The proposed sites list for discussion at the March 15, 2022 meeting incorporates feedback received from the Board and Planning Commission Workshop on March 1 and additional refinements based on a number of goals that were highlighted as important considerations:
- Strive for site distribution throughout the County, taking into consideration the RHNA of cities and towns.
- Consider the vision of the Countywide Plan (CWP) and its policies that focus on in-fill development and smart growth planning.
- Ensure that housing sites designated for lower and moderate income are viable and likely to produce needed housing during the planning period; and
- Incorporate means of affirmatively furthering fair housing in site selection to insure lower and moderate-income households have access to affordable housing, excellent schools, and healthy community amenities.
The CWP incorporates sound environmental and planning principles that have guided land use patterns in Marin County for almost 50 years. The Plan recognizes the 606 square miles of land and water composing Marin County as a cohesive environmental unit made up of regions called corridors, which are designated to focus development and to protect environmental resources (CWP 3.4-1 (p.248)). As noted in the CWP, investment in housing has historically focused on the construction of low density and expensive single-family houses, with limited connection to older neighborhoods and downtowns. This type of development has consumed relatively large amounts of land to house a small number of residents, is affordable only to those with high incomes, and generates a significant proportion of vehicle trips countywide (CWP 3.2-1 (p.244)). The CWP outlines smart growth goals including encouraging development in existing communities, and development of medium to higher density housing along current and future transit corridors, mixed-used development, and development in downtown areas. Overall, the CWP identifies the potential for approximately 15,200 new homes countywide, both in single-family and multifamily developments. The CWP also identifies “The greatest potential for housing development is in the Richardson Bay, Las Gallinas, and Novato planning areas” (CWP 3.4-5 (p. 254)).
In addition to taking into account the CWP’s goals and approach to land development, Board members, Commissioners and the public requested eliminating or reducing proposed housing on many of the sites under consideration. However, if all these recommendations were applied to the candidate sites list, the County would not be able to meet RHNA goals to achieve a certified housing element. The proposed sites list attempts to balance priorities while ensuring compliance with State law and the goals of encouraging and facilitating housing for households with lower and moderate incomes.