Red flags keep popping up in regards to Novato’s shortcomings.
One is the lack of public input about having a forum on the recently returned letter from the state housing HCD saying that changes need to be made in Novato’s housing document.
Another red flag is that the “community involvement is no longer part of city planning.” It was deleted from the strategic plans.
Lastly, the city is mostly involved with bringing in export and foreign business accounts to increase funds, by paying to sponsor a forum in Petaluma.
Let’s look at this:
The Novato Community Alliance organization has an analysis of the letter from the state housing department. One of the added compliance is that “all” groups need to be represented in Novato. With the excising of community involvement from the strategic plans then “no” groups need to be involved, which contradicts the state’s mandate.
The analysis points out that the contractors and developers cannot build at less than approximately 50-60 units per acre for extreme low cost housing can. This contradicts Novato’s general plan for a small town with two story heights and forces rezoning and even more segregation of very low income out of town residents. See the new 61 units on Diablo (Warner Creek) and Center and the about 60 units across at Wyndover. See more segregated units of a few hundred at Bay Vista at Hamilton. Is more segregation what Novato needs?
The city has shifted unequivocally to only concentrating its efforts on increasing the tax base with commercial businesses and letting the state dictate the rezoning of properties for low-income housing. It is co-sponsoring with different chambers a foreign investment forum for Sonoma and Marin. Time and money spent on forums to placate the businesses with Measure F funds is wasting those funds. Instead, the council needs to show leadership and concentrate on infrastructure and the housing element by having a forum for the residents.
If the support for the council only comes from businesses and their receiving most of the Measure F funds with new personnel, then the city has misled the residents. It is the blatant firewall that is being placed between the city and the residents in communication and accountability that needs to be legally examined. Information for the following is below:
This is a copy of concerns and the analysis done by Novato Community Alliance:
...”the filed Housing Element was submitted in Fall 2012. It was returned by HCD this past week to City of Novato, who sent out the report, which cites the problems/items not meeting Government Code and items requiring revision. City made no comments, simply forwarding the report to residents. In short:
• They (HCD) were unhappy that a lower density (20 units/acre) was specified throughout the Element for lower-income households, with the exception of Senior Housing at 30/acre. You recall that 30 units/acre is the desired density by the State.
• They noted that sites selected are occupied and there is no demonstration that owners are interested in selling, so there would not be any building of units during the planning period this element covers. It’s interesting to note that Ross’ housing element was approved, and they have both the Marin Art/Garden Center and the Branson School as identified sites. This is clearly a case of “different criteria for different towns.”
• They don't think some sites are large enough to be viable (from a developer's point of view, if the costs don't "pencil out," then it is not considered "viable").
• They don't think second units specified could impact the quota since there were so few done in the last period. They are asking for an analysis of second unit potential throughout the city with plans for how these would be developed during the planning period.
• They didn't see an appropriate analysis of the need for "employee" (workforce) housing.
• They did not find the document adequately addresses the need for housing for the Extremely-low income category. Low- and very-low were included, but there were no units cited for extremely-low.
• They would like to see evidence that all community groups are adequately represented to ensure that everyone was heard/will be heard going forward.”
San Marin Compatible Housing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Novato City Council Removes Transparency Title from Strategy Plan