Eagerly hoping Northgate mall adds housing

POSTED: 01/26/18, 10:58 AM PST | UPDATED: ON 01/26/2018

Author: Lisa Ma

Publication: Marin Independent Journal: Marin Voice


Wow! It had been a while since I was quoted in the Marin IJ, and to have been asked my opinion on housing in Marin? I am so not an expert.

But I will be first in line for an apartment at Northgate mall.


First, a little about who we are.

We own a house in San Rafael — and we are now renters. We rented our top-of-a-hill house to a wonderful tenant and moved to a more-or-less more convenient location.

So, I have seen both sides now.

And thinking about our experience, I don’t think our story is unique.

Affordable or not, it is not easy to rent anywhere in Marin, not just in San Rafael.

Like many of you, we have priorities: We have visitors, jobs and other commitments, so we need an extra bedroom, and two bathrooms, and a place for two cars.

We are in our early 70s, and thanks to my titanium knees, I require level sidewalks, so moving to another hill or remote location is not an option. .

We have three dogs, which need to do their thing several times a day; so there needs to be a convenient place for that.

Plus! Have you ever tried to rent when you have a pet, not to say three dogs? Even dogs who have better references than your own? They have been volunteering for Marin Humane and Marin General Hospital since they were yearlings — going to schools and hospitals and libraries and convalescent homes. They have a lot of friends in high places.

Still. Good luck!

Given five-star excellent references, and dogs notwithstanding, I challenge you to find anything for less than $3,500 per month that is anywhere where a car would not be needed. Remember those volunteering dogs? Who do you think does the chauffeuring? We can’t use public transportation for that, much as I might support it in theory.

One more thing — and this is the important one.

I attended the Jan. 4 meeting of the San Rafael Citizens’ Advisory Committee on Economic Development and Affordable Housing. The representative from the new owners of Northgate mall was there to talk about their plans for the 42 acres. I was curious.

What I found interesting is that before they came to that meeting the development company sent out 30,000 postcards to a large radius around the mall, inviting people to give them their feedback. They also ran ads and posted the survey on social media.

They received nearly 4,600 responses.

They may have some ideas, but before they design what their ideas might dictate, they asked us what we want there. And they listened to the answers.

They really seemed to want to make this a successful venture.

Yes they want to make money. And yes, we might get what we want and need as well.

I will be first in line for an apartment at Northgate. I will still have great meals with family and friends in downtown San Rafael, but I won’t have to. I will probably buy my groceries at whichever store is there — hopefully a locally owned one. I will invite friends for our frequent lunches at whatever cool restaurants open there. We might attend concerts, or tea dances, or folk music, or rock in the mall’s plaza.

Maybe there’ll be onsite senior housing or a library where the dogs could do their thing.

We already visit at both the middle and high schools that are just a short walk away.

My dentist and my podiatrist have offices next door. Wouldn’t it be neat if my GP doctor had office hours there, too?

I would never have to get in a car if I didn’t want to. What a dream!

*Lisa Max is a San Rafael resident who has been involved in local sustainability and planning issues. She founded GoSolarMarin, a nonprofit coalition of San Rafael homeowners interested in purchasing solar energy. She has served on the boards of Sustainable San Rafael and the Lincoln/San Rafael Neighborhood Association.

To read original article posting, click here: http://www.marinij.com/opinion/20180126/marin-voice-eagerly-hoping-northgate-mall-adds-housing


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