Tom Lai, Director of Marin County Community Development, referring to hazards at the 2/22 BOS Meeting
SB 182 would have mandated evacuation routes, but it was VETOED by Newsom in 2020, because it would slow the housing down.
Most California Fires Occur in Area of Wildland-urban Interface with Less Fuel and More People
TOXICITY OF BURN SCARS:
The burn scars are toxic and subject to landslides in heavy rain.
From The Mesothelioma Center: We spread awareness of the dangers of wildfires in relation to asbestos exposure as many homes that are affected could contain asbestos. Asbestos is one of the most heat-resistant substances known to man, yet it can be highly toxic when it is damaged by fire. When structures catch fire, asbestos products become damaged and release carcinogenic fibers that become airborne and transportable by smoke.
We have created an Asbestos and Natural Disasters Guide that covers the impact of wildfires on structures made with asbestos:
WE ARE LUCKY to have this excellent Marin County Fire Protection Plan 2020 update (https://www.arcgis.com/apps/MapJournal/index.html?appid=6b55c55b3f7d41fe980ef5e65ae881a6
THE SAFETY ELEMENT is supposed to be based on UPDATED FORESTRY SERVICE MAPS, but the maps used for the Safety Element were from 2007, and were just updated December 2022,
Why were the maps 15 years out of date? This article has a couple of explanations:
by Chris Nichols Monday, December 20, 2021 | Sacramento, CA Fire maps https://www.capradio.org/articles/2021/12/20/after-years-of-delays-calfire-says-updated-and-expanded-wildfire-hazard-maps-are-on-their-way/
“Local governments have argued that expanding the hazard zones will make it harder to meet state targets for new affordable housing, said Staci Heaton, a regulatory affairs advocate with the Rural County Representatives of California. “The state’s telling [counties] they have to build so many housing units per year,” she said. “Even in the high fire hazard severity zones, they have to strike that balance between fire mitigation and also building these low-income housing units.”
EXCERPTS ONLY, ARTICLE HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. LINK:
By RICHARD HALSTEAD Marin Independent Journal
PUBLISHED: April 22, 2022
"Marin County officials this week expressed their determination to maintain safety standards while working to comply with a daunting state housing mandate... The safety element contains the county’s plans to address environmental hazards such as drought, wildfire, sea level rise, flooding and severe weather.
"Marin County is a high hazard county, there is just no way around it,” said Supervisor Stephanie Moulton-Peters, noting the county’s vulnerability to wildfire, drought, earthquakes, floods and sea level rise. “We need to make a strong case that there are just some areas not suitable for a lot of housing because of these hazards,” Moulton-Peters said. “This is one of the fact-based ways we can wrestle with overcrowding in the wrong areas.”
With the state entering its third year of drought and major conflagrations becoming an annual occurrence, perhaps no safety concern looms larger than wildfire. Carol Rice, MIG’s wildland fire manager, noted during the meeting that approximately 60,000 acres, 18% of the county’s land area, falls within the “wildland urban interface” (WUI). Based on 2018-2019 tax assessor data, there are some 69,400 Marin homes valued at $58.5 billion within the WUI. Under new state laws, the state forestry board is required to review all general plan safety elements. The forestry board must also prepare fire hazard severity zone maps; develop regulations for wildfire safety with which local governments must comply; and review evacuation routes that the county identifies.
Don Dickenson, chair of the Marin County Planning Commission, pointed out that the state has neither released its fire hazard severity zone maps nor finalized its wildfire safety regulations. “We’re on a very tight time schedule,” Dickenson said, “and it seems to me that is critical information in terms of both developing the safety element and doing the environmental review on it.” Rice said it is unlikely that the maps will come out any time soon. Leslie Lacko, a county planner, said MIG will rely on a Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority study in the works that is evaluating Marin fire evacuation routes based on risk. “They’re just getting that project off the ground,” Lacko said. “It will not be done before the safety element is done.”
PUBLIC SPACES STILL IN DANGER OF DEVELOPMENT BUT AB-1910 FAILED!
