The Pressure's Off Under One Bay Area Plan

Under Plan Bay Area, Marin will grow much more slowly than it has historically, though you wouldn't know it from the plan's critics.

When Plan Bay Area released its draft preliminary growth numbers (yes, they’re that speculative), a cry went out around Marin that ABAG wants to cram growth down the gullet of stable and "non-growing' county. For years, Marin has lost jobs and so either lost housing units or grew at a snail’s pace. We aren’t like the nearly bankrupt towns of the East Bay or Delta, with vast tracts of new, identical houses. Sadly, if regional and state agencies have their way such reckless and unrestrained growth would come to our counties. You might as well kiss the Marinite way of life goodbye.

That’s a good narrative, but as with most sensationalist narratives of the government losing all reason, it’s pure nonsense.

Plan Bay Area, the sustainable communities strategy mandated by the state, needs to accomplish a simply stated task: find out where people will live and work in 30 years, funnel that growth away from open space, and provide an effective way for people to get around without a car. The first task requires projections of job and housing growth, the second utilizes the state-mandated Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) process, and the third uses grants to localities that want to expand or maintain their transit infrastructure.

The fear among opponents is that projections of housing growth will mean that the state will mandate that level of growth. I suppose it’s an easy mistake to make. RHNA numbers are released in a similar fashion, and those really are mandates for zoning to accommodate the growth. Thankfully, Plan Bay Area projections are intended to inform the whole sustainability strategy; they don’t constitute growth mandates. Yet even if they did, they would mandate slower growth for the county than has occurred in the recent past, though you wouldn’t know it listening to the plan’s opponents.

Between 2000 and 2010, Marin added about 622 housing units per year. Nearly every incorporated town (excepting Larkspur and Belvedere) and every unincorporated village added housing over the past decade. Plan Bay Area projects that growth will slow to only 272 units per year, less than half the rate of the past decade. This rate of growth includes both affordable and market-rate housing. RHNA will be informed by these projections, and so will mandate even less housing.

Besides, the “mandates” aren’t even mandates. As we’ve discussed before, RHNA requires a city to do two things: zone for affordable housing, and come up with a plan to maybe have it get built. Little ever gets built anyway.

So Marin will likely grow faster than Plan Bay Area projects, will likely be required to plan for less affordable housing than it has been required to in the past, and so things will carry on in much the same way they always have. There is no vast usurpation of local control, there is no growth mandate handed down from One Bay Area, there is no UN plot to confiscate your home. What we have is a sensible plan to focus growth away from the suburbs and towards the region's major hubs in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose. Under Plan Bay Area, the pressure's off Marin, and that's not a bad thing.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Tina McMillan May 19, 2012 at 03:38 AM
John Parnell Thanks for reminding me about Kinsey's role with MTC. In a recent article he said his primary mistakes while in office have been SAP and Pension Funding. It's reassuring to have the list grow longer. Diane Furst is his opponent in the June election. After 16 years of Kinsey it's time for a change.
Mari May 19, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Mr Kinsey is not looking our for all of us - he is looking out for the people who contribute to his campaign. One example this ill advised million dollar slab for Evergreen Ave. Residents have offered an alternate plan to improve sense of safety for all who use Evergreen - while keeping our neighborhood's semi-rural character intact. Mr. Kinsey stated that he wants the Evergreen sidewalk project to go forward and will accept the $900,000 from the Safe Routes to Schools fund (despite the fact that residents pointed out LIES in the grant application that was awarded the funding) to "benefit the seniors" in Homestead - and to "recoup the money County has already spent" thus far on a design that was created without adequate community input and goes against the TAM Plan, even though Marin County's budget has a surplus! http://www.change.org/petitions/no-million-dollar-slab-for-evergreen-ave
Rico May 20, 2012 at 03:00 AM
David, most of those vast tracts of new identical houses in the east bay are projects that went bankrupt before they were completed. I have seen some of them. It is very sad to see resources wasted, sitting unfinished, rotting. Schools were built, shopping centers built and fire stations built, not be used probably in our lifetime. And 622 "housing units" per year built in Marin in the last 10 years ? Where might that be ? It was in Novato and surrounding unincorporated areas in north Marin, where 99 percent of all the growth in Marin has been in the last 10 years. When you write about "housing units", you are not referring to single family detached houses, you are talking about condos, apartments and town homes. The development in Hamilton added around 5000 housing units, the development on Ignacio Blvd. added hundreds more, and on Redwood Highway in Novato added hundreds more. Guess what, all that growth up in the north bay was not thought out very well, there are some jobs up there, but most of those new people commute down 101 every day. So, then you have all the other commuters from Sonoma county complaining about all this new traffic on 101. ABAG should get out of the promoting of the long commute business, and put more pressure on the cities that are doing all this growing to focus on eliminating the need for the horrible long commute syndrome.The one Bay Area plan is blind to the real problems, and only perpetuates their demise.
Marilynne L. Mellander May 21, 2012 at 06:17 PM
See video of the totally out of control ABAG/MTC joint Commission meeting held last Thursday in Oakland at the downtown Marriott Hotel...many dissenters, crowds of attendees kept out of small "Junior Ballroom"....a total breakdown of representative government Video: https://vimeo.com/42525834
Kevin Moore May 22, 2012 at 03:49 PM
I lived a half block off of Evergreen Avenue for 11 years. The sidewalk plan is a bad idea that will ruin that area. That street is narrow and this will just make traffic worse. Seems like $500 of paint could create a walking corridor. Can Marin do anything for under $500,000? The bus stop in Marin City seems like another waste. Watch people continue get robbed there as contractors collect their fees. Not a single security camera installed. As well as the $800,000 "showcase" 680 trail. 800k for a 3 mile trail? Just crack the checkbook.


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