St Vincent

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• St V ScopingSt V PostmortemSt Vincents Scoping meeting Sep 10thSusan Adams •

                          Alternatives for St Vincents:-
It might cost as much as $100 million, but Barbara Salzman said she thought the price tag would be less if the development option failed.

Two years ago, when the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District attempted to buy the Silveira Ranch, the fair market price was set at $75,000 an acre. At that rate, the two parcels would be worth about $90 million.

Preserving the St. Vincent's and Silveira properties would mean saving a large area of tidal marsh filled with endangered and special-status wildlife and plants, Salzman said. Not much of the undeveloped bay shore is left, she said.

"It's great that Marin has all the open space that it does, but the open space is all in West Marin and all along the ocean," Salzman said. "There is very little along the bay. The county planners didn't realize years ago that the bay was the important resource that it is. So now we have to fight the battle to protect it. We need to protect what little tidal marsh we have left."

Don Dickenson, president of the Citizen Advocates for the Preservation of St. Vincent's/Silveira, said he would love to see the Audubon Society buy the land.

"The environmental organizations for the last 15 years have argued that the lands should be largely preserved," he said. "To preserve it, we need to purchase it. St. Vincent's needs the revenue and there is the possibility of selling to conservation organizations. It will take a complex funding package from various sources, but it is possible."

Agricultural Conservation Easement, ACE.
The California Farmland Conservancy Program (CFCP) was established in 1995. The program provides funding for a local public agency or nonprofit land trust to purchase ACEs. An ACE is a voluntary legal agreement that allows a farmer to sell or donate a farm's development rights to nonprofit land trust or public agency so that the land remains in agricultural production. The landowner retains all other property rights to the farm, including the right to hold title; to rent, sell, or transfer title; and the right to restrict public access. A conservation easement provides the farmer with either a cash payment for the amount of the land's potential development value or an income tax deduction when the conservation easement is donated, as well as reduced estate and property taxes due to the land being assessed based on agricultural value rather than development value. ACEs under the CFCP seek to permanently protect agricultural uses. The 2000-01 State Budget allocates $6.5 million for CFCP grants, including $5 million in Proposition 12 bond funds.

Agricultural Uses
It is true that water and soil quality are limiting factors, however the 1998 St. Vincent / Silveira Ag. Feasibility Study did not conclude that agriculture was impractical as a result. The analysis evaluated several different crop scenarios, and screened them through three different water pricing structures. At the mid-range of water pricing($540/acre-foot), both an organic vineyard and an organic vegetable farm with a farmstand could be economically viable; $213,000-346,000/yr.

I believe that there is an opportunity to diversify agriculture on those lands. Agriculture could actually help the Las Gallinas Sanitary District meet its regulatory requirements as Bay discharge opportunities for treated water are eliminated over the next decade.

Furthermore, the site is ideally situated to showcase Marin's ag tradition and to trumpet its present focus on high quality, fresh produce to all those who drive up and down 101. Additionally, the site could accomodate other ag-support activities such as Ag. Commissioner's offices and the UC Ag Extension facilities .

It's possible that a Northbay wholesale farmers market could also be successful. Any ag use of the site would be dependent upon the entrepreneurial determination of an individual or a business group determined to make it happen, along with a supportive community effort. That's a lot different than saying the soil is too poor, the water too expensive, and the idea therefore, is impractical.

Steve Kinsey , Marin County Supervisor

What happened at the Sep 10th "EIR Scoping" meeting.

Abandon EIR till Traffic is projected?    Dont include SMART rail.    100,000's of affordable houses already exist a mere 7-12 miles away.

IJ Arcticle on Scoping

The Environmental Impact of the project would generate additional traffic to an already congested freeway and increased noise and air pollution associated with traffic.
It would result in an increase in demands for services and utilities in the community.
The quality of the environment, aesthetics and beauty of the area would be degraded.
There would be incremental reduction of open, undeveloped areas.
Cumulative reduction of native habitats.
Impact sensitive wetland, oak woodland, and riparian woodland habitats, and wildlife corridors.
Deface important examples of California History or prehistory (St Vincents Cathedral, etc).
Commercial space with a potential for 1,500 jobs significantly reduces the justification for the residential part of the development to meet EXISTING job needs when 39,000 Marin workers commute from out of county daily.
Not within the scope:-"Conflict with the provisions of an adopted Habitat Conservation Plan, Natural Community Conservation Plan, or other approved local, regional, or state habitat conservation plan?"
No regional Habitat Conservation Plan or Natural Community Conservation Plans exist for the project study area.

The Planning Commisioners

The George Lucas development approval precedent. "traffic policies that call for a Level of Service D or better for peak-hour traffic along U.S. Highway 101"

Click here to see why this development should be rejected because of the traffic impact, alone

A Referendum saved Novato from Development
Novato voters soundly rejected a developer's proposal for a 424-home development at the mouth of the Petaluma River, Bahia. The referendum result was 31% to 69%.

This is a message to the City Council that they can't continue to approve every development in front of them. The people in Novato are angry at all of the development going on." The project had been previously approved by the Novato City Council on a 4-1 vote.

Opponents immediately took the issue to residents, quickly gathering signatures to force the referendum.
"The proposed subdivision was too large, would destroy part of the blue oak woodlands and would increase traffic on Highway 101".

It is hoped that the land will be purchased by the Audubon Society who have offered the developer/owner $18 million.
All the Funding (incl. A $5.75 million grant from the state Coastal Conservancy).
Can a Referendum save St Vincents & Silveira? I'm told that St Vincents alone is worth $90 mil, but $90 mil. is its "to be developed" value, no doubt.

