Why ABAG and HCD Numbers for Novato Affordable Housing Make No Sense

The developer and institutional investor assault on Novato.

Here is why the ABAG and HCD affordable housing requirements are bad math.

Our new Novato housing element for 2007-2014 wants us to identify sites to build 1,241 affordable housing units of which 446 are very low and low affordable housing. This is after Novato built almost all the very low and low affordable housing in all of Marin in the last cycle, 1999-2006.

The Association of Bay Area Governments report “A Place to Call Home: Housing in the San Francisco Bay Area 2007” provides a breakdown of affordable housing Regional Housing Needs Allocations and permits issued by cities in the county of Marin from 1999 to 2006.

RHNA allocated 1,241 very low income housing for Marin County. A total of 528 permits were issued and 297 were from Novato or 56 percent. Five of the 11 cities in Marin (Belvedere, Corte Madera, Fairfax, Ross and San Anselmo) had no permits issued.

RHNA allocated 618 Low Housing for Marin County. A total of 751 permits were issued and 527 were from Novato or 85 percent. Six of the 11 cities in Marin (Belvedere, Corte Madera, Fairfax, Ross, San Anselmo and Sausalito) had no permits issued.

Novato was allocated 242 Low Housing units and 527 permits were issued or 218 percent more than allocated by RHNA. Now HCD is saying we have to prove it will be built before 2014 in their response to our housing element. The California Government Code Section 65584 clearly does not say this and takes into consideration that it may not be built.

The code states: (2) While it is the intent of the Legislature that cities, counties, and cities and counties should undertake all necessary actions to encourage, promote, and facilitate the development of housing to accommodate the entire regional housing need, it is recognized, however, that future housing production may not equal the regional housing need established for planning purposes.

The census data (www.bayareacensus.ca.gov) indicates Novato population from 2000-2010 grew from 47,630 to 51,904 which is an 8.97 percent growth and an increase of 4,274. The average household was 2.52 persons. The household growth was 1,755. In the 1999-2006 housing cycle Novato built 2,966 affordable housing units. Thus Novato built 1,211 more affordable housing units than the TOTAL household increase in this time period.

More importantly, to complete a comparison for 2000–2010 for affordable housing and households affordable housing in 1999 would have to be removed and the affordable housing built in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 would have to be added and I do not have this information.

Given one year would be removed and four years added it is expected the 1,211 difference would be the minimum difference. (See attached worksheet.) Adding the Minimum Housing Floor factor of 40 percent to Novato’s affordable housing calculation in the next cycle does not seem reasonable. The affordable housing far exceeded the needs of Novato and was subsequently filled with residents outside of Novato. It is not fair to the citizens for Novato to have to support tax free affordable housing for non-Novato residents that stresses the schools and public services.

Now they want us to build another 1,241? Novato is being gamed and the numbers make no sense. From 1999 to 2014 they are asking us to build 4,207 affordable housing units with total household growth from 2000 to 2010 was a total of 1,755 households?

This makes no sense for Novato and will drive down the value of Novato homes.

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.

