Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Housing Marin

Housing Marin "gets it".

Although my initial response to that sixth item "We [Marin] have pushed our housing needs onto nearby counties, contributing to growth on agricultural lands in Sonoma, Contra Costa and Solano Counties. Those counties and the State of California are expecting Marin to do its part to house its own work force" is "good luck with that" -- Marin has been so inward looking for so long and the Bay Area as a whole so balkanized that I seriously doubt that Marin is capable of being a good neighbor. But who knows? Anyway, more power to them.

And you gotta love this stat from their "Updates" page: "From 1993 to 2000, the median home sales price in Marin County increased from $314,250 to $523,000. In 2004, the average home price was $900,000." Nope. No bubble here.

From their "Issues" page:
Those we depend upon can not find places to live affordable to their incomes. The impacts are not just on businesses that give economic stability to Marin but also on local government, school districts, services, hospitals -- and all of us. Seniors who have lived here many years cannot afford to stay near family and friends. Young people starting out cannot afford to live here.

To be sustainable, communities need a range of housing. Marin's housing stock does not offer options for very many who work in Marin.

Our traffic problem is related to our housing problem: those who work in Marin have to commute from other counties to jobs in Marin. We have a traffic problem now, not caused by affordable housing, a traffic problem that needs addressing on its own. Affordable housing creates 1/3 the traffic that market rate homes create, and in addition it brings people nearer their jobs.

Housing solutions are not contrary to environmental protection: we have protected 80% of Marin County for agriculture and open space. Creative planning in and around current built communities, near transit corridors, and near jobs can create a new balance in our housing stock, continue to protect our environmental resources, and plan for a sustainable future.

Housing solutions do not suggest a big growth for Marin County -- Marin has grown less than any other County in the Bay Area and it is not predicted to grow any more significantly. However, between 1985 and 1995 we created 22,000 jobs and only 7,000 units of housing -- and only 700 units of those housing were affordable. Creative planning limits the impacts and makes housing fit into neighborhoods and downtowns.

We have pushed our housing needs onto nearby counties, contributing to growth on agricultural lands in Sonoma, Contra Costa and Solano Counties. Those counties and the State of California are expecting Marin to do its part to house its own work force. Are we protecting land without significant environmental resources because we want no growth, while pushing growth onto agriculturally and environmentally valuable land elsewhere?

We have the opportunity now to make significant choices and planning for the kind of housing we need and want in every Marin Community. We have the support so that elected leaders can make appropriate decisions to establish good policy and planning for housing.

Every jurisdiction needs to do its part. It is time to make housing a priority for Marin's leadership.

39 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have pushed our housing needs onto nearby counties, contributing to growth on agricultural lands in Sonoma, Contra Costa and Solano Counties.

Dingdingdingdingdingding! We have a winner!

Mar 7, 2006, 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger marin_explorer said...

Housing solutions are not contrary to environmental protection: we have protected 80% of Marin County for agriculture and open space.

And so-called "housing solutions" should not mean sandwiching more unappealing high-density "homes" into the already urbanized 101 corridor. I'm against rampant growth that would uglify our environment, but with so much land out there, there can be a sustainable plan to integrate communities with the environment. How ironic that building in some areas until it hurts actually degrades Marin's communities--one of those "intangibles".

Mar 7, 2006, 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger peterbob said...

One of the main reasons why housing is so high on the coasts is restrictive zoning. Studies have shown that over the last twenty years or so, CURRENT house owners have been much more successful at ganging up against developers. And this is what everyone expects them to do, since once someone becomes a house owner, they have every incentive to limit entry of new homes in order to increase the value of their asset. The problem is, this really hurts FUTURE house owners, it forces people to live further and further away, and it directs too much time and resources into housing.

Mar 7, 2006, 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger Rob Dawg said...

What is wrong with restrictive development policies if they are applied consistently?

