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Marin Housing Element and Sewer Lateral Update

By December 13, 2014August 12th, 2015Uncategorized

Good day MAR members!

Great weekend if you’re a Raiders fan or a Warriors fan! For our 49er friends out there…well…let’s just say the swirling drama is at least entertaining.

At long last I can officially say that Marin is well above average for rainfall. In case you missed it, we bid goodbye to the sun on Thanksgiving day, and it’s not been spotted since. As of last week, our local reservoirs were at 93.5% of “normal” storage as of November 30th. We’ve had about six inches of rain since then, so my sense is that we’re very close to being able to flush our toilets again. I like that.

Also, there is supposedly a “monster” storm headed our way later this week. Lots of rain and lots of wind. We used to get these types of storms with some regularity, but it’s definitely been a few years. We might want to remind our newer members of the community to be prepared as the prediction is for lots of trees and branches coming down.

Now, time for one of the final installments in two of our favorite topics at MAR, housing density and sewer laterals!


Thank you to MAR member Ted Strodder for bringing an underreported bit of Marin IJ news to my attention last week. If you’re an IJ regular, you know they do cute, little, unscientific polls with some regularity. Topics include “What are you doing for the holiday weekend?”, “Who will win at Dancing With the Stars?”, and “Do you support the giant Turkey at Corte Madera Town Center?”. So take this all with a grain of salt when reviewing the results of last Monday’s poll:

“Does Marin need more high-density housing?”

The results:

Yes: 11%

Some: 6%

No: 83%

The draft Housing Element for Unincorporated Marin is before the Board of Supervisors, as it’s already been approved by the Planning Commission. The Board will be meeting tomorrow, December 9th at 1:30 to review and discuss this document.

Right after and right down the street from tomorrow’s sold-out MAR Installation.

The Marin Housing Wars of 2014 have proven to be much more polite than their 2013 version. There certainly has been an uptick recently, once it became clear that the planning commission is pushing for 419 units in the housing element…well above the Sacramento-mandated 185 units. There is also some question on what exactly a “housing unit” is; I’ve seen comments recently that a studio will count as half a unit, and a 1BR apartment will count as 2/3s of a unit, etc.

In the IJ, there have been daily, dueling op-ed columns from both sides of the argument. There are petitions circulating the county on both sides of the argument. Facebook sponsored ads. The IJ itself weighed in, politely reminding our local leaders in a recent editorial to pay attention to a public that is intent on retaining the vital “Marin-ness” of our county.

And 83% of the IJ poll respondents feel that we don’t need more high-density housing.

Marin does desperately need solutions for workforce and senior housing, but the community has loudly spoken that it wants such projects to be executed in keeping with the current flavor of our communities. MAR strongly supported Assemblyman Marc Levine in his successful effort to lower the mandatory density of affordable housing projects in Marin from 30 to 20 units per acre. MAR also passed a Housing Density Policy, which you can review HERE.

Now it’s up to the Board of Supervisors to execute the will of the people, and pass a housing element that reflects the desires of the broader community.

So keep paying attention through the holidays, MAR members! Check out tomorrow’s meeting. The MAR Board of Directors also voted to support a countywide Fair Housing conference in late January 2015…more on that later.

Many of our members have been involved in this housing density issue, well beyond MAR’s involvement, giving time and support to the conversation. Great work, MAR members!


As of now, and most likely, the Ross Valley Sanitary District will implement its sewer lateral point-of-sale ordinance on January 1st, 2015.

On Thursday, MAR received a draft version of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for the ordinance that RVSD is working on. After reviewing that document, I had a longer list of still-unanswered questions, which we’ve forwarded back to RVSD.

The issue of shared laterals played a big part in my unanswered questions. According to current code, shared laterals are no longer allowed. In order to get a Certificate of Compliance, RVSD is of the opinion that any house on a shared lateral will now have to run a new, separate lateral to the sewer main. I quickly came up with about 4-5 questions on that requirement alone. Aside from the onerous cost, there is the issue of the private property rights of neighboring properties…particularly if there is no recorded easement: In order to sell my house, I’ve got to get my neighbor to agree to dig up his or her yard? Really?

So we’re continuing to advocate for our members and property owners on this issue. Make no mistake, RVSD is intent on this implementation. Those of you with January listings will unfortunately be the “beta testers” of this policy.

The good news is that RVSD is planning on holding an open house to meet with the REALTOR community and answer questions on this implementation plan. The bad news is that it is currently scheduled for Thursday evening on December 18th. The Thursday before Christmas is a pretty tough date for anyone, and an evening meeting on sewer laterals is going to be a tough date to put on anyone’s calendar. But that’s what we have for now; we are looking for an alternative venue to move the meeting to the daytime. Stay tuned.

That’s it for now. Be careful out there in the rain and wind, and be nice while doing your holiday shopping!

I wish you a safe and prosperous week.

Blaine Morris

2014 President