Linda Bine ARK Letter to the Editor – July 20, 2022
Belvedere should reject Mallard Pointe, work on subsidies for better plan
Last week’s Ark offered a satisfying assortment of food for thought for residents serious about increasing affordable housing in Belvedere, Tiburon and throughout Marin County.
The appetizer was your article noting that Tiburon’s eight-year housing plan identified sites for up to 800 new units (“Public gets draft of housing roadmap,” front page). But this was accompanied by a large dash of reality from the Marin civil grand jury’s report: “Cities and counties do not build housing, developers do” (“Grand jury calls for countywide collaboration,” pg. 9).
The next course was Carol Hannon’s letter (pg. 3) pondering why the Mallard Pointe developers aren’t proposing even the minimum number of affordable units required by state law. This was followed by the likely answer: The grand jury’s conclusion that “most developers typically build market-rate housing because it is more profitable.”
Their report also acknowledged that, “with the high costs of land and construction in Marin, it is nearly impossible to build affordable housing without subsidies,” which is why “almost all new affordable housing in Marin is built by specialized nonprofits” — not developers, like Mallard Pointe’s Thompson Dorfman, that are profit driven.
The main course also was served by the grand jury, with their recommendation that Tiburon, Belvedere and “the county’s nine other cities and towns … collaborate with Marin to establish a regional authority to address affordable and workforce housing,” therefore, gaining access to the $7 billion in funding recently allocated by the state for housing-related programs, as well as a variety of other grant and subsidy opportunities.
It would be a sweet ending, indeed, if the city of Belvedere would reject Mallard Pointe’s proposal because, as noted separately in Dave Parquet’s letter, apartment houses are prohibited in its R-2 zone. Additionally, both Belvedere and Tiburon should actively participate in establishing a countywide approach to create a meaningful amount of affordable housing.
Perhaps with the generous subsidies such a coordinated effort would enable, a nonprofit developer could replace the current 22 market- rate duplexes on Mallard Road, not with four skimpy affordable units in a 23-unit apartment building, but with 48 affordable duplex units — by using a plan like the shown in the public comments section of Belvedere’s Mallard Pointe website.
— Linda Bine, Belvedere
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