Some of Lisa Montes’ favorite things about her Solana Beach neighborhood – the smell of Mexican food whenever she walks down the street, the mariachi she listens to when she’s relaxing after a long day at work – have been distinctive to La Colonia de Eden Gardens since Montes was a little girl growing up there in the 1960s.
Indeed, La Colonia has preserved its distinct character since it was founded in the 1920s by Mexican farmworkers who worked on nearby ranches in today’s Solana Beach. Now, things are changing.
The neighborhood was settled back then by 30 families – the product of segregation at the time – and until roughly a decade ago, the majority of its residents were descendants of those same families.
Despite having lower property values, and higher zoning, than neighborhoods in the western part of Solana Beach, the community had been insulated from development pressures common to coastal areas. For years, the community dealt with gang-related activity and crime – something it battled on its own through youth programs and other initiatives.
Now the neighborhood is facing a quintessential Solana Beach problem.
Lesa Heebner, a city councilwoman, said developers have turned their attention to the area, and want to build homes more densely than the community is comfortable with.
We Stand Up For You. Will You Stand Up For Us?
Neighborhood diversity and the provision of affordable units can be protected, to some degree, by imposing an inclusionary zoning requirement on new developments. In other words, perhaps 20% of the new housing has to be made affordable to lower income residents (presumably most of the people who are to be displaced). With this "solution' you are still going to have the problem of relocating people until the housing is built and you will lose some affordable units, but at least it is something.
See below this is what will happen here
High density is high profit for the developers
Then we will end up will strip mall life of LA
upporters of high-density housing invariably contend that it’s an essential component toward creating more of the planners’ holy grail, affordable housing.
In the rush for developers’ profits, the on-the-ground reality may be the opposite — the destruction of existing affordable housing.
That’s exactly what’s happening in Corte Madera along Casa Buena Drive and potentially soon in the adjacent Meadowsweet neighborhood. Those areas along the west side of Highway 101 are now in the sights of real estate speculators.
A byproduct of proposed projects is demolition of existing 100-percent affordable multi-unit housing complexes.
Exhibit one is the controversial proposal to demolish Marin Gardens, the currently affordable apartments on Casa Buena Drive. Given that much land has recently changed hands in the neighborhood, the proposed demolition may be the tip of an iceberg.
Marin Gardens has implications all along 101, from Mill Valley north to Novato.
For once, the trend has nothing to do with efforts by regional alphabet agencies to urbanize suburbia. Corte Madera is already in line to fully meet the Association of Bay Area Governments’ regional housing goals.
The pressure comes from real estate developers eyeing both the relatively low land acquisition costs of large properties adjacent to the freeway and permissive zoning conceived in another era.
This is all about profit, not low-cost housing.
It won’t be the first time savvy developers use spin about building affordable housing allegedly near transit as a feel-good excuse to promote their schemes.
The same market forces are making development all along the 101 corridor more attractive.
Housing is in short supply. Rents, and thus profits, in desirable Bay Area communities are astronomical. If closing a development deal requires adding a handful of lower-rent units, that’s a small price to pay to make big bucks.
“Handful” is the byword. Check out the infamous apartment complex built on the old WinCup site in Corte Madera. Out of 180 new units, 162 are at full market rate, with only 18 affordable. The plan to add 217 apartments to Terra Linda’s Four Points Sheraton Hotel involves adding a mere 37 affordable units.
That’s a pathetic tradeoff for the huge volume of traffic and the negative environmental impact that’ll inevitably result.
We hear excuses from developers, county elected officials and assorted housing advocates that high-density housing is just what Marin needs.
What’s been proposed is not what is needed by working-class families that live along Casa Buena Drive, in Meadowsweet and in similar areas that are already affordable.
Leave these folks alone. They are delighted with their current homes. It’s obvious if their neighborhoods are transformed, they’ll be forced to relocate, likely out of town.
Communities bordering 101 need to understand that Corte Madera is merely the unwilling vanguard of profit-centered efforts to demolish already affordable housing. Imagine the impact to those residing in already affordable mobile home parks in unincorporated Larkspur, San Rafael and Novato, if they too become high-density housing targets.