Mar 7, 2006, 12:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see restrictive zoning as a rather old-school approach to environmental concerns. Perhaps we should consider whether there are any systemic flaws to conventional residential development and address those, versus fencing off large tracts of land "for the environment," while further compressing and degrading the human environment. There are some who pursue the "sustainable community" ethic that suggest human growth can be more reasonably interwoven into the natural environment. There should be some viable options to destructive urban sprawl--or total"environmental" isolation.

Mar 7, 2006, 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger peterbob said...

Robert Coté said...What is wrong with restrictive development policies if they are applied consistently?

Then they raise housing prices consistently across locations, which makes affordability fall overall.

If we forget about the current bubble, housing on the coasts is way too expensive, by about 20%-50% because current house owners work hard to keep others out. This strikes me as unjust. It's also inefficient.

You can live in two worlds: one with expensive housing which creates mortgage slaves who devote an insane amount of income to shelter, or another in which housing is reasonable and people can enjoy other things in life.

Which do you prefer?

Mar 7, 2006, 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger Marinite said...

If we forget about the current bubble, housing on the coasts is way too expensive, by about 20%-50% because current house owners work hard to keep others out. This strikes me as unjust. It's also inefficient.

Not if wages are appropriately scaled upwards to compensate. I'm not sayng they are in CA; just playing Devil's Advocate. Keep up the great discussion

Mar 7, 2006, 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger fredtobik said...

Oh ya we need more housing. 101 is practicaly empty during commute hours, and the SFD is smooth sailing 24x7.

Developers hiding behind the 'we need more affordable housing' argument is funny. Nope no conflict of interest here.

Marin needs to creat jobs for local people.

Mar 7, 2006, 1:01:00 PM  
Blogger peterbob said...

fredtobik said...Oh ya we need more housing. 101 is practicaly empty during commute hours, and the SFD is smooth sailing 24x7.

We need more housing and more roads. Marin is a desirable place to live. It just seem responsible that we should accommodate the population. The world is crowed. We're not doing our fair share if all we want to do is keep people away. :)

Developers hiding behind the 'we need more affordable housing' argument is funny. Nope no conflict of interest here.

Developers only want to build houses in Marin because people want to live in Marin. There's profit in it, since people value the houses. But their profit GROWS when silly development restrictions allow them to charge a price that is much greater than building costs.

Think about that. Counties and cities restrict growth, which cuts the supply of housing, creates market power, and is a windfall to developers.

Marin needs to creat jobs for local people.

California is a very nice place to be, and more jobs would come here if it wasn't so expensive.

Mar 7, 2006, 1:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm 25 and I want a house in Marin. Preferrably a big house or at least with a water view, And I want it in Tiburon or Sausalito or maybe near the beach if there was some cheap land out there.

I've managed to save about $30,000. What do you think my chances to live my dream. Do you have an idea how low prices will go after this bubble pops?

Mar 7, 2006, 1:21:00 PM  
Anonymous by_palladium said...

Are we protecting land without significant environmental resources because we want no growth, while pushing growth onto agriculturally and environmentally valuable land elsewhere?

Answer: yes. We are protecting many of Marin's barren hills as "family farms" and "agriculture".

Lets face it, the highest and best use of much of marin's lands would be as housing for the people who want to live here. Cattle ranching is a business that can be exported to other areas - just because it has been here for the last 150 years (when there was nothing better they could do with the land) doesn't mean it should stay here in perpetuity.

MALT (the marin agricultural land trust and similar socialist 'conservation' organizations) needs to be opposed and stopped by people who are concerned about housing issues.

Furthermore, does anyone really care if a few acres of clapped out sonoma orchard or vineyard are turned into housing? Most of the agriculture in Sonoma is an embarassment. Excluding high end vineyards, compare other sonoma ag to how well ag land is managed in a highly populous nations of europe or asia. That comparison exposes Sonoma as the dumpy tundown quasi agricultural area that it is.

