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City of Mill Valley

Mill Valley Penalty Tax Targeted to a Fraction of Mill Valley Families

The following letter has been sent to the Mill Valley City Council, opposing their intention to approve their new Affordable Housing Trust penalty tax at the August 7th hearing.


Dear City Council,

I’d hoped that the outpouring of opposition to your recently approved Penalty Tax which is about to be levied on a tiny fraction of families in Mill Valley would have, at a minimum, given you pause. Letters to City Hall, NextDoor, Marin IJ, multiple Facebook threads and email correspondence all around town have presented thorough and irrefutable arguments for why our town is outraged that you have just made housing in Mill Valley less affordable.

Unsure why you are having a second hearing on this subject Monday night or what that protocol entails, but I certainly hope it’s not to assure people that they’ve had ample time to give input on this subject. Similarly hope that you are not pushing our once gentile community to act with a mob mentality just to make you listen and consider the landslide of opposition to what you five have just done.

I’ll be as clear as I can: your Penalty Tax is not going to advance the cause of Affordable Housing. You have no tangible goals, objectives or even the thought of measuring success. Lacking a plan, you will however, have a pile of money taken from a handful of hardworking families in Mill Valley who cannot afford to pay you tens of thousands of additional dollars just to move their project forward (that’s after they are made to pay into the roads fund and school fund just to stay in the years-long permitting game). Simply, you are making housing in Mill Valley less affordable.

As previously stated, and as you are well aware, in the summer months, Mill Valley’s population dwindles and few are consistently in town to object in person. For the second time in a month, notification of this subject was posted on your website just two days before your meeting. Side note: is it really not possible for you to organize your meetings with more notice and better communication?

With the latest documentation available on the City’s website and with next to no time to review, discern or reply, the take away is that the City is spending more time justifying this enormous error in judgement than they are listening to your constituents who have resoundingly said this approach is unfair, inequitable, lacks even a trace of an executable plan or measurable objectives and will not advance the cause of affordable housing – at all. It is targeting. It is illogical.

The latest correspondence, as it revs up to justify an unjustifiable stance by the City, on line 166, indicates that those who have written to you opposing your Penalty Tax feel it “may increase the cost of housing in Mill Valley”. Please be assured that your Penalty Tax absolutely, 100%, without question WILL INCREASE HOUSING COSTS IN MILL VALLEY. Any platitudes and legalese to the contrary are insulting. You have created a scenario that does the opposite of your alleged intentions and for some reason, you are unwilling to listen or consider the countless arguments made against it.

If your idea of listening and concession-making is to now allow families to appeal your Penalty Tax at the time of permitting, please explain how that might work. They pay even more money to appeal, their projects are delayed even further, and inevitably their appeal is denied? You’re honestly considering this your best effort?

Amidst growing concerns about mismanagement and lawsuits at City Hall, underperforming initiatives, flip flopping on previously vetted and approved projects and now your illogical Penalty Tax for a handful of families who have already been pummeled by a subjective, exorbitantly expensive, protracted and wildly ineffective planning process which you consistently turn your back on, you still have the ability to do the right thing and fix this before it’s too late.

You haven’t even begun to organize your workshop where, supposedly, your plan will take shape with the input and consensus of our town and, one would hope, an expert or two on the subject since none in the echo chamber of City Hall exists. Our town has told you in no uncertain terms that they want you to create an actionable and measurable plan first. Then, and only then, should a discussion take place around how the plan will be funded.

For the second time, I am asking that you pause, listen, regroup and actually create a measurable plan that builds consensus because, other than you five, there is none.

Thank you for your time in reviewing this letter.

Pam Raymond