There’s no escaping talk of the local housing shortage, and given that the Bay Area is among the fastest-growing job markets in the nation, the talk won’t be stopping anytime soon. But more housing density is considered a threat to Marin’s famed open spaces. Many residents are against new construction, and recent conservation-minded funding approved by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission bolsters efforts to preserve even more open space. However, a movement is afoot that may appease both sides. Following Tiburon’s and Novato’s cue, San Rafael is the latest city in Marin to approve junior second units. The mini units are converted from existing spaces — backyard cottages, garages, spare rooms — into private apartments with basic amenities, including a separate entrance. The benefits are many: homeowners get a second income, and tenants get access to affordable housing. Leaders in Fairfax, Larkspur and Belvedere are considering similar laws.
This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s print edition under the headline: “Think Small.“