Conclusion - ag land should not be preserved at the expense of housing. I am not sure how anyone except landed gentry can argue otherwise.

Mar 7, 2006, 1:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Conclusion - ag land should not be preserved at the expense of housing. I am not sure how anyone except landed gentry can argue otherwise.

I agree, except I don't see how you can call the Marin Agricultural Land Trust "socialist" and at the same time say that it is only supported by the "landed gentry." That's contradictory on its face.

I love Marin's open spaces and spent many of my childhood and early adult years exploring every nook and cranny of them, on foot, on horseback, and by bicycle. It's beautiful. It is also seriously irresponsible to fence it off and permanently prevent anyone from ever living on it, using as excuses "environmental protection" or "preserving Marin's agricultural heritage." What absolute BS. There is a lot of good, buildable land out there. As much as I love that land, if some of it were developed and turned into sites for homes to shelter people and businesses to employ people, I would see that as a good thing, a net gain for the county. I'm not saying it all needs to be paved over and turned into Walnut Creek. A lot of the land out there is too steep and hilly, or lies on or near the San Andreas Fault. I don't think homes should be built on ridgetops. And the sprawl style of development found in places like Marinwood (homes on cul-de-sacs off a single main artery) should never be built again, anywhere. But as someone who grew up in Marin and left because I could not afford to stay, it infuriates me that Marinites use deceptive and dishonest methods to prevent anyone else from moving to the county and to keep their own property values artificially inflated. I'm keeping some champagne on ice, because when the bubble bursts I'm going to sit back and toast as you get your comeuppance and lose your shirts.

Mar 7, 2006, 3:48:00 PM  
Blogger marin_explorer said...

It is also seriously irresponsible to fence it off and permanently prevent anyone from ever living on it, using as excuses "environmental protection" or "preserving Marin's agricultural heritage."

Precisely. Erecting permanent fences around Marin's land has to one of the more feckless and dim-witted approaches to conservation, unless "conservation" of property values is the real goal. Some may argue it ensures ecosystem protection, but I see it as an admission of defeat: that Marin doesn't know how to manage communities and environment as a cooperative effort. I don't think such strict urban/wild boundaries solve the problem, but ensure Marin will never get things right. There can be a better way; it doesn't have to be an either/or proposition.

Question is: will families and professionals stick around until Marin gets off its ivory throne and works towards real results? Or will the powers-that-be fight new ideas to the bitter end? We may be gone by then.

Mar 7, 2006, 4:29:00 PM  
Blogger sf jack said...

anon #1,453,762 said:

"I don't see how you can call the Marin Agricultural Land Trust "socialist" and at the same time say that it is only supported by the 'landed gentry.' That's contradictory on its face."

No, it's not.

The wealthy elite around here, who pose as coastal-urban California's "landed gentry" *are* socialists.

Maybe you should have pointed out that the exception for them is when it comes to their personal property, of course.

Mar 7, 2006, 4:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's an interesting article about "Land Trusts" such as MALT:

http://www.law.virginia.edu/lawweb/lawweb2.nsf/0/2ba27078dc464a84852569700060de96/$FILE/Gaia7.pdf

Mar 7, 2006, 4:51:00 PM  
Blogger Rob Dawg said...

I still don't see any points addressing my question. What is wrong with restrictive development policies if they are applied consistently?

People have answered with real and imagined consequences but I don't see the "wrongness." Slavery was legal and "wrong." Many things are necessary evils or unfortunate consequenses of higher goals.

I also see no reason to give greater weight to the opinions of potential future residents over actual current residents.

Mar 7, 2006, 5:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still don't see any points addressing my question. What is wrong with restrictive development policies if they are applied consistently?

Personally, I don't know what you exactly mean by that statement, and I wouldn't want take it wrongly: care to elaborate?

