This policy option represents an ongoing strategy of CDA. Staff continues to collaborate with community partners to identify and assess the feasibility of properties for acquisition; several properties are currently under consideration. The collaborative effort has benefited from real estate professionals that offer their services pro bono to identify potential multi-family acquisition opportunities prior to or at the time that such properties are placed on the open market. To expedite the property vetting process, staff is exploring the possibility of partnering with a local organization to engage a neutral and locally-informed professional to assist in the preparation of feasibility analyses and budgets, to identify short and long-term expenses, and to explore creative financing solutions as needed. Staff is partnering with the Marin Community Foundation to identify and retain an appropriate candidate. The Board Housing Subcommittee and staff will continue to work on this issue and will provide updates as this strategy progresses.
Development Code amendments for Junior Second Units.
CDA staff drafted Development Code amendments to improve and enhance the implementation of existing regulations allowing room rentals otherwise known as “junior second units.” The proposed code amendments were adopted by the Board of Supervisors.
The Board adopted amendments to establish Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (“JADU”)—in the County Development Code at a regular meeting on March 14, 2017. In compliance with State law,1 JADUs may only be created within the exterior building envelope of existing owner-occupied single-family residential structures by converting a bedroom. A JADU must have its own external door and wet bar (“efficiency kitchen”), and may not exceed five hundred square feet in size. The Local Coastal Plan must be updated before JADUs may be permitted in the Coastal Zone.
Phase II: October 2016 – February 2017
Landlord incentives program.
Marin Housing Authority (MHA) staff will draft a “landlord incentives” program offering a variety of incentives to landlords who rent to low income tenants, including those with Section 8 vouchers. The proposed program will be presented to the Board of Supervisors for consideration at a public hearing. If approved by the Board, the program will managed by MHA.
On July 26, 2016, the Board approved and funded a landlord incentives program to encourage landlords to rent to low-income tenants. Contracts to the Marin Housing Authority (MHA) and the Community Land Trust of West Marin (CLAM) were approved in the amounts of $404,000 and $46,000 respectively, to fund the administration and financing of several incentives including security deposit assistance, vacancy loss coverage, and a loss mitigation pool. Included in MHA’s contract was also $135,000 to finance incentives for the proposed voluntary rent guidelines program in the form of forgivable loans of up to $3,000 for landlords that pledge to limit rent increases for a fixed period.
Landlord Partnership Program (MHA). In its first year, MHA reported progress on the following objectives:
Increasing success and utilization rates for Housing Choice vouchers resulted in an increased amount of HUD funding for that program in 2017. MHA requests that the $135,000 of funds originally designated to fund incentives for the voluntary rent guidelines are reallocated to support continuation of the three critical Landlord Partnership Program services that have led to an increase in utilization rates: security deposit assistance, vacancy loss coverage, and a loss mitigation pool (Table B). At present, both the funds allocated for security deposit assistance and those assigned for vacancy loss mitigation are nearly expended (Table A).
Real Community Rentals (CLAM).
In the past year, CLAM has been engaged in developing affordable workforce housing in West Marin. It has provided tenant selection services for four homeowners and is shepherding three more homeowners through construction projects to convert spare bedrooms into room rentals.
In collaboration with the County, MHA, Bolinas Community Land Trust, Lilypad Homes, and the San Geronimo Valley Affordable Housing Association, CLAM developed educational materials and orchestrated a series of three workshops to advocate for the development of ADUs and room rentals as a critical tool to support affordable workforce housing on a local scale. The workshops provided an overview of the both the entitlement and construction processes and provided critical educational resources to attendees.
Ordinance to establish source of income protection.
CDA staff will draft an ordinance establishing source of income protection for renters with third-party rental subsidies, including section 8 voucher holders. The proposed ordinance will be presented to the Board of Supervisors for consideration. If adopted by the Board, the ordinance will apply to all rental housing in the unincorporated county.
The Fair Housing Ordinance eliminates limitations in the provision of rental housing against families and veterans who receive third party rental assistance. Source of income protection prevents landlords from advertising or stating a preference for certain sources of income, from charging a higher deposit based on a person’s source of income, and from treating a person differently based on their source of income. The Board adopted a Fair Housing Ordinance to establish source of income protections on November 8, 20162 and adopted amendments to eliminate exceptions for owner-occupied properties on March 21, 2017.3
Phase III: February-August 2017
Development Code amendments for second unit regulations.
