On January 24, the Marin County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing to consider adopting an updated Housing Element. The Housing Element is a plan that identifies the community’s housing needs and sets out policies and programs to meet those needs. State law requires California cities and counties to update their Housing Elements every eight years and assigns the number of new homes individual communities must plan for. The updated plan proposed over 2,200 new homes for low- and moderate-income people. As expected, there was strong opposition, but with MOC’s support, the Board of Supervisors adopted a robust Housing Element.
MOC rallied its 24 member institutions – representing over 16,000 individuals – to urge that the Supervisors adopt the Housing Element because:
- Marin is the least diverse (71% white) county in the Bay Area because we don’t integrate land use policies and practices with specific programs that remove barriers to affordable housing for people of color;
- Marin has the oldest population in the Bay Area because we don’t build housing younger families can afford;
- 38% of Marin households must pay more than they can afford for housing because we don’t build housing families can afford; and
- Over 1,000 people in Marin are homeless because we don’t have the variety of housing options affordable to all income levels.
In an unexpected development, the Marin County Planning Commission had voted to recommend that the updated Housing Element not be approved. Clearly, the scope of change proposed in the updated Housing Element was jarring for some. For decades, zoning and land use policy and practice has limited and frequently denied the construction of new housing in Marin resulting in the inequitable access to housing.
MOC had been closely monitoring developments and recognized the urgency of the situation. Over 80 MOC members wrote letters in support and many testified via Zoom at the 6-hour online hearing. The Board of Supervisors heard us and voted unanimously to adopt the updated Housing Element.
The 2023 Housing Element is a roadmap for addressing the county’s desperate need for housing, including 1,734 units for low income and 512 for moderate income residents. The adopted Housing Element includes policies and programs to combat housing discrimination, eliminate racial bias, and undo historic patterns of segregation by lifting barriers that restrict access.
MOC has an active team of Leaders advocating for affordable housing developments in all of the cities of Marin as well as the County. This work takes many hours of educating ourselves about each proposed project, but our "showing up" has resulted in a recognition that we have become a major voice for the creation of more affordable housing.