Alternative Housing Initiatives

Go here for thoughts on developing the 20 acre parcel on Mesa Rd that was formally owned by the Tacherra family.

At the moment there are 6 kinds of homes in our community.

  1. Single Family Homes
  2. In-law or Accessory Dwelling Units
  3. Junior Dwelling Units (JDUs) within a larger home’s footprint
  4. Agriculture Worker Housing
  5. Off Grid and/or Un-permitted living
  6. Shared Housing – Rooms in a shared house

Currently we have four ways to expand the long term rental market.

  1. Short Term Rental Regulation will put single family homes back into the long term rental market.
  2. An Empty Home Tax, introduced in other communities, would do the same.
  3. The Bolinas Community Land Trust is doing its part, working to create affordable housing for Bolinas residents.
  4. Updated septic, leach field and modern graywater solutions might make building more in-law units possible.

There may be an additional way – a new housing model.

Purpose built “single family” homes designed to house multiple families.

Some county planners have been using the term “deconstructed home” – as a way to describe a structure that provides living spaces for multiple families, but on a single family lot.  This would technically be a single family home built with a central space for kitchen, living, dining and other communal areas, but with wings off the communal space that would be smaller, private living suites with multiple bedrooms well suited for families (as well as smaller suites for individuals and couples).  These wings can be planned in advance, but added over time as long as it remains clear that water use maximums are not exceeded and septic/sewage treatment requirements are met.

This type of development would be consistent with the current housing trends toward smaller footprint community living – as we see with the increase in “not-so-big-homes,” “pocket neighborhoods” and “cohousing projects.”

What are next steps?

  • A new housing model needs to be developed, building within existing regulations and when possible using the existing housing stock, that allows for families to return without violating the water moratorium.  
  • Considering there are half the permanent residents living here than when the water moratorium was enacted, bringing the permanent population back to old levels is a reasonable goal.
  • It has been shown that by using the potable water through water meters only for sink, toilet and shower use, and not irrigation, that additional people can be added to a household without exceeding permitted usage limits.  
  • Since the water moratorium was imposed in 1971, there have been considerable advances in water saving technology for both potable water and septic/sewer treatment, yet these advances they have not been full implemented community wide.  
  • Properties with working wells (often on larger agriculturally zoned parcels), and catchment opportunities can reduce water meter throughput even further.