To: Danielle Staude, Senior Planner; Patrick Kelly, Director of Planning and Building; Alan Piombo, City Manager
CC: City Council Mayor Sashi McEntee; John McCauley, Jim Wickham, Urban Carmel, Tricia Ossa
Dear Danielle, Patrick and Alan:
Mill Valley Planning and Building staff is recommending three actions:
- Issue a notice of funding availability to identify possible affordable-housing sites in Mill Valley;
- Consider rezoning and selling public parks, parking lots, open space, and other community resources like the library; and
- Put the proceeds in the Housing Trust Fund and hire consultants.
The three recommendations should be dismissed.
According to recent studies by the Embarcadero Institute, a nonprofit think-tank in Palo Alto, California’s “housing crisis” has been based on false information and most of the bills have failed to address the need for affordable housing. Legislators have used exaggerated numbers as the basis for state legislation. Consider these two reports.
In July 2019, the Embarcadero Institute released a report entitled, . Their report shows that the frequently-repeated claim of a 3.5M housing unit shortage was erroneous and exaggerated by more than 2M units. A more accurate methodology concludes the additional housing needed by 2025 would be 1.3 million.
Governor Newsom subsequently backed away from the inflated number, admitting it was just “aspirational.” YIMBYs and others with financial interest keep repeating it.
In September 2020, the Embarcadero Institute released another housing report entitled. The report points a finger at unintended consequences of Senate Bill 828 (Wiener, 2018). It concludes that double counting at the CA Department of Housing and Community Development has produced, not surprisingly, numbers at twice the actual need, exaggerated by more than 900,000 units in the four regions—the Bay Area, Greater Sacramento, San Diego, and Southern California.
These state miscalculations should be accounted for before rushing to approve the three Mill Valley recommendations.
Afraid of the risk of being sued by the state and private developers if they don’t meet their RHNA quotas, cities are buckling under the deceit coming out of Sacramento. In San Rafael, thereported the city is reducing the percentage of affordable units in a project by half in order to entice developers to build.
Mill Valley’s proposal to rezone and sell our public lands to for-profit developers may be another version of buckling under state pressure. In the tradition of George Orwell’s doublespeak, the claim that replacing a park with market-rate houses somehow aligns with Goal #1 of Mill Valley’s General Plan: protecting and enhancing the natural beauty and small-town character is a stretch.
Selling public assets to address state mandates based on false numbers that benefit private development interests, but hollow out our community, is regrettably misguided.
109 Ryan Avenue
Mill Valley, CA 94941