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Mayor's Weekly (Dec 16 - Dec 29)

Novato's Mayor Eric Lucan shares city news, events and meetings on the horizon, and on occasion a few spontaneous thoughts.

It has been just a couple of weeks since I was chosen to serve as Mayor and it is truly an honor, but also quite humbling.  Now that I am in that role, I figured a weekly blog would be very fitting and a great way to share city happenings.  I certainly have to give full credit for his idea to former Mill Valley Mayor Andy Berman who also used to write a weekly blog for the patch—thanks for the idea Andy!  I hope to post weekly (although this one goes back 2 weeks because of the holidays) and to share some city news, events and meetings on the horizon, and on occasion a few spontaneous thoughts… so here goes:

On my Mind
On December 17th, I had my first council meeting in the Mayor’s chair.  Since that time, many have asked how one gets to be Mayor.  In Novato, we never directly a Mayor, but instead the 5 council members vote to choose their Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem amongst themselves.  There is only 1 city in Marin that directly elects their mayor (see if you can guess what city that is).  Historically, the Mayor and Mayor Pro tem are chosen once a year and how they finished in their last election is typically an indicator of who is next in line.  Looking ahead to next year, I hope we can continue to stay focused on our strategic plan and our four main goals.  2014 will be an important year as we plan to address long-term fiscal sustainability, make preliminary decisions on the North Redwood Corridor, and continue working on an updated General Plan.  Beyond those, a few specific items I am focused on include our Downtown Theater and possibly even a downtown multiplex, adoption of a plastic bag ban ordinance, and ongoing efforts to reduce alcohol use amongst youth.

While I was introduced to a new seat on the council, I also said goodbye to an old seat on December 23rd—but this one was at Candlestick Park.  I have many great memories at the Stick where I watched my first live baseball and football games as a kid.  Most recently, I have enjoyed cheering for the Niners and on Monday they certainly gave the fans something to get excited about with Bowman’s dramatic interception near the end of the game.  Farewell Candlestick!

Around Town
Rombeiro Christmas House Lights up Novato – Special thanks to the Rombeiro’s for sharing their Christmas House yet again this year.  Novato truly has an incredible community thanks to individuals like the Rombeiro family who continually go the extra mile.  If you haven’t seen it yet, there is still time.  The Christmas house is open until January 6th.  Visit http://rombeiro-christmas-house.com/ for more information.

My Thai II in Downtown is Staying Busy – Finally got a chance to eat at My Thai II on Grant.  We have always enjoyed My Thai in San Rafael so were very excited to see them in Novato.  If you go, I recommend the Drunken Noodle--I added seafood for just a few bucks more.

The Week Ahead

Tuesday:
Say goodbye to 2013 and don’t forget to make those end of year contributions to your favorite non-profits

Wednesday:
Happy New Year!

Thursday:
Downtown Novato Business Association General Membership Meeting
First meeting of 2014--and Election of the DNBA Board
Date: 1/2/2014 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Location: Trek Winery
1026 Machin Ave, Downtown Novato

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.

