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The developer of Blithedale Terrace, not succeeding via the open and transparent public application process in the first half of 2012, then attempted to work and lobby behind the scenes to achieve his goal of building the 20 townhouse complex, rising 80 feet above street level, with both ingress and egress limited to East Blithedale, on the 1.2 acre lot opposite Gira Poli, 100 yards from the Camino Alto/East Blithedale intersection, the busiest intersection in Mill Valley. However, his “quiet” campaign was likewise unsuccessful. Consequently, the developer has recently begun considering a project with fewer units. However, his track record readily suggests that his next proposal will likely remain far from acceptable to Mill Valley residents and Friends of Kite Hill.
The developer has been having discussions with City Staff essentially seeking to establish what they believe can be approved. This is a matter of real concern because it was just this type of non-public, non-transparent developer/City Staff collaboration which got Mill Valley (MV) into this mess in the first place. Hopefully, City Staff will be extremely careful not to repeat the errors of the past. Clearly, right from the beginning, community input should be a principal driver in the development of any site of such importance to the City.
The developer also has been selectively initiating meetings with certain individuals, presumably so that he can allege that he has sought community input and has community support. However, he has not seen fit to meet with the Friends of Kite Hill which represents seven MV Neighborhood Associations, over 1,100 households, has circulated a petition in opposition to the project which has garnered over 1,200 signatures, and has retained three of the top experts in Northern California with respect to the California Environmental Quality Act, (CEQA), environmental and land use law, and traffic, so that we are very well informed and know what we’re talking about. For example, in addition to the Mill Valley Planning Commission's finding that the "Alternatives" section of the proposed project's Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) is legally deficient, the CEQA expert and attorney retained by the Friends have both advised with high confidence that the FEIR is, in fact, replete with deficiencies in other areas and clearly fails to meet CEQA legal standards on multiple grounds.
Given that the developer and his agents periodically visit this website , and to eliminate any possible misunderstanding, the Friends Of Kite Hill can nonetheless convey to him our position by reiterating here what we wrote to the Planning Commission in our letter of April 27: “To put it simply, we would like to see an alternative for this site based on its minimum reasonable density, considering site attributes and features and land value. We think the site might bear five units at most, which could be three homes and two affordable in-law units, or just five detached homes.”
To summarize, in 2012, our joint Friends of Kite Hill effort caused the developer to abandon his 20 unit proposal. But that was the easy part, given that the 20 unit proposal was patently ridiculous from the outset. The heavier lifting will come in the new year and we will continue to vigorously fight for reasonable development on the site in 2013. We expect further developments early in the New Year and will provide updates and issue calls to action as appropriate. The interest and support of so many Mill Valley residents is most gratifying and greatly appreciated. Our joint efforts are producing the desired results, albeit slowly. We must continue to be patient, resolute, firm and ready to act when appropriate. By doing so, we will prevail.
With All Best Wishes for the Holiday Season and a Happy and Successful New Year!
PS If you haven't already, please sign the petition: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/friendsofkitehill/
Spread the Word
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 25, 2012
Contact: Alan Abrams, 415-381-1784
In an unprecedented demonstration of unity, a broad coalition of community leaders and residents from five Mill Valley neighborhoods plus the Friends of Mill Valley, overwhelmingly supported by the more than 1000 households they represent, have joined together to form The Friends of Kite Hill to oppose the proposed project to build 20 houses, known as Blithedale Terrace, on the 1.2 acre open space site known as Kite Hill, just west of the East Blithedale/Camino Alto intersection. The five neighborhoods are Freeman Park, Kite Hill, Parkwood, Scott Valley, and Tamalpais Park. Over 800 Mill Valley residents have already signed the petition, either in hard copy or electronically, opposing the project, with more names being added daily.
In addition to vigorous "grassroots" activities including organizing, gathering petition signatures, writing to the Planning Commission and the City Council, and attending Planning Commission and City Council meetings, the Friends of Kite Hill have also retained expert advisors--legal, environmental, and traffic engineering--to fully inform, educate and support both the community and the City (Planning Commission and Staff), as well as to sustain its own position.