CDA staff will draft Development Code amendments to help improve the approval process for second units. Concurrently, the CDA will collaborate with the Department of Public Works to conduct a parking study to evaluate parking needs for second units and other types of housing, so that any resulting recommendations can be incorporated into the proposed amendments. The proposed amendments will be presented to the Planning Commission followed by the Planning Commission’s recommendation being presented to the Board of Supervisors. If adopted as an ordinance by the Board, the amendments will apply to second units in the unincorporated county.
Comprehensive amendments to the Development Code were adopted by the Board on March 14, 2017. In compliance with new State law,4 detached ADUs may now be as large as 1200 square feet; attached ADUs designed to fit within the envelope of a single-family home may be as large as up to fifty percent of the floor area of the primary residence.2 Ord No.3656 3 Ord. No. 3667 4 SB 1069
Short-term rental regulations.
CDA staff will draft an ordinance regulating short- term rentals (i.e. “vacation rentals”) initially for the Marin County Coastal Zone. The proposed ordinance will be presented to the Planning Commission followed by the Planning Commission recommendation being presented to the Board of Supervisors at a public hearing. If adopted by the Board, the regulations will be filed with the California Coastal Commission (CCC) for review and certification. If certified by the CCC, the regulations will be brought back to the Board to be considered for applicability to the non-coastal area of unincorporated Marin. If adopted by the Board, the regulations will apply to rental housing in the unincorporated county.
At a regular hearing of the Board of Supervisors on July 18, 2017, Current Planning presented a workshop and white paper “Short-Term Rentals: A White Paper on Planning and Economic Considerations” to kick off a formal public discussion of regulatory options to mitigate or monitor this rising trend. Supervisors Rodoni and Sears have formed a Short-Term Rental Subcommittee to shepherd both the public outreach and continued research process. Staff is anticipated to return to the Board with an update in approximately four months’ time.
Evaluate multi-family land use designations
(Housing Element Program 1.b, scheduled for 2016). CDA staff will analyze existing multi-family land use designations in unincorporated Marin County, consistent with Housing Element Program 1.b. If opportunities for rezoning are identified, then any proposed changes will be presented to the Planning Commission followed by the Planning Commission’s recommendation being presented to the Board of Supervisors for consideration. The Board will review the recommendation and provide staff with direction on next steps.
Staff is engaged in an analysis of sites that are currently designated for multi-family housing. The sites will be considered independently and as a group to identify any locational trends or potential constraints to development, including evaluation from a Fair Housing perspective.
To facilitate the development of affordable housing policies that are reliable, precise, and timely, staff is researching the development of a local data source to catalog rental increases and lease terminations. Such a resource would allow staff to identify nuanced trends in Marin’s unique rental housing market and responds to interest from the Board of Supervisors and the landlord and tenant communities for more precise data on rental housing trends in Marin.
The County could function as the sole entity retaining and reporting out aggregate data only and not disclosing information on individual rental properties, thereby allaying potential privacy concerns.
This programmatic option is contingent upon identification of a County department with the capacity to administer it. Staff will continue to explore the feasibility of collecting rental cost and lease termination data, and will continue to engage the Board Housing Subcommittee for direction prior to reporting back to the full Board on this opportunity.
Amended Scope of Work August 1, 2017
In 2015, more than two thousand families and individuals used federally funded Housing Choice (“Section 8”) vouchers to rent homes throughout Marin, bringing in over $29 million dollars into the local economy. However, hundreds more families and individuals struggled to find rental housing where they could use their Section 8 vouchers in Marin County’s dynamic and competitive rental housing market. Not being able to find housing put families at risk, was a loss to the economy and contributed to the broader housing crisis in Marin County. The County is committed to leveraging this significant federal investment towards meeting the housing needs of some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.
The Landlord Partnership Program aims to expand rental opportunities for families with a voucher by making landlord participation in the program more attractive, feasible and streamlined. In addition, the Landlord Partnership program will partner with the Community Land Trust Association of West Marin (CLAM) to increase rental housing in West Marin, including renters who may not have a Section 8 housing voucher.
