Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Stakeout of Habitat for Humanity Proposed Tiburon Site

As you recall (here and here), Habitat for Humanity wants to build three large market rate houses ranging in size from 6244 to 7446 sq ft (huge and no doubt hugely expensive) at the top of a lot in Tiburon. At the bottom of the lot it wants to build four affordable three-bedroom houses of about 1435 sq ft each.

The Tiburon neighbors of this proposed building site are up in arms about the affordable houses (but not the monster houses) because they believe the affordable houses will bring down property values. They have also claimed that the street (Eagle Rock Rd.) is dangerous; people go zipping up and down they say, and so it is dangerous to neighborhood children. By some form of twisted logic that I do not yet fully understand it is the affordable houses, not the fancier ones, that will be the cause of the traffic problems.

So I decided to drive out there during lunch and check this place out for myself and take a few pics while I was at it.

Here are a couple shots of the lot in question:


Eagle Rock Rd. is the one that heads off to the left in that second picture (with the silver car parked on it). Below is a better shot of Eagle Rock Rd:


As you can see, Eagle Rock Rd. has a slope to it but it is very wide by Marin standards. Two cars can easily pass each other even when cars are parked at the sides of the road. Furthermore, I staked this area out for the better part of an hour and I only saw five cars go up or down this street; not very busy at all. The "dangerous" parts of this street, if they can be called that at all, are further up where it splits into two one-way streets...one going up and the other back down. But this more dangerous area is far from the proposed building site and so would seem to be irrelevant to the argument proposed by the Tiburon residents.

Below are a couple of shots of some of the near by houses:


And here are what some of the neighbors are driving:






Hopefully this will give non-local readers a better idea of the physical environment surrounding this controversy.

22 Comments:

Anonymous pothead said...

Excellent! That provides some good context. Will they be allowing hecklers at the next community hearing?

Feb 6, 2007, 3:24:00 PM  
Anonymous marinite said...

Dunno. But I am giving it some serious thought. Anyone who knows when they are meeting next and where, post it here and let's all go.

Feb 6, 2007, 3:27:00 PM  
Blogger sf jack said...

Great work, marinite.

I would be interested in the time/location of the next meeting, as well.

Feb 6, 2007, 4:52:00 PM  
Anonymous TS said...

OH YES!!! Could we get someone from the Aryan Brotherhood to speak out in solidarity with the neighbors,and warn them of the dangers of allowing "mud people" into their neighborhood?

Feb 6, 2007, 7:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The whole idea of people speeding up and down Eagle Rock was spurilous to begin with: isn't it a dead-end street? Also, just a clarification, but I'm pretty sure Habitat is only building the affordable homes. I believe the McMansions went to another developer.

Feb 7, 2007, 1:18:00 AM  
Blogger bobbyj0708 said...

Funny post! and very good research. After seeing the pics, maybe the good folks of Tiburon should be happy to bring in a better class of neighbor.

I'm shocked(!) to discover there are snobs in Tiburon.

Feb 7, 2007, 6:48:00 AM  
Blogger cajun100 said...

Pictures say it better, as is often the case. Love the nice wide subdivision standard street -- try and find many of those in Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Sausalito, etc. etc. Huh -- traffic problems. Phooey.

Better than just going to the meetings -- everyone interested send written comments to the Marin County Planning Commission. The staff person is named in one of the IJ articles -- Joanna Patri.

Of course, most of these local planning bodies tend to disregard comments from "people not immediately affected directly" unless the outcry is substantial.

What I wonder is whether the affordable houses are a quid pro quo for the 4 monsters proposed? That the situation may be no Habitat, no project (in other words, the County may be saying if no affordable units -- then only 4 in total, and smaller; and the developer may not have a feasible project without the total proposed).

Certain shrewd NIMBY folks -- of which we have a very large number -- could be using the current outcry to put the entire project down, not just the proposed Habitat part.

Feb 8, 2007, 12:33:00 PM  
Anonymous fireproof_witch said...

I used to work in Marin. When I was there, it seemed sort of like an oxymoron. Those pics are typical of what you see there- sort of shabby homes stuck on the side of a hill with no yard to speak of, and derelict old cars being driven by old hippies wearing silly slouchy skippers hats.
It further proves what has been said over and over again here, and holds up true for most bay area cities: most current residents would not be able to afford their own homes if they were to buy now, nor do they have to work near as hard to have what many others cannot afford even if they make decent money.
One word: stupid.

Feb 8, 2007, 4:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It further proves what has been said over and over again here, and holds up true for most bay area cities: most current residents would not be able to afford their own homes if they were to buy now, nor do they have to work near as hard to have what many others cannot afford even if they make decent money.
One word: stupid.


We can thank the stupidity of Prop 13 for that.

Feb 8, 2007, 6:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It further proves what has been said over and over again here, and holds up true for most bay area cities: most current residents would not be able to afford their own homes if they were to buy now, nor do they have to work near as hard to have what many others cannot afford even if they make decent money.
One word: stupid.


We can thank the stupidity of Prop 13 for that.