My take: I don't like how Marin has treated both residential development or open space preservation. The crowding issues on the 101 corridor are partly due to open space strategy. The problems are systemic to me, and require a new approach. If your suggestion of "consistent restrictions" means that Marin adopt a development plan that allows development into open lands, while restricting rampant growth and integrating the local environment to preserve quality-of-life, then I would support that. The current model of trashing Marin for residents while preserving Marin for nature is a broken system; we need a new one.

Mar 7, 2006, 6:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The wealthy elite around here, who pose as coastal-urban California's "landed gentry" *are* socialists.

Maybe you should have pointed out that the exception for them is when it comes to their personal property, of course.


Everyone's a socialist when it benefits them.

Mar 7, 2006, 6:30:00 PM  
Anonymous rejunkie said...

I'm keeping some champagne on ice, because when the bubble bursts I'm going to sit back and toast as you get your comeuppance and lose your shirts. -anonymous

I hope you are young -- you have a long wait ahead of you. I don't doubt that a long flat spell or a short term 10-15% haircut is in the cards, but that hardly constitutes losing ones shirt.

Besides, what's with the joy in seeing hardworking people who put a stake in the ground and decide they are here for the long term getting financially whacked for their efforts? I don't get that attitude at all.

Mar 7, 2006, 7:47:00 PM  
Anonymous by_palladium said...

Robert,

I still don't see any points addressing my question. What is wrong with restrictive development policies if they are applied consistently?

The main problem is that they cannot be applied consistently. They have a starting point that is not the same as the starting point of the development of the original land ownership.

For example, if there was a new state, with no population and no land claims, and you drew up these rules and all that bought knew it a priori, fine. It is equally applied to all.

However, these rules currently penalize large land owners of ranch land, undeveloped land and underdeveloped land that bought this land before such restrictions were in place. These restrictive development policies limit their use of land and expropriate their rights.

Home owners in marin who have owned for more than say....35 years purchased their residences when such restrictions did not exist. Now they are the beneficiaries of these laws that they pass to "maintain the quality of life" in the county. They are free riding on the rights of the larger land holders.

And from my point of view, the worst off are the people, many of which frequent this blog, that have yet to buy but are forced to pay a much higher price because of the artificially limited supply of residential real estate.

In summary, these restrictive development policies are simply not fair. But the free riding population of land owners that are capitalizing on the status quo will not object...

Mar 7, 2006, 9:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In summary, these restrictive development policies are simply not fair."

Basically, you're saying that it's not fair that the large land owners cannot earn huge profits by selling out to developers.

I wonder, is it fair for a single large landowner in Marin to make huge sums of money by selling out to a developer, and by doing so, directly contribute to a measurable decline in the quality of life for everybody else in Marin (more cars, dirtier air, more concrete, less nature, etc, etc)?

One guy pockets millions, and the rest of us lose that which is precious to us? Is that fair?

Mar 7, 2006, 10:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder, is it fair for a single large landowner in Marin to make huge sums of money by selling out to a developer, and by doing so, directly contribute to a measurable decline in the quality of life for everybody else in Marin (more cars, dirtier air, more concrete, less nature, etc, etc)?

Is it fair to push "more cars, dirtier air," etc., into the surrounding counties? Because that is exactly what you have done and continue to do - export people, export pollution, export problems. Make them somebody else's problems. Like it or not, Marin County is part of California, not some Shangri-La floating in the air. I know you all forget that over there, living on your peninsula. Sometimes, surrounded by all that water, I think you think it's an island. Frankly, I think a few of West Contra Costa's oil refineries and chemical plants ought to be moved over to your side of the bay. Even out the load some. Y'all certainly buy the stuff that's produced in those places.

Mar 8, 2006, 12:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it fair to push "more cars, dirtier air," etc., into the surrounding counties? Because that is exactly what you have done and continue to do - export people, export pollution, export problems.

I didn't restrict my comments to Marin only. The same standard should apply to all of California - no new development unless the community impacted thereby agrees to it. And by community, I mean the people who live there, not a city counsel and planning commission stacked with developers, real estate agents, mortgage brokers, and their proxies.

