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For years many of us who understand development, affordable housing and markets have tried to inject some reason into the often hysterical argument that "We must build more and more housing and particularly affordable housing."
We've been called NIMBY's and worse if we even mentioned that the methods, pricing and financing of our "affordable housing" was misguided and likely to produce little benefit.
Yet now, when all the affordable housing advocates would have surely predicted we'd need more affordable units than ever before, the truth is there aren't even enough takers for the meager number of units we've built.
The problem these properties are facing is only partially because of "economic conditions" (the new buzzword to conveniently label every bone-headed decision , so it's not just seen for what it is - dumb).
The problem lies in the "products" everyone is so rabid to build. The problem is that GIVEN ANY REAL CHOICE AT ALL, NOBODY WANTS TO LIVE IN THEM.
Seven or eight kinds of native wildflowers are now blooming. The irrrigation system (using recycled water) was funded by the Friends of Bayfront Meadow and is now working. Special thanks to Rick Misarauca from Parks & Rec. for his help. We also continue to donate money each year to plant more wildflower seeds.
The meadow and the group's efforts were recently published in Bay Nature magazine.
Please visit our group on Facebook, "Friends of Bayfront Meadow," to see some recent photos. More will be added as the seasons progress. Better yet, please become part of the group on Facebook. No obligation!
I am writing as a concerned MV resident to urge you to not conduct a nationwide search - this seems wholly unnecessary and a waste of good (taxpayer) money. There have to be good local candidates who can handle a job like this.
In addition the idea that such a candidate gets interviewed by other planning directors in the area seems very strange and somewhat incestuous. Surely the city of Mill Valley can evaluate talent by itself?
Thank you for asking for input on the hiring process for this very important position.
First, I agree with others who have questioned the title of "Community Development Director". I understand that the title implies a higher-level position than "Planning Director", however I believe it sets the wrong tone - it suggests a development agenda, and even sounds a little oxymoronic.
We have a community. They don't necessarily want development. We have developers. They don't necessarily want community. What both want, and what has been lacking, is thoughtful planning and predictable, transparent process.
Second, I would like to underscore is the importance of finding a candidate who is aligned with Mill Valley's heart's desire: to preserve its small-town character. The idea of "small-town character" always comes up when you ask Mill Valley people what they admire most about the town - or why they moved here.
Based on my recent experience in planning, the most critical goal of Rory's replacement is to forge a consistently applied set of policies that allow homeowners to invest in design without risking arbitrary changes by the planning board.
During the February meeting, the planning department created new rules that directly contradicted those that were told to us by the planning department employees during our project. We are now spending over $10,000 on rework because we could not rely on the guidance given to us by the department prior to our submission.
The City Council and Planning Commission should set clear goals, whether for green building, offhaul, massing, or whatever, and follow them. Creating rules on the fly is an abuse of process and reduces the willingness of citizens to participate and cooperate with the city government.
Dear Ms Montgomery,
I am concerned about the appointment of a "Community Development Director" rather than a "Planning Director" to the City of Mill Valley administration. This position gives the distinct impression that the City is interested in development. Most of the citizens of Mill Valley live here because they appreciate the small town atmosphere of the "City", and are not interested in "development".
I was also surprised to find out that the panel interviewing candidates for this position does not include ordinary citizens of the community. I urge you to invite citizens who do not have a vested interest in development projects. I would also like to recommend that the job description include a preference for local candidates, and exclude professional developers or contractors.
I thought that I would drop you a note, and if I could, put a few thoughts on the table with regard to the replacement of Rory Walsh.
First, there has been a great divide between what a good portion of Mill Valley residents would like to see, and those who have been in positions of authority over the last number of years. As both the town and its city government grapple with the concept of small town, and how to maintain that character, do you think it wise to continue to use the term, "Community Development Director"? I for one, if I saw that job title, would be of the opinion, that Mill Valley was interested in someone who could step into an ongoing operation who's objective was to develop this town. Is that what you intend?
We are sure that one thing on which all Mill Valley residents agree is that the new Planning Director should share and respect the values of our community and be someone who understands that good planning begins with community values.
We want to express our strong agreement with the Friends of Mill Valley who have made the following recommendations re the hiring process:
A national search? How hard is it to find a local person. Costs and incentives just don't make sense to me. I know there are people that have a small town vision, locally. If you want to keep a small town feeling, stay local.
Come on now!
Don Sheff Spring Dr. MV
Mill Valley's Community Development Director (Planning Director), Rory Walsh, retired in December 2008 after 9 years. Anne Montgomery, our City Manager, has hired a recruiting firm to conduct a national search for her replacement, and is seeking public input by Friday March 13th.
The person in this position will have a large impact on the look and feel of Mill Valley for years to come, as this person regularly meets and negotiates with developers, with minimal guidance from our part-time volunteer elected and appointed officials. Most of us would like a Planning Director who shares and respects the values of our community, and who understands that good planning begins with community values.
Other hiring related recommendations include: