Marin Countywide Plan update draft published to little acclaim
- Published Tuesday, August 3, 2004, in the Marin Independent Journal
Advocates slam latest county plan
By Keri Brenner
Criticisms cover housing, business
The draft Marin Countywide Plan [BATN: <http://www.future-marin.org>]
update was assailed yesterday by leaders of Marin interest groups, who
said it had "serious gaps" in areas ranging from business, to
childcare, to housing, the environment, disabled access and senior
"Marin has long had a reputation as a county that is anti-business,
and this plan does nothing to correct that," Elissa Giambastiani,
chief executive of the San Rafael Chamber of Commerce, told commission
members. "For a plan that bases itself on a sustainable principle in
which economy meshes with equity and environment, it is remarkable
that so little attention is paid to the economy or to equity."
She said the plan focuses on large companies, but most of Marin's
businesses are small.
"Some 81 percent of Marin businesses have fewer than 10 employees,"
Giambastiani and others made their comments at yesterday's public
hearing on the plan's draft socioeconomic element -- which includes
healthcare, the economy, childcare, community participation and
related issues. The countywide plan, last updated in 1994, will serve
as Marin's land-use and public policy planning document for the
The public comments yesterday prompted Planning Commissioners to ask
county staff to make a series of changes.
"I think it's wonderful that we recommend to people to shop locally,"
said Commissioner Jo Julin in response to one of Giambastiani's
suggestions. "I would like to see us include a list of bullet points
County planner Michele Rodriguez, project manager for the countywide
plan update, said she will incorporate the requests into the plan and
bring the revisions to the county panel for a second go-round on the
entire document in October.
The commissioners are expected to present their recommendations for
the updated plan to the Marin Board of Supervisors for adoption in the
first half of next year, Rodriguez said.
Yesterday, however, other Marin advocates for various causes were
distressed with the current plan update.
"There's little mention here of resources for the homeless, the
disabled and seniors," said Betty Pagett, representing the Continuum
of Housing & Services. "It talks about high-paying jobs; what about
increasing training for people in low-paying jobs?"
Pagett, also of the Ecumenical Association of Housing, said she would
like to see the plan include policies on helping serve Marin's aging
"There are serious gaps here.I think this whole section needs to be
rewritten, with some of these studies added," Pagett said. "We need a
specific program to guide the county for the next 10 years."
Roger Roberts, of the Marin Conservation League and Community Marin,
said business development in the county has led to an "imbalance
between commercial growth and job creation and housing development.
"Future job growth must be balanced with renewed emphasis on the
availability of housing and transit options," said Roberts, a San
Byron Sigal of the Low Income Investment Fund in San Rafael, said
childcare providers who work out of their homes face permit obstacles
if they want to take in more than eight children. He asked county
planners to copy a Novato planning code exception that allows in-home
childcare operations to enroll up to 14 children.
"I've tried to help move people through the (permit) process, because
they can't do it themselves," Sigal said. "The process needs to be
Contact Keri Brenner via e-mail at kbrenner@...