A series of public forums and four years of meetings have culminated in the Novato City Council and Planning Commission accepting a revised Draft Housing Element. The two department held a joint meeting Monday night and the following missive from City Hall was dispatched later in the evening:
Tonight, the City Council and Planning Commission accepted the Draft Housing Element for environmental review, which was revised by staff in response to comments received by the State Department of Housing and Community Development (State) in December 2012. Based on the input received tonight by the Council, Commission, and community, the document will be revised and the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) will begin. It is anticipated that the EIR will be available for public review this fall, and the Planning Commission will hold public hearings on both the EIR and the Draft Housing Element.
The preparation of an Environmental Impact Report, which is required for the draft Housing Element, will identify any potential environmental impacts resulting from its implementation and project alternatives and mitigation measures to avoid or reduce those potential impacts.
“The action taken by the Council tonight allows us to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said City Manager Michael Frank. “After nearly four years of discussion, outreach, and hard work, we believe that ultimately, the Housing Element we submit to the State will meet their requirements and will reflect the unique housing needs of our community.”
Once the Planning Commission makes its recommendation to the City Council, adoption hearings would follow, and a final Housing Element would be submitted to the State for certification.
The Housing Element Update is a policy guide that indicates the need for housing in a community— specifically, the availability, affordability, and adequacy of housing—and also serves as a strategy to address housing needs across the economic and social spectrum of that community. Cities and counties are required by law to update their housing elements every eight years, and this represents an update to the City’s current 2007-2014 cycle, as part of its General Plan update. The next cycle covers 2014-2022.
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