Mill Valley sets summit on workforce housing
Updated: Jun 2, 2018
POSTED: 11/26/17, 2:07 PM PST | UPDATED: ON 11/28/2017
Author: Adrian Rodriguez
Publication: Marin Independent Journal
Mill Valley Mayor Jessica Sloan said the city is eager to find ways to “expand our housing stock.” (IJ photo)
Facing an increasing housing crisis, Mill Valley city leaders are developing a plan to maintain, enhance and create affordable housing for the local workforce.
Mayor Jessica Sloan said addressing affordable housing has been a priority of hers since she ran for the council in 2013. Now that the city has enacted an affordable housing ordinance and impact fee, city officials are hosting a housing summit to discuss how it can use its affordable housing trust fund to tackle the issue.
The panel discussion is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Mill Valley Community Center at 180 Camino Alto.
“The immediate goal is to share information, hear from experts working on the issue and then really hear from the community,” Sloan said. “We want to talk about the various options and work with the community to find out what is the best way for us to move forward and expand our housing stock.”
In August, the Mill Valley City Council voted unanimously to reaffirm its affordable housing ordinance, which includes a city fee that would be applied to all new housing projects and remodels costing $100,000 or more. The fee will equal 1 percent of the project’s construction cost, and will take effect Nov. 1, 2018. The cost of a second-unit project, designed to provide affordable housing, would be exempt from the fee.
City planners estimate that the fee would generate about $375,000 annually, which would be fed into an affordable housing trust fund.
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.
The median price for a single-family home in Marin is more than $1.23 million and at that price only 18 percent of Marin households can afford to buy, according to a recent report by the California Association of Realtors.
In its third-quarter affordability report, the association found that Marin households would require a minimum annual income of $247,130 to purchase a median-priced home in Marin.
The association also reported that Marin’s market is among the six least affordable in the state.
“We have folks in town making the median income only able to afford half of what a house is worth,” Sloan said. “The housing market has outpaced the income in Marin, and about 90 percent of our workforce is living outside of the city.”
It’s been a struggle for local business owners, especially in the service industry, to hire workers, said Paula Reynolds, director of the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce.
“The commute has become a real challenge for employees and employers,” she said, noting that Mill Valley has “tremendous needs for housing.”
Dennis Klein is the chairman of a citizens’ affordable housing advocacy group and a staunch critic of the city’s affordable housing effort. He said city leaders need to be looking at 100 percent affordable housing options instead of inclusionary housing incentives.
Danielle Staude, a Mill Valley senior planner, said staff will report back to the City Council with information collected from the summit. At that point, staff could request direction for next steps.
“We want to hear public feedback on what the priorities are,” Staude said.
The housing summit will be moderated by Karen Warner, housing specialist of Karen Warner Associates. The panelists include Bruce Dorfman of Education Housing Partners/Thompson Dorfman Co.; Ric Capretta, a city planning commissioner and proprietor of Capretta Architecture; Lewis Jordan, executive director of the Marin Housing Authority; Leelee Thomas, county housing planning manager and Andrea Osgood, director of real estate development at Eden Housing.
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