Publicly owned golf courses: conversion: affordable housing, 5/11/22 FAILED in Committee
The legislation would have allowed the state to redevelop municipal golf courses into affordable housing. The earlier version of the bill focused on municipal courses in densely populated urban areas, but the current bill could allow development of any municipal course in the state.
MILL VALLEY MUNICIPAL GOLF COURSE is a designated safe refuge area in fire emergencies. We have very few. The maps and more info available on the link below.
From the Mill Valley Emergency Planning and Preparedness Update March 2021: http://cityofmillvalley.granicus.com/DocumentViewer.php?file=cityofmillvalley_9949a508f3ecc96b45d776d51d04f3c1.pdf
“Community Refuge Areas: Community Refuge Areas (CRA) are pre-identified areas throughout the Mill Valley and Southern Marin region where residents can seek shelter from a fast-moving wildfire within their neighborhood. Widely considered as an area of last resort, CRA's provide community separation from fire and provide relative safety for 60 to 90 minutes until law enforcement provides direction. Typically, large, green open spaces like golf courses, parks, and ball fields, CRA's are provided as options when complete evacuation is not possible due to roadway inundation or blockages.” In times of life and death, the golf course is one of only three large buffer areas that serve this important safety function. If it’s covered with housing, the new residents will be added to the already large number of people needing shelter, except that the CRAC area would then be only 15% of its former size.
There are issues here that are Mill Valley specific. https://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/news/release/wui-interface-intermix
if a city goes bankrupt and is in receivership, the state designates an entity to decide which “surplus public lands” will be donated or sold off for residential development.
https://emergency.marincounty.org/pages/prepare-for-emergency#wildfire Here is something rational and positive that happened recently, in that a California judge halted a housing project based on evacuation safety concerns: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/26/us/wildfire-development-california-legal.html?referringSource=articleShare https://www.google.com/url?
https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/environment/2019/04/25/california-wildfire-evacuation-road-capacity-traffic-analysis-methodology-camp-fire/3514552002/ California wildfire evacuation analysis after Camp Fire Fleeing fires in California is common; evacuation planning isn't
We're in a mega-drought, right? why are we being forced to build 2.5 million new residences? That's housing for about 7 million people, with no reliable water source.
Our water is drawn from rain driven supplies stored in reservoirs. In reports, MMWD projections rate a 6-year drought "unlikely," but with climate change it is an unknown. Last year the Sierra snowpack evaporated before reaching any meaningful collection points, so areas dependent on that runoff are also squeezed.
In our current situation, if the drought continues, we are projected to run out of water in 4 years. MMWD declined to model a nine-year drought cycle.
The most recent plan on record, the 2021 draft, acknowledges the area is built out, still projects extremely low population growth, and has not planned for many more hookups.* No projections have been made available reflecting a sudden population influx of 35,000.
We know now that 14,500+ new hookups are expected over the next eight years, and that the population will increase dramatically. When will we see a report that reflects these changes? For a water district that expected very few new hookups, how do they expect to handle the volume?
THE 2020 URBAN WATER MANAGEMENT PLAN for MARIN MUNICIPAL WATER DISTRICT, Public Review Draft 5/2021:
Unless Marin actually votes and passes a ballot measure, MMWD can't begin to study desal. Our current MMWD plans are to borrow water from Sonoma (also dealing with drought and a large, mandated population increase), or the East Bay, through an expensive and unbuilt pipe across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Our options are very limited. Fog Collection and recycling water are other ways of harvesting water. None are cheap, and none are ready to be deployed any time soon.
* Combined, the two MMWD documents are over 900 pages long; I have included the most relevant parts on this page, with screen shots below..
I see that the Grand Jury found many of the issues I wrote about, below.
GRAND JURY REPORT BLASTS WATER SUPPLY PLANNING
Will Houston, The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif. - 6/21/22
Looks like the population growth demanded by CHD hasn't been noticed in projections.
The following report excerpts are from the May 2021 draft of the Urban Water Management Plan for MMWD. All Water districts in the state should be updating projections.
When will we see a report that reflects the RHNA increases? For a water district that expected very few new hookups, how do they expect to handle the volume? Current estimates are that if drought continues, we have four years of water storage. Where does this estimate take the RHNA numbers into account?
