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The pinnacle of Falcon journalism

The Pitch

The pinnacle of Falcon journalism

The Pitch

Town of Fairfax proposes new affordable housing plan in line with state regulations

New+housing+in+Fairfax+aims+to+create+affordable+rentals+for+seniors.+
Zoe Levy
New housing in Fairfax aims to create affordable rentals for seniors.

On Wednesday, Jan. 10, the Fairfax Town Council held an open meeting at the Fairfax Women’s Club, where they presented their new affordable housing model. They gave the first reading of a proposed zoning module, which would allow several new housing areas to be developed. This zoning is for the sixth cycle of the housing element of Fairfax’s General Plan.

Every eight years, the town of Fairfax creates a new General Plan that goes through cycles, continuing improvements for the town and delegating available resources to various housing projects. The General Plan consists of eight elements (land use, circulation, housing, town center, open space, conservation, safety, and noise) and for this sixth cycle, from 2023-2031, Fairfax has been assigned by the State of California to plan for 490 new housing units, focused on affordability. 

Victory Village offers 54 modern and inexpensive houses for those 62 and older to rent. (Zoe Levy)

Most of the housing will be erected in the downtown area, and will not be built on any protected open space. According to the Town of Fairfax’s General Plan, the project aims to preserve an economically diverse community, by providing a variety of types, sizes, costs, and locations of new homes. 

To achieve this goal, the Town of Fairfax can zone these areas, making the implementation of new housing easier. Zoning is when the town labels an area, describing how the land could be used. In this case, the areas are zoned as affordable housing.

Fairfax Vice Mayor Lisel Blash currently works on the zoning plan for the new housing, even though the construction of the units is not in the hands of the town. Once the town plans for the housing to be built, it can start to be developed by real estate developers, and then constructed by builders. 

“[The town] just needs to zone to accommodate this housing so that the owners of private property can choose to develop housing on their property,” Blash said.

Old fairfax housing located at the new construction site on Olema Road. (Zoe Levy)

According to the Town of Fairfax’s General Plan, the community needs housing for low-to-moderate income households, families, and groups with special needs. This includes the disabled, elderly, workforce, and single parents. Mayor Barbara Coler of Fairfax worries about the community’s housing needs, and hopes the new plan can ensure safety and shelter for more families.

“By ensuring housing can be built through our Housing Element and our [programs and policies], particularly affordable housing, we ensure that teachers, firefighters, police, and other workers employed in Fairfax can have an opportunity to live here,” Coler said.  

Some Fairfax residents have raised concerns that the new developments will escalate the use of the limited water supply, increase traffic, affect the already limited parking, and cause an inability to escape in the case of an emergency. They also worry about the loss of beloved old buildings in the downtown area. 

“Some are concerned with any change in Fairfax, and they have expressed [that] change may negatively impact our village-like quality,” Coler said.

The state of California ordered the construction of more housing due to the California housing crisis and the growing unsheltered population. Blash wants counties like Marin to step up to increase the amount of affordable housing in wealthier neighborhoods. 

A construction site is being prepared for new housing at 10 Olema Road. (Zoe Levy)

“The refusal of many communities, especially wealthy communities like Marin, to provide additional housing, particularly lower-income housing, is seen by some as the root cause of this problem. The state dramatically increased the number of units required and enforcement for this cycle of the Housing Element,” Blash said. 

If Fairfax does not pass a compliant housing element, there are penalties, such as loss of funding or even removal of Fairfax’s autonomy as a planning committee. The starting date of the building has yet to be announced, as the town is still in the planning stage, but will be decided when plans are finalized. 

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Camilla is a sophomore in her first year of journalism. She enjoys listening to music and her favorite holiday is halloween. She joined journalism because of her interest in graphic design.
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Betsy is a sophomore in her first year of journalism. She likes to read and bake. She plays the piano and you can often find her watching NCIS.
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