Study finds 60% of Marin work force commutes; housing prices to blame

MARIN COUNTY — Nearly 60 percent of people who work in Marin commute in from outside the county, farther on average than any other workforce in the Bay Area, according to a report by Live Local Marin, a special initiative of the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California and Greenbelt Alliance.

The report, Miles From Home, indicates that cumulatively, Marin’s driving workforce puts an extra 2.37 million pounds of carbon emissions into the air each day. Marin’s lack of affordable housing is cited as a primary cause, with two-thirds of Marin workers earning less than the $56,000 per year needed to afford to rent a one-bedroom apartment.

“While traffic problems are nothing new,” said Dianne Spaulding, executive director of Non Profit Housing, “what we found is that, contrary to public belief, the traffic on 101 in Marin is not just due to people passing through, it is made up mostly of workers trying to get totheir jobs in Marin. And, more importantly, more than half of these in-commuters earn less than $40,000 per year. That’s not enough to rent even a 1-bedroom apartment in Marin. Is it any wonder they need to commute long distances? We’re talking about workers like paramedics, kindergarten teachers and child care workers.”

Live Local Marin is calling on cities and the county to zone for more homes affordable to people who already work in Marin, so that they can live closer to where they work and drive less.

“Marin has a great legacy of environmentalism with more permanently protected parks, farms, and wetlands than any other Bay Area county,” said Jeremy Madsen, executive director of Greenbelt Alliance. “But to create a truly sustainable county, Marin will need to provide affordable homes that allow workers to drive shorter distances. That’s one of Marin’s best ways to reduce its carbon footprint.”

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