Mallard Pointe Project
As described in Thompson-Dorfman’s final application, the proposed project would:
All current renters: seniors, singles, and young families living in 22 units (nine duplexes and one fourplex) would be displaced when these buildings are demolished. These two-bedroom rentals were built when the lagoon was developed to provide rental housing for people of different ages and stages of life.
Six lagoon-fronting, single-family residences (one with an accessory dwelling unit, or ADU), five lagoon-fronting duplexes (10 units), and a block-long, multistory apartment building (23 units). The apartment building would be two stories on top of a partially subterranean garage and would include a roof deck.
The drawings submitted by the developer show that the mansard ridge on the apartment house would have an elevation of 39’6”, and a single room that extends an additional 6’6” - 7’6” above the mansard ridge.
The Impacts of the Mallard Pointe Project
The Mallard Pointe Project would pose a threat to the quality of life and environment for the inhabitants of Belvedere. Learn more about the impacts of the largest proposed residential demolition and redevelopment project in the city’s history.
Frequently Asked Questions
Mallard Pointe. Is it good for Belvedere?
We’re your neighbors and friends, and we don’t think it is.
What is being proposed?
The developer has proposed building a large subdivision that includes six large lagoon-fronting single-family homes (one with an accessory dwelling unit, or ADU), five townhouse-style duplex rental homes (ten homes), a large multi-story apartment building with 23 units, and a partial-subterranean garage.)
What is BRIG? Why does BRIG object to this project?
BRIG is Belvedere Residents for Intelligent Growth. We’re a grassroots group of your neighbors and friends. We’ve been studying the proposal and have serious concerns about the potential impacts on local flood control, zoning consistency, and soil stability that could be caused by this large-scale waterfront subdivision. Traffic; parking; noise; the environment; safety for children, pedestrians, and pets; services; and water will all be adversely impacted. We also share the stress of our neighbors who face eviction from their rental homes if the existing structures are demolished. To quote the developer, “This is the Manhattanization of Belvedere.”
What does current R-2 zoning allow?
Current zoning allows single-family homes or duplexes in the R-2 zone. Apartment buildings are strictly prohibited in the R-2 zone. The developer disputes this, but, in our view, without legal foundation.
Is this an affordable housing development?
Don’t be fooled by the developer’s sales pitches! In its May 24, 2022 application submittal, the developer provided only four below-market-rate units—one “very low-income” unit (2-bedrooms) and three “low-income” units (one with one bedroom and two with two bedrooms). This means that of the total 42 new units included at the time in the project, only four qualified as “affordable.” In its June 23, 2022 “completeness review letter,” the City stated: “The proposed very low-income unit equals only two percent of the total number of units and is insufficient to establish eligibility for a density bonus; three very low-income units would be required. Similarly, the four lower income units provided (total of very low- and low-income units) is less than 10 percent of the “total units,” as defined by the statute; five lower income units are required to be eligible for a density bonus. Accordingly, the project as proposed is not eligible for the requested waivers and concessions, and they cannot be approved by the City.” In response to the City’s June 23 letter the developer, by letter dated July 15, advised that it was not going to add a fifth lower income unit, but was instead going to remove two accessory dwelling units (ADUs) from the project (thereby reducing the project from 42 to 40 units). The developer did this in an effort to achieve the 10% threshold needed to establish eligibility for the requested waivers and concessions. The City has not yet responded to the developer’s July 15 letter, and may hold off doing so for up to 60 days.
Bottom line: One thing is clear. The developer has been, and continues to be, unwilling to provide any more than the bare minimum number of below-market-rate units absolutely necessary to gain benefits under state law.
Isn’t BRIG just anti-progress?
No, we’re all for progress, but progress that makes sense. We worked with the City of Belvedere to create the new Objective Design and Development Standards (ODDS) and to ensure we meet our state-mandated affordable housing goals in a way that is environmentally sustainable and protective of the rights of existing residents and rent-paying tenants.
The developer claims that the current buildings are decrepit, run-down, and poorly maintained. There is no option other than to tear them down, right?
Notably, this is not how the developer portrays these same duplex units when it offers them to the general public for rent. Rather, it describes them as:
Mallard Pointe is a unique waterfront community featuring 22 light-filled, 2-bedroom cottages located in Belvedere, California. Our lagoon-front residences feature spacious outdoor living, waterfront views, a private dock, and private garage. Many of the residences have been recently renovated with vaulted ceilings, chef's kitchens, stainless steel appliances, fireplaces, full-size in-home laundry, and hardwood flooring.
