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More Parking Spaces Coming to Downtown Novato

The City of Novato says there will be more parking spaces available in downtown soon.

Photo - Creative Commons
Photo - Creative Commons

In a recent article, readers voiced their difficulty in finding a parking space. Good news, the City of Novato will have more parking spaces available in the near future.

Currently the city is planning to open the parking garage at the City of Novato Administrative Offices to the public after hours once construction is finished in May.

"The restrictive parking sign at the garage will indicate “Staff Parking Only Monday through Friday 8am – 5pm.” This is for the garage. The plaza staff parking (on the south) will be reserved 24/7 for city vehicles,” Novato Engineering Manager, Julian Skinner said.

In addition to the garage parking there is two hour public parking along the north side of the plaza. Skinner says parking spaces along the East side of Machin Avenue have recently been completed and four more spaces on Cain Lane are nearing completion.

“There are 12 public spaces available in the plaza parking lot, and 16 along the east side of Machin between DeLong and Cain.  Also 25 additional spaces will be available after hours once the garage is open,” he said.


Roger January 16, 2014 at 10:24 AM
San Rafael and Petaluma have had public parking garages for many years. It is time for Novato to move into the modern age from the cowboy days.
Sylvia Barry January 16, 2014 at 10:38 AM
Agreed. Parking garage works, but it does depend where it is located. People don't mind walking a couple blocks when shopping in other towns, I'd think we should be able to do that in Novato. ....................................................................................... Question - this just came to me, a few years late - where did city employees used to park when they worked in the old city office which was deemed too dangerous to inhabit? - I understand the new office takes up a big part of an old parking lot, but they also added underground parking with this new building. Before they moved to Rowland's temporary office, where did the employees park?
Concerned Citizen January 16, 2014 at 10:46 AM
The bottom line is no one will rent at 999 Grant due to lack of parking. The theatre if it ever gets life will not have any parking for its potential patrons so will never succeed until there is a parking garage for downtown. The City knew all this b4 they built city hall. Our downtown will never flourish until the basic underpinnings are produced. Guess what? adequate parking kind of matters despite our elected leaders failure to consider.
Roger January 16, 2014 at 11:13 AM
The Prado firms wants to build a 7 screen movie complex and garage downtown, but Eklund is against it. Maybe if we wait 30 years a better proposal will come forth? I will be dead.
Michelle D January 16, 2014 at 12:11 PM
The question of parking should be brought up to the Planning and Zoning department. They have a nice 2 inch thick book , that also can be found on the web : http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientId=16532 --__ The code ordinance declares the requirements for parking. It looks like City Hall does not recognize their own zoning laws. CODE :__"Offices, administrative, corporate 1 space for each 275 sf; Downtown (D) overlay - 1 space for each 250 sf for ground floor uses; 1 space for every 300 sf for uses on upper floors. ___ If the new building is hypothetically 20,000 square feet they are suppose to require an average of 72 spaces.
Tina McMillan January 16, 2014 at 12:57 PM
I thought the city traded space with the SMART people for land in old town next to the old train depot that was to be used as downtown parking. ============================================ http://www.marinij.com/ci_22276266/novato-smart-land-swap-could-bring-parking-relief ============================================ Novato SMART land swap could bring parking relief for downtown By Janis Mara Marin Independent Journal Posted: 12/28/2012 03:37:18 PM PST "A proposed land swap between the city of Novato and the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District would likely bring more parking to downtown, a possibility greeted with relief by merchants in the area."
2MudDucks January 16, 2014 at 01:10 PM
People will not park in a City Administration parking lot! Just like Whole Foods provided 26 spaces for “public parking” on the 2nd Level, which no one knows exists…no visible signage. So why would your average weekend shopper even suspect parking in City Hall?? The Smart Lot, which provides “overflow” for employees isn’t used. Because it is too far to walk, they park in the Zinc Lot & valuable 2hr street parking. What a naïve plan! You now see construction workers’ & City vehicles taking up most of the parking on Sherman….thru May! There has been so many “parking plans” over the past 25yrs. Do we really want an ugly structure? Petaluma’s works because it has a “cut thru” to shops. The City will never build a parking structure, as its money pot is empty. The proposed secondary downtown shopping on Redwood calls for walking & bike paths to get pedestrians to Oldtown. People will NOT walk between the two! Naïve Naïve Naïve !!!!
