Marin Co. residents to protest new housing development that will create 'nightmare situation'

Liz Kreutz Image
ByLiz Kreutz KGO logo
Tuesday, March 21, 2023
Marin Co. residents to protest new housing development
Marin City residents continue to push back on a new housing development, say the 74-unit will create a "nightmare situation" for the community.

MARIN CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- Marin City residents continue to push back on a new housing development approved by Marin County, saying the five-story, 74-unit apartment building that is set to be constructed on Drake Avenue will create a "nightmare situation" for the community.

Local community organizers have launched a petition against the project and say they plan to protest the housing development at the board of supervisors meeting Tuesday afternoon.

"It's totally unfit, inappropriate for this site," Betty Hodges Shelmire, a community activist, told ABC7 News of the project at 824 Drake Avenue. "The density of the project, the limited parking spaces, the massiveness of the project all creates safety concerns for the entire community."

The apartment development, which will be primarily made up of low-income housing, was first approved by the county in 2020 and Shelmire says the community felt blindsided. Since then, they have been trying to prevent the development, however the county says it's out of their hands.

MORE: In one of Bay Area's wealthiest cities, residents push back against mixed-income housing proposal

A new, mixed-income housing development has been proposed for the Marin County city of Belvedere, which is one of the wealthiest cities in the U.S.

"The project was previously approved in late 2020 under SB 35, a state law that removes discretionary authority from cities and counties for land use decisions involving housing development projects meeting specified criteria," Laine Hendricks, a spokesperson for Marin County, said in a statement.

She said the hearing on Tuesday is to discuss a bond for the project and not about land use approval.

But community members say they feel their voices are being ignored, something they say happens too often in Marin City -- one of the few racially diverse communities in the county.

"There's a historical disregard for Marin City and what happens here," Shelmire said.

Among the concerns is congestion. There's just one way in and out of Marin City, a community that already has the highest density of housing in the county.

MORE: Marin County approves housing project for homeless despite objection from residents

"If there's a natural disaster we won't be able to get out, nobody will be able to get out," community activist Tiawana Bullock said. "And so building additional units where we have infrastructure problems, along with one entrance, is a disaster to the community right now."

Critics also point out that while the apartment complex will have 74 units, it is slated to have just 23 parking spots. The development is directly across from the popular Rocky Graham Park, and opponents say that will likely leave many residents looking for street parking in an already over-crowded, and narrow neighborhood.

"I don't know where they're going to park," Shelmire said. "It's just going to create a nightmare situation for the area."

Shelmire said that in just the two blocks where the new apartment complex will be built, there's already 143 housing units. The new construction could double that. She questions why the development needs to be built there versus other parts of the county.

"We already are bearing the brunt of most of the affordable housing units in the unincorporated area," Shelmire said. "And Marin City is not opposed to housing. What we're opposed to is not having our voices heard about what type of houses, what type of development should be put on this site."

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