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Wake up, Novato, and Get This Housing Cycle Right

It is clear Novato is serving as the prime source of very low and low affordable housing for the other cities in Marin.

I was surprised at the significant differences in the breakdown of affordable housing in Marin in the past.  Even though Novato is 20 percent of the county's population, from 1999 to 2006 the city created 51.4 percent of the affordable housing in Marin County.   

A total of 1,241 housing units for very low income residents were allocated for Marin County. A total of 528 were built, with Novato building 297 — 56 percent of the total. Five of the 11 cities in Marin, Belvedere, Corte Madera, Fairfax, Ross and San Anselmo built none.

A total of 618 low housing units were allocated for Marin County. A total of 751 were built, with Novato building 527, which is 85 percent of the total. Six of the 11 cities in Marin, Belvedere, Corte Madera, Fairfax, Ross, San Anselmo and Sausalito built none. 

It is clear the result of this distribution in Marin results in Novato serving as the prime source of very low and low affordable housing for the other cities in Marin.

So much for planning and a playing field that is not level. Novato needs to make sure it does not fall into the same trap this housing cycle. I will be at the city council meeting June 26 on this subject.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Pam Drew June 14, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Factual information has a way of being devalued by the PR manufacturers in Novato and Marin. Your information is put together from public documents available to the average citizen. It takes no more than a calculator which adds, subtracts, multiplies and divides. I fully expect one or more nonprofits to comment that quoting these statistics is from NIMBYs capitalizing on anger and fear and blocking the'vibrant' benefits of increasing density any time, any place. For example, look at MCF promoting affordable housing at the isolated location of Grady Ranch. Who's capitalizing on anger now?
Susan Clark June 14, 2012 at 02:15 PM
It's all part of a bigger government plan....Agenda 21.
Trish Boorstein June 14, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Years and years of Staff and Council being barraged by Housing Advocate Groups to promote all this Affordable Housing while rarely hearing or seeing residents speaking out on this, requires a little jolting and shaking of our community! We can not continue on this path, it is utterly unsustainable! I'll be at City meeting Tues. night!
ZorbaGT June 14, 2012 at 05:17 PM
houses too expnsive here in novato
Trish Boorstein June 14, 2012 at 05:37 PM
That may be true here in Novato and elsewhere. But compared to the rest of Marin, Novato is your best ticket. You get value and uncrowded trails! Contrary to what the opponents say about Novato being unneighborly and unwelcoming, according to Al's research, we are the most desirable place in Marin for providing affordability and have been historically.
Heather June 14, 2012 at 05:39 PM
City Council needs to hear our voices! I'll be there to stand up for whats right! Our community needs to work toghter and support one another respectfully as the next round of housing debates begin around our housing element and general plan.
Tina McMillan June 14, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Please check out the Novato Community Alliance http://www.nca4bh.org/ncasite_j17/index.php/en/ Our collective voices are stronger and more likely to be heard. NCA supports local people speaking out about issues of housing, transportation, public safety and local government. Its membership is growing as word is spreading. It is a grassroots effort that is completely supported by its members. Many of the affordable housing advocates, such as SUNN, are paid for by Marin Community Foundation. If you go the MCF's website they have explicit goals for developing affordable housing in line with the Sustainable Communities Strategy and One Bay Area Plan. MCF is an extremely powerful foundation. It is one of the largest foundations in the United States. They manage $1 billion in assets and distribute $50 million annually. SUNN received MCF funding through Greenbelt Alliance and North Bay Housing. These 501c3's are not suppose to use money to directly influence elections due to their not for profit status. In reality they are part of a larger network of nonprofit groups intent on redirecting tax dollars to affordable housing developers. It would be fine if the money went directly into providing services but when a billion dollar nonprofit makes its goal changing the landscape of California's distribution of tax dollars then individual citizens have lost their power to be heard. We need charitable foundations to focus on being charitable not political action committees.
Trish Boorstein June 14, 2012 at 09:21 PM
