San Rafael, CA – An updated plan to meet housing needs and address barriers to new housing in Marin County received unanimously approval January 24 from the Marin County Board of Supervisors.
After over a year of research, outreach and feedback, the Supervisors reviewed and approved the plan for housing, known as the Housing Element of the Countywide Plan, along with the associated Safety Element and the environmental impact reports for both. The Board approvals mean the County has met its deadline from the State of California’s Department of Housing and Community Development and avoided penalties. The Countywide Plan updates are required by state law every eight years, and Marin’s newest one had a statutory deadline of January 31.
The plans were approved late Tuesday after the Supervisors heard feedback from over 40 people with more than 100 in attendance during the online-only meeting. Most speakers voiced support for adoption of the Housing Element, with many telling personal stories about their experiences searching for and living in affordable housing in the county.
"Our extensive engagement over the past year was rewarding and resulted in a fantastic exchange of ideas and recommendations,” said Sarah Jones, Acting Director of the Marin County Community Development Agency (CDA). “We want to make sure residents know they will be invited to engage with us again if developers approach the county about creating new housing in our unincorporated areas.”
For 2023-2032, the County was instructed to plan for at least 3,569 new units in unincorporated areas. Within that total, at least 1,734 must be designated as affordable to lower-income households, at least 512 for moderate-income households, and at least 1,323 for above-moderate-income households.
The purpose of the Housing Element, which is part of the Countywide Plan, is to achieve an adequate supply of decent, safe and affordable housing for Marin’s workforce, residents and special-needs populations in unincorporated areas. It assesses housing needs for a variety of income groups and presents a program to meet those needs.
The Housing Element is not a development plan; rather, it identifies local housing needs, addresses barriers to housing and identifies opportunity sites where housing could be developed. For development on any site to move forward, a specific project has to be pursued by the property owner. No homes would be approved or built without landowners and developers being required to submit detailed plans subject to thorough review by the County.
CDA staff worked on the Housing Element, Safety Element, and environmental reviews for more than a year and hosted dozens of public meetings and Board and Planning Commission updates. The work was driven by the desire to accommodate housing needs in one of the most expensive housing markets in the United States. Marin’s workforce and older adults on fixed incomes are struggling to pay rent and mortgage payments, causing a housing affordability and employment recruiting crisis. Countless residents and nonprofits have voiced consistent support to the County for more affordable housing in Marin, especially near jobs and services.
The next step is for the Housing Element to be submitted to the state for final review and certification. CDA staff will begin implementing the programs and policies, including public outreach and engagement.