What if I want a granny unit?

The East Bay Times editorial (on Measure I and Measure F) is an excellent summary of the history of the debate and the shameful actions by the City in this battle over land use decisions in Martinez. The editorial is timely, focused, and leaves no doubt about the Council’s efforts to thwart the will of the citizens. I am SO relieved to see that someone listens to the citizens here – even if it isn’t our Council!

I had asked Tim Platt if a vote of the people was needed if I simply wanted to add a granny unit. I didn’t think so, but wanted to be sure because of all the confusing messages from Measure F proponents. His response –

“No, they would not have to go through a vote of the Martinez voter, if they are allowed now to have a granny unit. Measure I does not change what a person can do with their property. Anything that they can do now under the current General Plan stays exactly the same under Measure I.” Property owners who are unsure should go to the City and ask what they are allowed to do now with Granny units, including on land zoned open space. Tim also consulted an attorney for verification of California Government Code Section 65852.2 which allows a City to adopt an ordinance allowing secondary units in any area zoned for single family or multifamily residences.

The 5/20/18 East Bay Times had an article about Pam Dorr’s campaign with SOUP (soup.is) to tackle the affordable homes issue on the Peninsula. She advocates “one stop shopping” with a team installing tiny prefab granny units. The team works with architects, engineers, arborists and subcontractors in the trades, in addition to local governments’ building departments, to simplify the process for first time homeowners. She thinks factory units have an important role to play in dealing with the housing crisis. Has the City looked into this?

In terms of June 5th: why would over 4000 Martinez citizens sign an initiative to assure that voters had a final say in the development of open space? And why would our City Council feel a need to respond with a counter measure that aims to inject fear, doubt, and confusion into the debate? The answer, I believe, is that the Council fears that many citizens really do support a community say in land use, just as citizens have a say in bonds the City might want to issue.

The issue before us is trust. I would dearly like to trust our current Council to listen to their constituents. But what I’ve witnessed first-hand is decades of Council approval of development while disregarding citizen concerns. Martinez – the town I love and support in many of its wonderful community efforts – is being willfully divided. Neighbor is pitted against neighbor with signs, fear-mongering copycat signs, and mailer after mailer.

Measure F – which wouldn’t have even been created without Measure I – is half right. Public open space shouldn’t be changed to other use without voter approval. But I didn’t know that the Council alone can currently get rid of public parks and do what they please with the land – without citizen input. Did You?

Mayor Schroder says that Measure I supporters are “selfishly opposed to growth.” I don’t think that’s fair. Measure I supporters understand the need for measured, reasonable, and well planned growth. Citizens have repeatedly been shut out from decisions on land use in the past, just as the Council shut down the citizen’s General Plan rewrite effort – after six years of effort and around $1,000,000. That’s why Measure I is needed.

Do attend the City Council’s special meeting tonight regarding the Council’s move to approve the development of 92 homes in the Pine Meadow project before the election. It is sure to be a telling chapter in this small town’s turmoil.

And do vote YES on Measure I, NO on Measure F.

– C. Wiley

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