I NEVER post anything of a political nature on this blog. I have other outlets for that sort of thing. But this is so California, the subject of this blog, I have to say something.
Some good folks of Marin County, very rich and very "progressive," people who pride themselves on their "concern" for others, at least when someone other than themselves is impacted by that concern, are opposing a 4 house Habitat for Humanity proposal. Why? Worries about traffic... 4 houses???!!! And the effect the project will have on their property values. Look in the dictionary under "hypocrisy."
Crowd Rips Habitat for Humanity Proposal
Jim StaatsMarin Independent Journal
Article Launched:01/17/2007 12:32:33 AM PST
A growing legion of concerned neighbors in unincorporated Strawberry voiced fear Tuesday of increased traffic and decreased home values if a Habitat for Humanity housing development comes to the Eagle Rock neighborhood.
"It's a very, very poor place to jam four more homes like a housing project," said Eagle Rock Road resident Debra Dealey. "And it diminishes the value of our homes." Dealey was among about 80 people squeezed into the tiny loft at the Strawberry Recreation Center in Mill Valley for an informational community meeting on the project moderated by the Strawberry Design Review Board. Echoing comments of several neighbors, Dealey described the entire project "out of character with our neighborhood."
The San Francisco affiliate of the international organization that builds affordable houses for low-income families has partnered with the owner of a 16.5-acre vacant lot near the intersection of North Knoll Road, Bay Vista Drive and Eagle Rock Road to build four affordable, single-family houses. The proposed units would be the county's first Habitat homes. The organization closed its Marin affiliate in the late 1990s after failing to get sufficient community support to build Habitat houses in Marin.
The property owner, Pan Pacific Ocean Inc., plans to divide the tract into seven parcels, building three market-rate single-family houses ranging in size from 6,244 square feet to 7,446 square feet on lots at the top of the sloping site. The remaining .85 acres would be used by Habitat to build four three-bedroom houses of about 1,435 square feet, including a single-car garage. Each Habitat house would be priced for a family of four with an annual income of $56,000. Habitat for Humanity San Francisco executive director Phillip Kilbridge addressed community concerns over long-term goals of its prospective homeowners. "This is not a get-rich-quick scheme," he said. "These are for households truly dedicated in making a difference in the community. The exact reasons you are living there are the reasons why we want our families to live there. We can make this four-home unit work."
Johanna Patri, acting principal planner with the county who is assigned to the project, said county officials "will be taking into consideration all the comments of the neighborhood." She said the project will then come back before the Strawberry Design Review Board. Following the design review process, the project would go before the county Planning Commission.
More than 70 residents of the neighborhood, near both Tiburon and Mill Valley, have started to band together to raise about $100,000 for attorneys' fees to fight the project. Neighborhood opposition is centered on lower property values, increased traffic and parking congestion. Ed Sotelo, 83, said his main concern was increased traffic generated by the seven new houses near an intersection he described as a "killer corner." "Whether it's a big house or a small house this is a dangerous situation," said Sotelo, a 50-year Eagle Rock resident who lives on North Knoll Road across from the proposed site.
Scott Lebus, an orthodontist whose practice is in a nearby medical building on North Knoll Road, said "those of us who work and live there know it's not a great site for new homes." "There is no question there is a severe shortage of affordable housing, but don't take a situation and make it worse to improve something else," Lebus said. Bay Vista Drive resident Bill Duane, 58, a frequent Habitat for Humanity volunteer in Florida before moving to Eagle Rock in 1999, described the project as "a good idea gone completely wrong." "To me it's totally against the intentions of Habitat for Humanity as I know it," he said before Tuesday's meeting. "The intention always was to go into a blighted neighborhood and enhance it. The end result here is the opposite. It's a lot of good intentions gone horribly wrong."