BOLD in text is added by me.
THE 2020 URBAN WATER MANAGEMENT PLAN for MARIN MUNICIPAL WATER DISTRICT, Public Review Draft 5/2021:
FROM MMWD 2021 DRAFT 3.1
Population and Employment Trends Within the Service Area
Residential growth in Marin County boomed during the period following World War II up to the early years of the 1970s. Growth during the last two decades has averaged less than 1% per year, and the County Planning Department indicates that only 4% of lands within the County remain available for new development (MMWD, 2016). The population within the District remained level during the 1970s and 1980s. During that same period, the number of water service connections increased by 21%, from 46,000 to 58,000, with the majority being residential services, and the number of people per household declined from 3.1 to 2.5 (MMWD, 2016). Given the above, the District’s service area is generally considered to be built-out, and very low population growth is expected within the area.
The 2020 population was calculated per methodologies outlined for use in the Senate Bill (SB) X7-7 analysis, based on Department of Finance (DOF) estimates (DOF, 2020; see Chapter 5). Using this methodology, the District’s 2020 service area population is estimated to be 191,269.
3.1.1 Future Population Growth Table 3-1 and its associated chart provides the current and projected population for the District’s service area through the year 2045. Population projections were developed as described in the 2020 Water Demand Analysis and Water Conservation Measure Update (Demand Report; EKI, 2020), which is included as Appendix C. Table 3-1 Population - Current and Projected (DWR Table 3-1) SEE ACTUAL REPORT IMAGES BELOW
MMWD does not service Novato. Novato’s RHNA is 2090. Subtract that from Marin’s total 14,405 RHNA and the area serviced by MMWD still mandates 12,300, about 28,000 to 30,000 people. For MMWD purposes, this is an EXTRA population growth of 25%, beyond the 1.7% growth rate projected over the next 8 years. Additionally, actual MMWD serviced population in Marin is already 206,000, far above 2025 estimate shown in figures.
1. District’s service area is considered to be built-out, with less than 4% available for development
2. Very low population growth is expected within the area.
3. After the 1980s development slowed due to lack of buildable land
4. THE OLD PROJECTIONS ARE IRRELEVANT
They project a population of 218,000 in 2045. In 2016, MMWD served a population of about 191,000, and projected to be serving 218,000 in 2045.
Our population in 2022 is already over 206,000. (Novato not included)
In the midst of an indeterminate mega drought, with fields laying fallow as water is cut off from agriculture, the state is demanding 2.5 million new residences, housing for about 7 million people, with no reliable water source.
The localities have been told, in no uncertain terms, that they are expected to “find the water.”
Our MMWD water is drawn from rain driven supplies stored in reservoirs. In reports, MMWD projections rate a 6-year drought "unlikely," but with climate change it is an unknown. Last year the Sierra snowpack evaporated before reaching any meaningful collection points, so areas dependent on that runoff are also squeezed.
In our current situation, if the drought continues, we are projected by MMWD to run out of water in 4 years. MMWD declined to model a nine-year drought cycle. The most recent plan on record, the 2021 draft, acknowledges the area is built out, still projects extremely low population growth, and has not planned for many more hookups.*
As far as I can dig, no projections have been made publicly available reflecting a sudden population influx of about 28,000 within the district.
We know now that 14,500+ new hookups are expected over the next eight years, and that the population will increase dramatically.
This oversight is probably not restricted to Marin County. With 2.5 million new hookups, each water district plan should be examined for integration of new population in projections.
