Confirmed victory

Remove the San Rafael Civic Center Priority Development Area Designation

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1. Pressure and Expectations Are Set for More Urbanization than is Appropriate
This area is currently low rise and suburban and rural (Gallinas Creek) but the designation of Priority Development Area "transit town center" according to MTC’s Station Area Planning Manual means that the area is targeted for 1,800 to 6,400 additional high density housing units within 1/2 mile of the SMART station. According to page 10 of Plan Bay Area, "Setting Our Sights", 80% of all new housing units are to be concentrated in PDAs.

2. Priority Development Areas and Transit Oriented Development are Based on Flawed Science
We should not divert Terra Linda's planning based on flawed science.
a) Housing near transit will not result in the new residents taking transit as demonstrated by similar estates in Portland where 90% of residents used cars for commute and shopping trips : http://ti.org/CharlesHonolulu.pptx

3. Concentrating Housing Close to Freeways / Rail is Inappropriate for Health Reasons
The PDA designation and Plan Bay Area philosophy of placing housing near a diesel train and the overhead 101 freeway will result in significant documented health issues as detailed in these reports:
i) Yale University Study - Minorities, Poor Breathe Worse Air Pollution
ii) Harvard School of Public Health, Perinatal Air Pollutant Exposures and Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Children of Nurses’ Health Study II Participants, June 2013.
"research suggested that a mother’s exposure to high levels of certain types of air pollutants, such as metals and diesel particles, increased the risk of autism by an average of 30 percent to 50 percent, compared with women who were exposed to the lowest levels"
iii) World Health Organization, June 2012 declares diesel fumes more carcinogenic than second hand smoke.
iv) Environmental Health Perspectives Study found that "Children living about 1,000 feet from a freeway at birth — about 10% of the sample — had a two-fold increase in autism risk.".
These are just four studies by leading institutions, there are many more.

4. Marin Municipal Water District Concerns - There Isn't Enough Water
The city's own Plan Bay Area comment letter identifies that there is not enough water to meet the existing General Plan's projected growth, let alone the inflated growth targeted for PDAs. The letter states:
"our San Rafael General Plan 2020 (prepared in 2004) concludes that MMWD may not be able to meet the water supply needs for the current growth projected in the current General Plan. In response to reviewing the Plan DEIR,City staff contacted MMWD staff about the DEIR water supply assessment. MMWD staff has confirmed that the information in the Draft Plan DEIR is correct and accurate. MMWD has indicated that as a utility provider, they are required and obligated to provide service, meaning that as demand approaches the supply limit, alternatives are studied, considered and imposed including conservation measures or seeking other new sources for water."
Planning for and encouraging housing where there is no capability to deliver water is not responsible. It also contributes to the need for desalination plants which are expensive, would require considerable increases in the tax base, cause substantial emissions of CO2 during construction and operation, furthermore such facilities would be an eyesore and inappropriate in the environmentally attractive and sensitive location of Marin County.

5. Housing Targets Set by Plan Bay Area for the Area are Unrealistic
The City of San Rafael articulates in its own Plan Bay Area comment letter  that the targeted housing numbers for the city of 3,390 units exceed the maximum capacity identified by the city's own analysis of 2,500 to 3,000 units. Plan Bay Area and its agencies consistently impose unrealistic housing targets.

6. Where Will the New Residents Commute to?
While Civic Center is designated as a Priority Development Area on the assumption that residents will use the SMART train the SMART train's primary goal was to get commuters from Sonoma to Marin. North San Rafael residents will likely not commute to Downtown San Rafael via train when the drive is quicker/more convenient. Civic Center is more suited as a destination/point of arrival and not a point of origin where more accommodation should be built.

7. Housing Without Jobs Cause Social Issues
In the City of San Rafael's own Plan Bay Area comment letter of May 13th 2013 to MTC on Plan Bay Area it states that the projected job growth is "overly ambitious" (page 2, bullet #4). Housing without jobs is a recipe for increasing unemployment with commensurate associated issues. This is not good planning. Mayor Phillips has frequently conveyed goals of reducing homelessness. Adding housing without jobs, and making Terra Linda an urban environment would serve to increase homelessness bringing with it adverse community impact.

