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It has been 30 years since Mill Valley has built a 100% affordable housing project.
However, a group of residents calling themselves “Friends of Hauke Park” claims the city’s proposed 45-unit affordable project at 1 Hamilton Drive is conflicting with the city’s duty to “affirmatively further fair housing” as required by state housing mandates.
The group recently filed a petition with Marin County Superior Court in an attempt to thwart the project. However, as the executive director for the Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California private nonprofit organization serving Marin, Sonoma and Solano counties, it is clear to me that the group is misapplying the principle.
This is far from a violation. The project would constitute an important first step toward furthering fair housing in Mill Valley.
Federal and state law mandates that cities like Mill Valley, in their housing element in all other relevant activities, affirmatively further fair housing. This requirement goes beyond nondiscrimination in housing, and it includes proactively taking action to “overcome patterns of segregation and foster inclusive communities free from barriers that restrict access to opportunity” for communities of color, persons with disabilities, and others protected by fair housing law.
The petitioners seek to divide the city into “East Mill Valley” and “West” Mill Valley, or likewise divide the city by census tract. They claim it is a fair housing violation to choose to build the project in a census tract that has a 70% White population and a median family income of $124,083 (which are about median for Marin County) on the basis that the other census tracts in Mill Valley have an even greater White population and median income.
However, any way you slice it, the neighborhoods of Mill Valley are highly resourced, more affluent and less diverse as compared to the Bay Area as a whole. Developing affordable housing in any of these areas will serve to further housing opportunity and choice and overcome segregation, regardless of where other affordable housing is already located.
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