May perhaps 31, 2021

Marin County, the suburban enclave north of the Golden Gate bridge, is not interested in possessing riff-raff — indicating ordinary Californians — despoil its bucolic ambience.

For the previous 50 percent-century, Marin’s incredibly affluent citizens and their politicians have waged a largely successful marketing campaign, below the guise of environmental consciousness, to slow populace expansion to a trickle by letting incredibly small new housing to be constructed.

Involving 1970, when anti-growth sentiment to start with appeared, and 2010, the county’s inhabitants grew by just 22.5% while California’s over-all inhabitants expanded four occasions as speedy, 89.3%. In the final decade, Marin’s inhabitants grew by just 8,000.

The county’s exclusionary angle has made it a concentrate on for the state’s attempts to deal with a serious absence of housing by ramping up development. The condition Department of Housing and Community Development’s quotas on nearby governments to program for housing above the up coming eight several years translate into 14,400 models for Marin, or adequate for about 40,000 new people, most with minimal to reasonable incomes.

That variety is surprising to Marin’s people and leaders, because the county has added just 54,000 people today to its inhabitants in the very last 50 %-century.

7 a long time back, the county’s legislators carried legislation providing Marin a partial exemption from state housing quotas and past 12 months a 5-12 months extension of Marin’s specific remedy was buried in a condition finances “trailer invoice” signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Marin County resident just before turning out to be governor.

However, Marin is experience the force to close its quasi-moratorium on housing, and may possibly be returning to an previous tactic in reaction — h2o supply.

For the duration of the 1970s, the county deliberately prevented creating new drinking water materials. In 1971, 89% of voters rejected a proposed aqueduct from the Russian River and two many years afterwards a very similar measure was defeated yet again.

Whilst a deficiency of trusted drinking water was a effortless rationale for steering clear of new housing, it backfired when a drought struck in the mid-1970s, leaving Marin not able to provide its latest population.

The disaster was averted by the crisis construction of a 6-mile-lengthy pipeline around the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, which attained Marin scorn in the media.

“Indeed in fact, Marin County residents will have more than enough h2o now to fill their canteens when they go on their protest marches to prevent damming of individuals wild rivers they feel to adore so a great deal,” the Oakland Tribune claimed in an editorial.

Afrterward, Marin made some improvements to its drinking water storage capabilities, but remained dependent on rainfall alternatively than connecting to one of the state’s larger sized h2o suppliers, which would have lessened Marin’s means to shun housing.

Drought has yet again descended on the state and Marin’s primary h2o company has imposed rationing, is contemplating irrespective of whether to look for yet another pipeline, and is on the verge of banning any new h2o hookups, which would bring housing design, currently scant, to a standstill.

Marin is an instance of how community communities that truly you should not want the new housing that California desperately needs, in particular housing for minimal- and moderate-revenue households, block it by means of oblique techniques.

Even were Marin to zone plenty of land to satisfy the state’s quota, unique housing developments could nevertheless be blocked by a refusal to source h2o. In other communities, style and design demands this kind of as parking areas are often employed to make initiatives economically unfeasible. In continue to many others, developments are held up by misuse of the California Environmental Excellent Act.

It is a little something of a guerilla war, with the state pushing Marin and other communities to settle for much more housing than they want and nearby leaders figuring out new means to evade the mandates.

CalMatters is a general public fascination journalism enterprise committed to detailing how California’s condition Capitol performs and why it issues.

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