Los Ranchitos Improvement Association

CA SB 827 promotes 4 to 8 story apartment buildings near Civic Center SMART

“The measure would allow housing developments of four to eight stories within a half mile radius of every BART station, Caltrain stop or other rail hub,* and a quarter mile from bus stops with frequent service. The limit would be higher for main streets and developments near bus stops or immediately surrounding the rail stations.”
— Mercury News

State Senator Scott Weiner (D — San Francisco) has introduced a bill that if passed would require Marin County and the City of San Rafael to approve any developer's proposal to build apartments 4 to 8 stories high, as long as the buildings are near “major transit.” *The latter includes the two SMART stops in San Rafael, at the Civic Center and the San Rafael Transit Hub, and every bus line that has service at least once every 15 minutes during commute times. “Near” means 8 stories within a quarter mile of the transit stop, or 4 to 5 stories within a half mile.  

Weiner represents San Francisco in the State Senate, but the City of San Francisco Board of Supervisors is against it.  

The bill has stirred up a lot of controversy all around the state. Its many opponents say it  

• overrides local control of planning and zoning;

• doesn’t provide any funding for services for the additional population, and explicitly says jurisdictions should increase taxes for that;

• doesn’t make any provision for resources such as water and sanitary services for jurisdictions already maxed out in those areas;

• doesn’t make any provision for additional traffic due to additional population;

• actually prohibits localities from requiring onsite parking

• provides only market rate housing, without mandating any “affordable” (subsidized) housing, and in fact may be detrimental to low cost housing that could be razed to make way for more lucrative development.

The only benefit anyone is touting is to cities like San Francisco — places that failed to provide sufficient new housing as their economies boomed can shift the burden of all those people to their suburbs and outlying communities at no cost to themselves. 

In terms of “following the money,” the bill definitely benefits developers and their financiers at the expense of those who need affordable housing and those who are already housed, would like to stay that way, and are unwilling to relinquish local control of development.   

Otherwise, it's an "unfunded mandate" requiring localities to provide education, water, police, fire, paramedic and sanitary services without providing any funding. When asked his position on this, our state Senator Mark McGuire 's aide responded:

"As the bill stands now, Senator McGuire is opposed to it for a number of reasons. One of the major ones is that allowing 8 story buildings to be constructed in our small towns on all transportation corridors including bus stops is not only a terrible idea, it's also not viable. Right now there is not a single firetruck in Marin County whose ladders go higher than three floors. Unless there are amendments added to the bill that address Senator McGuire's many concerns he will remain opposed."

No one on the board of LRIA supports this legislation. The most effective way to stop it is for individuals to write, email, and call their local and state representatives. In our case, since our State Senator already opposes the plan, all we need to do is let him know we support his position. Please make your thoughts and feelings known to Mark McGuire, our California State Senator — senator.mcguire@senate.ca.gov

He’ll be the first to vote on the measure when/if it comes to the Senate floor for debate and passage. It’s currently in committee after amendments by the author. When you write to the Senator, please cc: lriaboard@gmail.com. 

Green = buildings up to 55' tall (85' on wide streets)  Purple = up to 45' tall (55' on wide streets)


Map from https://transitrichhousing.org/, you can go online, zoom in and out, and look at how this would apply anywhere in the Bay area. 


Here are some links for more information and opinions:

https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/03/03/sb-827/ — this is likely the best explanation and partial argument against it. There’s also a map you can zoom in on and position northward so you can see the effect on Marin in general and San Rafael and us in particular, should this pass.


And other links to opinion pieces by Dick Spottswood (against) 




and http://www.marinij.com/government-and-politics/20180305/marin-california-gear-for-transit-hub-zoning-fight


Here’s Weiner’s piece FOR it:




And some other relevant links:






Bill text: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB827




Well reasoned arguments against SB 827:









Posted by Los Ranchitos on 03/24/2018
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