8. Ties Terra Linda into Development and a Plan Not Bought Into by the Community
The community was not sufficiently consulted or made aware that the area would be designated a Priority Development Area.

9. City's Design Review Board Objected to Heights Over 3 Storys
To achieve the necessary housing unit targets, and potentially encourage development requires buildings with heights in excess of 3 storys. The city’s own Design Review Board states that such heights are inappropriate.

10. Solution Much Better Addressed by Alternative Measures
For instance allowing second units (not just in PDAs), re-purposing of existing buildings, especially in areas without pollution/noise is a much better way of allowing for population increase.

11. Achieving Housing Goals Requires Replacement of Existing/Planned Properties with Other Purposes
To even achieve 620 of the 1,414 targeted additional housing units the Civic Center Station Area Plan had to identify several properties be rezoned to mixed use housing of up to 5 storys:
a) 3900 and 3950 Civic Center Drive and 1 Mcinnis Parkway that are existing occupied commercial buildings housing high earning jobs that generate significant revenues for the city. Parking at these locations is already near/at capacity. There is no realistic way of adding housing to these locations and providing corresponding parking without overflow and impact to adjacent neighborhoods.
b) The Christmas Tree Lot has been designated by Marin County as the future location of the farmers market

12. Existing Intersections Already at Target Capacity
The city has a target capacity of "D" for the two 101 intersections at Frietas Parkway and N San Pedro Road. These capacities have already been reached even without the addition of housing.

13. Proposed High Density Housing is Not in Demand
The proposed types of housing do not align with housing that is in demand as validated via:
-National Association of Realtors, Community Preference Study, 87% prefer single family homes (see page 4)
- 33 North San Pedro Road apartments remain largely vacant
It is far better to encourage second units and allow conversion of existing buildings from commercial to residential across the entire city of San Rafael, away from polluted locations.

14. Making the Area a PDA Opens it Up to CEQA Streamlining
The designation allows CEQA regulations to be bypassed. The community strongly believes that CEQA regulations must be adhered to. This designation diminishes and bypasses the communities ability to provide input and effectively oppose undesirable planning.

15. Civic Center is an Area Where Flooding is Foreseeable
With climate change and anticipated sea level rise the Civic Center area is a zone susceptible to flooding. Encouraging building in areas susceptible to flooding is not responsible or appropriate. It places the new residents in foreseeable peril and exacerbates flooding emergencies.

16. Unfair Concentration
The imposition of the Civic Center PDA places an unfair disproportionately high concentration of new housing, including potentially low income and affordable housing, into a highly concentrated area. The numbers of units proposed represent this small area accepting an unfair proportion of new housing for Marin causing unfair impact in terms of potential impact on services, taxes, adverse change in the character of the neighborhood.

17. Train May Be Uneconomic
The presence of the train requiring additional infill housing to justify it's existence is back to front. Marin does not have the population density to justify this train and ridership is likely to be insufficient to sustain continued operations. Additionally severe budget overrruns have occurred already resulting in the promised 70 mile track being reduced to 38 miles without any commensurate reduction in tax burden. It would be prudent not to commit housing planning to justify transit that appears highly risky that it will run and meet stated goals such as reducing CO2 emissions (likely low ridership suggest the train will be more likely to increase CO2).

18.Impact on 101 Traffic
Adding hundreds of new housing units without proportionate investments in highways is very likely to cause increased 101 congestion resulting in standing traffic and increased CO2 emissions. The logic that CO2 emissions will be reduced by such an approach do not seem to hold water.

19. Impact on Parking
Residents are especially concerned by the impact of parking by new residents. The area already has acute parking issues during frequent events (Marin County Fair, Bioneers to name but two). It is not reasonable to assume that neighborhoods can impose parking permits or gating communities (the latter is expressly forbidden due to fire regulations for at least one neighborhood).



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Richard Hall needs your help with “Mayor Phillips, Councillors Colin, Connolly, Mccullough, Heller: Remove the San Rafael Civic Center Priority Development Area Designation”. Join Richard and 505 supporters today.