Possible Community and School Housing Initiatives

Not only is the lack of long term resident housing squeezing local families and making it especially hard for new families to move to town, but without available housing it is difficult to recruit and retain staff.

These are ideas, in order of short to long-term solutions, generally increasing in complexity and expense.

1) Temporary, Emergency Housing for Families and Staff with enrolled children.

When you look deeply into the experience of a local family losing their long-term rental, there are two problems.  The first is to find a new place. The second is to try and coordinate move-in timing. Long term rentals are so scarce, that it is risky to pass up a rental available in October, even if one’s current rental is secure through January.   It seems important to have dedicated spaces available for families in transition.

2) Temporary Rooms for Commuting Staff/Teachers.

Whether it is a spare room in a local’s house, or the extra upper floor rooms in the BPUD building, or the breakout classroom on the Stinson campus, or adding a shower and sleeping area to the main campus, or parking a nice RV or tiny home, it seems the school could actively ensure that commuting teachers and staff have the opportunity to occasionally spend the night in town rather than commute over the hill, especially if they have late school-related meetings.  

3) Long Term Rental Owner Outreach, Tracking, and Prospective Tenant Notification.  

The lowest hanging fruit.  It would be great to make a list of all the existing long-term rentals, with owner and renter names and contact info, and be sure that every time someone is moving out, the local population gets as much advance notice as possible so that school staff and families that are already here can remain, and so that staff and families who what to return or come to the community can get first shot at the rare long term rental.  There might even be a program where the school guarantees the “security deposit’ or something similar so owners are inclined to notify the school.

4) Short Term Rental Owner Outreach

While short-term rentals are appealing to many owners, they are not always more profitable, and some owners may rent this way to keep the home available for summer use.  Perhaps the school can have an outreach program where short-term rental owners are contacted (we have a database of them already) and asked if they are interested in renting to staff or families, on either a long-term basis or just during the 9 month school year.   Many summer communities work exactly this way with the permanent local population leaving their homes for the summer (to travel or to smaller homes), for the summer residents to reside in and enjoy during the “high season.” The school might again offer some sort of security deposit guarantee, or another commitment that is actually of little or no cost to the school.

5) Public Agency Outreach (Park Service, Rancho Bolinas, Martin Griffin Audubon, other Schools, Organizations)

There seem to be several homes nearby owned by Park and other non-profit agencies that have empty housing, or housing used by their staff, that could be made available to the school.  It would seem the school might contact their management and sublet these spaces for school staff as needed.

6) Build Housing on School Land That Pays for Itself!  A Big Idea!

Build out on unused existing space or add mobile, temporary or permanent structures to provide housing for school staff and possibly enrolled families in transition.  See this spreadsheet showing capital allocation scenarios.  It shows it might be done on or next to our existing Bolinas campus.  If so I will advocate that we adopt best practices from the Pocket Neighborhood movement.

7) Buy Building(s) and Retrofit

Some properties on the open market may be retrofitted to house staff.  It seems unlikely that this is as practical and cost-effective a route as purpose-built housing would be, unless the price was exceptionally low.

8) Buy Land and Develop Staff Housing

This could be an option, particularly if adjacent to our existing school (which would facilitate water meter sharing, where wells can’t be used).