Marin County Still Has a Housing Segregation Problem
In December, Marin County supervisors once again rejected a 400-home development project at the site of the former Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Strawberry. It was the third time in six years that a developer proposed plans for the site only to be met with fierce opposition from the county’s affluent residents.
Opposition to development is a central part of Marin’s life and culture. But as this piece in the LA Times suggests, so too is a deeply concerning level of inequity.
A report from a Los-Angeles based nonprofit that examined demographic data across California found Marin County to have the largest inequities between racial groups of any county in the state. In 2009, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development also conducted a review of the federal Community Development Block Grant program administered by the county and found that Marin’s housing policies “perpetuate segregation.”
HUD says Marin County has since improved its policies -- but not enough.
"The Department's review showed that the county only developed approximately 73 affordable rental units that were made available to families with children and, unfortunately, most of these units are in areas of minority concentration," according to Anné Quesada, HUD's regional director for its Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.
"It's one thing to talk the talk and another to walk the walk," said Caroline Peattie, executive director of Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California, referring to Marin’s longstanding record of supporting progressive candidates and causes at the national level (80% of residents voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.) "Hillary Clinton is not going to force you to build an affordable housing development in your neighborhood. It's very easy to go down and vote for her. You can do that and not be touched by your vote in Marin County."
Meanwhile, proposed apartment complexes, housing projects, and highways all head for the chopping block in Marin where the median home value is $1.1 million and average rent is $4,323.
“Now, almost 85% of the county is off limits to development,” writes Liam Dillon in the L.A. Times. “At the same time, affordable housing in Marin County is all but unavailable and racial disparities and segregation continue.”