part of his application dated February 25, 2016, which substantiate TDRB’s comment about a “Trojan Horse.”
Please consider the following excerpts from the Geotechnical Study submitted by PJC & Associates, Inc. dated January 20, 2016. (Emphasis added)
- Page 1. “The residence will be accessed by a new subdivision roadway and serviced by underground municipal utilities.”
- Page 2. “According to a preliminary roadway grading design plan prepared by CSW/Stuber-Stroeh Engineering Group, dated July 10, 2015, the project will include constructing an approximate 657 lineal foot asphaltic concrete paved roadway that will provide access to the residents and the additional parcels of the subdivision.”
In addition, the following is excerpted from the applicant’s submission of the W-Trans’ traffic study dated February 9, 2016, to Mr. Chador, which acknowledges:
- “It is understood that the extension of Alta Way to serve your project will result in the potential for development of nine additional homes on adjacent sites.”
- Page 2. “To accommodate future development of the vacant parcels above the proposed roadway and storm drain system, an increase of 34% was assumed by runoff coefficient.”
- Map Illustration and Storm Sewer Inventory Report cites “9 sewer lines” with a map illustration of the intended homes.
And, excerpted from the Preliminary Hydrology & Hydraulic Study prepared by CSW/Stuber-Stroeh Engineering dated February 22, 2016.
Please also note that there is an omission in the project application. The “project description” fails to make any reference to the new proposed roadway.
Finally, please be advised that Mr. Brown’s Alta Way Partners LLC has a relationship with Portage LLC. The current parcel proposed for development, APN 049-041-42, is owned by Portage LLC. These two LLC’s are engaged in real estate development, and between them, currently own 10 lots on Alta Way and Fairview Ave. We understand that the LLC’s are using long escrows to acquire lots from other owners, which could result in the development of 18 individual single family homes. Further, according to the map, the continued unblocking of Fairview Ave could possibly lead to even more homes on parcels numbered APN 049-012-### near Highway 1.
We ask that the County require Mr. Brown and his partners, agents, nominees or financiers to disclose direct or indirect ownership, legal interest, or control of all lots on or near Alta Way and Fairview Ave per Section 23.08.026 of the Marin County Code.
Like TDRB, we agree that this project is not about a single home. This application is the first and one of many. We fear that if the County does not adhere to the recommendation of the TDRB, one day in the near future there will eventually be 18 plus new homes and two new roads built on 4 acres without the benefit of thorough analysis, adherence to current engineering standards, or an EIR. It would make sense for the County to consider the cumulative impacts that this proposed development will have on the environment and community, as well as its compatibility with the Tamalpais Area Community Plan before approving the Brown Development.
As County Planning continues their review, we request that the recommendations of the TDRB be adopted. We agree with TDRB that a Master Plan for a Subdivision should be required to be submitted as well as requiring that it undergo a comprehensive and CEQA process. Our understanding is that CEQA contemplates such scenarios and requires that EIRs be prepared where future related development is reasonably foreseeable.
Since our neighborhood and the surrounding area are already impacted by significant traffic, hydrological (drainage), geological (landslide) and public safety (fire, earthquake evacuation, etc.) risks, it would be prudent that those risks be properly assessed and mitigated before any future development can be approved.
Also, given the enormous resources that our community and the County have invested in the Tamalpais Area Community Plan and Countywide Plan, we believe that the foreseeable development project(s) should be reviewed to determine consistency with these two plans.
In addition, it remains questionable that the existing subdivision map, dated 1919, properly addresses those risks or otherwise reflects best practices in engineering and design standards currently in effect. A reasonable interpretation of the County’s "Paper Streets" Ordinance in the County Code, Chapter 23.08.026, suggests that any existing map created prior to 1953 must now be reviewed so that any street development is in compliance with current codes and regulations for slope, cut, fill, drainage, public services, utilities, public safety, etc. This would include any required studies (environmental, geological, hydrological, soils, erosion control), and analysis and plans / engineering. Note that these requirements would apply even if the application were for one single family home, which is clearly not the case in this instance.
It would, therefore, be in the public’s best interest that a new Master Subdivision Plan and subdivision map are prepared and that a comprehensive CEQA process is required in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of local residents and to ensure the preservation of the character of the Tam Valley community.
We look forward to your response and we extend an invitation to meet with our neighborhood group for a walking tour of the area.
Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.
Friends of West Tam Valley
/s/ 95 residents of Alta Way, Sunnybrook Lane, Blue Jay Way, Browning Street, Browning Court, Everest Court, Denise Court, West Fairview Ave, Midvale, Brookline, Shasta Way, Northern, Chamberlain, Erica
Contact: Richard Hayes, Lee Budish
cc: Brian Crawford, Director, Community Development Agency, BCrawford@marincounty.org,
cc: Jeremy Tejirian, Planning Manager, Community Development Agency, JTejirian@marincounty.org,
cc: Kate Sears, Supervisor, District 3, KSears@maincounty.org,
cc: Tam Design Review Board
The Friends of West Tam Valley includes members of the Garden Valley Little City Farms Neighborhood Association.