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Housing Density AB-1537, Matt Hughes voted as President-Elect of MAR, MAR Monday Memo 03/31/14

Good morning MAR members!

As I write this on Friday afternoon, it seems that we’re in for a soggy weekend.  Sunday appears to be mostly dry, so hopefully your open houses weren’t a washout…but the long awaited “Miracle March” for our water supply may well be coming together these last few days of the month.

It was a busy week at MAR!  Last week, MAR President-Elect Nate Sumner alerted me that due to some unexpected circumstances he will be unable to fulfill his responsibilities as MAR President next year.  MAR Bylaws call for a simple majority of the Board of Directors to replace any Board or Executive Committee position.  Luckily for MAR, we’ve built a deep “bench” over the past few years, and I’m pleased to announce that the Board of Directors voted unanimously on Friday to appoint MAR Secretary and Executive Committee member Matt Hughes as 2014 President-Elect.  Matt will serve as your 2015 MAR President.  Matt is the right man for the job, and we are all lucky that MAR was able to fill this important position at a very important time with such a well-qualified candidate.  Please join me in congratulating Matt Hughes!

Last Friday, MAR CEO Andy Fegley, MAR Treasurer Arun Burrell and myself all paid a visit to Assemblyman Mark Levine’s office in San Rafael.  It was important to make the introduction of CEO Fegley, and we also wanted to express MAR’s strong support for Assemblyman Levine’s bill, AB 1537, which lowers the potential density of future Marin housing developments from 30 units per acre to 20 units per acre.

This potential density is at the core of many of the spirited discussions we’ve had here in Marin over the past year…and discussions we continue to have.  In addition to expressing our support for his bill, MAR also asked Assemblyman Levine what we can do to help.  Assemblyman Levine was delighted to learn of our support, and these conversations are ongoing.

Housing density has been one of the key debates in our community over the past year, and I expect it will be for the foreseeable future.

The debate on housing reached a fever pitch last summer with the debate over Plan Bay Area.  These spirited discussions continue to this day.  MAR’s Board of Directors voted last May to oppose Plan Bay Area, on the basis that it circumvented local control.  MAR was one of the earliest organizations in the county to oppose the measure, and we voiced our opposition to the Board of Supervisors, and publicly in an op-ed in the Marin IJ.

The housing density that was and continues to be dictated to us from outside the county was an easy issue to oppose.  Local leaders should have the final say on local planning decisions.  Much more complicated, however, have been the individual Housing Element plans that each municipality and the county overall have been crafting.  These are complex plans, with an enormous amount of detail that each town has invested a great deal of time to complete.  There was really no way for MAR to become experts on each housing element given the voluminous nature of each plan.

In addition, MAR has not had a policy regarding housing in the context of the current debate.  Until now.

MAR’s Government Affairs Committee is where these issues have been explored.  We’ve been talking about housing for the better part of a year now, and it comes up at nearly every meeting.  MAR has shared our position on the 30-units-per-acre density with every elected official who has come before us.  Many of you have come before this committee to share your position on the subject.

Honestly, we could spend every monthly Government Affairs committee meeting solely on housing during this critical time.  Earlier this year, MAR’s Board of Directors created the Housing Density Subcommittee under the Government Affairs Committee to focus on these issues and free up the main committee to be able to review other issues in addition to housing.  Missy Crowe was named to Chair this subcommittee.

The first order of business was to craft a Housing Policy for MAR to utilize to inform its decision making process going forward.  I’m pleased to announce that the Housing Density Subcommittee crafted and approved this policy statement.  The Policy Statement then worked its way through the Government Affairs Committee and finally the Board of Directors voted to approve the statement last week after several modifications.  You can read the MAR Policy Statement on Housing Density here.

One of the keys to this Statement, and to the process we are all witnessing, is transparency.  The public needs to know what’s going on, and to have the ability to participate and provide input.  This is increasingly what is occurring, and the voters of Marin County will ultimately have the opportunity to hold their elected officials accountable on this subject.

MAR applauds the ongoing participation of the public on this debate.  Many of MAR’s members have taken outspoken positions, which is fantastic.  Participate in the public process in Marin County, MAR members!  Make sure your voices continue to be heard, regardless of your position.

In other news, the California Association of REALTORS Spring Business Meetings are coming up at the end of April.  I encourage all of you to participate in Leg Day in Sacramento on Wednesday April 30th.  If you make it to the morning session, you will have the opportunity to hear Governor Jerry Brown, who will be addressing CAR.  It’s a truly exciting event, and going to Sacramento to participate in the Business of the People is an experience that is difficult to explain short of doing it.  The REALTOR Party making our voices heard!  If you’ve never been, consider making the investment of one day to see your statewide association in action.

MAR’s representatives on the CAR Board of Directors need your feedback, as always.  In addition to myself, MAR’s CAR Directors include President-Elect Matt Hughes, Kay Moore, Mary Kay Yamamoto, and Katie Beacock.  Katie is also the Chairperson of CAR Region 4, of which MAR is a part.  If you have anything on your mind that you think our leaders at CAR need to hear…or that you think our elected leaders need to her…please seek out one of us via phone or email.  That’s the most important thing we do at CAR:  make sure the voices of our MAR members…YOUR voices…are heard at the statewide level.

That’s it for this week.  Again, please join me in congratulating MAR’s 2014 President Elect, Matt Hughes.

I wish you a safe and prosperous week!