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Eden / Thompson Dorfman

Drakes Cove HOA has concerns about the proposed Oak Hill Development

As President of the Drakes Cove Homeowner's Association Board of Directors, I have some initial thoughts on the Oak Hill Development proposed for a portion of the Corrections Department Firing Range land adjacent to our community.


While the development process has apparently been going on for quite some time at the state and developer level, neighbors at Drakes Cove have only recently been informed of the proposal. We had no input on the designation of the land as surplus, the decision to develop as densely as feasible, or selection of the winning RFP proposal from Eden Housing and Thompson/Dorfman Partners, LLC / Educational Housing Partners.

Like most residents of Marin, the announcement of the proposal to build a high-density, 230 unit apartment complex on steep, hillside land, took us by surprise. While some of us were aware that the state had declared the site as “surplus land” and that a Request for Proposals had been issued, last year, neighbors at Drakes Cove have only recently been informed that a final proposal has been accepted and approved by the state Department of General Services (DGS).

To date, we have had zero opportunity to comment or provide input into the DGS decision to develop the site to maximum density or the selection process for the winning proposal from Eden Housing and Thompson Dorfman Partners, LLC.

Needless to say, we already have considerable concerns about this massive, proposed development.

While the Board of the Drakes Cove Homeowners Association wishes to have a constructive and proactive relationship with the state and its chosen development team, the Board is very concerned that the state is rushing to develop. With all entitlement and permitting decisions being made by one agency, with no input from or coordination with local residents or impacted cities (Larkspur and San Rafael), the Board is concerned that the proposed density of the parcel, and the development itself, will not get the full vetting needed.

This is County land that is presently zoned Agricultural, with an overlay of residential zoning for a minimum lot size of 10,000 feet, adjusted upward for the steep slopes. Even if all 16 of the acres designated as surplus were considered developable, the result would be no more than 70 single-family houses on the site. Based on the 5 acres of land that the Development Proposal is based on, there would be no more than 21 houses on the site, as opposed to the 230 units proposed.

In short, the state is rezoning the land for 10 times the density, without any public process on that zoning decision separate from the proposed development.

The description in the DGS press release of “gently terracing units into the hillside” seems misleading. It must be referring to the less dense version of the proposal - the 178-unit, 10-building "Garden" plan -- whose buildings don't exceed 4 stories, because the 230-unit "Podium" plan is one building that reaches a height of 7 stories, and there is not very much "gentle" about it.


Garden Plan - 178 units


Podium Plan - 230 units

We are told, the Podium Plan is the one DGS has chosen.

Traffic and Other Significant Impacts

The Board of Drakes Cove is concerned that the project will include the addition of approximately 300 resident's cars and numerous service vehicles to and from the site will make traffic during rush hour even worse than it already is. Currently, during the morning and evening commute hours, traffic on Sir Francis Drake between 580 and 101 is one of the worst commute time traffic jams in the entire Bay Area. Such a dense project, located where it is, will exponentially compound the problem and have negative impacts not just on Drakes Cove residents but on all people who have to commute through the Sir Francis Drake corridor.

We are also greatly concerned with the lack of physical and governmental infrastructure to serve the site. Sir Francis Drake Boulevard is only a two-lane blacktop road and cannot be widened unless the entire roadway from Larkspur Landing to the 580 intersection is also widened. At this stage, we don't know how much, if at all, the CA Department of Transportation has been looped into the development process.

Of equal concern are the impacts on local schools. Building 230 units could add as many as 300 children of all ages to our local schools that are already operating at over-capacity. How does that work and who will shoulder the costs? And what consideration has been given to the lack of city or county public services, such as police and fire protection, or utility demands for water and sewer service? We are also concerned about negative impacts from intense construction, traffic, noise, and, for some homeowners, radically altered views.

The parcel to be developed is home to the type of wildlife typical to Marin open space, including a den of coyotes who frequent its dense brush. Environmental review of the project must account for this. Will there be public input into the environmental review process or with the state deal with that the same way they dealt with the selection of the winning proposal?

We support affordable housing

The Board of the Drakes Cove HOA supports innovative ways to develop affordable housing for teachers and those with lower incomes, and are not at all concerned that the people who would occupy the development are lower income. Our concerns are solely over the appropriateness of the density proposed, and the attendant impacts on the community, our public services, and the natural landscape. We would have these same concerns if the development proposal were for 230 ultra-luxury condominiums affordable only to high-income multi-millionaires.