The LA Times published an article 6/1/22 which asserted that this is an artificial drought, and with stricter conservation we can easily absorb 2.5 million homes and jobs and 7 million more residents by 2050. we are expected to produce the 2.5 /7 million by 2031. This conservation must be shared by millions of tourists, unaccounted for here. The article references as its source the
California has enough water for new homes, despite drought - Los Angeles Times (latimes.com) Does California have enough water for lots of new homes? Yes, experts say, despite drought
The drought has collided with earthquake retrofits that required almost completely draining the area’s largest reservoir, knocking out more than half of the storage capacity serving 2 million people in and around San Jose. Lake Shasta is about half a million acre-feet — enough to supply 1.5 million households for one year — short of where it stood last year. Oroville has climbed above last year’s levels, but the amount of water flowing out is starting to match water flowing in following a dry January, Macon said. http://www.floodsmart.gov/wildfires
https://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2022/03/18/california-imposes-new-round-of-water-cuts-as-drought-heads-into-third-year/ Imposes New Water Cuts As Drought Intensifies | Los Angeles, CA Patch California drought on course to break another record - CalMatters
Flood after fires, no rest for the west http://www.floodsmart.gov/all-about-flood-maps
Danger in Droughtsville: California’s urban water at risk - CalMattersa https://www.watereducation.org/aquafornia-news/danger-droughtsville-californias-urban-water-risk#:~:text=Danger%20in%20Droughtsville%3A%20California%E2%80%99s%20urban%20water%20at%20risk,rise%2C%20groundwater%20contamination%2C%20earthquakes%2C%20wildfires%20and%20extreme%20weather.
A “sunny day” flood in Mill Valley, Calif., last month. Such events will become more damaging in the future, scientists predict. Credit...Josh Edelson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
NEW HOUSING APPROVED 150 SHORELINE MILL VALLEY
By RICHARD HALSTEAD | Marin Independent Journal PUBLISHED: November 12, 2021 at 3:29 p.m. | UPDATED: November 12, 2021 at 3:53 p.m.
Excerpt here, bold added:
"Douglas Wallace, a member of the Tamalpais Design Review Board, said, “Approval of this project would require a real exercise of optimism about future conditions. We know that sea level rise is inevitable. We know that it is accelerating.”
A county public works employee confirmed that the site area has been classified as a flood zone by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Supervisor Stephane Moulton-Peters said the California Department of Transportation is contemplating including the site in a future sea-level rise project. Moulton-Peters, however, added, “The solutions to flooding and sea level rise in this area are going on area-wide, not parcel by parcel. I think this is a good project. I think it satisfies a number of needs. It is well-designed.” Supervisor Katie Rice concurred. She said, “I actually do think this is a good project for the site.”
O’Donnell is claiming title to waivers and incentives provided by the state’s density bonus law based on the fact that the company is proposing to make two of the residential units affordable for very low-income people.
The Planning Commission, however, reached the conclusion that the project doesn’t qualify for a residential density bonus because the residential component of the project is indistinguishable from the commercial portion, with the same floor plans, sizes and layouts. Brian Case, a deputy county counsel, said nevertheless, “Staff has indicated there is a residential component; because of that the Housing Accountability Act does apply to the project.”
The incentives and waivers the project will receive under this state law are extensive, allowing the developer to construct a 11,323 square foot building instead of 8,946 square feet; provide eight parking spaces instead of 12 and add an additional 5 feet to the building height to bring it to 30 feet. The requirement for tree canopies has been reduced from 25% to 5%. The requirement to provide 1,000 square feet of open space will be waived.
Bereket said that under state law in order to deny O’Donnell these waivers and incentives the board would have to make a finding that the requested waivers would result in a specific adverse impact, cause a public health or safety concern, be contrary to law, or cause harm to the environment or historical property or resources. He said such findings couldn’t be made."
ARE YOU LIVING IN A FLOOD ZONE?
https://calmatters.org/commentary/2021/07/more-housing-and-more-drought-calls-for-more-thought More housing and more drought calls for more thought
The special circumstances of we face in MV — infrastructure limitations (including just 2 routes to freeway access), flood risk, fire risk, lack of actual buildable land, increased traffic/people complicating the choke points for regular traffic needs and seriously hampering evacuation potential from the upper areas of MV in case of fire — how does increasing our population by almost 15% make sense?
https://weather.com/news/climate/news/2021-05-28-california-drought-facts Water watchers in Marin, Sonoma counties brace for more drought In Midst of Drought, California Water Officials Plan to Crack Down and Increase Water Conservation California drought: 3-year rain, snow levels will soon reach lowest on record since 1922 in Central CA, NOAA says - ABC7 Los Angeles No water PG or Monterey
https://santarosapressdemocrat-ca.newsmemory.com/? The Press Democrat Sonoma caves w water permits.