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Marin Countywide Plan update draft published to little acclaim

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  • 8/3 Marin IJ
    Published Tuesday, August 3, 2004, in the Marin Independent Journal Advocates slam latest county plan By Keri Brenner Criticisms cover housing, business The
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 3, 2004
      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 said.

      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
      foreseeable future.

      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
      on that."

      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
      Rafael resident.

      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@...
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