Would you pay $335 a year, every year for 30 years, to block 43 lots of single-family homes? Some Marin County residents just did that by a decisive margin, rejecting a proposed large-scale development and instead voting make it a 110-acre public park.
There has been a plan afoot to build a development on a pristine, 110-acre sprawling plot of land in Belvedere and Tiburon, a plan that the Wall Street Journal said could “pave the way for construction of the 43 homes.” Back in 2018, Curbed SF noted the enormous parcel “comes with views of the San Francisco skyline, Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge, San Rafael-Richmond Bridge, and Angel Island,” though also described how some nearby residents were suing the property owner for developing on publicly accessible land, even though the land was privately owned.
The matter has been settled, not in the courts, but at the ballot box. The Chronicle reports that residents of Belvedere and Tiburon voted a special tax upon themselves to buy the property outright and make it a public park. According to the Chronicle, Marin voters voted to “tax themselves an additional $335 each year for the next three decades to prevent the development.”
This Measure M passed 77%-23%, well exceeding the necessary two-thirds majority needed for a tax increase.
“The people of Belvedere and Tiburon voted with their pocketbooks,” Marin County Parks chief of planning Carl Somers told the Chronicle. “They want this managed as open space in their backyard, and they are willing to pay for it.”
That’s fine and all, but comes against a backdrop of state-mandated housing goals of the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA), which require a lot more housing to be built, or else risk losing a ton of funding. In San Francisco County, that’s 82,000 new units by 2031.
In Marin County, it’s only around 3,500, but this move certainly does not help the cause.
“If they are not going to build on this parcel, that means the housing has to be built someplace else,” YIMBY Action executive director Laura Foote told the Chronicle.
But it's a fair question to ask; Exactly how much housing would have been built on these 110 acres? According to the marketing site for the property, which is called Easton Point, Marin County “approved a master plan and zoning for a 43-lot subdivision of single-family homes, each sited on a minimum half acre lot.”
But those nearly four-dozen single-family homes were never guaranteed. Those very same marketing materials say that “Ultimately, a buyer could purchase Easton Point for a single private residence, avoiding the proposed subdivision process.” If that had happened, that would not go far to helping meet any state-mandated housing goals.