Wednesday, June 6, 2018
[Marin County] Report dings county over Marin City housing holdup
A proposal to bring mixed-income housing to Golden Gate Village, while providing units for current residents, should move forward posthaste, according to a new report from the Marin County Civil Grand Jury.
Last year, county officials tapped Tampa-based CVR Associates to look at the future of the 296-unit Golden Gate Village public housing complex in Marin City. That plan calls for partial redevelopment with a private developer, with an emphasis on green technology. The plan was approved by the Marin Housing Authority board earlier this year.
The plan needs to be put in place, according to the grand jury.
“While discussions have taken place since 2009 ... it is now 2018 and a developer, who will begin to move the project forward, has yet to be chosen,” the report — “The Golden Gate Village: The Clock is Ticking” — reads.
The jury recommends within 90 days the Marin Housing Authority — which manages the property — should create an accelerated timeline and include milestones for the selection of a developer, the completion of a development plan, a plan for funding and the beginning of construction. Marin Housing Authority officials also need to be straightforward with current residents, the grand jury said.
“The Marin Housing Authority appears earnest in its goal,” reads the report, which notes distrust in the community of the plan. “However, examining this more deeply, some residents may be displaced, and, in order to move toward an atmosphere of trust at (Golden Gate Village), it is incumbent upon the Marin Housing Authority to be completely transparent about these displacements.”
The grand jury says while there are critics of the county plan, leaving the site as is is not an option.
Golden Gate Village “structures will continue to deteriorate over time and an ever-increasing number of units will become uninhabitable,” read the report, released late in May. “Opponents to action must understand that this scenario will lead to the inevitable demise of GGV, thus leaving the residents no option but to relocate, with such relocation almost certainly being outside of Marin County.”
Until last year, fixes to the 58-year-old complex were pegged at $16 million by the county. While $16 million would help with initial repairs, comprehensive work over several years would cost $63 million, officials said. The Marin Housing Authority’s sole source of income to make improvements is $500,000 in annual funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and a development plan is needed to address improvements to the site, county officials have argued.
“The Marin Housing Authority agrees with the Marin County Civil Grand Jury’s sense of urgency to improve the lives of Golden Gate Village residents, their housing, and their economic opportunities,” said Lewis Jordan, head of the Marin Housing Authority, in a statement addressing the grand jury’s report. “Better opportunities at Golden Gate Village will benefit not only the residents, but Marin City and Marin County as a whole. With that approach we will continue to find ways to build trust and the community partnership that will be the keys to our overall success.”
The housing authority will address funding, displacement/retention issues and social needs brought up by the jury, he said.
“Over the next few weeks, we will carefully review their report and recommendations and prepare our response,” Jordan said.
Housing officials say there is support for change. A poll conducted in 2016 among residents shows 57 percent want a new unit. Another 35 percent said they wanted to keep their unit with some improvements, while 8 percent wanted no change.
Golden Gate Village resident and activist Royce McLemore said the grand jury report needed more input from residents.
“I don’t think they went into depth about what residents thought,” said McLemore, who has pushed for a “21st century green technology” plan to renovate Golden Gate Village. Marin City residents could be trained for that work, she said. “We need to be heard; we are people, too. This will all end up in someone’s courtroom.”
June 4, 2018
Marin Independent Journal
By Mark Prado