Marin Voice: The tide is turning — cities are battling for local control

It’s time to change this housing narrative from “crisis” — requiring heavy-handed, top-down “solutions” — to a collaborative approach that respects the voices of people who live with the impacts of decisions…

Have you heard about Brisbane in San Mateo County, population 4,700, where legislators are threatening new regulations if local voters don’t change their General Plan? Why should you care? Because, if legislative trends continue, local voters’ wishes everywhere will be trampled…

Brisbane residents — like any community with history, character, and pride — have resisted, based on concerns about toxicity, traffic, sea-level rise and infrastructure like water and schools’ capacity. The City Council recently voted 4-1 to amend its General Plan to favor UPC but agreed to put it to a vote in this fall’s election…

You might think a public vote would be the end of the story. But Brisbane’s Sen. Jerry Hill and Sen. Scott Wiener disagree. Wiener, author of SB 827 and SB 828, is also the force behind SB 35, one of 14 bills passed in 2017 that makes it easier for developers to build high-density housing, while dismantling local regulations of the General Plan, Housing Element, Design Review and California Environmental Quality Act requirements.

If voters reject the amendment, Wiener and Hill threaten to introduce legislation that would force Brisbane to comply…(more)

What is the new narrative? There is a housing problem, but the crisis is the legislative strong arm to dismantle local control, which destroys democracy...

The tide is turning. New York Times columnist David Brooks on July 19 wrote “The Localist Revolution” about a national trend to flip the power structure away from centralized control.

Locally, the trend is taking hold. The newly formed Tri-Valley Coalition (Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin and Danville) is battling state legislation that strips their cities of local control. Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand and former Beverly Hills mayor John Mirisch are drafting a ballot initiative to restore local democracy. And Livable California, a nine-county coalition with ties to Los Angeles community groups, is educating the public, supporting candidates and advocating for sound public policy.

Whether it’s Brisbane or your community, it’s the will of the people that matters. Elected officials who disagree should be voted out of office.

Susan Kirsch of Mill Valley is chair of Livable California and a former candidate for the Marin County Board of Supervisors.




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