Mar 8, 2006, 5:24:00 AM  
Blogger marin_explorer said...

"I wonder, is it fair for a single large landowner in Marin to make huge sums of money by selling out to a developer, and by doing so, directly contribute to a measurable decline in the quality of life for everybody else in Marin"

I'm wondering why there's the assumption that by "selling out", the quality of life in Marin must measurably decline? That's not a given, and the solution has to do with proper planning, and I don't mean catering to the desires of current residents. Since when are residents going to support a sustainable growth plan on their own? To be fair, there are options beyond those two obsolete scenarios: "build and destroy", or "fence off and preserve". If we're talking about "quality of life" for people, it's not too hard to see how Marin has crammed far too many homes into the "habitable" areas, simply to "save the environment"?

Mar 8, 2006, 6:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think a few of West Contra Costa's oil refineries and chemical plants ought to be moved over to your side of the bay.

Sorry...it works like this; you buy a house near an airport, then you don't like it...you move. You don't move the airport.

Mar 8, 2006, 8:08:00 AM  
Anonymous by_palladium said...

One guy pockets millions, and the rest of us lose that which is precious to us? Is that fair?

More fair than the existing paradigm. Anyway, your reasoning is flawed. Is marginally or immeasurably less traffic and looking at open space owned by other people who cannot develop their land precious?

Further, one guy (male only I guess) loses millions in opportunity cost and all new home buyers get to pay millions more to support the status quo. Is that fair?

And the existing homeowners are whining about the loss of their owned by other people precious views and more traffic (through their shabby POS subdivisions). But what they are really concerned about is the decline in the value of their POSs.

Just another example of longer term residents shafting the younger residents in CA. Just like Prop 13.

Mar 8, 2006, 8:42:00 AM  
Blogger peterbob said...

Anonymous said...
Sorry...it works like this; you buy a house near an airport, then you don't like it...you move. You don't move the airport.


The problem is, today it is impossible to build a NEW airport. Airfare is cheap and there are more people who want to fly, but the biggest single bottleneck in the Bay Area and the country is that they can't build more airports near where the cities are! Basically, our infrastructure is locked because a minority of existing homeowners can block new construction. This just isn't fair.

We need a mechanism to compensate the current homeowners so that they will stop their destructive blocking of housing/airport developments.

Mar 8, 2006, 9:15:00 AM  
Anonymous rejunkie said...

peterbob-

I am not sure I understand -- eminent domain laws are still on the books -- goverments can still buy out residents to make civic improvements for the greater good.

That is how the east side of Brookdale Ave in SR got emptied out in 2001 to make way for the additional lane between TL and central SR.

Mar 8, 2006, 9:39:00 AM  
Blogger fredtobik said...

"Everyone's a socialist when it benefits them. "

I couldn't agree more.

Mar 8, 2006, 9:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The American Dream is to work hard, become successful and move up the social/economic ladder. Why is it necessary for everyone who wants to live in Marin to do so? Is it wrong to think that there are some expensive and sought after areas to reside and these areas should be at a premium to other areas?
If there are not enough workers in Marin, the rich may have to fork over a few more bucks to have their landscaping done or have their overpriced houses cleaned, but they will manage perfectly well.

Mar 8, 2006, 2:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The American Dream is to work hard, become successful and move up the social/economic ladder. Why is it necessary for everyone who wants to live in Marin to do so? ..."

LOL...so are we to believe that:
1. The price increases in the last 5-6 years were caused by the "American Dream"?
2. The enterity of Marin is composed of high-end housing for the wealthy?
3. Marin cannot possibly be affordable to professionals earning far more than Marin median wage?

Mar 8, 2006, 6:59:00 PM  
Blogger fredtobik said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Mar 8, 2006, 7:54:00 PM  
Blogger fredtobik said...

