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Sustainable Growth in Marin

The Marin Board of Supervisors has, at long last, adopted a much-anticipated blueprint for managed development in unincorporated areas of Marin County.  In an effort to accomplish sustainable growth, the plan calls for preservation of the natural environment, compromise in proposed construction projects, and includes eco-friendly requirements for new development within the county.

Seven years in the making, this plan is not without controversy. While environmentalists applaud the effort, others feel the program is too restrictive and will make it difficult to meet Marin’s housing needs.  The most hotly debated issue was a compromise that reduces a proposed senior community development from an initial plan of 1,100 acres to 30 – 40 acres.  Another area of concern is that by restricting new construction (and new housing) workers will be forced to seek housing in neighboring counties, creating longer commutes – and more pollution.  Large property owners, primarily ranchers, worry that restrictions are undermining their property rights by limiting the size and number of homes that can be built on their property.

The board of supervisors insists that the plan doesn’t stop growth in Marin; it creates mindful, ecologically responsible expansion. The program anticipates that Marin will experience 1.1 million square feet of commercial developments and over 1,000 new homes over the next 30 years.  Highlights of new policies in the plan include:

  • Some new commercial development will be required to include an affordable housing component and must include incentives to encourage employees to use public transportation.
  • A “Baylands Corridor” will minimize development in the lower-lying areas of the county.
  • New residential projects of 25 or more units must be within ½ mile of a transit stop.
  • Development or major remodeling of public buildings must meet a high standard for environmentally friendly design.
In addition, support for hybrid plug-in vehicles is encouraged, as is research into efficient, sustainable use of water, and designation of affordable housing sites.

I think that this serves as a reminder to us all.  We live in such a beautiful area and we all need to do our share to help create a sustainable Marin.  For more information on how you can help, see Sustainable Marin or visit Green Living in Marin.

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