August 9, 2007: Marin IJ Editorial

Loch Lomond survives process

Marin IJ Editorial

THE LOCH LOMOND Marina project in San Rafael is an example of how painfully long the planning process can be in Marin. But it also is proof that it can work.

The project, which has been in the works for five years years, was approved animously Monday by the City Council.

The odyssey took 28 hearings and 100 meetings involving several city committees and boards.

The development plan that was approved has changed dramatically since it was first proposed by Thompson Dorfman Partners of Sausalito.

There are fewer housing units – 81 homes and townhouses, down from 88 in the original application. View lines have been improved through design changes. The townhouse project is no longer a solid two-story canyon. The area will be served by a full-service grocery. A second entrance/exit could be added and probably should be.

Some neighbors are pleased with the outcome. Others in the Loch Lomond area remain unhappy. They have fought long and hard to be heard and to get what they want. They haven’t got everything they sought, but they have been heard, even if some of them find that hard to believe.

They should keep battling to be heard. The reality is their persistence likely will result in the project being tweaked as it
moves forward. They also should take heart in the knowledge that their efforts have resulted in a better development, one that is more responsive to the needs of the entire Loch Lomond area.

The project includes a shoreline park and 22,000 square feet of retail space. The boat marina will be preserved. There are plans for 16 dry-dock parking slots for boats. Seventeen of the units will be affordable, with prices well below market. The developers expect to start construction next spring.

This is an area that needs to be redeveloped. The fact that it took five years for a reasonable project that includes a park and bayfront paths to be approved is discouraging. But given that this is Marin, the fact the project finally has been approved – and unanimously – sends a message that we don’t have to be satisfied with the status quo simply because there is fierce opposition to change.