Housing Sites

Community Development Agency

➔  Para leer esta página en español, haga clic en este enlace.

The most up-to-date information about housing sites can be found in the Draft 2023-2031 Marin County Housing Element (Appendix C).

Staff worked with MIG, Inc., the consultant retained by the County, to work on the Housing and Safety Element updates, and to identify a list of recommended candidate housing sites factoring in state laws around site suitability and local knowledge. On April 12, 2022, the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission reviewed and provided feedback on a refined sites list.

04/29/22 Update: The 04/12/22 iteration of the recommended sites list has been further refined to address feedback received.

Please note that this is not the final list of recommended sites. The final list of recommended sites will be brought forward after the environmental review process.  

Site Selection Process

  • 1. Universe of sites (all candidate housing sites)

    The initial step in the site identification process was to study over 150 possible candidate housing sites within the County. These sites were identified as collectively containing a development potential of over 6,332 units, yielding more than the RHNA allocation of 3,569 units. This was done to provide the public and decision makers with choices and flexibility in selecting sites that aligned with a range of goals, priorities and principles.

    List of Candidate Housing Element Sites 

  • 2. Four site scenarios based on the Guiding Principles

    The next step in narrowing down candidate housing sites list was the development of four housing sites scenarios using the Guiding Principles for Site Selection, which were presented and considered at the December 7, 2021, joint session with the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission. These Guiding Principles translated into and created the following four housing sites scenarios:

    • Ensure Countywide Distribution,
    • Address Racial Equity and Historic Patterns of Segregation,
    • Encourage Infill and Redevelopment Opportunities, and
    • Consider Environmental Hazards. 

    Each scenario includes housing site strategies for surplus school, County, and State lands; religious institutions; vacant lands; and commercial and residential sites not currently used to their full potential. Although each scenario emphasizes the importance of a specific principle, all aspects of the guiding principles were embedded in the four scenarios. Some of the scenarios have sites with fewer or no units, depending on what guiding principle was favored. This was possible because the universe of sites was much larger than the RHNA allocation. County staff explained these scenarios when they presented in communities around the County, also known as the “Sites Roadshow.” In addition, these scenarios were available on the website and used in the Balancing Act tool as a way for the public to provide feedback on what was important to them as well as evaluate tradeoffs needed to meet the RHNA.

  • 3. Two alternatives

    Based on the feedback received from the public, staff further narrowed down the sites list to present two alternatives for consideration by the Board, Planning Commission, and the public on March 1, 2022:

  • 4. Recommended sites list (03/15/22)

    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.

  • 5. Recommended sites list (04/12/22)

    After direction given by the Board and Commission on March 15 following community input, the units count was reduced and several candidate sites were removed from the list. To make up for that deficit, additional sites were suggested in Novato's Atherton and San Geronimo Valley. This list was presented at a community meeting on March 31st.

Comments and Feedback Received

Marin County conducted a robust process to share information and to solicit feedback on the process used to identify housing sites for inclusion in the Marin County Housing Element. At a December 7th meeting, the Board of Supervisors provided direction on a set of guiding principles to guide the process. One of the principles directed for substantive public engagement. Between late January 2022 and mid-March 2022, the County provided a variety of opportunities and formats for the public to use to share their feedback through written and verbal comments and use of digital tools.

Compilation of sites feedback received