St Vincent's in 1990 was almost voted to remain "Agricultural":-

Citizen Initiative Measure L was on the November 1990 Ballot.
Sponsored by the non-profit Citizen Advocates for Preservation of St. Vincent's/Silveira.
Measure L would have prezoned both properties so that if annexed to the City they could only be used for limited agricultural or institutional uses unless other uses were approved by the voters in San Rafael.
While L was opposed by almost every politician and business organization in Marin except the 4 major environmental organizations (Sierra Club, Marin Conservation League, Marin Audubon and Marin Environmental Forum), the vote was 48% yes and 52% no.
The freeway was not a parking lot THEN.

Time for more initiative? (
Otherwise its 451 more $900,000 homes and up to 500 more jobs - only justified by a mere 182 "affordable" homes)
The current County zoning for St Vincents is A-2 (Agricultural - 1 unit per 2 acres) and has never been anything other than that. The current County General Plan designation is Agricultural - 1 unit per 100 acres.
It appears that a vote for
Susan Adams as County Supervisor could radically improve the possibility of saving St Vincents.

About Paul Cohen
developments in Oakwood and Hamilton etc. be included in impact reports and 
water usage be carefully considered. 
Wildlife habitat destruction needs to be closely looked at.

More Commercial Development:  Part of the development allocates Commercial space with a potential for 500 jobs - this significantly reduces the justification for this development to meet EXISTING job needs.

And there is no School in the plans, yet, to meet the needs of the expected 300+ kids. (An area of Silveira land is hoped to provide this - if not, some of the houses need to be removed from the plan to make way for a school)

All of THIS development is on ST Vincent's property, a "Concept" plan for Silveira development  has been submitted (July 22nd). 924 residential units plus an unspecified number of units on the Honor Farm property. In addition, 190,000 sq. feet of Non-residential space providing up to 700 jobs. PLUS unspecified space for a Hotel + Restaurants closer to the freeway. A 13 acre School site. A 9 acre "Future Transit Hub" next to the old railroad. And a Golf Course.

Directly across the freeway on the Oakview property, 94,400 sq feet of Office Buildings are proposed. This would provide up to 370 Jobs.

So all 3 developments total 500 + 700 + 370 =
1,570 New Jobs where we have an existing excess ratio of jobs to residents to the tune of 39,000 out-of-county daily commuters.   

Annexation of St Vincents to the City of San Rafael will not be by public vote.

A CA Bill was attempted that would Freeze City Boundaries for 20 years

The City:
Bob Brown - SR City Manager
Greg Zitney - SR Environmental Impact Revue  
Kristie Richardson - SR Princ Planner
Anne Moore - SR Consultant I asked them to start a discussion board, but no luck, so here's one to use:-

Discussion Board: 

Land Use Units/Jobs Price Acres
Detached 451 $900,000 62.6
Townhomes 133 $450,000
Townhomes+ Triplex  affordable 102 $200,000 for 25 years
Apartments 80 $500 / month for 25 years
Commercial up to 500 jobs   10
Village Center mixed use jobs   3.8
Total 766units, 500 jobs   76.4
Second Units 90    

Affordability: The 102 townhomes cannot be sold at a profit (and the 80 rentals remain at $500/mth) for 25 years (cost adjusted). Preference will be given for these units to those employed in Marin County. All 80 proposed apartments will be for "very low" ($500/mth right !) and low income households.   All units will be price restricted for 55 years for rental units and 40 years, with this term renewing upon each resale of ownership units. 25 years is what I was told.

In addition to the affordability proposal from the applicant, the City and Chamber of Commerce SAY they are pursuing a program under which larger local employers would purchase market rate units and subsidize their repurchase or rental by their employees.

Development Proposal
Approximately 76 acres (9%) of the St. Vincent's lands are proposed for development.  The proposed development area excludes the School for Boys campus, the pastoral parcel, equestrian area, parks and ballfields, public plaza area, school site and collector and arterial streets, as set forth in the May, 2000 Recommendations of the St. Vincent's/Silveira Task Force.

Proposed land uses
A total of 766 homes are proposed, including 451 single family homes, 181 townhomes, 54 triplex units and 80 apartments.  90 single family homes will have second units ("granny units") built above detached garages, which can be used for family members or as a small rental unit to increase the amount of affordable housing.

The unit sizes will range from 1,630 to 2,970 square feet for single family homes, from 1,000 to 1,720 square feet for townhomes, from 821 to 997 square feet for triplex units and from 993 to 1,150 square feet for apartments. All detached homes are on relatively small lots, with most averaging 3,000-4,000 square feet.

1.2 million cubic yards of fill and grading are required (info recently submitted by Shappell)

Commercial Parcel
A ten acre parcel near the entry way into the project is proposed for a range of commercial uses, including 124,000 square feet of general office space or a country inn (hotel)/conference center/restaurant facility. Building designs have not been submitted for this parcel, but a general land use designation and zoning is sought at this time. A range of commercial uses will be analyzed in the environmental impact report.

Additionly a 134 housing scheme in Terra Linda has been approved, right next to the railway tracks.

Expand ACEs. Given the large amount of farmland threatened by urbanization, California's ACE program is modest, particularly when compared to other states. The California program had protected nearly 19,000 acres and spent $11.2 million of state and local funds since its inception in 1996. The state program will spend an additional $29 million over the next three years, due in large part to voter approval of a $2 billion parks bond measure in March 2000. When all these funds have been spent, California will spend about $1.11 per capita on ACEs. In contrast, Pennsylvania and New Jersey have spent $20 per capita, Maryland $38, Delaware $52 and Vermont $70.