Al Dugan January 29, 2013 at 03:25 AM
The affordable housing of 4,207 units between 1999 and 2014, if this latest cycle of 1,241 units are built, times the 2.52 average size of household (per the census data) means the affordable housing alone could house 10,602 people. Novato has a population of 51,000. From 2000 to 2010 the population of Novato only grew by 4,274. It could be easily argue that a large part of that growth was not natural market forces, but driven by the past significant over building of affordable housing at Hamilton. This makes no sense for Novato.
Michael Reyff January 29, 2013 at 04:51 AM
Al: Do not engage this/these faux "name" George Soros progressive operative(s)! They are paid very very well to patrol websites and attack those who oppose their agenda. They are very sophsticated and well funded. The issue of affordable housing is an extremely important issue to them. They will attack you at every comment you make. Demean them them with out engaging them.
Alex Jacques January 29, 2013 at 05:07 AM
Al, Do you think HCD can help us with the recent alleged murderer at Wyndover Apartments? Who takes responsibility for the crime and public safety in these projects?
Alex Jacques January 29, 2013 at 05:09 AM
One more thing: Couldn't the city of Novato make an ordinance to make sure management doesn't provide housing for repeat offenders? Reading the IJ article, the alleged killer of the 19 year old in Oakland "was staying" at The Wyndover Apartments? Couldn't Wyndover be sued? The city of Novato sued for allowing the crime?
Al Dugan January 29, 2013 at 06:14 AM
Have you noted no post from A. M. Bernard on this blog?
Trish Boorstein January 29, 2013 at 06:41 AM
Al, thank you for addressing some of the numbers behind all this housing discussion. If all the cities in this county simply played by the same rules and were held to the same standards, people probably wouldn't be so upset here in Novato.
Bob Ratto January 29, 2013 at 02:41 PM
Al, This is another very educational piece, so thank you!...Beyond the absolute madness of the sheer number of units that Novato has provided (which, added together over say two cycles, would absolutely crush what any other area has done)-lies the crazy bit in your sixth paragraph-that we must now essentially "prove"/ensure high feasibility that it will be built-this is pure bureaucratic overreach and is simply nonsense..it is not, and never has been, the responsibility of any city to do such a thing, as there is simply no practical way for a City to have that level of involvement (nor should it, since they are not in the housing business)
Tina McMillan January 29, 2013 at 09:24 PM
http://www.abag.ca.gov/planning/housingneeds/pdf/resources/A_Place_to_Call_Home_2007.pdf "Many local governments have come to realize that the best way to reduce community resistance to new housing development is to give community members an active role in determining what kind of housing and amenities their community will have. Giving community members a real voice requires that local governments go beyond the minimum outreach requirements mandated by law to find ways to truly engage residents and others in the planning and decision making processes." This paragraph in the ABAG article mentioned by Al, is where the Ad Hoc working group started when they got involved in the current housing element. Reducing the base density for low income multifamily housing to 20 units per acre,not including density bonuses and using housing over lay districts, is a means of incorporating a vision of Novato that reflects the needs of the existing community. While AH advocacy groups only look for undeveloped land on which to build more and more housing, cities must create revenue to support the increase in residents. Novato schools are not part of a basic aid district. They are low wealth because property taxes do not cover the cost of education. City services have also been impacted by a need to increase sales tax revenue. What we build and where we build will affect the future financial solvency of our community. What we want is local control and balanced housing.
Al Dugan January 30, 2013 at 02:43 AM
Could not say it any better. Bravo.
Al Dugan January 30, 2013 at 03:01 AM
A.M. Bernard, where are you? Not a single post on this blog? We miss you.
Al Dugan January 30, 2013 at 03:47 AM
Ok, showtime A.B. Bernard. Are you going post?
Al Dugan January 30, 2013 at 03:54 AM
Wow, I cal out A. M. Bernard and Bud Light, Old N. Grouchy, My WY or the Highway answers? What is that all about?
Ventress Dugan January 30, 2013 at 04:46 AM
Old N Grouchy: You might want to change your photo! Funny how you and My Way or the Highway share the same taste in photography. I do differ in the description of these trolls as "sophisticated".....
Al Dugan January 30, 2013 at 05:03 AM
Wow, you are right. That is the same post photo as "My Way or the Highway"... What a coincidence.
Al Dugan January 30, 2013 at 05:48 AM
Well, A. M. Bernard, this is the last chance as the blog will be off the home page unless Bud Light brings it back. Where are you? Not authorized to post on this site? Why is that?
A.M. Barnard January 30, 2013 at 02:38 PM
Good morning to you, Mr. Dugan. I confess to being mildly flattered that you so eagerly await a response from me. I would apologize by leaving you hanging, as it were, but you have already, incorrectly, assumed that one person who very willingly limits his or her Internet time "must" be the reincarnation of My Way or the Highway. Quite simply, that is not the case. Furthermore, I know not what you would expect of me in the way of a response. I believe I have made clear my position. Affordable housing is a need; a GREAT need shared by the poor, the elderly, the disabled and the otherwise infirm. Novato has the land and the easy freeway access; it only makes sense from a logistics standpoint that it be built in Novato. Warnings of increased crime and/or decreased property values are smokescreens for racist and elitist beliefs.
Tired January 30, 2013 at 03:16 PM
Thanks A.M., You are right and know that most of us agree with you but are afraid to post due to the bullying we get from the anti-housing people. People are losing their homes every day around here because they cannot afford the mortgages after losing a job, or a family illness, or going on fixed income etc. And the few places we have that are supposedly affordable have wait lists out the whazoo. Thanks for your compassion.
