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Mill Valley Resolution: Oppose State Housing Legislation that Erodes Local Control

Hats off to Mill Valley City Council Vice Mayor John McCauley for introducing a Resolution to oppose state housing legislation that undermines local control. The City Council will consider the Resolution at their meeting on January 21.

The need for cities to stand up to the push to impose top-down, one-size-fits-all legislation has never been greater. In the past four years, legislators have passed 64 housing bills. The bills support a preponderance of market rate housing, but barely make a dent in the need for housing for low-income residents.

The Mill Valley Resolution asserts the ability of local jurisdictions to determine for themselves which projects require review beyond a ministerial approval. “Ministerial review” translates to mean staff rubber-stamp projects, without notifying or engaging the community.

The Resolution also takes issue with the mandate for a large number of new homes as part of the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). Currently, the outsiders at ABAG/MTC who work on Plan Bay Area and the state Housing and Community Development (HCD) Department have pegged Mill Valley for 835 new units. Marin is mandated for 14,285 despite the fact Mill Valley and Marin, like cities throughout the Bay Area, are essentially built out.

Passing the Resolution and sending a copy to Senator Mike McGuire and Assemblymember Marc Levine could convey dissatisfaction with bills that take away local control. The Resolution could be an opportunity to inform other Marin County Mayors and City Council Members and the Board of Supervisors that it’s time for a change.

Sending the Resolution to the League of California Cities could communicate that Mill Valley expects them to stand up for the interests of dues-paying members, not corporate real estate interests. In addition, recognizing the legislative threats to neighborhoods is a reason to reactivate Neighborhood and Homeowner Associations to educate and engage them.

An all-volunteer group in Torrance, California is spearheading the effort through their organization, known as California Cities for Local Control (CCLC). Their website is group seeks to increase awareness of how local governments are losing their authority and accountability to plan, zone and finance local operations.

In a Zoom meeting, founder Mike Griffiths, a member of the Torrance City Council, reported they have 40 cities and nearly 300 elected officials who have signed on to the Resolution. Copies of each city’s Resolution are posted on the CCLC website.

CCLC is reaching out to all 258 cities in California. It was one of their emails to City Councils that caught McCauley’s attention. Vice Mayor McCauley told me he was persuaded to bring the Resolution to the Mill Valley City Council after a conversation with Griffiths, in which they discovered alignment about the issue.

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housing, legislation, California Cities for Local Control, CCLC, Mill Valley City Council