City Council and Planning Commission Accept Draft Housing Element

Monday’s joint meeting provided a review of revisions and forum for public input.

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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Tina McMillan April 07, 2013 at 05:59 PM
Chris Stewart is the Economic Development Director that was hired just last year. Through Chris's office, the city is reaching out to fill open commercial spaces throughout Novato. Chris was responsible for Fireman's Fund locating here. He has previously headed three economic development agencies. On the one hand it is a more difficult time to get companies to spend money on expansion. No one knows yet how the cost to do business in California will be affected by the federal health care laws and California's changing laws. On the other hand, low interest loans have never been better so companies that are in solid shape may want to take advantage of real estate prices or lease space for expansion. I keep hoping they will find a tenant that can draw a large customer base to the old Pini site. It would help anchor Grant west of Redwood. Then there is the Square which is in desperate need of anchor stores and a complete remodel. Now is the time to reach out to the city with ideas and comments so that they know we are involved. Please consider emailing Chris with ideas. cstewart@novato.org
Sylvia Barry April 07, 2013 at 06:33 PM
Thanks, Trish, for the link. A quick glance - I can see they are planning to purchase Frontage road from the city so they can have enough land and setback from Redwood as well as the gasline underneath. Interesting how they have 84 votes (wonder where these 84 came from?) on their 04/05/12 meeting, with options for 3 or 4 stories, with maximum height of 43', instead of having options for 1, 2, 3, 4 or none of the above to vote. So, 50+% voted for 3 stories and 40+% voted 4 stories. Also interesting to see how on 08/09/12, they met with three 'close' neighbors which ended up to be four people to discuss the options. Another interesting observation is how the options changed from 37 units with 65 parking spaces on 04/05/12 to 58 units with 49 parking spaces on 05/10/12 to 55 units on 07/26/12 with 48 parking spaces. The lot size (I suppose they assume the successful acquisition of the frontage road) varies from 1.46 acre, to 1.46 to 1.28 acres. Not sure how you calculated the density, but if I use the numbers on the slide (slide 8 of 07/26/12 presentation), it will translate to 25.34/39.72/42.96 respectively? Another interesting thing is the team they assembled. Sorry, gonna run for work; a quick glance, as I said.
Tina McMillan April 07, 2013 at 06:37 PM
Craig I know Jerome used the initiative process and took the time to get the requisite signatures for the initiative. The problem was that at the same time there were rumbles throughout California because Everify was being used for some jobs but not all jobs, e.g., farmworkers. There were cities that enacted laws to implement Everify only to have them undone when the state made a unilateral decision against Everify. http://articles.latimes.com/2011/oct/16/local/la-me-e-verify-20111017 When Jerome sued the city it was clear that California had not decided as a state whether the system would be applied to every person and every type of job. While there is a lot that I disagree with the council about, it became clearer to me why they held off even putting it on the ballot. If California had decided to allow Everify that would have been the time to either enact it or put it on the ballot to let residents decide. California desperately needs immigration reform. Instead we get plastic bag bans. I can appreciate Jerome's frustration but in my experience litigation rarely solves problems. The city made the right call. No one knew which way the state would land.
Craig Belfor April 07, 2013 at 10:41 PM
You have a point, Tina, but denying the people the initiative process is wrong. We need it to put measures on the ballot when our elected officials won't. We don't want to be Bell, and a say at the polls is one way to steer the right course. I don't always agree with Jerome, but we both believe in the Constitution..
Tina McMillan April 07, 2013 at 11:48 PM
Craig: I don't think the city denied the initiative process when they said putting it on the ballot wouldn't work because it had not yet been decided at the state level. We can't have local laws that don't conform to state laws. California E-Verify Law http://immigration.findlaw.com/immigration-laws-and-resources/california-state-immigration-laws.html "While a number of other states require the use of E-Verify, recent legislation signed into law in California instead restricts the use of E-Verify in the state. Under its legislation, California has prohibited municipalities, counties, and other state government entities from passing mandatory E-Verify ordinances that apply to private employers. As a result, private employers in California are not required to use E-Verify, although they remain free to do so voluntarily."


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