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Housing Density – Larkspur SMART Station Area Plan, Updates on San Rafael City Resale Inspections and Sewer Laterals. MAR Monday Memo 04/28/14

Good morning MAR members!

Lots of new listings last week.  It seems that sellers are finally getting the message that people are looking to move!

One final reminder that the memorial service for MAR member and Novato icon Mike Di Giorgio is one week from today, Monday May 5th, from 11AM-1PM at Novato City Hall.  As I mentioned previously, Mike’s family has asked MAR member and Novato Councilwoman Denise Athas to share stories of Mike’s business life, and has asked for anecdotes and personal stories about Mike from our members.  For those of you who might have a good story to share, Denise has asked that you contact her via email at

This  week, the rest of MAR’s California Association of Realtors Board of Directors members and I will be in Sacramento for the CAR’s Legislative Day (Wednesday) and the Spring business meetings through Saturday.  If there is any pressing matter that you’d like CAR’s leadership to be aware of, please let me know and we will take it to Sacramento.  If you’d like to join us for Leg Day, Governor Jerry Brown will be addressing us on Wednesday morning.

San Rafael City Resale Inspections

I must say, it’s been very quiet this past week+.  Prior to our meetings with San Rafael’s City Manager and building department a couple of weeks ago, I was receiving daily calls…often multiple calls.  Now it’s like someone turned off the faucet…no calls.  In fact, one of our colleagues made it a point to tell me what a delightful inspection he had with San Rafael, when he was expecting the worst.  If you’re still having issues, I do want to know.

MAR CEO Andy Fegley and I will be meeting with San Rafael again next week…a meeting they asked for.  They have asked us to bring any suggestions for improving their process.  My message is going to be consistent with our last meeting:  please don’t penalize homeowners for things that San Rafael missed in the past.  It is San Rafael’s choice to require a resale inspection.  Since they do require it, we as the real estate community take the inspection very seriously.  As such, if the city misses something and people make the biggest financial decision of their life based upon that inspection, buyers and sellers have a reasonable expectation that the mandatory report is accurate.  If the report is inaccurate, San Rafael needs to offer a path to compliance if they missed something.

It’s as simple as that.  With all of that said, perhaps they’ve made some changes based upon our last meeting.  From where I’m sitting, the membership has been much quieter on this subject.

Housing Density– Larkspur SMART Station Area Plan

As I mentioned about a month ago, MAR has drafted and passed a housing density policy statement, which you can read right here <link>.  A few weeks ago, MAR’s Local Candidate Recommendation Committee met with both Supervisor Susan Adams and San Rafael Councilman Damon Connelly, who are running for Supervisor in District 1 (most of San Rafael from Central San Rafael north).  We also met with Supervisor Judy Arnold who is running for re-election in District 5 (Novato).  Supervisor Arnold’s opponent, MAR member Toni Shroyer, elected to not visit with MAR.

As you might imagine, much of the discussion focused on housing, housing density, and the vision for Marin going forward.  We asked all the candidates about their thoughts on the big density issue on the table right now, the development plan for the Larkspur Landing, ferry terminal and SMART train station.  Up to 900+ units.  The “Larkspur SMART Station Area Plan.”  The Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) for this project is open for public comment until early June.  The decision on what to do rests on the shoulders of the Larkspur Town Council.  Here is the link to the plan, as well as instructions for offering your comments:

MAR took a position last summer in opposition to Plan Bay Area, because of the top-down planning approach it favored, rather than local control.   MAR is in favor of local control.

So here we are…local control time.  There was a spirited, standing room only community meeting this past Saturday at Bacich School in Kentfield, with supervisor Katie Rice in attendance.  The challenge that Supervisor Rice is facing…a challenge that every resident of Ross Valley is facing…is the same challenge that every resident of Marin who drives on 101 is facing:  namely, this proposed development is going to affect every one of us.  It’s going to be decided by the Honorable Larkspur Town Council, the elected leaders of Larkspur’s 12,000+ residents.  But it’s going to affect all of us, from a traffic, parking, water and sewage standpoint.

With that as the premise, we asked the Supervisor candidates their opinions about this plan.  All were quite wary based upon the past year’s public dialogue.  The only countywide agency with a stake in the decision is the Transportation Authority of Marin.  But ultimately it will be up to Larkspur.

The Environmental Impact Report public comment period goes until June 2nd.  MAR will be encouraging the Larkspur Town Council to consider the impact of this project on the county at large.  MAR encouraged the Supervisor candidates to take into consideration the county-wide impacts, and to offer input when appropriate.

And MAR encourages you, our members, to make your voices heard on the subject.  The public comment period is open.  Please comment on it.  This proposed project is going to affect all of us, so please weigh in with your thoughts.

More on Sewer Laterals

Briefly, in addition to the Mill Valley Area covered by the Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin (SASM), now it seems that Ross Valley Sanitary District (RVSD) is also now considering point-of-sale sewer lateral inspections.  At their meeting last week, it was brought up as an advisory matter.  MAR has shared the rationale of its opposition to point-of-sale inspections with both agencies.  After receiving MAR’s input, SASM postponed an advisory vote on the subject.  We shared the same feedback with RVSD last week.

This subject could quickly morph into something very, very large as it relates to the Marin real estate community’s ability to conduct business in arguably the county’s largest economic driver.

Stay tuned.  As I like to say, we are on it.

That’s all for now, next week I’ll have a report from CAR for you.

I wish you a safe and prosperous week.