"2. The enterity of Marin is composed of high-end housing for the wealthy?"

3. Marin cannot possibly be affordable to professionals earning far more than Marin median wage? "

What ist he median wage and how is it calculated? The person I bought my house from was 94 years old.

I went to a neighborhood gathering, and my wife and I were by far the youngest there, in fact besides us out of 30 or so people less than half were professionals, the rest were part-time 'retirees' or retirees, and also 4 friends I know that live in Marin and bought in that last few years earn 2x the median wage for Marin.

Mar 8, 2006, 7:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh I wish people would take a more macro-sized outlook, versus viewing the housing issue only in terms of how it applies to their personal circumstance. There's more to this, isn't there?

Mar 8, 2006, 8:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem is, today it is impossible to build a NEW airport. Airfare is cheap and there are more people who want to fly, but the biggest single bottleneck in the Bay Area and the country is that they can't build more airports near where the cities are! Basically, our infrastructure is locked because a minority of existing homeowners can block new construction. This just isn't fair.

So true! Take Hamilton Field for instance. There were plans in the 70s to turn that into a commercial airport. Smaller than SFO, maybe the size of Oakland's or even smaller. I mean, why not? The runways were there! And of course, Marinites erupted in protest, and the plans were scuttled. Now the runways are going to be dismantled, which is going to release Lord knows what sort of toxic crap into the bay. Meanwhile, SFO is getting seriously crowded and wants to fill in the bay to build another runway! Demolishing a runway in one part of the bay, only to build another in another part of the bay - this is insanity. The poster above who wrote about "exporting pollution and problems" was right on. An airport at Hamilton Field would have served, not just the residents of Marin, but of Sonoma, Napa, Contra Costa, Mendocino counties and elsewhere. Now, those people have to battle traffic to reach ever-more-jammed SFO and Oakland airports.

Having said that, I like what they are doing with the former Hamilton Air Force Base. Slowly but surely, it's turning into a nice little village, and it's great that there are that many more homes for people. I just hate to see the waste of infrastructure represented by the loss of those runways. (For the same reason, I'll be really sorry if the proposed commuter rail doesn't go into the existing rail right-of-way - another golden opportunity that shouldn't be squandered). As to the noise from airplanes, I fail to see how it could be any more disruptive to Marinites than it is to the Peninsula residents who live near the airport. The plans land over water, anyway.

Mar 8, 2006, 8:40:00 PM  
Blogger fredtobik said...

"Oh I wish people would take a more macro-sized outlook, versus viewing the housing issue only in terms of how it applies to their personal circumstance. There's more to this, isn't there? "

I remember reading somewhere that if you take a sample size of 20 men betwen 20-30, remove the two tallest and shortest, and average the remaining height you would be very close to the average american male height.

I have seen people uses statistics on this blog as if Jesus said them himself, like median wage. I just want to know how it is calculated. Does it take into account retirees? Often peopel have used that to compare to housing affordability and mortage payments. I think the way I am looking at it has a macro ending, but first you need to get micro, that is if you want accurate information. Otherwise pick and choose your stats, and hope people eat it.

Mar 8, 2006, 10:19:00 PM  
Blogger Marinite said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Mar 9, 2006, 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Marinite said...

I have seen people uses statistics on this blog as if Jesus said them himself, like median wage. I just want to know how it is calculated.

For my charts I used per-capita income. The source was either the census bureau or the BEA (I forget which one now). Calculation of a median is trivial and should not need to be explained.

In a statistical sense it is far safer and thus preferable to calculate a statistic on the largest representative sample that you can get. Drawing conclusions from a small sample that was self-selected (e.g., a few friends at a party) and then extrapolating the results to a larger population is almost certain to be an error.

Mar 9, 2006, 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Marinite said...

I'm not the only blogger who views things like MALT as a joke no matter how originally well-intentioned:

http://tinyurl.com/mvs9e

Mar 9, 2006, 2:58:00 PM  

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