Tina McMillan January 16, 2014 at 01:26 PM
There are multiple plans being run for the city by different factions. The TOD (transit oriented development) proponents want no additional parking because they believe cars will soon be extinct. The suggestion that the Prada Group, which owns the old Pini site, might put in a parking garage at that location hasn't been vetted but would certainly help upper Grant from 1st to 7th. But what about crossing Redwood. Will people use a garage on the other side of Redwood when they shop in Old Town? ========================================= If the city tore down some of the remaining condemned buildings could they build a parking structure for Old Town with a public/private partnership with a developer where they trade land? I don't know what public land is left but without private money I do know we lack the revenue to even maintain our roads without a bond measure.
Roger January 16, 2014 at 02:14 PM
2Mud: Petaluma has separate garages for both their separate centers --- one for old town and one for the theater district. When I am in Petaluma I just drive from one area to the other...I am lazy, I guess. Novato could have vast parking for both areas...if the Council takes more of an active, helpful role with the private sector.
Novato Tim January 16, 2014 at 04:54 PM
How about knocking down the old Pini’s building, and erect an 8 story garage? That should be plenty to last the city the next century, unless we’re talking about people who are too lazy to walk more than a block.
Hopkin January 16, 2014 at 06:48 PM
Tim, that would go well with the 6-8 story replacement for the Mission Lodge!
Roger January 16, 2014 at 09:30 PM
Rem: You picked a hot topic to write an article about. Please keep up the good work and pick some other hot topics. It will increase readership and your firm will sell more ads. Win win.
Mark Burnham January 16, 2014 at 10:52 PM
Tina, welcome back. Your research and well thought out posts were missed greatly by many!
novato 3per January 16, 2014 at 11:02 PM
Whoever believes "cars will soon be extinct" must have a great view of their own colon as well. This would be a joke if these fools didn't actually believe in half-brained ideas like that while simultaneously holding positions of power and influence in planning and development of the Bay Area. These Socialists want to continue grabbing private land by redefining and limiting uses, with the goal of pushing us all into high density shared urban properties, where the concept of individual land ownership will become a thing of the past and everything will be "shared" (in other words, they will take what you have). This movement disguises itself in many ways, but make no mistake as to their goals. This threat to our concept of freedom and property rights must be identified and countered wherever it begins to rear its ugly head . Vet your local political candidates, find out where they stand on individual liberties and the rights we have always taken for granted in America that will be gone if these Orwellian planners succeed.
novato 3per January 16, 2014 at 11:13 PM
Raise your hand if you think cars are going away any time soon? I'm not giving mine up. I'm not built for public transportation. I've earned the right to commute in silent safety in a germ-free, crime free environment where I can have private conversations without offending others or them hearing my business, I can change my direction as I see fit, stop and go when I please, etc. I'll check back in when we have developed teleportation. Until then, plan on having enough parking for us follks living in reality.
Bubba six pack January 16, 2014 at 11:57 PM
Read Tina's post and then Sam's. Then decide which one has insight, facts, backed up with links, follows the subject, and is gracious to all. Welcome back Tina
Roger January 17, 2014 at 11:50 AM
Burnham & Bubba: I agree...Tina's comments are usually helpful. Personal attacks aren't her thing.
Mark Burnham January 17, 2014 at 11:54 AM
Sam, sorry I can't hold my tongue. Are you writing your posts in English? Slow down big fella. Take some time to either re read or spell check your submissions.
Bubba six pack January 17, 2014 at 12:33 PM
