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San Anselmo Floor Area Ratio Ordinance, Measure E (November 2009)

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A San Anselmo Floor Area Ratio Ordinance, Measure E ballot proposition will be on the November 3, 2009 ballot in Marin County for voters in the Town of San Anselmo. Measure E is a veto referendum placed on the ballot by citizens who are challenging home-size restrictions approved by the Town of Anselmo Council. A "yes" votes supports the home-size restrictions. A "no" vote overturns the home-size restrictions.[1]

The Town Council passed a size-restrictions ordinance for the San Anselmo flatlands in October 2008. The ordinance limits the habitable-space parts of home construction projects to 45% of the lot size. It also limits the size of new homes to 5,000 square feet.[2]

The question on the ballot will be, "Shall the ordinance of the San Anselmo Town Council establishing maximum floor area and maximum lot coverage for single family properties located below 150 feet mean sea level elevation be adopted?"

San Anselmo has had a FAR (Floor Area Ratio) ordinance for its hillside properties since the early 1990s. The hillside FAR is less restrictive than the flatlands FAR. The hillside FAR explicitly says that basements, garages, crawlspaces and attics with floors do not count as habitable space in calculating a building's square footage, whereas the flatlands FAR makes no such distinction.[2]

Supporters of a "yes" vote

  • The Marin Independent-Journal urges its readers to vote "yes" on Measure E. They say, "Design may be more important than square footage, but having standards well-detailed in city building rules is the best way to settle disputes over "McMansions." The goal of the town law was to spell out local house-size restrictions for homeowners, potential buyers and neighbors who are worried that neighborhoods are getting overbuilt."[3]
  • An argument in the official ballot guide made by supporters says that Measure E will protect residents from "new outsized houses that will severely impact your light, views, privacy and change the character of your neighborhood" and "Without FAR, San Anselmo must allow houses nearly double the size allowed in Mill Valley and Tiburon. Your vote will shape how San Anselmo will look in the future."[4]

Opponents of the new home-size restrictions

  • Former mayors Paul Chignell and Jeff Kroot urge a "no" vote. They believe that San Anselmo's new restrictions for properties in the flatlands are too burdensome and will prevent people from building additions if their family size increases.[3]
  • Arguments in the official voter's guide made by opponents of Measure E say that if Measure E passes, more than 1,000 existing homes will be defined as too large to add even a single square foot, that the planning code already preserves the character of the town and Measure E is "redundant and heavy handed."[4]

External links


  1. CBS 5, "Nine local measures on Marin ballot November 3", October 23, 2009
  2. 2.0 2.1 Pasadena Star News, "Floor-area ratio ordinance a hot ballot topic in San Anselmo", September 25, 2009
  3. 3.0 3.1 Marin Independent Journal, "Editorial: IJ's recommendations on Ross Valley ballot measures", October 12, 2009
  4. 4.0 4.1 CBS 5, "San Anselmo voters will decide two measures on November ballot", October 23, 2009