Report Shows Marin is Missing Out on Revenue from Commuters

Live Local and Greenbelt Alliance release analysis that shows the economy would be boosted by more affordable housing options and keeping worker dollars local.

An affordable housing initiative and an environmental group from the Bay Area have released a new report that lays out the reasons why commuters heading into Marin for work are driven away by housing costs and creating a lack of localized consumer spending.

The report, released Tuesday by Live Local, says Marin’s economy has shifted to lower-paying retail and service jobs with workers who can’t afford to live here, thus increasing pressure on public transportation services.

“When workers’ wages are compared to what it costs to rent or buy a home in Marin versus other communities, it’s no wonder that many of the county’s workers live elsewhere,” said Sonoma State professor Robert Eyler of Marin Economic Forum, which provided the independent economic research and analysis for the report.

The report was released on the same day the Marin County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to adopt a plan to spread affordable housing throughout he county, not just in areas that have concentrations of minority populations.

More than 61,000 people who have jobs in Marin commute from outside the county each day, and every day they drive home with more than $1.4 billion in annual purchasing power, according to “Driving Home Economic Recovery" (attached).

Live Local, based in San Rafael and partially fueled by grants from the , is a special collaboration of the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California and the Greenbelt Alliance, a 4,000-member environmental group with an office in San Rafael that advocates for open space, walkable neighborhoods and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

The report suggests Marin’s in-bound commuters are driven away by lack of affordable housing, and that creating more housing choices for just one percent of them, or 610 households, would prevent $14 million in annual consumer spending from draining to nearby counties. New revenues would support an estimated 97 new jobs in Marin.

Additionally, during the construction or renovation of 610 homes, Marin would see another $28 million infused into local economies and 181 construction-driven jobs created, the report said.

Dianne Spaulding, executive director of the Non-Profit Housing Association, said neighboring counties are offering more housing options affordable for Marin workers than Marin does.

“Suddenly, ‘passing the buck’ takes on a whole new meaning as Marin workers drive their paychecks home elsewhere,” she said in a release. “Marin is missing out on jobs and revenue that it could really use right now.”

Anthony Taylor, a resident of Homeward Bound’s transitional housing in Novato, said he is eager to start his own catering business but doesn’t believe he’ll find an affordable place to live in Marin.

“I struggled to turn my life around until Homeward Bound gave me new culinary skills and stable housing,” Taylor said. “I’m about to graduate from the program … but I may have to move to Vallejo and commute back to Marin. I just want to be able give back to the community that helped me.”

The report highlights that housing is getting built in Marin, just not enough of the right type to alleviate the economic problem. The report said Marin's economy has shifted to lower-paying retail and service sector jobs, such as teachers, in-home health aides, childcare workers and restaurant servers. However, the shift in the economy was not matched by home production priced for modest-wage workers.

For people who earn $80,000 or more per year, there is more housing being built than is needed by that workforce segment, the report contends. But for a 54 percent of in-commuters to Marin who earn less than $40,000, there is a shortfall between housing supply and demand.

Cynthia Murray, a former member of the Novato City Council and Marin County Board of Supervisors, said the findings show that Marin has the ability to strengthen communities, accelerate job growth and reduce congestion on Highway 101.

“And it’s feasible without putting all the strain on any one segment of our society,” said Murray, president of the North Bay Leadership Council. “Our employees do not have to suffer long commutes, nor do our business owners need to miss out on revenue.”

