County of Marin - News Releases - Preservation of Affordable Housing

For Immediate Release
November 20, 2015

Board Explores Preservation of Affordable Housing

Next public workshop December 15

San Rafael, CA – The effort to preserve housing affordability in unincorporated Marin County continued with a Board of Supervisors public workshop on November 17, right after a morning session that included the sale of a County-owned trailer court to preserve it for lower-income senior residents.

A front view of Toussin Place, an affordable housing complex in Marin.Toussin Place is an affordable housing complex in Kentfield.

Planners from the Community Development Agency (CDA) reviewed policy options presented from the Board’s prior workshop in October and were followed by a public commenting period. The Supervisors did not vote to take any official action on the topic. 

After CDA staff presented a range of choices, the Supervisors were most eager to explore the following options:

  • purchasing existing housing to preserve economic diversity;
  • working with landlords to keep units affordable;
  • providing incentives for affordable second units, and;
  • renewing an amnesty program for second units.

The workshops were scheduled in response to repeated public concerns expressed about the lack of affordable housing in Marin, one of the most expensive places to live in the United States. For years, countless residents have told the Supervisors about the struggles of low- and moderate-income households to make ends meet because home mortgages and rental rates are growing faster than wages. In Marin, housing inaffordability is hampering employee recruitment for local businesses, school districts and nonprofits. The median single-family detached home in Marin costs more than $1 million, a condominium or townhome averages more than $500,000 and rents average $2,500.

Earlier on the Board agenda, the Supervisors approved the sale of the 20-unit trailer court at 6690 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in San Geronimo with the goal of preserving the property as affordable housing. The County used $627,198 from its Housing Trust Fund to cover about 45 percent of the $1.395 million purchase. The Housing Trust Fund was created in line with Countywide Plan goals specifically to increase the stock of affordable homes in Marin and advance the values of a balanced community.

With the sale, the County will turn over the property to the nonprofit San Geronimo Valley Affordable Housing Association (SGVAHA). The group based in Forest Knolls plans to make improvements to the property with a $1.2 million loan from the Marin Community Foundation and then manage the trailer court as affordable housing for seniors – the same function it has had since 1940. Many of the seniors remain part of the local workforce.

SGVAHA president Suzanne Sadowsky thanked the County for its “enormous” support and said the 19 homeowners at the trailer court saw the transaction as a “godsend.” Supervisor Steve Kinsey, who represents the San Geronimo Valley, said he was proud and pleased that “We took care of a community neighborhood that was existing at peace but was at a great risk of being displaced, and a local nonprofit partner got involved with us on a solution. This is a model going forward.”

Comments on the topic may be submitted via email to Alisa Stevenson, Planner for the Community Development Agency, at astevenson@marincounty.org

Another workshop is scheduled for 5 p.m. December 15 in the Board of Supervisors chamber (Suite 330) at the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael.

All public meetings and events sponsored or conducted by the County of Marin are held at accessible sites. If you are a person with a disability and require information or materials in alternative formats – or if you require accommodation to participate in a county program, service or activity – please contact department staff at (415) 473-7331 or (415) 473-4381 (voice/TTY) or e-mail disabilityaccess@marincounty.org.

Contact:

Leelee Thomas
Planning Manager
Community Development Agency

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 308
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6697
Email: Leelee Thomas
Affordable Housing webpage