Marin’s Lost Legacy: Housing Excellence

Adil Modan | NextGen Marin

Marin was once considered a leader in the housing industry, not just in the Bay Area or in California, but at a more national level. Its willingness to expand and develop new businesses, housing, and transportation peaked in the 1940’s and 50’s. During this time, Marin County saw a massive influx of wealth, as different classes of people as well as entirely different industries migrated into the county. Many efforts were made to accommodate these rapidly increasing populations. Thousands of newspaper articles were written in between the years of 1935 and 1960, proposing solutions to accommodate this massive migration. Many new housing projects were proposed . One of these projects was the Waldo Housing Projects. Projected to build 3,400 homes translating to roughly 20,000 people, it would have increased the Sausalito peninsula's population to the largest community in Marin County(Waldo Housing Project).

Although, this proposal didn’t get passed, many others did. In fact, we can see in the table, that housing development spiked from 1950 to 1980. In addition to the increases in new structures built, Marin County looked to more creative options to address the growing population. Appeals were made to convert any available rooms, garages, etc. into accessory dwelling units (Marinship Housing Need Desperate). Despite the immense pressure to accommodate this massive increase in population, Marin’s professional and creative approach attracted attention throughout the entire nation. In fact, the housing projects were consistently ranked first in the country due to their “sound housing, community needs, low cost and able administration”(Marin Housing Projects Placed First). From this growth we saw a boom in Marin County, from the building of entire school districts, transit systems, even entire towns such as Terra Linda.

However, in recent years, we have seen historic lows in housing development. The amalgamation of complicated and restrictive ordinances, lack of creativity in housing development policies, as well as constant backlash from those who do not want to see Marin change. In order to remain profitable, landlords must raise rents to offset the cost to own and rent in Marin. This creates a medium where housing is extremely limited and ridiculously expensive, to the point that 60 to 80% of people that work in Marin cannot afford to live here. As population continues to grow steadily in Marin, we are creating a dynamic where people, even our own children, have no place to live.


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