The Friends of Kite Hill believes that the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) of the project is deeply flawed and does not conform to legal guidelines, that the project would result in unacceptable adverse impacts on public safety and traffic congestion--daily gridlock--at what is already the City's most congested and subpar-rated intersection. The project proposes height, unit density and building massing that is grossly inappropriate and out of character with the surrounding neighborhoods and structures. The Friends believe the FEIR's conclusions that the project will have no significant impacts which cannot be mitigated, particularly with regard to traffic and visual criteria, are unsupported, unrealistic and without basis in fact. In contrast, in a recent public hearing, the developer's attorney warned the Mill Valley Planning Commission that it is legally bound to approve the project, a highly questionable assertion in our view, and has written a letter to the City threatening "legal recourse."
The expert advisors include attorney Rachel Mansfield-Howlett, a leading expert in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and environmental and land use law; Richard Grassetti, an environmental consultant and expert in the evaluation of EIRs; and Pang Ho, AICP, traffic consultant. These three highly qualified advisors all have extensive experience working with municipalities, and Messrs. Grassitti and Ho have done considerable work in Marin County.
The Friends of Kite Hill believe that successful opposition to this project will significantly benefit residents throughout Mill Valley, and the City overall. That is why the Friends are calling on all citizens throughout Mill Valley to join in the effort and take action by:
Dear Friends of Mill Valley,
We write to ask you to sign a petition that we believe is in the best interests of our neighborhoods and the City of Mill Valley.
Background Information: Phil Richardson, an out of town developer, is aggressively pursuing the construction of 20 townhouses rising 80 feet (the equivalent of eight stories) above street level on the 1.2 acre open space site just west of the East Blithedale/Camino Alto intersection across from Gira Polli. We anticipate that sometime this summer the Mill Valley Planning Commission, and later the City Council, will be making very important decisions which will determine whether the developer will realize his ambition.
Many Mill Valley residents believe the project would result in unacceptable adverse impacts on public safety and traffic congestion-- daily gridlock-- at what is already the City's most congested and subpar-rated intersection. Vehicles attempting to turn left and cut across East Blithedale to get in or out of the project would create another traffic safety hazard. There are also serious concerns about access for emergency vehicles. The project proposes height, unit density and building massing that is grossly inappropriate and out of character with the surrounding neighborhoods and structures, resulting in significant adverse visual impacts on those neighborhoods. Many residents have written letters to the Planning Commission expressing these and other concerns, and over 700 have signed the petition opposing the project. We know from both long and recent experience that the Planning Commission and the City Council pay serious attention to such petitions.
Call to Action: If you agree that such an over-sized development is the wrong project for this site, and you have not yet added your name to the petition, please consider doing so. We have made it very easy. Just click on the following link:
and sign the petition entitled: PETITION IN OPPOSITION TO PROPOSED BLITHEDALE TERRACE PROJECT. (Note: If the link does not work in your email application, try right clicking on it and opening the link in a new tab or window, or just simply copy and paste the link to your browser's address bar.) There is a space for "Comments" and we encourage you to include any brief comments you have about why this project is not in the best interest of Mill Valley. Please have every registered voter in your household SEPARATELY sign the online petition and forward this link to your friends and neighbors who are residents of Mill Valley. Thank you. Have a great summer!
With best regards,
Friends of Mill Valley
Marin Town Hall Meeting
The 1st Annual Marin Town Hall Meeting
Our Planning and Affordable Housing Challenges in Marin
Save the Date! Everyone Welcome!
Wednesday, March 20th 2013 - 6:30 to 9:30 P.M.
Al Boro Community Center, 50 Canal Street, San Rafael, CA 94901
Parking is limited – Please carpool if you can
Doors Open at 6:15 P.M.
Stand Up For Local Control
Support "Real" Sustainable Solutions
Learn the Truth About ABAG’s "Plan Bay Area"
Make Your Voice Heard!
