CA: Community Will Hold Meeting on Larkspur SMART Station Area Plan

May 16--Critics of a draft plan to concentrate future housing and business development near the proposed Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit station in Larkspur are expecting 400 people to attend a community meeting about the plan Saturday.

Loosely knit community groups Larkspur Fights Back and Marin Against Density will co-host the 2 to 5 p.m. meeting at Redwood High School in Larkspur.

Kentfield resident Mimi Willard, of Marin Against Density, said there is a lot of concern about the plan's implications, so a meeting seemed like a good idea.

"We wanted to provide an opportunity for people to get more educated about it," Willard said.

Larkspur resident Julie Leitzell, of Larkspur Fights Back, agreed and said opposition to the station area plan is growing.

"There's a lot of momentum building with people all over Marin asking how they can help us," Leitzell said.

The draft plan -- which is meant to increase transit ridership, increase affordable housing and jobs near transit, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions -- identifies seven possible sites for development in the station area, which encompasses about a half-mile radius around the proposed SMART station near Highway 101 and Marin Country Mart. Potential development includes 77,500 square feet of retail space, 60,000 square feet of hotel space, 39,500 square feet of office space and up to 920 dwelling units.

Critics of the draft plan are worried its adoption will lead to high-rise, high-density housing complexes. The draft plan allows for buildings as tall as five stories with densities of 20 to 35 units per acre.

At Saturday's meeting Bob Silvestri, a former low-income housing developer and a critic of the draft plan, will talk about federal and state housing laws, the Association of Bay Area Governments, Plan Bay Area and how they all relate to the Larkspur plan.

"I'm going to do a talk called 'Beyond Plan Bay Area,' which is an iteration on a talk I've done a number of times," Silvestri said. "This one will include information about the Larkspur Station Area Plan."

Silvestri said it will be an educational, informal talk about the history of modern planning, how the community got to where it is now and various aspects of the draft Larkspur plan he said many people may not know about.

"It's important to put things in plain English. It's hard to read these (planning) documents," he said.

Also in attendance will be former Ross mayor Peter Barry, who will serve as the event's emcee, and Marin Independent Journal political columnist Dick Spotswood.

Larkspur released its draft plan and draft environmental impact report for the plan April 1. Comments on the almost 440-page draft report will be accepted until 5 p.m. June 2. Comments for its accompanying nearly 200-page draft plan will be accepted beyond that date.

City officials will also hold a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Hall Middle School, 200 Doherty Drive, to receive comments on the plan's draft environmental impact report.

Contact Megan Hansen via email at mhansen@marinij.com or via Twitter at http://twitter.com/hansenmegan. Follow her blog at http://blogs.marinij.com/bureaucratsandbaking.

Copyright 2014 - The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif.

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