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Housing Element Update, Broker’s Open House Times & MAR Installation Luncheon

Good day MAR Members!

Rain, Rain, go away…

No, dear rain, it’s actually ok to stay for a while.

Personally, I like the rain. But in general, I tend to like the sun a little better. We’re climbing back towards the black on year-to-date rain totals. This morning at the rain gauge for MMWD, which is at Lake Lagunitas, as of today we’re at 6.01″ against a ‘normal’ amount of 8.02″. That’s about 75% of normal. Last year we were at 2.62″ at this point, 32% of normal, and it took us until early February to where we are right now. It sounds like clear sunny sailing through the Thanksgiving holiday, and then more rain on tap for next weekend.

Perhaps by the time I write again we will be near a ‘normal’ level for the year-to-date, which MMWD starts counting on July 1. The only time we’ve been anywhere near ‘normal’ over the past three years or so has been the first days of the year when the normal is ‘zero’. Zero was pretty normal.

It is nice to see the hills turning green right in time for Thanksgiving. Another ‘normal’ event that has been absent the past few years. There are even some creeks starting to flow. But while it rained over an inch at Lake Lagunitas on Friday night and Saturday morning, the ground barely even got wet up in Calistoga where we spent part of the weekend. They’re only at 42% of normal in Santa Rosa, which is another good example of the extraordinary water source that Mt. Tam provides. But Mt. Tam water only goes so far and we get much of our water from the Russian River in Sonoma. So until we get the green light, let’s keep conserving our water MAR Members, and encourage our friends, family and clients to do the same.


Speaking of our water supply, the ballot counting appears to have drawn to a close from the election earlier this month. One of the more interesting races in Marin was between MMWD appointed incumbent Lisa Crosse and Fairfax Vice Mayor Larry Bragman for the Ross Valley seat on the Marin Water Board. With virtually all the votes counted, Bragman extended his lead and appears to have won with 51.6% of the votes.

Part of the election hinged on the question of using herbicides on the Mt. Tam watershed to control invasive and hard-to-control weeds like Scotch broom. While Crosse was open to continuing to explore the notion of using herbicides, Bragman’s position was ‘never’.

The other issue in the water board race related to our local water supply. Crosse was open to exploring a pipeline across the Richmond Bridge to tap state water supplies. Bragman was against this as well, contending (1) that we need to live within our water means here in Marin, and (2) that in dry years the flow of water could quite possibly flow the other way…from Marin to the East Bay. Remember, in spite of our local drought, Marin is doing far better than most of the state, and pipelines flow both ways.


In the weeks leading up to the election, one of our prominent local newspaper columnists privately predicted Bragman’s victory over Crosse, noting that it might be partly affected by the housing debate at the Marin Board of Supervisors, for whom Ms. Crosse works as an aide to one of the Supervisors. I don’t know about that, but I sure did see a lot of Bragman signs when I was in Kent Woodlands showing property before the election. You don’t usually see signs for Fairfax council members in Kent Woodlands…

As the days to the election were winding down, the Marin County Planning Commission was putting the finishing touches on the newest version of its housing element. Last Monday, the Planning Commission voted to approve a housing element with up to 419 dwellings. That’s down from the original number of 502, but still well above the minimum of 185 units mandated by California state regulations.

The process has been largely transparent, with regular items in the local papers. I’ve heard about it from MAR members and members of the public, but the outcry has been much quieter than the Plan Bay Area wars of the summer of 2013.

The housing element now goes before the Board of Supervisors, who coincidentally will be hearing a report tomorrow (Tuesday) from local economist Robert Eyler of the Marin Economic Forum about the economic impact of the Marinwood Plaza project. That project, along with the WinCup development in Corte Madera, has been ground zero on the housing element debate. As has been the case throughout this debate, my understanding is that Eyler’s report will identify plusses and minuses of the project. Incoming Supervisor Damon Connolly has said that “the best answers to guide this development come from the community.”

Strike one more for Marin advocating for local control. This will continue to be interesting as it unfolds.


Earlier this year, I took the lead from several MAR members and reminded all of us about Wednesday and Thursday broker’s open times. There was a large and unanimous “thank you” from the members in my email inbox, and to me directly when I saw you. Several of you have asked and I think it bears mentioning again.

Years ago, there was a blue ribbon panel assembled at MAR to look at this very subject: conforming broker’s open times to increase the productivity of everyone. Many members of that task force thanked me for bringing up the subject again.

To summarize, what the panel came up with is as follows:

Novato: Wednesday morning, 9:30 AM-12:30 PM.

Southern Marin: Wednesday 10:30 AM-2:00 PM

Central Marin: Thursday 10:30 AM-2:00 PM

This arrangement seems to have largely worked for many years. Having said that, I continue to see the abbreviated broker tour. The most common deviation from the schedule above seems to be quitting at 1:00. The 11-1 broker’s open is a very popular option.

To which I say: it’s not all about you, Mr./Ms. Broker’s Open host.   Broker’s open attendees have schedules and lives too. Sometimes there are inspections and they can’t get out until noon…or whatever.

Members often have to make hard decisions at 12:30 about which open house to cross off the list to make it to the important one that ends at 1:00. Or having to drive across the county to make one before it closes. It’s not as tough now that we’re in the quiet season of the Holidays, but I assure you that once the Super Bowl is over and we’re heading into the busy season it will become troublesome again.

So, please, try to stay open until 2:00 the first week. And a special thank you to those of you who have been staying open until 2:30 for your outlying and hilltop broker’s open houses.

As we gather with friends and family over the Thanksgiving holiday, let’s remember how blessed we are here living and working in beautiful Marin. If you’re traveling, be safe! And thank you MAR, for the opportunity to serve as your President this year.


Another reminder before we enter the busy Holiday Season about MAR’s annual Installation Luncheon onTuesday, December 9th. We will be installing Matt Hughes as our 2015 MAR President, along with the rest of his leadership team. CAR rising star Imran Polodi will be officiating the installation, and he is always a super interesting speaker as the Chairman of CAR’s Young Professionals Network forum. Plus we will have MAR Member Kevin Patsel as the Master of Ceremonies. Marin’s Women’s Council of Realtors will also be joining with us and installing MAR Member John Zeiter as its 2015 Marin WCR President.

Click HERE to register, and please help us spread the word about this terrific event.

Sign up HERE for December 9th Holiday Party.


That’s it for now!  Happy Turkey Day.  Gobble Gobble!

I wish you a safe and prosperous week.


Blaine Morris

2014 President