SHROYER FOR SUPERVISOR 2014 October 13, 2011 at 09:46 PM
Ryan, It's okay to violate The Brown Act? Your organizations think so?
Ryan October 13, 2011 at 09:52 PM
You'd have to ask them. But seriously - The Brown Act? Wow. What a scandal! First Anthony Weiner, not the Brown Act in Novato! You know these Councilmembers. There's nothing sinister going on there.
SHROYER FOR SUPERVISOR 2014 October 13, 2011 at 10:09 PM
I think it is important to follow The Brown Act. The people deserve to have a voice. We still live in a democracy. I don't reward bad behavior, the IJ apparently does. They wrote an Editorial on how awful it was for Novato's City Council to have not followed The Brown Act and then endorsed the two incumbents! I will no longer be engaging with someone who does not give their full and real name.
Thomas October 13, 2011 at 10:14 PM
...that's called a "straw man" argument and doesn't actually say anything. Try to address the points directly.
Thomas October 13, 2011 at 10:16 PM
...and knowing the IJ is solidly a partisan and agenda driven organization, how would we not say that the IJ itself is not "lashing out" against candidates it does not endorse?
Ryan October 13, 2011 at 10:16 PM
Do you think it's a pattern or just a one time thing?
Thomas October 13, 2011 at 10:18 PM
Toni - full names on the internet are irrelevant on a public forum. I do not know who Toni Shroyer is personally, and I certainly don't know that "Toni Shroyer" is posting every time with accredited authority as this persona on Patch. We just address arguments as they are written here.
diane October 13, 2011 at 10:22 PM
Ditto on the propaganda idea
diane October 13, 2011 at 10:26 PM
I live in San Rafael and I shop in Novato and North of there as far as Rohnert Park. San Rafael complains about revenue, yet the current candidates for City Council do not approve of National or "Big Box" stores. If they want people to shop local, they should have the store that people want to shop at. And BTW, I hope "Appeal SMART" gets on the ballot and wins. If you agree, please contact them for information. They are on Facebook.
Thomas October 13, 2011 at 10:33 PM
... I cannot answer that myself with certainty but since you say "Do you think", I think like many do in commonly accepted knowledge that rarely people are caught violating their first time and only time. More often than not, it is habitual in many higher or lower ways and eventually you are noticed and served notice. It usually indicates as an alert to direction and possibly intent. Either way, it is problematic.
Thomas October 13, 2011 at 10:43 PM
@Bob: A cogent and good analysis. It's important we understand that the figures put forth are often not challenged enough.
Marilyn October 13, 2011 at 10:50 PM
Vote on the IJ http://www.marinij.com/ Should Marin do more to make housing affordable? Total Votes = 331 Yes 112 Votes, or 33.83 % No 219 Votes, or 66.16 %
Thomas October 13, 2011 at 10:59 PM
@Ryan - Crime is "down" as an aggregate across the country per the FBI reports over the last decades. No one wants to return to the crime stats of the 1970's-1980's. That is not specific to Novato, though Marin is certainly not Alameda county either, and is slightly irrelevant to this specific conversation. Certain crimes are problematic in the area, and how we look at the crime issue needs to be very Novato centric based on what I just said earlier. Gang affiliated crime, along with organized gang members themselves seems to be rooting, as the Novato police chief himself has already acknowledged. There are certain trends which need to be examined in terms of a post 2008 economy; we need to watch since some crimes have trended up recently - like property crimes, burglary, and theft. The IJ is known to under represent crime in their reporting, and is decidedly politically correct on stories over reporting simple truth and facts. I wouldn't base my entire position on the environment on what the IJ says.
Lloyd October 13, 2011 at 11:07 PM
I would also add the Marin I J is only as accurate as its editorial bias. It would be accurate to say they represent an opinion as opposed to factual reporting.
Jim Welte October 13, 2011 at 11:20 PM
With all due respect to the participants on this thread, and while we do appreciate the discussion, let's keep it focused on the Live Local report and related issues, please. Thanks!
Bob Ratto October 13, 2011 at 11:33 PM
Good idea! http://www.livelocalmarin.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Driving_Home_Economic_Recovery_Report.pdf Read the chart on page 7..do you think those are accurate numbers?
Thomas October 13, 2011 at 11:36 PM
Just honestly wondering: Who are "we" and are you speaking directly for I assume all the Patch staff? To add, while there is a spread here a little, most of it is staying in orbit and gravity to the article. It is a big topic with layers, and people are speaking to layers.
Jim Welte October 13, 2011 at 11:41 PM
I'm speaking for myself, one of the Marin Patch editors. And you're absolutely right - the vast majority of the comments here are staying well within the orbit. But while there are certainly layers, unfair generalizations about a purported bias at the IJ is not one of them.
Thomas October 13, 2011 at 11:46 PM
I thought you might mentioned that. For one it is Ryan who has been interjecting IJ as an authority to the conversation. It is his opinion. This then is met with other opinions, like my own, about the IJ. It is not an unfair generalization, it is an opinion as a reply to an assertion being made here by another.