The program will recruit new landlords while retaining current landlords by:
Financial-based incentives could help mitigate the real and perceived risks associated with participating in the program, such as non-payment of rent and property damage, while also providing reduced costs for improvements to homes rented through the Section 8 program. In addition, non-financial incentives, including support from staff, will be key in promoting landlord participation.
The County is committed to working with our local landlords as community partners throughout the planning and implementation of this program.
Financial Based Partnership
Programmatic Shifts and Partnership
July 2016: Newsletter distributed to 1,000 landlords/property owners announcing the LPP. Press release and IJ article. Distribute Landlord Survey to obtain information that will assist MHA to provide improved partnership strategies with landlords, including launching a landlord portal.
August 2016: Launch the LPP. Landlord Liaison will meet with various landlord groups and leasing agents not currently partnering with MHA. Liaison will also reach out to those currently partnered with MHA in an effort to obtain additional units not currently under contract with MHA. The Landlord Hotline 24/7 goes live.
October 2016: Community event with landlords/property owners to introduce the LPP and launch voluntary guidelines. The event will be targeted towards new landlords/property owners in a recruitment effort.
November 2016: Present an educational workshop for landlords/property owners in collaboration with Fair Housing of Marin and California Apartment Association.
Semiannual Reports will be submitted by: (1) January 31, 2017 (2) July 17, 2017 (3) January 15, 2018 (4) July 16, 2018
TWO-YEAR PROJECT BUDGET
At a minimum, the requested funds would benefit the following numbers of households:
This attachment includes all public correspondence received as of 10:00 a.m. on July 26, 2017 for the August 1, 2017 Board of Supervisors hearing on the work plan to preserve housing affordability and prevent displacement.
From: CjK <email@example.com>
Sent: Friday, July 21, 2017 3:04 PM
To: La Rue, Debbi; Thomas, Leelee
Subject: COMMENTS & IDEAS Re: Scheduled Hearing: Progress Report on Affordable Housing Work Plan
I am glad to see you are finally standing up for the average working renters, who by Marin income standards are low-income, with some effort to reel-in the rent abuses in Marin County. However, another way is to engage property owners to reduce rents to the populace with incentives! Which if you can't stand reading my scathing commentary, is outlined below in BLUE.
As you know, keeping rents reasonable/low enough so qualified workers can remain in Marin is the biggest challenge and resulting impact of exorbitant rents. Marin has always prided itself on being one of the richest and most expensive counties in the nation. So really how is that working for you?! I'm one of the lucky ones because I got out and was able to take my job with me. But for all the other single mom's and dad's, who are working hard to pay the greed, and are stuck in Marin desperate to keep their jobs, they won't likely be so fortunate. Everyone likes to say the MARKET is the cause, but it is the greed that "always asks for more, because it will never know how much is enough."
Property investors feel they have the right to ask what ever they want and offer little in return. Which is why few rentals have air conditioning, dishwashers, and/or laundry appliances yet cost $1800- 3000/mo. Most owners just throw a coat of paint, and maybe steam the carpets before releasing units to the next tenant, with no thought of any improvements. Housing is a basic need, like food and water, not a luxury like the rental owners of Marin think it is. Is there any point when Marin County is going to take any real action? Building a few buildings for waiting list survivors isn't a solution, it isn't even a band-aid on the gaping wound of affordable housing needs. Oakland's Ghost Ship tragedy is the worst cost of unaffordable housing, and over-entitled negligent property owners. Yet, Oakland's mayor throws a $1.7 million grant out, not even the cost of one decent rental property, into the wrong bureaucratic hands to cover her re-election tracks. I hope Marin's Board of Supervisors is watching carefully, to do something more effective!
I hope you will consider these solutions:
If Marin truly wants affordable housing for families, not just seniors and the disabled crammed into cubicles, they will need to implement some guidelines, set some standards, and impose consequences for non-compliance. Property owners will scream unfair, but what is fair about forcing families out of housing. Families who rent, do so because they CAN'T buy in most cases, thus it is criminal to force them out of housing all together!
I understand property owners invest, no one is saying that they should not benefit, but gouging is not acceptable. That is what has been taking place in the most rental markets, since they have captive market of foreclosure victims. This numbers-only driven rental market creates instability in neighborhoods, and negatively affects individuals, families, owner occupied neighbors, schools, businesses and local economies...everyone wants to live well and spend reasonably within our communities so we all prosper, but it can't be done if 60-70% of our income goes to rent. I hope you will see reason in implementing some changes so that Marin can be a lovely place that people from all incomes can call home.
