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Mayor's Weekly (Jan 27 - Feb 2)

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

On my Mind
This past week I went back to school—high school that is.  On Friday, I was invited to go back to my old high school (Novato High) to speak to the AVID class.  AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination and is a college preparatory program currently offered as elective classes at NUSD high schools, Hill Middle School, San Jose Middle School and Hamilton.  The students were very engaged and after telling them a little bit about myself and my story, they were also quite inquisitive.  I soon discovered the sobering fact that the majority of the students in the class were actually born in the same year that I graduated from Novato High.  During my short talk I encouraged the students to differentiate themselves, be willing to take risks, accumulate mentors, and to find something they love.  Some of the questions the students wanted to know included “What does a City Council/Mayor do?”, “What was the largest obstacle I have had to overcome?”, and “How does someone get to be Mayor?”.  Great questions from some great students.  Thank you Mr. Searle for inviting me to speak to the class.

Around Town
City Council Hears Presentation from the Novato Theatre Group – At our Council Meeting this past Tuesday night, we heard a presentation which included a video about the Downtown Novato Threater.  Check out the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBk6CdCTOW0

Marin History in Bel Marin Keys – This past week I had the privilege to dedicate the Craemer Family Collections and Research Facility of the Marin History Museum.  The Marin History Museum’s flagship headquarters and exhibit space is at the Boyd Gate House in downtown San Rafael, but their collections facility has been in Novato for some time and they just recently relocated to a new location.  It is great to have so much history in Novato with this facility as well as the Novato History Museum, the Hamilton Field Museum, the Space Station Museum, and the Marin Museum of the American Indian.

Homeless Policymaker Subcommittee - On Wednesday evening, I attended my first meeting of the Homeless Policymaker Subcommittee which includes 1 councilmember from each city in Marin.  We will be meeting every other month over the course of the year.  For our first meeting, we heard from Jason Satterfield, Marin County’s Homeless Policy Analyst.  Jason shared about "Home for All" - Marin County's 10 Year Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.  You can read the full plan here.

