Mill Valley affordable housing impact fee gets green light
POSTED: 07/18/17, 6:47 PM PDT | UPDATED: ON 07/19/2017
Author: Adrian Rodriguez
Publication: Marin Independent Journal
The Mill Valley City Council this week agreed to adopt an affordable housing ordinance that establishes a fee aimed at raising money for a new affordable housing trust fund.
The council on Monday voted unanimously to introduce the ordinance that would apply a fee to renovation projects costing $100,000 or more. It would also apply to new single-family homes, replacement units and new multifamily rental developments, such as apartments and townhouse complexes.
Multifamily developments that are four units or more — for sale and rentals — would be required to offer 25 percent of those liveable spaces at “affordable” prices at the moderate or low-income bracket.
Mayor Jessica Sloan said that addressing the lack of affordable housing is “one of the most important issues facing our city.”
“We’ve made affordable housing a priority,” she said. “This is another step in the right direction to really seeing that be a reality.”
The fee would equal 1.5 percent of the project’s valuation, or construction cost. City planners estimate that the fee would generate more than $500,000 annually, which would be fed into an affordable housing trust fund.
The city considered a fee that would be calculated by charging a certain dollar amount per square foot of the project, similar to what the county of Marin does for projects in unincorporated Marin. But that would mean the fee would affect a smaller group of people, as it would only apply to about 23 to 25 projects, said Danielle Staude, senior planner.
The 1.5 percent fee based on valuation was more fair because it would apply to about 100 projects a year, she said.
The trust fund would be used for fostering affordable housing within the community, including the acquisition, construction, development, rehabilitation and maintenance, or administration of property, she said.
The city staff will plan a housing summit to solicit community input on what types of projects or programs the fund could be used to support, she said. The ordinance would also require the formation of a housing committee tasked with assisting staff with selecting housing programs and managing the fund.
While there is not a concrete plan for how the trust fund money would be spent, “collecting the fee would help us leverage potential sources of collaboration and utilizing other grants and funding of other nonprofits,” Staude said.
Resident Susan Kirsch said that the idea of a trust fund to tackle affordable housing “is not much more than a Band-Aid,” and that “it doesn’t get to the root of the problem.”
Resident Pam Raymond, who couldn’t attend the meeting, submitted a letter to the city asking that the council reconsider the ordinance. She said while she supports efforts toward affordable housing she is concerned that an affordable housing impact fee would inadvertently make housing in Mill Valley less affordable and place a financial burden on families trying to remodel their homes, among other things
“They have not even figured out what they are going to do with all this money,” she said. As for the fee, “It’s so shortsighted and it’s unfair to pick on a handful of families at random. It’s really questionably motivated.”
Sloan said that those projects costing less than $100,000 would be exempt from the fee, so that homeowners making minor improvements, such as kitchen or bathroom remodels, would not be affected by the fee.
Also, the housing summit would be an opportunity “to see what is the appetite, how the community wants to see the fund used,” Sloan said.
“What we decided to do was get this in place so that we can begin collecting fees and see how much money we are actually working with,” she said.
Councilwoman Stephanie Moulton-Peters said the ordinance is a continuation of the Mill Valley tradition “of finding ways of finding affordable housing, to protect it and to create it.”
“I think this affordable housing impact fee is our latest tool in the tool box,” she said. “And the way I look at it is, this is a way to protect (the) housing stock and ... generate funds to create new projects.”
A second reading is scheduled for the City Council’s Aug. 7 meeting.
To read original article posting, click here: http://www.marinij.com/general-news/20170718/mill-valley-affordable-housing-impact-fee-gets-green-light