POINT REYES STATION (KPIX 5) — Point Reyes Station residents are celebrating a victory against the housing crisis after Marin County voted to purchase Coast Guard land to give to the town.
The housing crisis is happening everywhere, but in small towns like Pt. Reyes Station, you can’t just solve it by building high-rise, high-density housing complexes.READ MORE: Is Plunging Demand For COVID-19 Testing Putting Communities At Risk For New Surge?
Back in 2014, residents were surprised to learn that the former Coast Guard housing site containing 36 townhomes was going on the auction block to be sold to the highest bidder.
“As a community, we said, ‘No way!’ We are in a housing crisis. Those homes need to be used for the community’s benefit,” said Kim Thompson, the Director of the Community Land Trust Association of West Marin, or CLAM.
At Pt. Reyes Station, the cost of housing has skyrocketed, partially from demand for short-term vacation rentals. And with most of the open land in the area being federally protected, working-class residents are being priced out of town.
So it was a big deal Tuesday night when the Board of Supervisors officially voted to purchase the land from the Coast Guard.
“So, to have 36 townhouses that house multiple people, maybe 80, 90 people, this is huge for West Marin,” said Supervisor Dennis Rodoni, who represents the area on the Board.READ MORE: Three Arrested After Crashing While Fleeing Antioch Police
The townhouses are in remarkable shape with half of them turn-key ready. There are tennis courts, a picnic area and dining hall. The only thing missing is a septic system so a waste-water treatment facility will have to be constructed. The property will likely be owned and protected by CLAM which will maintain it as affordable housing.
“You know, in the larger urban area, 36 homes seems like it’s very small. To us, this is huge,” said CLAM Director Thompson. “And this is actually the biggest opportunity to create affordable homes that West Marin has ever seen.”
Thompson says it’s possible that more units could be added to the land in the future. But even the 36 homes will mean a lot to residents like Jorge Martinez, who fears gentrification is rapidly changing the feel of his town.
“Having a house or something stable here, it really allows people to grow roots in the community,” he said, “and be able to participate more and give more back. And sort of, in a way, strengthen the community. But they’re not able to do that because they’re working two or three jobs.”
Marin will pay $4.3 million for the 32-acre property, with the money coming from the county’s affordable housing trust fund.MORE NEWS: VIDEO: Skiers Defy Death In Descent Of Yosemite's Half Dome
It’s taken three and a half years just to complete the purchase of the property, but the county says in the next 90 days, they’ll study what needs to be done and have a better idea of a timeline for when people might be able to move in.