Sam got me to thinking about a bigger issue. If Novato trades places with San Rafael as Marin's largest city every few years, why are we against multiple story buildings? All of the cities that have over 50,000 people, like Novato, have multiple story downtowns. We have to decide if we want to be a 1-2 story town, or a multiple story city. Eco-nimpys, those soccer moms who drive huge SUVs who hate development of any kind in their town, vote for development every time they tell hubby to climb aboard. With the lowest commercial percentage of all the cities in Marin, we'll have to get used to it. Tina's numbers do not lie. We have to grow up. Literally. The reason any multi story project looks bad is because it is the first in the area, and sticks out like a sore thumb. Wanna know what sticks out like a sore thumb to me? The deficit. Stop searching for salamanders, hoping to stop big box development. They tried that in Rohnert Park, but someone found an arrowhead instead, and look what happened.
novato 3per January 17, 2014 at 12:58 PM
@ B s p ... "vote for development every time they tell hubby to climb aboard" - the only part of your post I didn't get, please clarifiy. I'm still thinking about what 3-4+ story buildings would look like downtown... Also, "lowest commercial percentage of all the cities in Marin" - I can see it's less than San Rafael, but really, less than any other city in the County? Where is a good place to view these stat's?
Tina McMillan January 17, 2014 at 01:06 PM
Novato lacks the commercial retail light industrial base to be anything like San Rafael or Petaluma. They have between 15% and 17% of their land use devoted to development that brings in sales tax, jobs and property taxes. We have primarily have open space and then homes. It makes Novato a wonderful place to live until you want to pay the bills and suddenly the costs keep going up. =========================================== Using zoning to control what can go into North Redwood (remember we are only talking about 30 acres) helps us develop a downtown that can tie into the existing shops on Grant. The city still has to work on North of North Redwood which is currently zoned for housing that could also be used for Biotech and other industries and South of North Redwood which has a bit of everything. ========================================== Every time an existing land owner does work on a building, say on Grant between 1st and 7th, they have to bring the building up to code. This becomes costly and so many buildings are just left alone. Some already have second stories which makes sense but not enough to make a dent in the retail leakage. There is no free pot of money to hand out for upgrades. People will have to invest private funds. That gets complicated. ========================================== If you read about Mission Lodge he could have made the minor changes to keep using it as rentals but he chose to tear it down instead. The plans for senior housing use to be on a website. They are also gone but the Advance had a good article on it. It's a big question mark of what may happen there. =========================================== The city wrote into the General Plan that they wanted something specific as it is the "Entrance to Novato". If the city can work more efficiently with property owners that want to develop existing sites (think The Square) then maybe private land owners will want to invest in these sites. =========================================== I think ROIC wants to invest in North Redwood. They participated in the Charettes; they created Trader Joes shopping center and if they had support for a Lifestyle Retail Center then the missing piece is an anchor store like Friedman's that can bring in customers for more than one purpose. When you shop at Friedman's you need a car but you could easily go from Friedman's to walk the different downtown areas, stop and grab a bite to eat or even go to a movie once they get the Theater going. =========================================== We need private investors that show an interest in our city to work together with the existing city staff and committees to create an experience that is pleasurable and generates revenue. Other cities do it. Certainly we can too. Here is Petaluma's version of lifestyle retail with a Friedman's anchor scheduled to be completed this year : http://www.deercreekproject.com/
Tina McMillan January 17, 2014 at 01:11 PM
Novato and San Rafael are the two largest cities in Marin based on the number of people that live in them. That's why we had to fight so hard to change our base density for AHO from 30 per acre to 20-23 per acre. Other cities have more commercial compared to residential but have fewer residents and very little space left to build out. Think Corte Madera, think WinCup, think the 920 unit TOD that is proposed for Larkspur Landing. These smaller cities have a larger per capita income because they have more shops, fewer people and less land. Novato, for a city of its size, has too little land devoted to making money. You can read about it by going to the city of Novato website and reading Mr. Frank's budget report. In it he does the per capita income for Marin and Sonoma cities showing where we fall and how much more So Marin makes. We are even below cities to the north. You can find land use percentages on each cities website if you reference their general plan.
Bubba six pack January 17, 2014 at 01:44 PM
