Housing Density Update, Fairfax Rent Control Proposal and Novato Tour

Good morning MAR members!

I’m hopeful that all of you had a nice long holiday weekend! For those of you who left town, I hope your travels were safe. For those of you who stayed closer to home, I hope that the little secret of how nice Marin is when everyone leaves played itself out for you.

As for me, I stayed very close to the home base in Cascade Canyon. Lots of quiet time in the shade, and making the circuit between the pool, the refrigerator, and the grill. Ah, summer!

Speaking of summer, I continue to be involved in at least one death match multiple offer scenario every week. All the same buyers, week after week, competing over the same limited inventory. This is usually the quiet season, and it definitely feels that way with few new listings. But my goodness, when a nice one comes on, all the buyers are there waiting!

HOUSING DENSITY UPDATE

It is the quiet season at MAR, lots of people going on vacation, and the politics have gotten quiet as well. Last year at this time it was all-out war over Plan Bay Area, but blessedly this year there is no comparable, all encompassing issue. The density conversation goes on, however. Fairfax is having a town hall meeting next Saturday, July 12 at 1:00 to discuss its General Plan and with it the Housing Element…there is even a banner announcing it across Sir Francis Drake Blvd.

In Corte Madera, rather than face off with a jittery public closely monitoring density, the developer for the 1441 Casa Buena project scaled back his project from 138 unit to 48 townhomes. You can read about itHERE. Everyone in the neighborhood seems much happier with that number.

FAIRFAX RENT CONTROL PROPOSAL

Thanks to MAR member Diane Hoffman for bringing to my attention and to MAR’s attention the new development in Fairfax where Vice Mayor Larry Bragman is advocating for a rent control discussion in Fairfax. Marin County is currently without any local rent control ordinances, but right across both bridges rent control is alive and well in San Francisco and Berkeley. MAR is looking to learn more about Vice Mayor Bragman’s proposal, and we have alerted the California Apartment Association about this development (which they were not aware of). The matter was discussed at last week’s Town Council meeting, and will be discussed at the next meeting. Stay tuned.

SEWER LATERAL AND INCREASED ROSS VALLEY GRANT AMOUNT

The first “working group” meeting with Ross Valley Sanitary for their new point-of-sale later inspection program will be held this week, so I will report back next week on that matter.

Ross Valley Sanitary did contact me this week to try to get the word out about the increased funding and contribution limits for their lateral grant program. For many years, RVSD had a grant program that would pay 50% of the cost of a lateral replacement, up to $4,000, for a qualifying lateral. That grant was scaled back to $2,000 over the past couple of years. Good news, the program has been re-funded and the grant program is back to the old 50%/$4k level. For more info you can read about it HERE.

THE NOVATO TOUR

Finally, I want to talk about a subject for which I admit I could be better-educated: the Wednesday morning Novato buy/sell and tour. I have from time to time through the years come to the Novato Tour meeting, most often when I have a new listing to present. It’s always been a nice meeting, and it’s seemed to me that the meeting was useful. I’ve also been impressed with the cooperative team spirit among the Novato Tour attendees, and the community announcements and opportunities to give back to the community always seemed to be a step in the right direction.

Several times, I’ve wondered if we shouldn’t have a similar gathering in Central and Southern Marin.

Several weeks ago, without warning, I received three phone calls within a couple of days from members with feedback on the Novato Tour. The overwhelming message I received was that these members found it to not be useful, and poorly attended by Realtor members. Again, this was all news to me.

These members wondered if the useful life of the meeting had been exceeded. So I’m putting it out there to the membership, at least so I can discuss the matter with a level of knowledge:

Is the Novato Tour meeting useful, and a good use of everyone’s time?

While I have no real opinion on the subject, one pet peeve that I do have are the occasional new listings in Novato not being listed on the MLS broker tour, but being listed on the Novato Tour. I guess the simple answer to me is “go to the Novato Tour meeting” if I don’t want to miss some of those listings. But it’s not always convenient to get to the meeting.

My sense is that for many of you, the Novato tour is useful. For others, not as much.

MAR does not sponsor the Novato Tour meeting, so it will go on regardless of what MAR thinks. I’d just like to get a sense from membership about whether you like the tour as it is, or if you’d like to see it changed…or if you’d like to see it done away with.

I will report the findings of this admittedly unscientific poll back to the membership in the coming weeks.

That’s it for now. Stay cool, safe travels, and enjoy the summer season!

I wish you a safe and prosperous week.

Blaine Morris

2014 MAR President