Catalysts for Local Control
POB 1703, Mill Valley, CA 94942
April 8, 2022
Marin County Planning Commission: Planningcommission@marincounty.org
Cc: Marin County Board of Supervisors: BOS@MarinCounty.org
RE: Staff Recommendations re: SB-9 - OPPOSE
Dear Marin Planning Commission:
You will be considering staff recommendations re: the Marin County Housing Element. I am submitting comments on two of the most egregious recommendations and urge you to vote against them.
What are the staff recommendations? The Planning Department staff recommends giving developers even more than the state requires. Rather than protecting residents, staff recommends siding with the extremes of the state.
- Marin County could comply with state law and still control density by putting limits on ADU's after a lot split. That option would allow two units each on the lot split for a maximum of 4 housing units. Instead, staff recommends allowing four houses plus three ADUs on what is now a single-family home.
- Marin County could require three-year owner occupancy for one of the properties on the lot split. That would rule out corporate investors for at least three years. It would mean outsider investors would have to live with the messes they make—parking, fire/flood hazards, congestion, loss of green space, and views. Instead, staff recommends waiving that option, claiming, without evidence, they'll get more diversity.
What is the impact? Marin IJ reporter Richard Halstead says in the first paragraph of his article (4/5/22) that SB 9 and SB 35 "virtually eliminate local control over new residential development." Loss of local control benefits developers and real estate investors without commensurate benefit to communities. There is no requirement for SB 9 to provide affordable housing and no evidence that higher density lowers housing costs. In fact, housing costs increase when housing stock changes from individual homeownership to rental units owned by Wall Street. Forbes (12/2/21) describes California housing legislation as California Scheming.
What are the problems with the staff recommendations? SB9 and SB35 miss the mark by assuming housing supply is the problem and housing production is the answer. However, housing affordability and poverty are the problems. SB 9 expedites the transfer of wealth from constituents and counties to outside, monied interests in a process called the globalization of housing.
HCD’s 2022 Statewide Housing Plan is a simplistic analysis of the causes of the affordability crisis. The CA Audit Department reviewed HCD and the RHNA Methodology and found serious shortcomings. The Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) numbers are unreliable, inflated, and unattainable. Four cities in Southern California have filed a lawsuit against SB9, an action the county should consider.
Boldly recommend in favor of your neighbors and constituents rather than complying with the extremes of California schemes.
We urge you to oppose the staff recommendations.
Susan Kirsch, Director