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.

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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.


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