novato 3per December 30, 2013 at 12:56 PM
Good luck Eric, don't stop listening to the people of Novato.
We at Healthy Novato Project www.healthynovato.org would like to thank Mayor Eric Lucan for his focus of “ongoing efforts to reduce alcohol use amongst youth.” We’d also like to take this opportunity to urge parents to monitor the parties their children may attend over this New Year holiday and remind the community of Novato PD’s Social Host Ordinance. We all need to do our part to keep alcohol out of the hands of youth and keep our community and children safe. Check us out on Facebook for Tips to Keep Your Celebrations Safe.
Roger December 30, 2013 at 03:57 PM
Eric: Thanks for doing this. I also want to thank you for mentioning the potential for a multi-screen movie complex to come to downtown. The old Pini store has been empty for many years. Our downtown is not thriving, and a busy movie complex would bring more foot traffic to the area. Better that than the current situation. San Rafael has 3 movie houses, so I think Novato can handle one more. Chris Stewart deserves some credit for finding this potential tax revenue project.
Roger December 30, 2013 at 06:02 PM
Also, I hope Novato convinces some bio tech firms come to Novato with their high-paying jobs and property purchases. Bio Marin just paid $117 million for a new big building in San Rafael. I wish that building purchase was here in Novato instead. Let's keep the land near the Buck Center zoned for business and not switched to housing.
Eleanor Sluis December 30, 2013 at 06:32 PM
Eric-Great idea and thank you-as mayor, for writing about news of policies and goals of the city. This information helps in understanding what the long and short term issues/ policies are this year and next. It promotes transparency, again thank you.
Andy Berman December 30, 2013 at 09:34 PM
Eric: Naturally I LOVE the column. Novato's residents will be well served by your service and leadership. Enjoy writing! Best for the New Year too. Andy
Al Nymous December 30, 2013 at 10:56 PM
Converting Novato into a city of dependents, ramming low income projects, piling up astronomical debt with Grant st., and City hall, disobeying the law with Jerome, shady back room deals, and so on.. Yeah nice job. Good thing these lemmings are there to support you. Happy New Year.
Karina Ioffee December 31, 2013 at 12:56 AM
Hey Al. Please back up your facts with some links or evidence. "Ramming low income projects?" Every city is required to have a certain percentage of units set aside for people who can't pay market-rate. "Piling up debt with City Hall?" The project was mostly financed with a refund from the redevelopment agency, money specifically aimed for capital improvements, not the general fund. "Shady back room deals?" Please elaborate.
Trailbikerbilly December 31, 2013 at 02:13 AM
Watch out Al, or you'll get banned like Bubba.
Al Nymous December 31, 2013 at 12:21 PM
Kat, the elected board (According to Maclemmy on the city board video) was not able to convince Sacramento to drop the low-income housing numbers because Novato is a suburban style city not a metropolitan. There was an outcry against the low-income and S8 when it was proposed and packed the city hall meeting with people against it, but I guess that was not enough to get our electives listening. At the time of project the city created huge municipal loans, so it looks like we are paying it off over time. The backroom deal? Maybe the city owned historical house sold for $12k.
Al Nymous December 31, 2013 at 12:24 PM
Kat, I don't see your bio. Do you even live in or near Novato?
Al Nymous December 31, 2013 at 12:42 PM
Eric is Mayor only because he is faithful to what the board wants, and was given the title for his resume.
Eric Lucan December 31, 2013 at 01:27 PM
Al - thanks for your comments and feedback. If you are interested, I would really like to grab a cup of coffee with you sometime and better understand some of your concerns. Have a Happy New Year!
Al Nymous December 31, 2013 at 02:44 PM
I think I posted enough concerns on this thread. Go ahead and pick one. I would rather our conversations public. You want coffee, see my face, what car I drive? Maybe arrest me like you did with Jerome for expressing my first amendment? Yeah, I would have to think hard on that. How about you post when going out for java.
John Parnell December 31, 2013 at 04:51 PM
Karina - the City Hall has not really been paid off by RDA loans, when it was financed by bonds, which are going to come back to the city & the people of Novato. I don't believe that Sacramento, or Jerry Brown, will let Novato get away with it. However, please correct me if I'm wrong, if there has been a final legal ruling on these after-the-fact payments of the dissolved Redevelopment Agencies. It was my understanding that the RDA obligations were falling back onto the cities. Bob Ratto seems to understand this better than anyone, and hopefully could chime in with his opinion. Perhaps Mayor Lucan could explain it too. I thought that by the time these bonds are paid off, the people of Novato will be on the hook for over $30 million.
novato 3per December 31, 2013 at 05:53 PM
Al, perhaps Eric would be willing to be more forthcoming with you in person about, say, what compromising / co-opting forces may or may not be at work behind the scenes of city government rather than post it out here in the open. If you're truly concerned about alnonymity you can always wear a disguise and park your rental car around the block.
Sam December 31, 2013 at 08:28 PM
With this council and the spending they have done, we the voters will be paying for a long long time . Look at today's news in Patch and the retirement of its employes . This is only the beginning of a hint for more taxes to bail them out. Al Nymous Said it point on December 31, 2013 at 12:42 PM Eric is Mayor only because he is faithful to what the board wants, and was given the title for his resume. This council has screwed the seniors who voted for them as the rest of the city does not vote to change anything
Bob Ratto December 31, 2013 at 08:43 PM
John Yes, the city got itself in a bit of a wringer...the RDA was lent money years ago at stupendously high (like 10%) interest rates and most RDA money was treated as "free money" since the tax increment financing from development would pay for funds spent over time. When Brown (who sucked up on the RDA trough at Oakland) canned all RDA's, the city had to quickly dissolve the RDA and take back proceeds held in RDA accounts. Rather than paying cash for the new city hall (the city does have a lot of cash), they chose to float new bonds for 30 years at a staggering 6.88% interest (this happened during a spike in rates about fears of municipal calamity). Problem is the bonds cannot be called (refinanced) for 10 years, and the final tally with interest on the bonds will be about $42MM. There is another $6MM that the State wants back, which is still in play, and if the state calls that money in there could be some "other" issues. The new building is very nice though, just that it is over budget-about $800 per square foot, unfinished, and lacking solar. The City will need revenue sources to pay the interest on the bonds, so you can likely figure out what that might lead to.
John Parnell January 01, 2014 at 03:02 PM
Thanks Bob for explaining it.
Al Nymous January 01, 2014 at 07:10 PM
3per, I just cant imagine that conversation going well. Besides, why hide in coffee shops? Isn't the purpose of city hall meetings is to address public concern? It's always the agenda...
novato 3per January 01, 2014 at 09:19 PM
I can't argue with that Al.. So, when it's all been said and done, then what? What's the contingency plan for an out of control government? The days of Tyranny are coming to an end, no? Are folks willing to stare this reality in the face, or are they still in denial. Millions of disenfranchised Americans have been sold out. Are folks ready to start forming their groups to plan for the future of our community and nation? We need to start networking with like-minded in our community, and perhaps with the millions across the country.
Eric Lucan January 01, 2014 at 09:19 PM
John - just to respond to your question, the State Department of Finance and the State Controller have both confirmed that the $14.5MM proceeds from the bonds were "used for the purpose for which they were issued, and this transfer is allowable" and will not be challenged by the State. The City is in a legal fight over an additional $6M unrelated to City Offices. The bonds issued did not increase the amount paid by property tax payers.
Bubba six pack January 02, 2014 at 12:12 AM
Hey Eric- how's the campaign going for the state job? Tell us your plans if you win.
Linda January 02, 2014 at 07:10 AM
Bubba , We all knew you were back as Trailbikerbilly. And want to welcome you back . Now all we need to do is Keep Tina down in San Rafael .
M. Manzano January 06, 2014 at 12:33 PM
Instead of "planning long-term fiscal sustainability", you should plan long term fiscal responsibility, Mayor. Especially since none of the money is yours to begin with.
Al Nymous January 06, 2014 at 12:49 PM
because Novato is a corporation, would it make more sense to refer Eric Lucan as CEO instead of mayor? Due to the fact that no one is elected to a specific seat and titles can be swapped around, I think its a appropriate request.

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