3per- It's that "come hither" look the old ball and chain gets after two glasses of wine. Problem is-is where ya gonna park lil Tiffany and Brandon when they grow up? Back in the old days when we produced Susans and Billys we never though about future development.
Bubba six pack January 17, 2014 at 01:57 PM
I'm talking cities our size, 3per. Don't expect hippies in Fairfax who name their kid Moonbeam to vote in big box. They'll just drive their Prius to San Rafael.
Baxter January 17, 2014 at 01:59 PM
Tina: The vacant land at the North-North Redwood Blvd. Corridor (north of San Marin Dr.) is currently zoned for business-professional (BPO)/light industrial. The only site that is zoned for housing (at San Marin Business Park) is the 4 acre AHO site certified by the State. The owner of the remainder 22 buildable acres at SMBP has applied to the City for a change in land use to have that portion of his property rezoned to residential with the possibility of developing up to 400+ additional housing, not including the 4 acre Black John Housing Element site. The city hasn't made any decision yet, and will most likely wait until after the N-North Redwood Corridor workshop/charrettes opportunity to provide public input (tentatively scheduled for April). The nearby neighborhood (per a Survey last summer) has told the City that they prefer the zoning remain BPO/light industrial and want offices and/or bio-tech at that site. This would be compatible with the rest of the area due to the existing office buildings. The vacant land adjacent to the Day's Inn motel is currently zoned for BPO/light industrial. The only site along N-North Redwood Blvd that is now zoned for housing, is the private property at the Buck Institute for Aging, and this site is further up on the hillside.
Sylvia Barry January 17, 2014 at 02:11 PM
@Baxter - I maybe wrong, but I do not believe the city/council will entertain changing zoning for other N-North Redwood blvd areas until they exhaust all their efforts on building the biotech center.
Roger January 17, 2014 at 02:28 PM
Sylvia: I hope you are correct about the Council wanting a bio tech center near the Buck Center. Novato has so little land zoned for business/commercial that it would be sad to switch some of it now to residential.
Sylvia Barry January 17, 2014 at 05:23 PM
Sam - Don't know it all and not wishing to ever be on the council; it is too difficult a job. But care enough to try to keep informed. Sorry to see you go because there are tons of really nice, caring people here and Novato is a great town, but wishing you the best on the sale of your home and your future endeavor!
Roger January 19, 2014 at 01:55 PM
Sylvia & Tina: I hope you both attend the public workshop on North North Redwood in April. Your stance will help balance out the outside activists who will show up to promote dense housing near transportation hubs. We need to keep this prime business spot (San Marin Business Park) for its intended purpose.
Tina McMillan January 19, 2014 at 05:26 PM
I think we are fortunate to have many involved residents who are willing to participate in local land use planning. It balances out the individuals who live outside Novato but want to develop it primarily for TOD and affordable housing. ========================================== It would be extremely helpful if the city council meetings and the commission meetings stipulated that anyone that wants to talk at the meeting needs to not only fill out a card but also to publicly state their name and city of residence. ========================================== I just about blew a gasket when Jeff Rhoads of Argonaut and David Schonbrunn of TRANSDEF, both participated in the Charettes but didn't identify themselves. Apparently Mr. Rhoads facilitated one of the groups while Mr. Schonbrunn was a member of the group I was in. It made it difficult because the conversation was immediately skewed toward Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and comments that didn't support primary TOD were met with opposition that implied if you weren't on the TOD bandwagon then you were dumber than a bag of hammers. ========================================== We were also fortunate to have Coy Smith of Chamber in our group. Coy had direct experiences with Mixed Use and could describe some of the pitfalls. If Novato's downtown were more like West Petaluma's I could see adding horizontal mixed use but given our paltry downtown and our limited sales tax base I believe we need shops and parking to make the corridor work. The planning commission and the design review commission also agreed. ========================================== Here is a link to the vote by the council to lift the moratorium on North Redwood and to work the zoning. Novato City Council clears the way for Redwood Corridor development http://www.marinij.com/novato/ci_24866432/novato-residents-speak-out-at-city-council-meeting

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