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Is ABAG Playing a Shell Game with Housing Numbers?

The Transportation Authority of Marin reviewed the latest scenario for the Plan Bay Area Sustainable Communities Scenario, and TAM's reaction leads some to wonder whether it's math or a con.

The Association of Bay Area Governments continues to leave many Marin residents scratching their heads over the projected housing needs in the county over the next 30 years.

"This is not a shell game," declared Tiburon's Alice Fredericks, chairwoman of the Transportation Authority of Marin's executive committee during Monday's meeting. The committee was examining ABAG's Draft Preferred Jobs-Housing Connection Scenario, and Fredericks was responding to a statement from an attendee that ABAG was playing a shell game with its allocation of required new housing development for Marin County by 2040. 

A number of attendees said they were perplexed and appropriately skeptical  about the latest ABAG allocations, particularly because of the significant shifts in the numbers from past iterations to the Preferred Scenario, which was released on March 9.

The committee members voted to send a letter to ABAG Director Ezra Rappaport expressing its dismay over the ABAG's projection of 17 percent job growth for Marin in the next 30 years.

The letter reads in part: "Marin County lacks the type of developable land associated with traditional business growth, and has limited availability of water resources. It is unlikely that Marin can match the robust job growth of the 1980s."

ABAG originally released its 30-year projection that Marin would see 19,000 more jobs by 2040, which would require 11,000 new homes. Some leaders choked on the numbers their towns and cities were being asked to bear. Novato complained loudly and .

The squeaky wheel got the grease — Corte Madera and Novato saw their numbers cut, but their neighbors could be forced to take on a heavier load as a result.

Fredericks suggested that if other communities have problems with the distribution of numbers, they might have to fight ABAG on their own.

The revised projections from ABAG show Corte Madera should plan for a 5 percent growth in apartments and housing units and a 7 percent growth in households. Those numbers are both lower than the original predictions.

Larkspur is supposed to plan for 140 additional housing units (2 percent) and 350 more households (6 percent).

Fairfax's projected growth shows 310 additional housing units and 360 more households. San Anselmo is being told to brace for an increase of 460 units and 510 households.

And in Mill Valley, where residents are protesting a proposal to build housing units on East Blithedale Avenue, the town can expect 570 more housing units and 740 households, according to ABAG.

Some wondered openly whether there is any room for that many new housing units and that many more people.

TAM's explanation was that "ABAG is a regent and the regent has a pot that they stir around." Because Corte Madera's predicted increase in the number of housing units and households was decreased, the leftovers went back into the regional pot, were stirred around and landed on someone else's plate.

The explanation did not seem to entirely satisfy anyone, not even Corte Madera Vice Mayor Diane Furst.

"It looks like there was a shifting of numbers," Furst said.

Be careful what you wish for, Furst was told in a lighthearted warning. You never know how the numbers will add up.

Tina McMillan April 11, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Continued http://sd07.senate.ca.gov/2012-legislation Senator Mark DeSaulnier - District SD07 SB 878 – San Francisco Bay Area Regional Planning SB 878 requires the four regional agencies in the Bay Area that oversee planning for transportation, air quality, shoreline development, and housing and land use to report to the Legislature on implementing the Bay Area’s sustainable communities strategies, and integrating local and regional economic development goals with the sustainable communities strategies. (SB375) SB 1220 - Housing Opportunity and Market Stabilization (HOMeS) Trust Fund sponsored by California Housing Consortium and Housing California SB 1220 imposes a $75 fee on the recordation of each real-estate document to provide a permanent funding stream for the Housing Opportunity and Market Stabilization (HOMeS) Trust Fund to support the development, acquisition, rehabilitation, and preservation of homes affordable to low- and moderate-income households. http://e-lobbyist.com/gaits/text/587649 Text of bill
J. Feldman April 11, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Growth happens for a reason. It is almost a force of nature - depending on the conditions at the time and the economic climate. Given that our economic climate is pretty bad right now, and our (non-rental) housing market is (almost) as bad as it can get - why does ABAG insist that they know when and where the Bay Area is to grow in the next 20 or 30 years? It seems absurd. If I were to guess, I would expect that overall employment will stay flat at best, the need for new housing to be purchased is actually negative, an (of course) there is always a need for subsidized housing. But is that need for subsidized housing a want - rather than a need. There are lots of people who would move anywhere to live in an apartment paid for by the government. That doesn't get many of these people jobs - something our Novato politicians do not seem to understand. It also does not also do much to stimulate the local economy. Low income residents have less to spend than higher income ones. Most of all, the Novato politicians do not understand that lots of residents are already fed up with unmarketable houses and lower than low home prices. Adding more housing of any kind just hits the market harder. I couldn't sell my house for even 2/3 of it's pre-2000 value - perhaps not for any price. Yet the City Council still is obsessed with bringing in new business and housing in a stagnant market. Why do we elect these people?
Maria Escobar April 12, 2012 at 05:36 AM
Novato voters in the 4th District VOTE FOR DIANE FURST! VOTE FOR LOCAL CONTROL! FURST IS ENDORSED BY THE MARIN DEMOCRATIC PARTY (Kinsey is also a Democrat)
Maria Escobar April 12, 2012 at 05:38 AM
Agreed! We need to focus on birth control and family planning---but that isn't big money for the building industry....
Victoria Hanson April 16, 2012 at 06:25 PM
One clear need for 4th District citizens which Diane Furst is addressing: as our community ages, our need for affordable facilities for elder care housing increases. Apparently, ABAG's quotas do not count this essential element. Such insensitivity to local conditions demands innovative solutions. Corte Madera's bold example - withdrawing from ABAG - is a signal that suppressing 'out-group' voices has serious consequences. Vote Local FURST!

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