“The time is now. If we don’t do something, we have only ourselves to blame.”
That's Bob Silvestri’s take on housing in Marin County. The Mill Valley resident, author and Patch contributor will be the keynote speaker at a March 20 public forum focusing on affordable housing and the governmental agencies that mandate each community’s housing requirements.
“The question most people ask is, ‘what’s the solution?’” said Silvestri. “What we hope to do is give people the background information to make good choices.”
Silvestri said he believes that the agencies that dictate affordable housing demands are using outdated and inaccurate methodology. He said there’s a movement growing at the local level to fight back and he's already spoken at a forum in Vacaville, with a handful of other sessions planned throughout the Bay Area.
The local forum, hosted by Citizen Marin (formerly known as the Marin Communities Coalition for Local Control / MCC4LC), will take place in San Rafael. Organizers hope the event provides an opportunity to discuss the importance of maintaining local control of planning and affordable housing development decisions in Marin County. The evening will examine the facts and fallacies of Plan Bay Area and the Sustainable Communities Strategies currently being promoted by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC).
“These are issues that will affect everybody in profound ways,” said Silvestri.
For his part, Silvestri said he’s not at all opposed to affordable housing and has even been a developer of such projects in the past. He just wants it done correctly.
Silvestri cited one example of mismanagement by ABAG and MTC: despite the fact that the latest census showed Marin County to have stagnate growth during a booming economy, the agencies are still calling on a 10 percent growth for the next decade—and using those figures when creating affordable housing demands.
Each municipality and county has to provide so many affordable housing units based on the population and other factors. If the statistics are skewed, it derails the system.
“The law is clear on this,” Silvestri explained. “Population and job creation forecasts have to be based on real factual studies from the Department of Finance.”
He said ABAG is ignoring the Department of Finance findings. “It’s problematic how these agencies are overreaching the interpretation of the laws.”
Silvestri also said that there are various types of housing direly needed in Marin, such as senior housing, but these are not addressed by ABAG and they don’t count against ABAG’s quotas.
Silvestri, who penned “The Best Laid Plans: Our Planning and Affordable Housing Challenges in Marin,” will lead the forum with a slideshow presentation, and then open the floor to the public.
In addition to Citizen Marin, participating organizations include: the North San Rafael Coalition of Residents; Sustainable TamAlmonte; Friends of Mill Valley; Santa Margarita Neighborhood Association; San Marin Compatible Housing Coalition; Novato Homeowners Association; Save Marinwood.
The 411: Citizen Marin's first annual Marin town hall meeting: “Planning and Affordable Housing Challenges in Marin” is on March 20, 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the Al Boro/Pickleweed Community Center at 50 Canal Street, San Rafael. This event is free and open to the general public. Contact: Carolyn Lenert at (415) 499-9234 or firstname.lastname@example.org