Steven Norwin October 14, 2011 at 12:26 AM
This is factual, You couldn't pay me to read the Marin Idependand Journal. I do not like their journalism. Facts, nothing but facts!
Brant October 14, 2011 at 12:27 AM
JoEllen, we don't have better paying jobs in Marin because we do not want industrial and commercial establishments here. They do not generate sales tax for our cities. That is, of course, a fundamental error in government decision making. Consider carefully who you vote for in November.
JoEllen Ussery October 14, 2011 at 12:42 AM
I'm not sure if I'm more disturbed that $1,200 a month is a low income rent? Or that $50,000 a year makes you eligible for that low income rent?
Tina McMillan October 14, 2011 at 04:57 AM
Ryan The reason is, that the IJ is bound and determined to only support incumbents and those that will go along to get along. They may be surprised when they see that Eric Lucan's platform actually promotes the same goals as Leslie Peterson Schwarze's platform. They are both against the downtown city office civic center, they are both for Suburban status with ABAG and Sacramento and they are both willing to take a hard look at the financial difficulties the city is facing. Eric is more closely aligned with Leslie than he is with Madeline or Jeanne. That being so, doesn't it make you wonder how the IJ can support Eric's platform but not Leslie's? It seems to me that they don't want more than one new voice on the council in order to maintain the status quo. Their dislike of Leslie is bias pure and simple. VOTE LELSIE PETERSON SCHWARZE FOR NOVATO CITY COUNCIL. IT'S TIME FOR CHANGE. ITS TIME FOR FISCAL ACCOUNTABILITY IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT.
Tina McMillan October 14, 2011 at 05:07 AM
Marla One time fees and parcel taxes are not enough to support our schools. If you have been following the Rancho debate you would see that we all ready have a sizable number of SED and ELL students in three schools that are now in program improvement status in spite of hefty title federal funds. Long story short we must be accountable to the families we all ready serve. We need both the funding to support our schools and the means of educating SED and ELL students. Recent research is inconclusive in this regard. Some innovative educators are suggesting that magnet schools might be the answer. In cases where students are non English speaking they would be educated in both languages. This is a radical shift from our current neighborhood schools uniform curriculum policies. Again, it is so much more complicated than what you are presenting.
Tina McMillan October 14, 2011 at 05:08 AM
Marla continued As far as Eden House goes, I hope the 55 and under is not the actual age of residents but it is in fact, the stated age of people who will be allowed to apply to live there. It seems questionable to have a nonprofit say that they are just using those numbers to satisfy federal funding sources but in actuality only intent on letting elderly and infirmed residents live there. The way it reads is that only one person in a unit must be 55 and subsequent people in the same unit can be of any age, younger or older. If again, that is accurate, isn't it dishonest to then only lease to clients that are in their 70's? If this development had the same criteria as Nova Ro I would be secure and confident that it was being run as advertised. The fact that they are saying two different things makes me suspicious.
Tina McMillan October 14, 2011 at 05:12 AM
Ryan You keep saying the same thing without attempting to look at the facts. Check out Eric's platform. It looks like he's taking his cues from Leslie. His main points are in direct opposition to both Madeline and Jeanne. The IJ picked Eric because he appears acquiescent. They may be in store for a surprise...
Tina McMillan October 14, 2011 at 05:19 AM
Jim I disagree. When the IJ used the title "City of Rage" describing Novato I spoke with Brad, hoping he would at least appreciate how inflammatory the title was. He was nonplussed. I was offended. I cancelled my subscription. I found the title and the defense of it repugnant. I believe there is a bias at the IJ and that it speaks for itself in its articles and editorials.
Tina McMillan October 14, 2011 at 05:28 AM
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "30%"Limit 22,450/ 25,650/ 28,850/ 32,050/ 34,650/ 37,200/ 39,750/ 42,350 "50%" Limit 37,400/ 42,750/ 48,100/ 53,400/ 57,700/ 61,950/ 66,250/ 70,500 "60%" Limit 44,880/ 51,300/ 57,720/ 64,080/ 69,240/ 74,340/ 79,500/ 84,600 "80%" Limit 59,850/ 68,400/ 76,950/ 85,450/ 92,300/ 99,150 /106,000/ 112,800 These are the Marin County 2011 Income levels based on number of people in household and percentage of total for earnings limits. http://www.hcd.ca.gov/fa/home/2011_incomelimitseffective_july13-Correctedfor%20SanDiego.pdf
Stacey October 16, 2011 at 03:26 PM
Dick Spotswood: County supervisors should have told HUD to 'get lost' 10/16/11 http://www.marinij.com/opinion/ci_19116465#.Tpr2MZzHzh4.email
Steven Norwin October 16, 2011 at 04:15 PM
Most Marinites are not racists. They actively support nondiscrimination. That counts for little. The reality is that housing activists resent that upper-middle class whites and Asians can afford to live in attractive, crime-free communities. <<<CLICK BELOW TO READ DICK SPOTSWOOD'S LATEST IJ ARTICLE>>> http://www.marinij.com/opinion/ci_19116465#.Tpr2MZzHzh4.email


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