By NATALIE HANSON | email@example.com |
PUBLISHED: September 12, 2021 at 5:34 p.m. | UPDATED: September 12, 2021 at 5:35 p.m.
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Marin’s cities and towns are preparing to update key housing policies as a historic housing crisis looms.
Local governments must submit a draft housing element in June and have the document complete by January 2023. The process is expected to pit old pressures to curtail growth against increasing demands to shelter growing numbers of people unable to find a home.
Community leaders say they will move forward this month under the assumption they will have to identify the required number of residences according to numbers prescribed by the state, even as appeal hearings with communities challenging their assignments are scheduled with Association of Bay Area Governments through October. Most Marin communities filed appeals to the state’s housing mandates, citing strained resources.
“It’s very difficult to have an entirely suburban, bordering on rural in some places, county, that is part of a bigger urban metropolitan area and be in stuck in the same system,” Larkspur City Manager Dan Schwarz said.
“It’s not good public policy for us to (create many) units in areas that have to cope with those dangers,” he said. “If things play out that we need to accommodate so many more units, then we have to have a discussion with the community about, how do we bring in this level of housing in a way that meshes with our community character?”
Last week, the Larkspur City Council approved contracts to lead public outreach and appointed a steering committee, although outreach sessions are not set until after the city’s ABAG appeal hearing in October. Mill Valley will begin housing element workshops next week. Fairfax has already held a workshop hosted by the town’s affordable housing committee and will hold a joint Planning Commission and Town Council meeting Sept. 22.
Fairfax Planning and Building Services Director Ben Berto said, “There’s been widespread support for affordable housing in the discussion we’ve had so far. We’re focusing on what is called a ‘missing middle’ housing strategy.”
Berto wasn’t specific about that strategy, but said it recognizes the changing needs of homeowners, creating options such as duplexes, small complexes of multiple-unit housing and adding infill in residential neighborhoods “where appropriate.”
”We’re definitely committed to providing housing, it’s just a question of what level and what circumstances. We need to make sure it’s safe and appropriate for the town.”