Feb 8, 2007, 6:04:00 PM  
Blogger Deviant Deziner said...

Hello,
I work for two neighbors on this street and would like to share my experiences.

Eagle Road Road and the area where the homes are slated to be built is a pretty dangerous intersection.
The curvature combined with the steepness of the hill and the blind side street that intersects into this junction has been a spot for many close accidents.

I routinely hear car and trucks breaking and beeping horns when working just above this intersection.

The less than prestigeous cars and trucks that you depict on this webpage are predominately the daily incoming workers vehicles ( us gardeners, maids, carpenter and painters ) not the residential homeowners that live in this neighborhood.

The hillside where the homes are slated to be built is going to require some extremely expensive geotechnical engineering for the foundation work.
It is too bad that so much money from Habitat For Humanity will be poured into engineering costs.
I wonder why they have chosen such an expensive piece of land to develop ?
I would think if they could find a flatter piece of property that they could get more useful gain out of their money.

Feb 9, 2007, 9:34:00 AM  
Blogger Athena said...

heh... :-/ I think the neighbors should have to submit income proof to support their imagined superiority, as well as submit pictures of their vehicles in order to protest habitat for humanity. If their income would qualify for a habitat for humanity house they have to shut the heck up! If they couldn't afford a median priced home in Marin... they have to shut the heck up. If they have grown children living at home because they can't afford a median priced home, they have to shut the heck up.

Feb 9, 2007, 10:08:00 AM  
Anonymous marinite said...

The less than prestigeous cars and trucks that you depict on this webpage are predominately the daily incoming workers vehicles ( us gardeners, maids, carpenter and painters )

Do such people work on Sunday afternoons?

I have a confession to make: since a lot of people might have seen me taking these pics (as it was out in the open in broad daylight and "hey, what's that person with a camera doing here taking pics of that site what was recently written up in the IJ?") and I want to maintain my anonymity, I waited to post this on a weekday. In actuality, I took these pics on a Sunday around lunch time. Perhaps I am too cautious with my anonymity but given how emotional real estate is and how much of a "religion" it is here in Marin, I think anyone can understand my caution given that I dare to "question the faith".

With the possible exception of the trucks, the rest are almost certainly residents' cars. And these are just the pics I took because I thought I was not being observed at the time. With regard to the trucks, I did look for workers or work being done near where the trucks were parked and found none. They also had some sort of Tiburon residential parking permit thingy on them.

Most of the houses around the proposed building site are pretty shabby affairs. There are some nice houses further up Eagle Rock Rd. (where there's a view) and there are some nice houses down some other streets (sorry, I don't recall the street name but I am thinking of the street that heads off to the right in that second pic) that intersect Eagle Rock (also with views). But the immediate neighbors to this proposed building site are clearly not using their profound wealth (which we all "know" everyone in Marin is rich or so the housing bulls would have us believe) to make their houses nice.

The intersection at the bottom of the hill may be dangerous. I drove it and entered it from a number of different directions as I was scoping out the whole area (not just Eagle Rock Rd.) and did not sense any danger. If it is dangerous, at least some of the time, then that needs to be addressed. Not building three affordable houses is not the same thing as addressing the issue. Marin definitely needs to improve its infrastructure. But whenever such proposals are made it is shot down time and time again by residents who don't want the changes "in their back yard" and frequently accompanied with the argument that if we don't improve our infrastructure then people won't move here.

My impression is also that building seven houses on that lot would not be a very good idea. The hill is steep and so would make building costly. But then again, much of Marin housing is built on steep slopes; have you been to Mill Valley lately? I think three or four houses is more reasonable.

But what caught my ire is the fact that the neighbors to this site are complaining about the three affordable houses, not the much larger and much more pricey houses. What they should be doing with the money that they are raising is fix the legitimate problems (if in fact they are legitimate) involving traffic. This is such a typical Marin reaction and that's why I spot-lighted it. This may not be the best example but it is the one that is on hand. And given the shabby nature of the surrounding area, the fact that the people who were quoted by the IJ as being adamantly opposed to the building of the affordable houses was by their own admission about half of the median Marin income, that the phrase "property values" popped up over and over again, one has to wonder if their's is just an argument motivated more by greed than by concerns over the safety of children.

Feb 9, 2007, 10:56:00 AM  
Anonymous fireproof_witch said...

Marinite,
Once again- great observations and commentary. We in our community are having similar issues. There is a current plan to actually build new housing on an abandoned military base. Some people are against it outright.Other are for it.
What irritates me is that the most vocal and loud concerning the development are current homeowners.This development has plans for being 'green' complete with some sort of little commuter rail system. Oh how lovely. I could really care less about pipe dreams and uptopiate buildings.

What I want, as a renter, and as a person who spends money only when it makes economic sense , is housing that is affordable, sensible, and built to specifications that meet current needs not of current residents to beautify their back yards and in a sense control. We who need housing should be calling the shots. Not some 60 year old homeowner. These people have no business making plans on what they think is right for them and not for us.