The following statement was sent out by a recent Sustainable Marin email(one of the non-profits Tina speaks about above)- I've cut and paste it here so folks can read the information that these groups are trying to impress upon the Novato community-You Too Can"Stand Up for Neighborly Novato"The Novato City Council is in the process of making major affordable housing decisions for our community. The decisions they make in the next year will affect housing for years to come and could have ramifications across Marin County.Stand Up for Neighborly Novato is on the side of Novato workers, families, seniors, disabled residents and others who are trying find a home they can afford. They need our help and there are three ways you can pitch in. First, go to their website at www.neighborlynovato.org, click the "Endorse Now" button at the top of the page and fill out the information to endorse the organization. Second, click on the "Get Involved" tab under "About Us" and sign up to volunteer, especially to knock on doors if you are able. Campaigns like this are frequently won by grassroots organizing so please help if you can. Third, find Stand Up for Neighborly Novato on Facebook and click their "Like" button. SUSTAINABLE NOVATO: Our mission is to bring about a healthy and vital environment, self-reliant economy, and inclusive community for the long term.
Ryan June 14, 2012 at 09:22 PM
It's simple. The distribution of affordable housing is not based on population size, it's based on income level. Novato has more seniors on fixed incomes and lower wage workers so naturally it's going to have more affordable housing. And that's a good thing. Rents are ridiculous. It's hard for anyone to stay here.
Eleanor Sluis June 14, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Cooperating with One Bay Area, MTC has had workshops for city planners and the public about parking issues arising when high-density buildings are constructed. Marin will be eventually involved as will Novato- the more we are aware of events and their unintended consequences, the better we will be able to make decisions on the health and welfare of our city. http://www.mtc.ca.gov/planning/smart_growth/parking/2011/Summary_of_MTC_Training_program.pdf Example: 1. Provide additional large workshops, with at least some of them focused on the Specific topics that were named in the survey. Highly rated topics included: • City Codes Relative to Parking Requirements • Financial Impacts of Parking Policies on City Budget • Strategies for Managing Residential Spillover Parking Impacts
KM Tracey June 14, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Novato has been very welcoming, much more so than any other city in Marin.
Al Dugan June 15, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Ryan, this is not correct. Suggest you read the Association of Bay Area web site to see how housing is allocated from the top down.
Al Dugan June 15, 2012 at 04:14 AM
I wait you posting.
Al Dugan June 15, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Great job of following the money....I think one reader asked what that meant. Great job of tee up the playing field and the issues. The individual home owner has no one out there defending their interests in government.
Al Dugan June 16, 2012 at 01:56 AM
We have had few people ask "what does follow the money mean?". Well, Tina has laid it out as clearly as it can be said.
Al Dugan June 16, 2012 at 02:50 AM
Closing the barn door after all the animals are gone. You are recommending seminars on dealing with parking while building high density? Wow.....
Tina McMillan June 16, 2012 at 03:47 AM
Eleanor I think these workshops are not intended to elicit feedback as much as they are being used to inculcate new followers. Unless we change the impact of SB375 by creating legislation that specifically states that regional agencies cannot dictate how cities and counties manage their general plans without balancing the impact of the distribution of low housing with the revenue sources that support these communities we are in a downward spiral that may result in bankruptcy. This is why our current town council is choosing to count pennies when it comes to joining MEA. For Novato $7800 is a significant yearly expense. For every lost dollar there will eventually be a lost job or an inability to maintain a road or a service. We aren't the rich folks on the block, we never have been. It is more important now than ever to stick to our guns on issues of density, planning and development. Though I disagree strongly with the city's plan to build their offices in old town I am in favor of their efforts to increase revenue and balance the budget. We still have a structural budget deficit in the millions. Measure F is the only reason we have our heads above water. When measure F ends we are back in the hole again. Someone needs to put the breaks on Sacramento deciding what happens in Novato.

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