Skip to main content

Upcoming Flood Summit, Junior Second Units, Economic Forecast and a Tribute to Jon Cutler

Good day MAR members!

Happy Indian Summer to you! As I was walking my dog through the neighborhood yesterday, I couldn’t help but be taken by the glorious day…perfect weather, perfect temperature, and beautiful golden light filtering through the sycamores and big leaf maple trees which are starting to turn color early. Football weather. Whatever you want to call it, breathe it in as fall is right around to corner. Both my wife and a neighbor were saying yesterday that they were ready for some rain to come. Me too, but as I always say, if it’s going to be a drought you might as well enjoy the weather! I’ll take the weather of this sweet season any day, as the rain will be here soon enough.

It was nearly two weeks ago that I was wrapping up a super vacation to Oregon. As we made our way down the Oregon coast, I first heard the tragic news of my friend Jon Cutler’s passing. I’ve had the solemn responsibility to notify MAR’s membership of this type of sad news all year long, but never has it been someone who I knew as well and considered a real friend. News was slow to trickle in.

From the first day that I arrived at the Frank Howard Allen office in Greenbrae eleven years ago, Jon was a larger than life personality. A very loud man. A man who for a large part wore aloha shirts, shorts and low cut Converse All Stars to his daily real estate practice. A man with a very warm heart, who was born in Beverly Hills but staked his own creative path in life. A man who served his country in Vietnam. How many kids from Beverly Hills, who went to Northwestern University, also went to Vietnam? Well, probably a lot, but Jon was the only one I knew. In addition to being a REALTOR®, Jon also was a very talented writer and made a nice living doing that on the side. It was almost like real estate was his “day job”.

Jon was a man who loved his life. He took walks in the afternoon down by the water in Greenbrae. And he always had time to help me when I was getting started in the business. Ultimately, his office was right across the hall from mine until he moved his practice to Sonoma a few years ago. We shared quite a few laughs through the years. A kind hearted and gentle man. He loved cats. I shed a few tears that day on the Oregon Coast, and I’ve shed a few since. Terry Bremer, his manager in Sonoma and I joked via email about her moment of silence in the office last week. A moment of silence for the “loud one”!

A great guy. RIP Jon Cutler.


Book your seat now for the MAR Flood Summit which is at the Marin Country Club in Novato two weeks from tomorrow on September 30th. Response has been terrific, and half the seats sold out in the first couple of days last week. This will be a great event to educate us on the rapidly changing world of Marin flood zones and the complexities in securing flood insurance. I’ve had several “flood insurance deals” this year, and a couple of times the process has been horrendous.

With the base flood level elevation rising around the bay next year, more and more of our sales will be subject to flood insurance requirements. We will have a panel discussion with members of FEMA presenting the latest and greatest info, along with other industry experts. The cost is $15, and will include a continental breakfast. You can register by clicking here. You will need your NRDS ID# and the password is 1234, unless you changed it. After login, scroll down to “Other Services” and select “Register for Events” then select Flood Summit. Scroll down to “Proceed to Registration” then follow the instructions for paying with your credit card information. MAR staff can help you locate your National REALTOR® Data Service ID number.


We had a great presentation last Friday at the MAR Government Affairs Committee by Bob Brown, the Director of Community Development in Novato, who shared the emerging concept of “Junior Second Units” in Marin. A junior second unit is basically a unit in a single family home which is carved out of the existing structure. Obviously, there are lots of these already in Marin…it’s commonly called “renting out a room.” Renting out a room is already legal, of course, but Novato and other communities want to streamline the permitting process to make these “junior” units fully legal and documented. If we can do that, the plan is to use these units to contribute to the required number of new living units required by Sacramento and ABAG for each town’s Housing Element.

Parking is usually the sticking point when an owner wants to add a unit to a single family home in Marin. Bob claimed that in Novato they abate three illegal units for every legal unit that gets created. That sounds like a dwindling housing supply. The hope with this concept is that by legally adding a wet-bar-type sink, we can expedite the process and the permit fees will be negligible…like a few hundred dollars rather than the tens of thousands of dollars currently required for utility hookups. Parking is a non-issue, since the size of the house and number of bedrooms will remain the same…and parking will be assumed to be sufficient as it’s part of the existing house.

Quite a number of other towns in Marin are exploring this issue with the hope of a coordinated effort to address Sacramento and ABAG-mandated housing numbers in Marin. I think it’s a great idea. MAR does not as of yet have an official position, but the Board of Directors will be reviewing the report from the Government Affairs Committee at our next meeting.


We had a sold-out meeting last week for the MAR General Membership Meeting. The membership voted in favor of next year’s MAR Leadership Team, headed up by President-Elect Matt Hughes. The keynote presentation was by Dr. Robert Eyler, head of the Marin Economic Forum and Professor of Economics at Sonoma State University.   Dr. Eyler’s report was quite upbeat in relation to the coming years in Marin, with steady forecasted growth and continued economic strength in the Bay Area. He does believe that interest rates will start to slowly rise…but people have been saying that for a couple of years now. He didn’t share anything on the 2-3 year horizon…at least economically…that will cause rates to spike up, or any other news that will cause Bay Area housing demand to weaken. If you missed the meeting, or would like to review the report, you can check out Dr. Eyler’s presentation by clickinghere.

That’s it for now!

I wish you a safe and prosperous week!

Blaine Morris

2014 MAR President