The Week Ahead
City Council Closed Session – 5:30PM

Planning Commission Meeting – 7:00PM

City Council Meeting – 6:30PM

Design Review Commission Meeting – 7:30PM

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 Nymous February 03, 2014 at 01:18 PM
Eric, respect taxpayer money for once and say NO to the theater. That business venture should be pursued by private or corporate companies.--- (from Novato theater web page) Novato theater company purchased The theater for $400k in 1995, then sold to Novato for an unknown amount then was sold to Bernice Baeza for $50K in 2012?? This math doesn't make any sense. This dead weight needs to be cut loose and our local government needs to keep taxpayer money away from this. BTW didn't Novato recently sell a "historical" house for $12k??!! Does The city have any idea what fair market value is? This is insane.
Al Nymous February 03, 2014 at 01:28 PM
The bums won't go away as long as there isn't a law against panhandling. They enjoy the outdoors and get tax free cash from people who are not helping the situation. Novato used to have one bum and everybody knew who he was. But now it looks as if they are from San Francisco or San Jose. One guy was pushing a Great America wheel chair. They are living in our creeks, picnicking on peoples lawns and front yards, and stealing shopping carts. Safeway finally removed the tables because they were being aggressive to the customers.
Roger February 03, 2014 at 04:36 PM
I know some homeless are camping behind on the west side of the Redwood Shell carwash...between the wall "fence" and the carwash wall.
Craig Belfor February 03, 2014 at 09:17 PM
The guys in the median strip on redwood and grant average $200 per day, which they can spend on booze and drugs, since the taxpayer pays their rent and food. We need to stop feeding these people. When Mayor Newsom put in "Care, not Cash", the people dropping by for cash went down by 30%. Let these bums live at the homeless center and eat there, instead of paying for their party.
D. Cook February 04, 2014 at 11:55 PM
Eric, the city spent more than $15 million dollars to open their new city office building. It houses 60 employees four days per week and is empty every night and every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It brings probably 30-40 people downtown every day. This project generates zero dollars in taxable revenues. Should the city council allocate $2 million to the theater re-opening efforts the city and Novato residents would get the following in return: millions of dollars of added taxable revenues to downtown businesses, new jobs created at the theater and at other businesses downtown, and a special venue in the heart of downtown that almost every taxpayer has been clamoring for since it's closure 20 years ago. A venue of this sort would be full nightly and be an amazing accomplishment for Novato. Groups like Broadway Bound Kids, Love to Dance, Rhythms Dance, both high schools music and theater programs, the Novato Theater Company.. and countless others would jam pack this venue 3-4 nights per week.. possibly more often. If you build it, Eric, they will come. Do the right thing here Mayor Lucan! Get the others on board.
Al Nymous February 05, 2014 at 12:16 AM
You are quick to spend everybody's money.. And children, and grandchildren.. For a business venture that has a high risk, and a very expensive start-up. Government is way out of bounds to get involved. Do what everybody else does and get an investor to take the risk/reward. Tax payer money is not for this purpose!
Al Nymous February 05, 2014 at 12:29 AM
Making this about the kids is a cheap and cowardly way sell it. $2mil is not pocket change to toss around. You got $35k in the bank and you can't get anywhere on that budget?!! Come on!.. And the contractor.. A multi-state big time builder. What happened to shop local? This is just big money feeding big money. Get real!
Tina McMillan February 05, 2014 at 12:02 PM
https://www.novatotheater.net/theater-architect-and-builder/ Arntz Builders is a local firm as is the architect Dan MacDonald. The problem is spending beyond the city's means. There is no fundingy for a theater project and the current budget has an ongoing deficit which is temporarily held at bay with Measure F funds. The Theater project is a wonderful cause but the money just isn't there.
Roger February 06, 2014 at 11:00 AM
Eric: You pushed hard Tuesday to get a piece of the $3 million transportation funds from TAM, but other council members wanted more guarantees of no ties to automatic dense AH. There was also concern about the stigma of highlighting poor neighborhoods. A final decision is due next Tuesday. Do you see a compromise?
Bob Ratto February 06, 2014 at 12:19 PM
Roger Straight from the policy manual: "Further, EJ and CBTP grants are expected to help foster sustainable economies, increase affordable housing, improve housing and jobs balance, encourage transit-oriented and mixed-use development, expand transportation choices, and reflect community values."..there it is, in all it's glory. The $175k for a consultant study does not go to Novato, it goes to a consultant hired by TAM. For this, Novato MAY (key word) get some immaterial improvements in transit, which will then be used to justify increased transit which will be the wedge to drive in more AH, which puts further strain on our budget as it is not fiscally sustainable.
Eric Lucan February 06, 2014 at 12:52 PM
Roger & Bob - We will have to wait and see how things play out next Tuesday. Based on my research, I am not aware of any strings attached to conducting a Community Based Transportation Plan. Once the plan is completed, it could allow us to compete for funds that would actually provide the transportation improvements. Then, if improvements are made (such as an additional bus stop at some location in Novato), I guess it is possible that the improvements could increase a future RHNA by 1 or 2 units. Of course, that is a long ways away and after the plan is complete, Novato could always refuse any monies to fund the actual improvements.
Bob Ratto February 06, 2014 at 01:20 PM
Eric Thank you for the timely response. I would advise you to dig a little deeper into this subject if you can find the time. First, San Rafael pointedly refused to take part in this, largely due to staff time required; having lived in Marin for 47 years and Novato for 17, I would say we are more like San Rafael than either Marin City or the Canal. Second, it is obviously going to be very difficult/impossible to provide a study that does not directly identify specific areas that are socioeconomically challenged which really is akin to "redlining". Third, one cannot state with any specificity what the ultimate impact will be on our RHNA allocation, given the fact these grants are tied to OBAG, and their relentless push for more subsidized housing, which has a direct fiscal impact on the City-remember Warner Creek cost the city about $1.5MM (waived fees and forgiven loans) for 9 Novato residents. Finally, I believe it is vitally important that fiscal sustainability gets the attention it deserves at the meeting, as I can attest that a lot of time has been invested in this effort, and it is important that we have a plan that we can follow..the old adage "fail to plan, plan to fail" is certainly apropos...
Eric Lucan February 06, 2014 at 01:26 PM
Bob - Thanks for the info. I am definitely continuing to collect as much information as I can.
Bob Ratto February 06, 2014 at 01:33 PM
Eric No problem!...appreciate it. It is quite complex, but I am sure you are aware of it..things are not always as they appear on the surface.
Tina McMillan February 06, 2014 at 01:39 PM
Eric: You need to do more than collect information. You need to take the time to speak with San Rafael to understand the requirements associated with the loan and why they turned it down. Linda from TAM had no right to say there were no "strings" when Bob Brown's report indicated an increase in RHNA of 4 units. That is still a string and based on the way the project is managed and its goals, there are many others. ========================================== First, the city has no control over what is decided, that comes from the working groups and TAM but we have to use their arcane accounting methods to access the funding which, if we are behind in schedule or forget to cross a t or dot an i, have consequences. It's not just a little bit of staff time. It is the government at its worst making a simple task a hundred times more difficult. ========================================== The increase in RHNA, the fact that TAM controls local decisions on this project but city employees will be doing all the administrative work, means money out of the city's pockets, without control over the result. If the money was really without strings they would give the city a grant to fix sidewalks and streets based on the city's decision of where to begin. Our staff is capable of looking at which streets to repair first based on socioeconomic areas of need without having to label Novato low income or any specific area low income. ========================================== All the work being done to suggest Novato is a destination for BioTech and for high end stores makes little sense when we label our entire city Low Income. Sometimes a free money grab just isn't worth the bureaucracy behind it.
Al Nymous February 06, 2014 at 01:58 PM
Tina, Dan Macdonald's firm is licensed in 20 states.
Al Nymous February 06, 2014 at 03:18 PM
Tina, you rebutted my statement with incomplete facts. It is clear that you do not lack facts, so it is obvious you intended to discredit my comment. Please don't do that again.
Tina McMillan February 06, 2014 at 03:31 PM
Al: Let's start over. I will delete my last comment. What does it matter that Dan MacDonald's firm is licensed in 20 states?
Al Nymous February 06, 2014 at 04:58 PM
You are getting away from the real issue. The taxpayers should not be paying for this. Giving $3mil for a theater renovation is not what I expect my local government to invest. This is where another theater company would take the risk. Instead of giving your money away, hows about reducing sales tax and property tax. If the owner of the building can't make anything of it, sell it, lease it, or rent it like any other person.
Tina McMillan February 06, 2014 at 05:03 PM
Al: On this we agree. The city should not be making donations of millions of dollars to any private project when it is running at a deficit and has no long term solutions.


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