Heading into a new year, who’s
responsible for what? BY JIM WOOD
Gate Seminary project
promises to be a major 2016
issue because the developer
wants 304 new homes.
affordable housing, each of Marin’s 11 munici-
palities is responsible for a proportionate
amount of market-rate and affordable hous-
ing within their city limits; the Board of
Supervisors holds sway when it comes to the
county’s 440 square miles of unincorporated
land where 70,000 Marinites live. In late 2015,
affordable housing projects were underway
in the incorporated City of Novato and in the
unincorporated community of Forest Knolls,
in both cases with hefty financial help from
the Marin Community Foundation.
Who will solve Marin’s traffic problems isn’t
nearly so clear. Primarily that’s in the purview of
the Transportation Authority of Marin ( TAM),
whose board has representation from each of
Marin’s 11 cities plus all five county supervisors.
But to widen a street or eliminate a traffic signal
ultimately requires approval from whatever
jurisdiction the street or signal is located within.
Finally we come to homelessness. Most,
but not all, of Marin’s homeless population
of around 1,300 are found in San Rafael dur-
ing daylight hours. Therefore, the City of
San Rafael works closely with the county’s
Health and Human Services department to
limit, if not reduce, homelessness in Marin.
Here again, Marin Community Foundation,
along with numerous nonprofits, also plays
a key role in the overall effort.
But it’s likely the biggest issue in Marin
in 2016 will be June’s Board of Supervisors
election. Three seats will be in play and incum-
bents Katie Rice (District 2–Fairfax, San
Anselmo, Ross Valley) and Kate Sears (District
3–Tiburon, Sausalito, Tam Valley) are run-
ning and facing opposition, while Steve Kinsey
(District 5–Point Reyes Station, Bolinas, San
Geronimo) will not be seeking re-election.
Hopefully, the above makes clear that when
all goes right in Marin County, the Board of
Supervisors is not to receive all the credit; like-
wise, if and when a project heads south, they are
not to be held solely responsible. The success (or
floundering) of Marin is, for the most part, a col-
laborative process involving many moving parts.
That’s my point of view. What’s yours?
LET’S LOOK AT Marin’s biggest issues for 2016 and who will be deciding them. Too often residents blame one governmental entity for dropping the ball, when an
entirely different entity was responsible for
the fiasco. Example: many Marinites directed
their displeasure with the 180-unit Tam Ridge
Residences, or “WinCup project,” at the Marin
County Board of Supervisors. That was wasted
energy. The property in question lies within
the incorporated Town of Corte Madera and its
town council had the final say on that issue.
Marin County has 11 incorporated towns
and cities and each is responsible for its own
land planning. Land that isn’t within the
boundaries of an incorporated town or city is
referred to as unincorporated, and that’s when
the County of Marin handles land planning.
Here’s an example of that: the Strawberry/
Golden Gate Seminary project promises to
be a major 2016 issue because the developer
wants 304 new homes and a bustling Branson
School campus on 127 recently acquired acres.
But Strawberry isn’t a city; it’s an unincor-
porated area, so the county’s community
development agency will oversee land plan-
ning, and the county Board of Supervisors, no
doubt with considerable input from nearby
residents, will make the decision as to what
can and cannot be built.
One project that has been built and will start
running in late 2016 is the Sonoma-Marin Area
Rail Transit, or SMART. Measure Q, passed by
both counties in 2008 to fund the commuter
rail line, also promised a $42 million multiuse
pathway adjacent to the tracks. However,
according to SMART, only 10 miles, costing $30
million, have been completed. After months of
discussion, it took threatening a lawsuit to bring
the parties together. It now appears the path-
way will be funded. The responsible party here
is SMART’s 12-member board of directors.
Homelessness, traffic and affordable
housing, a trio of intractable Marin issues, is
sure to be bandied about in 2016. Regarding
The vie ws and opinions expressed in this article are
those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the
policy or position of Marin Magazine and its staff.