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“It’s On with SASM”, Housing Density Bill AB-1537 Faces Uncertain Outcome in the Senate – MAR Monday Memo 06/02/14

Good morning MAR members!

Back to the regular work week today, after last week’s nice 4-day version, which followed the ever-popular three-day-weekend.  There is certainly something in the air…it sure feels like summer!

A short memo this week to commemorate the start of my favorite time of year.

First of all, don’t forget to vote tomorrow.  The REALTOR Party needs you out there, doing your part to participate in the most important part our democracy.  It doesn’t matter what your opinion is, just get out there and make your voice heard.  Did you know that in California there are more than 36,000 REALTORS who are not registered to vote?  I find that really hard to believe, and I hope very much that we have a disproportionately small share here in Marin.  Hopefully, you’re registered to vote…now get out there and vote tomorrow!  And if you’re not registered to vote, here’s where you can change that right now:  <<>>

The first thing to bring to your attention this week is that “it’s ON with SASM.”  That’s the text I received last week from MAR CEO Andy Fegley.  SASM is the Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin.  SASM is working on draft policy to take to its individual sanitary districts in and around Mill Valley mandating point-of-sale sewer lateral inspections which will result in mandatory repairs.

SASM knows that MAR is 100% opposed to point of sale ordinances.  CEO Fegley has been meeting with the district’s leadership, advocating for an approach to fixing this problem that won’t take 50 years to solve.  50 years is how long it takes for all the homes to turn over in Mill Valley.  We’ve told them that “best practice” by REALTOR members generally includes a sewer lateral inspection during an escrow, and that inserting the government into this escrow process is horribly, horribly unproductive.

Just talk to our colleagues who sell properties in Sausalito and they will tell you all you need to know about sanitary district policy run amuck.

I’ll keep you in the loop on MAR’s efforts.  Frankly, this is going to be a hot topic throughout Marin, as the Ross Valley Sanitary District is looking to mandate the same point-of-sale ordinance…they’re just not as far along.  NAR and CAR will both support us in this effort to advocate for a more real and holistic solution other than making REALTORS responsible to solve their agencies’ infrastructure problems.

On to the ongoing housing density front.  MAR CEO Andy Fegley, Past President Kay Moore and I visited with Supervisor Kate Sears last Friday.  Supervisor Sears represents Kay Moore’s district and she is the 2014 President of the Marin Board of Supervisors.  We were brainstorming on how to help advance AB1537, which is Assemblyman Marc Levine’s bill to reduce the default density of Marin from “Metropolitan” and 30-units-per-acre to “Suburban” and 20-units-per-acre.  This bill recently passed the Assembly on a strong bipartisan vote of 62-4.  Supervisor Sears testified in favor of the bill at Assembly committee hearings at the end of April, along with CEO Fegley and myself.

Now the bill faces an uncertain outcome in the Senate, where the senior staffer on the Senate Housing Committee seems particularly unfavorable to the bill.  Another issue is that right now, and for nearly the past two years, Marin has been without representation at the state Senate.  Did you know that?  Redistricting that occurred a couple of years ago resulted in Marin not having a state Senator for two years.  And we won’t have a Senator until we finally elect one in November.  More on that later.  In the meantime, MAR has maintained a positive relationship with Senator Noreen Evans from Sonoma County.  She has been acting in something of a caretaker role for our orphaned county.

Net-net, we have to push a bill through the Senate without our own Senator.  I knew we were in this orphaned state.  That fact came up last year when MAR was advocating for the passage of SB30, which was the state tax relief bill for sellers of distressed properties.  Senator Evans offered her support on that bill.  It never really hit home with me, however, until right now.  We are reaching out to Senator Evans again, and we’re working with Assemblyman Levine and the Board of Supervisors to work to shepherd this bill through the Senate.

I reminded Supervisor Sears about Governor Jerry Brown’s comments to the 3,000 REALTORS on hand at CAR Legislative Day in Sacramento on April 30th.  The Governor advocated for local control to the REALTORS:  “People in Modoc do things differently than people in Berkeley…let them make their own decisions.”  My sense is that Governor Brown is worried about other things than a bill on housing density here in Marin.  But since the Governor appointed Supervisor Sears to her seat when the late Supervisor Charles McGlashan passed away in 2011, I figured she must know someone on his staff, and who knows how that might help?

The two-year Legislative calendar concludes at the end of August.  If AB1537 doesn’t pass the Senate by then, it’s back to square one when the Legislature convenes for a new session next year.  And the Legislature is on recess the whole month of July.  So we’ve really just got June and the first couple of weeks in August to get this bill through the Senate.  MAR intends to testify once again at the not-yet-calendared committee hearings.  I’ll keep you informed of our progress.

Finally, I want to plant the seed that now is the time to think about getting involved at MAR next year.  More on this next week, as Nominating Committee Chairperson Judy LeMarr will be leading the process.  If you’ve wanted to serve on a committee, chair a committee, or be on the Board of Directors, the process for next year will unfold in the coming months.  It’s a richly rewarding opportunity to serve your colleagues and your community.  And it’s good for business!

That’s it for now.

I wish you a safe and prosperous week!