Marin County Government officials wanted to see which way the wind is blowing when it comes to the priorities of its constituents.
They got a pretty definitive reply from residents based on a Polco/National Research Center to conduct another countywide community survey: the top issue was housing with 31% saying it’s their top priority, according to a report from the Marin Independent Journal.with only 9 percent of respondents saying they were satisfied “with the availability of affordable, quality housing.”
In addition to housing, residents want county government to focus its attention on homelessness and climate change over the next five years.
The survey selected 4,395 households in Marin between April 21 and June 9. A total of 803 surveys were completed for a response rate of 18% and a margin of error of 3.5%. Residents in both incorporated and unincorporated areas were surveyed.
Three responses scored in double digits. Thirty-one percent of respondents cited housing, while homelessness and climate change both garnered 12%.
The survey also asked respondents to rate how important they think it is for county government to focus on 11 topic areas over the next five years, with the top five responses being improving disaster preparedness, 90%; investing in county infrastructure, 84%; developing workforce housing, 82%; reducing homelessness/providing permanent housing, 80%; and adapting to sea-level rise, 77%, according to the IJ‘s reporting.
There was some other noteworthy feedback as well. with the bottom responses being expanding outreach to communities of color and immigrants, 68%; enhancing services for older adults and people with disabilities, 72%; eliminating racial disparities, 75%; and access to affordable child care, addressing climate change and preserving/developing affordable housing, all with 76%.
“While these are displayed in decreasing order of priority, it’s really important to note that at least two-thirds of residents rated each of these items as essential or very important to focus on,” said Jade Arocha,, director of survey research for the center, told Marin County supervisors.
Although there are a number of takeaways from the survey results, it is clear that residents believe that the need for much more housing remains a significant factor. That indicates that Mill Valley is among the cities that are on the right track for creating housing to support an economically diverse population.
After receiving additional comments from the , the Mill Valley City Council and their planners recently once again submitted replies and clarifications on the details of its 2023-2031 Housing Element in their quest to deliver an approved Housing Element to the California Department of Housing and Community Development.
The latest hearing on the Housing Element has kept city staff busy maintaining momentum on efforts to both plan for massive amounts of new housing mandates between now and 2031, and to see through their intentions to build affordable housing at 1 Hamilton Drive project with EAH Housing on city-owned land.
In May, the City Council voted unanimously to approve a revised housing element for submission to the state, including a certified environmental impact report for the general plan and amendments to the general plan land use element and land use map. To comply with the state housing mandate, the city must permit 865 more residences during the next eight-year planning cycle.
The mandate calls for 262 residences for very-low-income households, 151 for low-income households, 126 for moderate-income households and 326 for above-moderate-income households, while city officials are planning for 961 dwellings, including 287 for very-low-income households, 183 for low-income, 149 for moderate-income and 342 for above-moderate.
The linchpin of the Housing Element, at least initially, is the 1 Hamilton plan, which goes before the Planning Commission on Tuesday, November 28th at 6:30 pm at City Hall. The Planning Commission will be asked to take action to recommend approval to the City Council regarding final actions on the project. Also, during this hearing the Commission will review and provide input on the Draft Environmental Impact Report.
In addition, the housing element identifies 401 Miller Ave., the complex that’s home to Sol Food and Simple Mills, as well as the large property on East Blithedale Ave. owned by Comcast building. City officials added that property owners interested in the redevelopment include Mill Creek Plaza, Sloat Garden Center, the former Jolly King Liquor store site and the former KFC/Taco Bell building. The city also plans on 16 residences developed under SB 9, a state housing law that allows property owners to split lots for up to four dwellings, according to the Marin Independent Journal.
1 Hamilton has faced consistent opposition from residents in the Enchanted Knolls neighborhood and adjacent areas, but councilmembers have sought to dispel the notion that a development at 1 Hamilton Drive would be the lone effort to address the City’s efforts to create conditions for more affordable housing. Hamilton Drive-area residents have pushed City officials to explore other neighborhoods and housing opportunities before doing so in their part of town, which has a history of multi-use and some affordable developments.
Councilmembers have countered that the Hamilton Drive site shows the most promise as a City-owned parcel in proximity to transit corridors and commercial areas, but that all other options are on the table. “This is not going to be the only site we will look at for affordable housing,” Councilmember Urban Carmel added in September, noting that other sites, like the Edgewood Reservoir, the Miller Avenue commercial corridor and areas around the Mill Valley Golf Course and Boyle Park tennis courts, are potentially on the table.
City officials have made it clear that they are serious about pulling every lever possible to create the conditions that would significantly expand on the approximately 6,670 current housing units and support the amount of additional housing for which they’re on the hook, according to ABAG.