Thanks for your patience and for hearing me out, I wish you all the best in finding solutions and creating truly affordable housing in Marin.
Carlotta Kidd 415-578-5828 firstname.lastname@example.org 7136 Diablo Oak Court Sacramento, CA 95842
Judy Arnold, President Marin County Board of Supervisors 3501 Civic Center Drive San Rafael, CA 94903
Dear Supervisor Arnold:
The Marin Environmental Housing Collaborative strongly urges the Board of Supervisors to pursue a Just cause Eviction ordinance, to provide a sorely needed measure of fairness and stability to residential tenants in our County.
Today, landlords have the right, which we do not question, to evict their tenants who have fallen behind in their rent or breach material clauses in their rental or lease agreements. But, except for evictions that occur during the term of a binding lease, tenants don't even have a right to know why a landlord is evicting them. Rather, they have absolutely no protection from arbitrary evictions if they rent from month-to-month, or upon expiration of a longer lease. We have heard too many stories of unfair evictions from people we know personally. We know that families on month-to-month tenancies have been given 30 days' notice to vacate with no stated reason, or, sometimes, with a stated reason that the landlord needs them to vacate the premises in order to perform upgrades, when, In fact, the property owner follows up with very minor repairs (perhaps that should have been made for the now-evicted tenant), with the real goal simply to find .i new tenant willing to pay substantially more rent for basically the same housing. We know that you have and will continue to hear such stories from people who have experienced this kind of arbitrary treatment.
There are Important reasons why we need eviction protections.
Equity. At the very top of this list is equity. Lacking a Just Cause Eviction Ordinance, the property owner holds all the high cards. A local property management firm,1 seeking investors, advertises on its website2 that " since 1984, the historical annual rent averages in Marin have been on a steady increase. This trend will continue into the foreseeable future due to low unemployment, continued job creation, virtually no new construction and low vacancy rates." The website goes on: "Investors consistently profit year after year from robust property appreciation In Marin, with an average per year gain of 10%." The company lists properties it manages with annual rent incomes over one million dollars and vacancy losses of less than 1%.
In economic terms, landlords have no financial incentive to be fair with their tenants, because there are no vacancies and the tenants have nowhere else In the County they can afford to go. Equity - basic fairness - demands that the tenant should some level of protection in the rental transaction.
For the tenant, the apartment or rented house is more than shelter; It Is home. Everyone needs a safe place where they can rest every day -- a base from which they can earn a living, take care of their children and, simply. be secure. They should have the right to expect that If they follow the rules, including paying the rent on time, they will not be arbitrarily thrown out of their home. A well-drafted just cause ordinance will give tenants a level of stability that otherwise may not be there.
Displacement. A second consideration is displacement. When tenants are forced out of their homes, the unmet demand gets one-household-higher and the market gets tighter. In some cases, the evicted become homeless. In other cases, locally-employed workers move elsewhere and become part of the already congested commute back Into Marin. Some level of displacement Is inevitable, but unwarranted evictions must be avoided.
Improve habitability. Often, renters are afraid to seek even simple repairs to their home, out of fear of facing eviction. Instead, they tolerate substandard, and sometimes unsafe or unhealthy conditions rather than asking their landlords to provide decent housing in return for the rent.
We think the majority of landlords do play fair, treat their tenants with respect and evict only when absolutely necessary. A carefully drafted Just Cause Eviction Ordinance - one that sets clear standards for eviction and protects property owners from unfair claims by tenants who abuse the terms of their rental agreements - will not adversely affect them. It is needed, however, to protect tenants from the minority of property owners who don't treat renters equitably, looking at their property simply as a means to reap profits at the expense of those unable to protect themselves.
We are aware of the potential for unintended consequences. Accordingly, we urge that you to direct staff to develop options for a Just cause Eviction Ordinance so that the Board, renters, property owners and advocates on both sides of the issue can have a fully Informed discussion before a draft ordinance is proposed for adoption. Tenants deserve protection from arbitrary treatment by landlords; by the same token, landlords need clear guidelines so that they will know what is appropriate and what is not.
Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to moving forward on renter protections.