Keynote Presentation by Bob Silvestri
with introduction by Toni Shroyer
Open Mic Town Hall Discussion
Citizen Marin Member Organizations
North San Rafael Coalition of Residents
Santa Venetia Neighborhood Association
Santa Margarita Neighborhood Association
San Marin Compatible Housing Coalition
Friends of Mill Valley
Novato Homeowners Association
State housing mandate foes make presence known at MCCMC’s monthly meeting
By Soren Hemmila, Marinscope Newspapers
Published: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 12:27 PM PDT
About two dozen community members opposed to housing mandates from the state turned out to give planning officials a piece of their mind at a meeting of the Marin County Council of Mayors and Councilmembers last week.
The meeting took on a surrealistic feel at times — at one point officials made public offerings of leftover tempura shrimp as citizens expressed their concerns over various issues. The MCCMC and city staff sat at tables dining while the public was stationed in an auxiliary seating area.
From Marin Independent Journal - readersmarinij.com
Supervisor Steve Kinsey states that Marin County must state the right tone in its request that the Association of Bay Area Governments seek an independent analysis of its jobs/housing numbers and that "squeaking too loudly" might backfire and other Bay Area cities might begin to balk at the One Bay Area plan.
I say bring it on and squeak loudly.
If it results in other cities questioning the One Bay Area plan and balking at ABAG's bogus numbers, then that would be great news for the voice of the people.
My guess is that this issue is finally becoming an important one for our local politicians to deal with now that they realize that there are many of us upset about this regionalization of housing/zoning control and we are organizing to fight it. But also remember, it is an election year so local politicians are tuned in to us for a change and don't want to ruffle our feathers.
By Richard Halstead
Marin Independent Journalmarinij.com
Several Marin community groups, united in their opposition to a regional planning initiative focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, have joined forces to form an organization calling itself Marin Communities Coalition for Local Control.
The coalition, which has been quietly conducting monthly meetings for close to a year, is seeking a higher profile now as it attempts to interject its issues into the political debate leading to the June 5 election. Three candidates — San Rafael Councilman Marc Levine, who is running for the 10th District state Assembly seat; and supervisorial candidates Eva Long and David Weinsoff — attended the coalition's monthly meeting last week, at the invitation of the organization's leaders.
By Dick Spotswood
Special to the IJ
A PRUDENT PERSON knows that if you don't stand up and defend yourself, your opponents will run right over you. While many Marin elected officials don't get it, Corte Madera and Larkspur's councils and Novato's neighborhood groups understand this rule.
They stood up and defended their communities' small town sense of place.
Demonstrating the benefits of aggressive push back are the most recent housing and household numbers released as part of the Association of Bay Area Government's One Bay Area state-mandated initiative to create 660,000 new Bay Area housing units.
To accomplish that goal, ABAG is trying to gut citizen control of city and county planning by imposing housing mandates on every jurisdiction in the nine-county region.
By Will Jason
Marin Independent Journal
Frustrated by what they say is a loss of local control, Corte Madera officials say they want to lead a countywide charge to break away from an agency that oversees regional land use planning.
"These are unelected people who have this personal vision of what is good for everybody else," Corte Madera Town Councilman Michael Lappert said of the Association of Bay Area Governments, a regional agency that represents all nine Bay Area counties and 101 cities and towns. "They have no check, no balance."
The Town Council voted 4-1 Tuesday to end its membership in the agency known as ABAG. Several members of the council said they want to go a step further and create a new Marin council of governments that would be independent of ABAG.
By Carol Brandt
Guest op-ed columnmarinij.com
Posted: 03/04/2012 05:19:00 AM PST
THE REPORT commissioned by the Marin Community Foundation, "A Portrait of Marin," suggests that neighborhood zoning laws be suspended and the commitment to open space preservation be set aside in order to construct high-density housing. It states that re-zoning is appropriate in locations where zoning laws were originally designed to maintain racial segregation.
To claim racial segregation was the agenda when housing was built in Marin in the '50s and '60s, is a ridiculous assumption. But then again, the report was done by a New York firm and I think it missed the mark on this and other issues in their report.