Trish Boorstein January 30, 2013 at 03:27 PM
A.M. B., as a Latina who moved here to Novato 20+ years ago, I care about Novato and am concerned with any crime and any property being devalued. Being a caring resident of Novato does not make me a racist nor an elitist. By your logic a city with few exits has little or no responsibility for their Housing Element obligations and their contribution to society's needs.
Tina McMillan January 30, 2013 at 03:50 PM
AMB and Tired SB375 is the law that has been linked to climate change. It doesn't say that any one community's proximity to the freeway makes it a better place for additional affordable housing to be built. Neither do Government Codes 65580-65589.8. These codes say that every community must be inclusive of affordable housing. While I do appreciate the many local references in your posts they have not provided evidence that you have read any of the the affordable housing laws. These laws say: "65581. It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this article: (a) To assure that counties and cities recognize their responsibilities in contributing to the attainment of the state housing goal. (b) To assure that counties and cities will prepare and implement housing elements which, along with federal and state programs, will move toward attainment of the state housing goal. (c) To recognize that each locality is best capable of determining what efforts are required by it to contribute to the attainment of the state housing goal, provided such a determination is compatible with the state housing goal and regional housing needs. (d) To ensure that each local government cooperates with other local governments in order to address regional housing needs." There is no law which makes Novato because of its location and land mass responsible for the county's affordable housing needs .
Tina McMillan January 30, 2013 at 04:12 PM
Novato already has an economically diverse population as evidenced by the services funded through sales taxes and property taxes. If you want more people to be able to live in Novato then focusing on economic development is the key. In the meantime please understand that caring for seniors, disabled and other vulnerable populations is part of many families day to day lives. The current housing element provides every advantage to affordable housing developers with one single concession, a 20 unit per acre multifamily designation. This number can be increased by density bonuses. Density bonus law appears to be a base rather than a ceiling, meaning densities can be increased at the discretion of the city planners. http://www.codepublishing.com/CA/marysville/html/MarysvilleCA18/MarysvilleCA1897.html "Recent appellate decisions, including a second case involving Mr. Wollmer—Wollmer v. City of Berkeley (2011) 122 Cal.Rptr.3d 781—decided in March, reaffirms a city’s ability to apply broadly the Density Bonus Law in order to promote its goals through the award of excess density bonus units, extra incentives or concessions, and by providing flexibility in granting development standard waivers. (Id. at 791-793 [“Wollmer II”]; Wollmer, 179 Cal.App.4th at 943, 948.)" http://www.multihousingnews.com/features/density-bonus-law-why-affordable-housing-is-badly-needed-in-california/1004040301.html
Tina McMillan January 30, 2013 at 04:22 PM
The challenge is to balance housing with revenue. We need to empower property owners by providing some of the same opportunities to develop their land in ways that support disabled and elderly family members as well as adult children now living at home due to dire economic times. When we give all concessions to developers we take away the rights of individual property owners, who want to help and who want to do so without becoming dependent on the government or non profits for support. In reality as we age if we do not have sufficient money in our retirement for housing it makes sense to live in communities that can provide housing at a lesser cost. Novato already provides housing at the lesser cost the market will bear. If you take away tax incentives for private property owners you will find fewer and fewer second units and other reasonably priced rentals. This would mean a greater burden on the government to build more public housing complexes. The greater burden on government means higher taxes and the cycle of government being made responsible for our every need increases. On the other hand if you provide incentives that allow people to own their own property then they have the ability to help themselves and their families. Programs like Habitat for Humanity focus on this goal. It is better to empower individuals rather than promote dependency on government. While affordable housing is a need it is not a right.
John Stewart January 31, 2013 at 05:33 AM
al I have been reading your blogs and this is my first comment. thank you. I am so busy trying to feed my family I don't have time to go to meetings or help with our cause in novato. i am sorry. thank you for exposing the nonprofits, the slush funds, mcf and hcd/abag using novato as a dumping ground. its very sad. you are brave and smart. thank you i live by windover and my wife is scared to live there. we are renters and we will be giving notice to our landlord. i feel badly for the others who have to live around the crime there. yesterday's ij story about the arrest of the man at windover who may have shot the boy in oakland really upsets me greatly.
Al Dugan January 31, 2013 at 06:26 AM
Wow A.M. You protected Ross for gaming the system, but it works because we don't want to make poor people uncomfortable living there. You ignore the affordable housing numbers completed by Novato, that are on the record and call me a racist and elitist. I expect you are educated enough to understand the word "disingenuous". Thanks, you will forever be discounted. But I guess now you just get a new moniker.
Al Dugan January 31, 2013 at 06:58 AM
John, I understand you concern. Hope you and your family stay safe.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »