February 11, 2018
FROM: Sustainable TamAlmonte, 215 Julia Ave., Mill Valley, CA 94941
TO: Marin County Board of Supervisors, 3501 Civic Center Drive, #329, San Rafael, CA 94903
Re: The letter, dated 2/5/18, from the Marin County Board of Supervisors to Senator Scott Wiener expressing opposition to SB 827- Planning & Zoning: Transit-Rich Housing Bonus
Dear Marin County Board of Supervisors,
Thank you very much for your letter, dated February 5, 2018, to Senator Scott Wiener expressing opposition to pending Senate Bill 827. You make excellent points as to why the bill would be counterproductive. We commend your leadership in addressing this flawed legislation.
However, we are concerned about your request for amendments to SB 827. The bill is so harmful on so many levels that we cannot see how it could be ameliorated.
As currently written, SB-827 would pose a significant threat to local control, democracy, and public engagement. Statewide, it would eliminate local regulations concerning residential density, floor area ratio (FAR) limits, minimum parking requirements, and design guidelines for residential projects on residentially zoned parcels within a ½ mile radius of a “Major Transit Stop” or a ¼ mile radius of a “High-Quality Transit Corridor”. In addition, it would impose minimum height limits (ranging from 45’ to 85’) on such residential projects.
The San Francisco Planning Department’s analysis of the bill states; “The legislation does not seem to remove the ability to use the State Density bonus on top of the bill's rezoning. Hence what is proposed as 45', 55', and 85' minimum heights could actually be 65', 75', 85' or over 105 ' heights respectively, and so should be viewed in that light."
The bill would benefit developers who profit from unlimited high-end housing production, without solving the need for affordable housing. In addition, it would exacerbate our housing needs by displacing existing residents.
The subsequent housing densification and population growth would increase the risk of adverse impacts on the environment, public health and safety, traffic congestion, infrastructure, utilities (water supply), public services (schools), views, sunlight, privacy, neighborhood character, and quality of life. Moreover, there is no funding for dealing with these impacts.
Furthermore, many of the areas near “Major Transit Stops” and “High-Quality Transit Corridors” in Marin, where the bill targets development, are inappropriate for multifamily housing. For instance, some of these “Transit-Rich” areas are: very sensitive (close to vulnerable natural habitat and endangered species); subject to numerous hazards (projected sea level rise, flooding (100-year flood plain), high seismic activity, high liquefaction and mud displacement, excessive traffic congestion, high fire danger, high air pollution, etc.); and/ or zoned for single family dwellings.
Amendments might be able to reduce a few of the detrimental consequences of the bill but in order to solve all of its flaws, the entire bill would have to be gutted, re-written, and essentially turned into another bill.
In your next correspondence, instead of requesting amendments, we recommend that you urge members of the California State legislature to remove the bill from consideration.
Although we are asking for a change in strategy, we are truly grateful for the efforts you are taking to oppose Senate Bill 827.
With much gratitude,
Sharon Rushton, Chairperson
 * A “Major Transit Stop” is defined as a site containing an existing rail transit station, a ferry terminal served by either a bus or rail transit service, or the intersection of two or more major bus routes with a frequency of service intervals of 15-minutes or less during the morning and afternoon peak commute periods.
 ** A “High-Quality Transit Corridor” is defined as a corridor with fixed bus route service that has service intervals of no more than 15 minutes during peak commute hours.