‘Greenbelt’ Report Urges Marin to Protect Open Space

By Mark Prado for the Marin Independent Journal

Marin is growing more green and has the highest percentage of land protected from development in the Bay Area, but still faces pressure to build housing, according to a new report by Greenbelt Alliance, a San Francisco-based open space advocacy group.

Marin County has 58 percent of its 333,000 acres protected from development. That is a 2 percent increase since the Greenbelt Alliance’s last report in 2012.

The county has 11,600 total acres that could be developed. Of that 2,400 acres are likely to be built on in the next 10 years, according to the report, “At Risk: The Bay Area Greenbelt,” released today.

The largest area that could be developed is the Silveira-St.Vincent’s property, the 1,200-acre greenway bounded by San Pablo Bay and Highway 101 between San Rafael and Novato.

Marin’s Countywide Plan allows for more than 200 units on the site, the report states. While earlier proposals planned to cluster homes and prioritize open space, new discussions include spreading out homes over the site.

“That will not happen immediately, but there is a medium-term risk there,” said Teri Shore, the alliance’s North Bay regional director. “There is the potential for affordable housing there.”

The 2007 Countywide Plan allows for 221 dwelling units for the combined St. Vincent’s and Silveira sites, and 100 of those must be priced for low- or very-low-income households. However, the plan does allow for a slightly higher number of units if they are for senior housing that doesn’t increase traffic in the area.

The report acknowledges the county needs more affordable housing.

“Marin County’s greatest environmental challenge is building homes for workers who cannot afford to live there,” the report reads. “The lack of affordable homes close to jobs puts sprawl pressure on outlying areas, and as of 2014, 68,000 people or 62 percent of the workforce, drove in every day.”

To continue reading, visit http://bayareane.ws/2kOTT4n.

This article was originally published by the Marin Independent Journal.

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