Feb 9, 2007, 11:12:00 AM  
Anonymous marinite said...

These people have no business making plans on what they think is right for them and not for us.

I don't entirely agree with that statement and I am sure most Marinites won't either.

I think existing residents must have a voice in the matter. But they should not effectively have the only vote. Effectively, that is the situation we have now and part of why things have been allowed to get so out of whack and so NIMBYist.

Feb 9, 2007, 12:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to agree with Deviant Deziner when he says that “Eagle Road Road and the area where the homes are slated to be built is a pretty dangerous intersection.” We all know that poor people are not good drivers so letting Habitat for Humanity build homes will surly result in one death a month.

Of course the “less than prestigious cars and trucks that you depict on this webpage are predominately the daily incoming workers vehicles”. Do you think we are crazy enough to park our Ferraris and Bentleys out on the street where some crazy blogger can see them (or the people from the Marin City projects can steal them).

Since the “hillside where the homes are slated to be built is going to require some extremely expensive geotechnical engineering” it might also cover a bugs nest and we can’t have that in Marin since the poor people will not support environmental groups like the residents of the bigger homes will.

Say no to Habitat for Humanity to save lives, reduce the number of crappy cars and protect the environment.

P.S. I bet the poor people with be a lot happier in Novato…

Feb 9, 2007, 1:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's just NIMBY with the Irvine Attitude, i.e. "WE CAN'T HAVE 'THE WRONG KIND' OF PEOPLE TAKING DOWN *OUR* PROPERTY VALUES!"

(The biggest Irvine Attitude I ever ran into was a piece of Trailer Trash who'd gotten hold of a low-end Condominium(TM) in Anaheim...)

Feb 9, 2007, 1:59:00 PM  
Blogger Marinite said...

Just so you all know, Google is now forcing users of the old Blogger to upgrade to Blogger2. It seems that I can no longer log into this blog and make a post without first upgrading.

I have resisted upgrading mainly for YOUR benefit whether you realized it or not. You see, the new Blogger2 requires everyone, including those of you who want to leave a comment, to sign in using your Google account (if yoiu don't have one then you must create one). The reason why they do this is so that they (Google) can track your click history (where you are going on line, what you are doing, how long you lingered on a page, did you buy anything, etc). You have to complete a "profile" to get a Goggle account (most of it is optional) and they use that profile info to push targeted marketing in your face and to better sell advertising.

Not everything Goggle is golden.

So I am in a quandry now whether I should upgrade to Blogger2 or not.

Feb 10, 2007, 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger Deviant Deziner said...

Hello again,
To answer your question about the trades people who work in this neighborhood, - Yes we do work on the weekends.

I mentioned the dangerous traffic issue because I feel that if they are going to develop this land the city should insist that the developers address this in their master planning.
Everyone should be able to use this street with a reasonable sense of safety whether one is rich or poor, a resident or one of the incoming work force.

My background is not in economics but I don't think that one has to be a Milton Friedman to assume that Habitat for Humanity would be able to build more homes if they did not choose to build on sites that require extensive expensive geotechnical engineering.
Why choose a site that requires hundreds of thousand of dollars in additional engineering costs when there are much less expensive available lots ?
I'm all for this project, but find some of the choices perplexing.

Was the land given to Habitat for Humanity ?
In which case I could understand why they would choose to build on freely donated land.
But if they chose this spot over others that could be less expensively developed then that just does not make sound economical sense to me.

thoughtfully,
deviant deziner ( gender female )

Feb 12, 2007, 4:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My understanding is that the developers of the huge houses are required by law to also build affordable housing. They have "outsourced" this to Habitat, and will pay Habitat to do it for them, so Habitat neither chose the site nor will be paying for the engineering required to use it.

Why they are in the business of doing the dirty work the developers don't want to do, I couldn't tell you...

Feb 14, 2007, 3:49:00 AM  
Blogger Kia said...

Why they are in the business of doing the dirty work the developers don't want to do, I couldn't tell you...

Because the price of land in places like Marin is so prohibitive that Habitat for Humanity has almost no other way of doing it except through such set-aside requirements. From their perspective (and I'm not speaking for them or associated with them in any way), they are looking at the urgent need to get people into affordable housing. The cost of housing eats up so much of people's wages that there are families in Sonoma County, for example, where both parents work full-time and still have to go to the Redwood Empire Food Bank.

You can read about it here. The full report is available here.

Even as income has stagnated for the growing number of low-wage workers, costs such as housing and fuel have risen so as to take an even bigger chunk out of already tight household budgets.

Working families that can't make it to the end of the month resort to food banks so they can eat.

The Redwood Empire Food Bank supplies food to about 49,000 people a month, according to executive director Dave Goodman. Working families make up 38.6 percent of those served, while the remainder is distributed among people on social security, SSI, unemployment and others.

Feb 16, 2007, 9:32:00 AM  
Blogger bruce said...

I'm all about helping poor people, but why do they have to move into this neighborhood? They can move somewhere else I don't want them living near me.

Jan 14, 2009, 12:43:00 PM  

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