Whitney Merchant

Whitney Merchant

Objection to housing numbers misses the point

Letter to the Editor

Whitney Merchant

Editor: In response to Bob Silvestri’s letter (“Mill Valley can’t and won’t be sued over ABAG numbers”), the legal obligation to do a housing element misses the point. The housing element update is Mill Valley’s opportunity to become more sustainable by planning for our housing needs so we can take commuters off the road, reduce our carbon footprint and respond to the changing needs of our aging population.

When we do this, everyone benefits. In Marin, our workers commute farther to get to work than workers in any other Bay Area county. So it’s no surprise that 60 percent of our carbon emissions come from transportation. Few of those who serve us can afford to even rent here. Our teachers, police and fire staff, the clerks at Mill Valley Market and all the workers in the shops and restaurants that create our downtown charm have to commute from far away — contributing to our massive carbon footprint and extreme traffic congestion. Furthermore, every time there are storms, possible landslides or fires, we are at considerable risk because our public safety and public works employees who live outside the county cannot easily reach Mill Valley. We need to look at ways to allow more people who serve us to live closer by, reducing our ecological footprint and making us safer.

Without assessing need, developing policies to meet the need, and making it easier to create workforce housing at appropriate sites, a community is not truly sustainable. Let’s not do this because it’s the law. Let’s do this because we’ll create a better Mill Valley.

Whitney Merchant is the Marin Field Representative for Greenbelt Alliance.




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