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City of San Rafael Resale Inspection Reform – MAR Monday Memo 06/30/14

By June 30, 2014Uncategorized

Good morning MAR members!

“It was twenty years ago today…”  That’s how one of my favorite Beatles albums, Sgt. Pepper, starts out.  Well, it was twenty years ago today that my then-girlfriend-and-now-wife Heather and I moved to Marin…and Fairfax.  I’d moved around a lot throughout my life, and the duplex unit at 42 Manor Road in Fairfax was the 29th address I’d lived at…and I was only 28 at the time.  Little did I know that Heather and I would plant roots in Marin.  We bought our house less than two years later, my 30th and final address to date at age 30.  Eighteen+ years later, we’re still there.

Marin is a terrific place to put down roots, as we all know.  We are so happy here in our adopted county!

1994 was quite a memorable year for a lot of reasons.  It seemed to be the beginning of our new reality-based media system, with both  the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding fiasco at the Olympics kind of kicking it off, and then the even-more-memorable OJ Simpson low-speed chase.  OJ was amazing really.  As part of our move to Marin, Heather and I drove to her native Colorado to get some of her belongings from her mom’s house.  While we were driving across Highway 50…the “Loneliest Road in America”…we were scrambling for radio contact with the outside world to keep tabs on OJ.  Really, we missed the whole thing other than “live” reports on the radio.

Also upon arriving in Marin in the summer of 1994, we were greeted by the excitement of the World Cup being played right here in the Bay Area with Stanford Stadium being one of the host venues.  It was at Stanford on July 4th 1994 that the US was knocked out by eventual champion Brazil in the Round of 16.  It’s so exciting to see the success of the US team in this year’s Cup!  Round of 16 again tomorrow vs. Belgium!

This summer we will be again driving across the “Loneliest Road in America” to a family reunion next month.   This time, rather than chasing radio stations down, I’m more wondering what it will be like to be off the grid with my phone for an extended period.  It will probably be a blessing, really…  Phone silence in the middle of the desert!


Earlier this year, it became clear to me that the City of San Rafael’s residential resale inspection process was broken.  Many, many of you shared your frustrated stories, and a number of you came before MAR’s Board of Directors and Governmental Affairs committee to share your experiences.  MAR CEO Andy Fegley and I began a months-long process to bring this issue to the attention of leadership at the City of San Rafael.

Many meetings later, I’m happy to report that the City of San Rafael has released to us their new policy for the Residential Building Report (RBR).  You can check out the document by clicking HERE.  It’s revolutionary.  It’s the product of a lot of months of hard work, led by Paul Jensen, San Rafael’s Director of Community Development.  Nancy Mackle, City Manager, and Thomas Ahrens, Building Inspector also played key roles.

Net-net, it’s a new day in the relationship between MAR and the City of San Rafael.  Many thanks to the key stakeholders at San Rafael.  This was a fantastic example of city government working to be responsive to the needs and desires of both its residents in the community and business in the community.

As a part of the process for rolling out these new policies and procedures, MAR has committed to educate our members of the changes.  Also, San Rafael will be conducting interactive educational sessions with all interested parties as a part of their, “Coffee and Codes” program.  Stay tuned for more details.


You’ll be relieved to know that I don’t have much of a sewer update this week. We’re on it, and Ross Valley Sanitary District voted 5-0 last Wednesday night to postpone the implementation of their sewer lateral point-of-sale requirement for 60 days.  In addition, they have reached out to MAR to form a working group to massage their ordinance to make its implementation feasible.


Speaking of votes, MAR CEO Andy Fegley and I drove to Sacramento last Tuesday to testify before the California Senate Housing and Transportation Committee in favor of Marin Assemblyman Marc Levine’s bill AB1537, which reduces the default housing density in Marin from 30 to 20 units per acre.

Heading into that hearing, the outcome was anything but assured.  The committee chairman, Mark DeSaulnier of Contra Costa County was openly against the bill.  His senior staffer on the committee was most definitely against the bill.  We were worried that it was going to die in the Senate committee.

Ultimately, the team from Marin, including Board of Supervisors President Kate Sears, plus one of the senior members of ABAG and several affordable housing advocates from Marin, along with MAR, was able to convince and prevail with most of the committee.  We were overjoyed that the vote was 8-1 in favor of the bill, with Chairman DeSaulnier being the lone dissenting vote.

The Senate will now be on recess through the end of July.  The matter will come up again before the Senate Appropriations Committee sometime in August, which is the last month of the 2-year legislative agenda.  MAR will continue to work with other stakeholders to make sure this important bill makes it to a full note on the Senate before adjournment.  MAR congratulates Assemblyman Levine for his progress so far, and we’ve been delighted to be part of the process.

Today is also the official “halfway” point of my presidency at MAR.  It’s been an honor to serve the MAR membership community.  I’m hopeful for the second half of 2014, and I expect that we will keep the momentum going forward!

I’ll leave it at that for now, as the quiet season is upon us here in Marin.  Hoping to see many of you at the Marin County Fair this weekend.  Still trying to convince Heather that Night Ranger on Saturday is the right call.

Safe travels to all for this upcoming holiday weekend!  Happy Birthday USA!  And GO TEAM USA in tomorrow’s World Cup match with Belgium!

I wish you a safe and prosperous week!

Blaine Morris

2014 MAR President