In December 2017 the Marin Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to not extend the Seminary’s expiring Master Plan and to not begin environmental review on North Coast Land Holding’s application to redevelop the site. At that meeting, Supervisor Sears admonished all sides to “get real” and to “come out of their corners”.
In January, Seminary Neighborhood Association president Josh Sale wrote a letter NCLH president Bruce Jones indicating his belief that it was time to break the cycle of acrimony and for the parties to begin an honest conversation about the future of the site. The letter sketched out what this conversation might look like:
- We identify a small number of Strawberry residents to represent the community.
- We have a series of facilitated meetings. The cost of the facilitator should be shared, in proportions to be determined, between the community, County and North Coast Land Holdings.
- The meetings should be private but not confidential (i.e., the broader community is aware that they are occurring).
- The scope for this group should be limited: broadly identify acceptable uses and intensities for the Seminary site. It shouldn’t venture into detailed site planning.
- The group should establish an ambitious but realistic timeframe for doing its work.
- Everything should be on the table … including a school. At the same time, there can be no sacred cows … including a school.
- The group should conduct a couple of public meetings to keep the community up to date.
- The ultimate work product of this group should be a general description of the land uses at the Seminary in the future. While this description might not technically be an update to the Seminary section of the Strawberry Community Plan, it should hopefully be a straightforward process to create such an update from the group’s efforts.
In March NCLH reached back to Sale indicating they were prepared to proceed along these lines.
Since then a group of eight individuals who have all been active in the struggle around the future of the site were selected to represent and advocate for the Strawberry community, a facilitator (Marie Rainwater) has been hired and the first facilitated meeting took place (May 15th). All of the parties also agreed to the attached communication. They also agreed on a name for this process: Seminary Tomorrow.
As the meetings continue we will keep you apprised. We will organize checkpoint meetings with the entire community.
There is no assurance that this process will result in an agreement that all parties can live with. But we need to make every effort to try to find agreement if we’re ever going to bring closure to the future of the site now that the Seminary is gone.
Finally please remember that even if the Seminary Tomorrow process yields a compromise solution, that isn’t the end of the process. Indeed anything that comes out of this process will still need to go through all of the County’s approval process (Strawberry Design Review, Planning Commission, environmental review and Board of Supervisors). Seminary Tomorrow doesn’t short-circuit any of this.
Thanks for reading this far and we hope you will take a few additional minutes and read this announcement.