Enjoy a short walk along tree-lined streets to Tiburon’s charming Main Street to enjoy exceptional dining and shopping, or stroll along Belvedere Cove past the historic San Francisco and Corinthian yacht clubs. Hop on the Tiburon Ferry for a relaxing trip to San Francisco in just 30 minutes, or take advantage of Marin County's exceptional hiking, boating, and waterfront pathways right out your front door. Mallard Pointe offers an extraordinary living environment in a luxury waterfront location unmatched in the Bay Area.
It is thus beyond dispute that the developer sometimes speaks out of both sides of its mouth. It portrays the existing duplexes as rag-tag housing when it describes them to the City, but as a “luxury waterfront location” when offering them for rent to prospective tenants. In other words, it changes its narrative to fit its audience. Can this developer be trusted to always tell the truth? What do you think?
The developer’s “Design Review Application” represents that there would be no adverse impact on views, vistas, noise, change in demand for municipal services (police, fire, water, sewage, etc.), or substantially increase fossil fuel consumption. Is that right?
The developer’s application checked “no” to 13 of 14 questions (20-33) on these topics. Here’s just one example where its submission falls short of the facts. The proposed apartment building is designed with a substantially large roof deck that would create noise and privacy issues for lagoon residents. We are also extremely concerned that the height of the proposed new lagoon-fronting single-family residences and duplexes, due to the developer’s strategy to pursue an aggressive and disruptive improvement plan that would trigger certain FEMA flood zone height requirements, would make lighting and reflective light a challenge of significant concern to many of the neighbors. It is also hard to understand how a project that goes from 20,000 square feet to over 90,000 square feet would not substantially increase fossil fuel consumption. And the list goes on and on… Ask yourself: Can you trust this developer to always be truthful? You decide.
Who lives at Mallard Pointe now?
The 22 duplex rentals there now are all small two-bedroom homes with gardens and carports. The Belvedere Land Company built these units as part of a mixed planned development on the lagoon and they’ve provided much-needed small housing in Belvedere for many years. The renters are seniors, singles, and young families, and these residents will all be forced to leave once the development is demolished.
What are the next steps?
In a letter dated June 23, 2022, the City notified the developer that its revised and resubmitted application “contains all of the items listed in the City’s application forms and is therefore found to be complete.” This was simply an acknowledgment that the developer had submitted all documentation required by the City’s checklist. It was not an acknowledgment that the information submitted was accurate or complete, or that the City agreed with the developer’s claims.
The Belvedere Planning Department staff and consultants, led by Planning Director Irene Borba, then conducted a 30-day substantive review of the application to determine whether the project, as proposed, was consistent with “adopted City plans, policies, ordinances, standards, and code requirements.”
This is where BRIG came in. To assist the City during its compliance review, on July 1 BRIG submitted a comprehensive legal opinion by our counsel. You can read it under Expert Opinions/Legal Opinions on this website. Counsel’s opinion concludes that: (i) The proposed apartment house is expressly prohibited by Belvedere’s Zoning Ordinance; (ii) The prohibition on apartment houses is consistent with Belvedere’s General Plan and is therefore enforceable; (iii) The City is not required by state law to waive the apartment house prohibition; and (iv) Because the project is not consistent with the Zoning Ordinance, it may not lawfully be approved under the streamlined process provided by state law (SB 330).
In a letter dated July 20, 2022, the City advised the developer that the proposed project was, in numerous respects, inconsistent with “adopted City plans, policies, ordinances, standards, and code requirements.” Of particular note, the City found that the proposed apartment house is expressly prohibited by Belvedere’s Zoning Ordinance. This is an important win for BRIG. The City has not yet, however, determined whether it is required by state law to waive this apartment house prohibition. The developer claims that it is, and BRIG claims that it is not. City staff is expected to resolve this legal dispute, at least preliminarily, when it completes its review of the developer’s July 15 project revision to eliminate two ADUs. Ultimately, it will fall on the City Council to resolve the matter.
What can I do about it?
Join BRIG and we’ll keep you updated about actions you can take to make a difference. In the meantime…
- Spread the word to your neighbors and friends
- Become active in BRIG
- Sign up on the cityofbelvedere.org website to receive updates
- Write the Planning Commission with your concerns
- Voice your specific objections to the City Council
- Attend City Council and Planning Commission meetings
- Write a letter to The Ark in opposition to the subdivision
- Visit www.brig94920.com for information, dates, and actions
Stand up for Belvedere. Consistent pressure needs to be applied now.
City Council Members: Mayor Sally Wilkinson, Council members James Campbell, Nancy Kemnitzer, Jim Lynch, and Peter Mark at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Planning Commissioners: Chair Patricia Carapiet, Nena Hart, Larry Stoehr, Ashley Johnson, Marsha Lasky, Claire Slaymaker at: email@example.com