SCA Action Alert: Housing Element meeting – 11/17 1pm, Civic Center

We need your help! An important Planning Commission hearing is scheduled for Monday, November 17th, at 1:00PM, at the Civic Center Room 324, and we need you to join us in speaking for the Strawberry neighborhood.

The hearing will focus on the 2015 – 2023 Marin County Housing Element, the “element” of the Countywide Plan responsible for future residential, commercial, and agricultural development.

The State of California requires all cities, towns, and counties to file a housing element every seven years to indicate where all types of housing, but especially taxpayer-subsidized housing, could be built for that period to satisfy a regional allotment. It’s not required that the housing identified be built, though it’s believed identification in the Housing Element makes it easier for housing plans to get approved.

The issue is a specific zoning change, affecting only Strawberry, Marin City and St. Vincent’s/Silviera Ranch in San Rafael, which remains intact regardless of whether the projects identified in the period are constructed.

Two years ago the County also submitted an Affordable Housing Combining District (AHCD, or AH for short) on two acres of land in the Seminary. An AHCD is simply a taxpayer-subsidized housing overlay on a parcel of land – in effect changing the zoning. The change to the Seminary via the AHCD was a density of 30 units per acre (increased from 2.47 per acre), plus the potential for an additional 35% density bonus for certain developers of taxpayer-subsidized housing, on each of the two acres, for a total of at least 60 units.

The County’s imposition of this ACHD overlay on the Seminary’s property went through NO community review or approvals process. Nothing in the guiding documents of our community (the 1982 Strawberry Community Plan and the 1984 Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary Master Plan) permits 60 units of taxpayer subsidized housing on the Seminary’s property. Instead, the County circumvented the normal public review and comment process of amending an existing Master Plan to implement the ACHD. We believe that under no circumstances should the County do an end run around the amendment process for these plans.

Additionally, Marc Levine’s recently passed AB 1537 re-characterized Marin County as a Suburban Area instead of a Metropolitan Area, reducing default zoning from 30 to 20 units per acre. While the reduction is obvious and logical to Marin County residents, the Board of Supervisors must vote to implement AB 1537 and approve it for the AHCD to reflect this reduction.

We have to ask for it – and, if we need to, demand the reduction, if not the outright elimination of the AHCD.


Specifically, we want the Planning Commission to:

  1. Reduce the default density of any Marin AHCD from 30 units per acre to 20 units per acre to conform to Marc Levine’s recently approved AB 1537, which re-characterized Marin County as a Suburban Area instead of a Metropolitan Area.
  2. Rescind the Seminary ACHD entirely.       It’s unfair and unnecessary.       Moreover, Supervisor Sears tried to rescind it last year, but her fellow Supervisors voted against her 4 – 1. Given the large buffer of sites for “affordable housing” in the 2015 – 2023 cycle, the County can easily meet it’s housing allotment without the Seminary AHCD. The time to rescind is now.


This is NOT a stance against affordable housing.   Whenever the Seminary property does get developed, there is a legal requirement for at least 20% of housing to be affordable to low- and moderate-income households unless the developer pays in lieu fees to get out of it. We believe all developers should have to live by that 20% rule. We don’t need to be singled out for the AHCD as well.

– It’s being imposed from outside the community
– It’s limited to just a very few neighborhoods throughout the county
– It’s high-density

For additional information about the Seminary AHCD or Housing Element issues, please see Ray McDevitt’s Letter_to_Kate_Sears_re_AB_1357, attorney Riley Hurd’s letter on behalf of the Seminary Neighborhood Association to the County here, and Sustainable Tam Almonte’s letter to the County here.




If you are unable to attend the Planning Commission hearing, then please send an e-mail in support of Ray McDevitt and Riley Hurd to:

Simply say:


Dear Planning Commissioners:

RE: 2015 – 2023 Housing Element hearing, November 17, 2014

I support the letters submitted by Ray McDevitt and Riley Hurd about the Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s Affordable Housing Combining District.