Hauke Park residents object to low-income housing proposal


(Kayla Boon)

By Naomi Lenchner

Since late July, “Save Hauke Park” signs have sprung up around the park’s Mill Valley neighborhood, leaving many residents wondering what these signs are advocating for.  Mill Valley’s City Council voted on June 21 to look into building a 40-unit low-income housing complex on Hamilton Drive. The vote allots funds to investigate whether to build the complex and is not a definitive plan to begin construction.

(Kayla Boon)

The decision sparked outrage and protest in the community, prompting hundreds of written complaints and a lawn-sign campaign. One particularly vocal group has been “Friends of Hauke Park”(FOHP), which created a website to advocate against the building proposal. According to the FHOP website, “Our goal is to downsize the proposed project so that it fits into our neighborhood and Mill Valley generally. The City intends to build a 4-story, 40+ unit box-like structure in a neighborhood of single-family homes, in a location with poor vehicle access, limited parking, and safety concerns for pedestrians accessing Hauke Park.” They refute claims that their reaction to the City Council’s vote is “NIMBYism” (Not in my Backyard-ism), a viewpoint of many wealthy homeowners that low-income housing, homeless shelters, and other types of affordable housing might drive down their property value are unwelcome in their neighborhood. The group claims that they are not against low-income housing in Mill Valley, but against the City Council’s June proposal. 

“We hope to reduce the height of the structure, to scale back the number of units to preserve the low-density character of Enchanted Knolls, Shelter Ridge, and Mill Valley, and to have genuine input into the design so that future residents are integrated into the neighborhood in a positive way. We are not trying to prevent all affordable housing at the site,” the group’s website reads. 

The debate surrounding the housing complex has heated up on community platforms such as NextDoor, a social network platform for neighborhoods. One Enchanted Knolls resident wrote on a FOHP NextDoor post, “Our Parks are our treasures. Enjoyed by all. We need all Mill Valleyians to join together in our fight against this development … This administration has no right to decide the fate of Mill Valley property, owned by the people. We need affordable housing of course, but not in our sacred Parks…” [Note: if the user is referring to the Presidential Administration, the federal government had no part in the City Council’s vote on June 21.]

In the same post, one Bel Air resident expressed their feelings that the campaign against the housing complex is elitist and a form of NIMBYism: “Save Hauke Park? More like ‘Save My View’, ‘Save My Inflated Property Value’, or ‘Save Us From The Less Fortunate.’’ The conflicting views of Mill Valley residents have made it unclear whether or not locals are okay with having a low-income complex in their neighborhood. 

Mill Valley Mayor John McCauley expressed the desire to build more affordable housing when asked about his agenda as Mayor in a May 6 interview with the Tam News. “I have also been working very hard on expanding low-income housing in Mill Valley, both in terms of policies and in promoting a specific development project. I chair a Housing Advisory Committee that reports to the City Council. I am hoping for the announcement of significant progress on creating a new low-income development in town within the next month or so, stay tuned.” McCauley joined his fellow City Council members in an unanimous vote to begin looking into the process of building the affordable complex in Hauke Park.