San Rafael, CA – The County of Marin is financially assisting a land trust in West Marin that plans to construct 10 affordable homes in unincorporated Bolinas, where units designated affordable for lower-income residents are scarce and in high demand.
The Marin County Board of Supervisors on November 5 approved a grant allocation of $400,000 toward predevelopment costs and construction for two new projects, one 2.5-acre parcel at 31 Wharf Road in the village’s business district and one on a 20-acre property on Mesa Road, about three-quarters of a mile west of downtown near the Bolinas Fire Station and Mesa Park.
The Board’s allocation from the County’s Affordable Housing Fund to the Bolinas Community Land Trust will leverage more than $10 million from a local anonymous donor, who bought the two properties and is covering construction costs for the projects. The Bolinas Community Land Trust plans are to create two units and an accessory dwelling unit on Mesa Road and eight units of two or three bedrooms on Wharf Road.
Households with annual incomes in the extremely low and low designations will be eligible to purchase the workforce homes. In Marin, extremely low household income for a family of four (4) is $48,350 or less per year, and low income is $80,601 to $129,150. In recent years, the conversion of existing homes into short-term vacation rental units has resulted in a shortage of workforce housing in West Marin. Actions taken after the 2015 Board of Supervisors housing workshops led to the creation of the County’s Preserving Housing Affordability and Preventing Displacement workplan.
In addition, more than $1 million per year is raised to support the Affordable Housing Fund through the passage of Measure W, which increased transient occupancy taxes paid by short-term visitors staying at inns or online-based rental companies such as Airbnb and VRBO. Measure W was approved by more than 75 percent of West Marin voters in November 2018.
Leelee Thomas, a planning manager with the County’s Community Development Agency, said County Housing Fund allocations are earmarked to advance the values of a balanced and diverse community and improve housing options for local workers, including agricultural laborers who work on the ranches and farms of West Marin.
The Marin County Affordable Housing Fund was created to increase the stock of affordable housing in one of the nation’s most expensive counties in which to live. The median single-family home price in Marin was $1.25 million as of August 2019. Affordable Housing Fund money can be used anywhere in the county, but unincorporated areas are a priority. In the past several years, the fund has supported the preservation and construction of 48 units of family housing and 74 units of housing for individuals and older adults in Fairfax, Forest Knolls, and Stinson Beach.
District 4 County Supervisor Dennis Rodoni, who represents Bolinas and the rest of West Marin, said the projects are a “great example of collaborative efforts” of the County, the Marin Community Foundation, the Bolinas Community Land Trust, and a private donor.
“We’re taking advantage of opportunities to develop affordable housing on the coast,” he said. “MCF and County funding provide the projects’ important start-up funding for planning and design work. Leveraging donated property builds upon the great partnerships in place, resulting in affordable housing units for community members and farm workers.”