Marin IJ Readers’ Forum for June 10, 2021 – Marin Independent Journal

Proposed hookup ban a threat to housing plans

Members of the Marin Environmental Housing Collaborative (MEHC) attended the June 1 Marin Municipal Water District meeting. The report in the Marin IJ (“Marin Municipal Water District delays decision on hookup pause, June 3) described the meeting well.

One key fact about MMWD’s proposed moratorium on new water hookups cannot be overemphasized: It would save only 0.1% of the district’s current annual usage. This “drop in the bucket,” which would impose a substantial burden on those planning new housing, is a symbolic concession to ratepayers who, so far, have achieved a paltry 8.9% water usage savings in May. That is far short of the 40% reduction the district needs to keep the water flowing.

If the district concludes that it must impose a moratorium, it should honor its responsibility to address the inequities that its past policies have created in shaping who can live here. There has been a water-hookup moratorium in place for many of the last 50 years in Marin.

These moratoriums, on top of local jurisdictions’ past and existing zoning policies (as well as public opposition to affordable housing), have helped to make Marin one of the most racially segregated and income-disparate counties in the state. This is especially concerning as most local jurisdictions will fall far short of satisfying their mandatory low-income housing responsibilities.

MEHC leadership is particularly concerned that we could lose the planned Vivalon (formerly Whistlestop) senior housing and active aging center in downtown San Rafael. The project would likely lose its grant funding if precluded from starting construction next year.

Marin adds so few new housing units per year, it makes little sense to bar any new construction. The impact on water savings would be so minute. Keep in mind that much of our affordable housing results from inclusionary units in otherwise market-rate developments.

At the very least, MMWD should exempt 100% of planned affordable-housing projects from any proposed moratorium.

— Larry Kennings, Mill Valley

Water district should issue buckets to everyone

I am writing in regard to recent reports about conserving water during Marin’s shortage (“Marin Municipal Water District: Customers failing to conserve,” June 4).

Just as my garbage collector issued me a can that reads “this container is the property of the homeowner,” (thank you, I suppose) I think Marin Municipal Water District should issue us all a bucket.

I shower each night before going to bed (is that too much information?). The bucket in the shower catches the water during the warm up and while I rinse off. In the morning it’s cold and, while still in my jammies, I water the flower pots on my patios.

My behavior makes a tiny difference. But if we all had a nice, big, blue MMWD bucket, we would make a huge difference together.

Next year, we should ask the question and find the right answer as to why we flush our toilets with crystal clear drinking water.

— Steve Fabes, Sausalito

Keep local control of all cell antenna projects

Thank you to the IJ editors for printing the fine letter by Roberta Anthes (“Local control of wireless facilities is needed,” June 5).

It refers to Senate Bill 556, a grave threat to local control of cell antenna siting that is opposed by our state Sen. Mike McGuire. Assemblyman Marc Levine, however, has thrown our towns, cities and the public under the bus by voting yes last week on Assembly Bill 537. This bill, also a gift to the telecom industry, seeks to weaken local government’s ability to thoroughly review antenna permit applications.

Communities are best served when our local authorities, with public input, enforce regulations according to their own telecommunications policies crafted to ensure examination of public safety, including fire risk. With 41 California counties in emergency drought conditions, fire risk mitigation should be uppermost in the minds of elected officials. The devastating 2007 Malibu Canyon fire was caused by overloaded poles. Martin Pall, Washington State University professor of molecular biosciences, has implicated electromagnetic field sources with respect to the intense heat of the 2017 Santa Rosa area wildfires.

I am surprised and disappointed by Levine’s vote. I hope he sees the error of his ways if SB 556 reaches the Assembly floor.

— Vicki Sievers, San Rafael