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Housing Developer Cleans Up Trashy Property Slated to Become Senior Complex

Eden Housing has approval to build 60 units on Diablo Avenue, across from the Wyndover Apartments in Novato's downtown area.

Two days after several people complained about trash and debris at a vacant lot in Novato, it was nice and tidy. A man with a gas-powered weed-whacker was hard at work in the Thursday mid-day heat at the lot on Diablo Avenue, future home of a senior affordable housing complex.

At Tuesday’s Novato City Council meeting, resident Toni Shroyer put pressure on Hayward-based Eden Housing to clean up the property adjacent to Warner Creek where 60 units are to be built in the coming year. Shroyer showed the council members and public a handful of photos that showed an accumulation of trash, brush, shopping carts and graffiti. She scolded Eden Housing for not taking better care of the land since the City Council approved construction of the complex in 2009.

“Why is Eden Housing treating the people of Novato like this?” Shroyer asked. “… Don’t they realize we have pride in our community? Is this an indication of how they will treat their property after they’ve developed it?”

The council unanimously approved an adjustment to the $1.5 million loan the city gave to Eden Housing two years ago so the project can get started, but Councilwoman Pat Eklund chimed in with Shroyer and asked Eden Housing Executive Director Linda Mandolini to call her maintenance crew and doll up the place ASAP. Mandolini agreed.

“We have a maintenance contract, but nobody is there 24-7 and you can’t police the dumping as well as you might like,” Mandolini said. “The way to solve it is to get rid of the vacant lot and approve this (loan issue) and build the senior housing.”

The complex is to include 60 units for residents 55 and older and include several measures to enhance security. The complex is intended for able-bodied people and will not include assisted medical care.

Shroyer and several other people spoke up at the meeting to say they are concerned about a complex for seniors being built across Diablo Avenue from the , which has had more than a normal share of police calls in the past several years. Formerly a federally subsidized housing complex, Wyndover managers have worked with the apartments’ management company and Novato police to address the problems, create a Neighborhood Watch program and increase security.

Mandolini said the Diablo address is “nice compared to the area in Richmond where we have a property.” She said in addition to security cameras, Eden Housing would take any other additional measures to assure safety for the senior residents.

“Our seniors are very active. They watch the street a lot,” she said. “I’m sure you’ll hear from them after they move in. They are active participants in local government.”

Novato recently wrapped up a controversial yearlong debate on affordable housing by where new housing could be built in the coming years. The state mandates that each municipality plan for more housing as populations increase. With sites recently identified, Novato is in the process of updating the housing element of its general plan, which has to be revised every seven years.

With heightened awareness to housing issues, members of the council remarked that some Novato residents might not have known that Eden Housing already had approval to move forward with the construction of the Warner Creek complex.

“We are really committed to making this a quality property,” Mandolini said prior to the council’s vote about the loan adjustment. “We had five fully noticed meetings to get the project approved, and we’ve been open with our communication. We are one vote away from a $24 million investment. It will be a great addition to the neighborhood.”

For the ’s story on this council meeting, click here.

jenni August 27, 2011 at 03:18 PM
Excellent post Toni, I'm concerned that a tiger doesn't change it's stripes! Property upkeep is a great indicator of intention as well as respect for community. And in this economy those housing regs encourage problematic residents.
DINAH MATTOS August 27, 2011 at 05:50 PM
My question is "What difference is cleaning up the property going to do?" What did she say "This is a beautiful neighborhood." What neighborhood is she referring to? The other side of Center rd? Yes, that is nice but you should hear their concerns about Wyndover--7-11 and that other crappy appt. house behind 7-11. I for one would not want to live anywhere near where EDEN is to be built. VOTE!!!
Hutch Turner August 27, 2011 at 06:54 PM
Does this category of senior housing potentially allow additional Section 8 housing in the building? Can EDEN exclude Section 8 applicants on the basis of age? Can the City of Novato legally preclude Section 8 applicants if the qualifying occupant in a family is less than 62 years of age? Does EDEN use E-verify to establish legal residency status? Does a US born child of an illegal immigrant make the family eligible?
SHROYER FOR SUPERVISOR 2014 August 27, 2011 at 11:14 PM
It has troubled neighbors and the citizen's of Novato that Eden Housing has kept their lot a complete blight for over 15 months. There has been constant litter, shopping carts strewn about, weeds so high the fire department had to request them to cut them down, empty beer bottles, cans and graffiti. For the staff of Novato's Dave Wallace and Council Member Jeanne MacCleamy to state "(Eden) has a great reputation" given how poor neighbors they have been thus far is troubling. Eden Housing's staff has been approached many times to clean up the lot and have chosen not to (until yesterday after being shamed with photos of the blighted lot at the city council meeting). It is troubling, Eden's Executive Director Linda Mandolini stated their "lot is in a good location...and it isn't Richmond" is disturbing as the police calls at Wyndover Apartments across the street---which I have told Eden Housing about---have been violent, including a gang beating of a 15 year old and riddled with crime. Going forward we hope Eden Housing will take better care of their project and their residents than they have of their lot and put in security cameras (that the NPD can have access to) to protect the people they claim to want to help. We also hope they will become better neighbors in Novato. We do not want another Wyndover and we hope Eden Housing will follow through on their promise to have zero tolerance for crime."
SHROYER FOR SUPERVISOR 2014 August 27, 2011 at 11:16 PM
Hutch: I read the documents and yes, Section 8 tenants are allowed in this project.
jenni August 27, 2011 at 11:26 PM
Thanks again, Steven, for your comment. It chills me to think that John's misquote stands in print.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr August 28, 2011 at 01:29 PM
WHY IS THE CITY OF NOVATO LENDING $1.5 MILLION OF OUR TAX DOLLARS TO EDEN? Have the loses at Bay Vista in that "affordable housing" not taught us that investing taxpayer money in "AH" is a bad investment. Why don't Kellner, MacLeamy and Athas lend the money to Eden out of their own pockets? Does the City Council hand out "I'm with Stupid" T-shirts? Is this going to be for seniors or for grandpa and his druggie grandson?
Steven Norwin August 28, 2011 at 08:58 PM
Renee, if you're ok with turning your head in the other direction because you're worried about your property value that's fine. Please don't bully others when they voice their concerns. This problem needs to be addressed not supressed.
Steven Norwin August 28, 2011 at 09:11 PM
Before the city invests our hard earned tax dallars, I would hope they secure a strict code of rules and regulations that make it very clear of immediate eviction upon violation. BTW: I am against this being built!
Steven Norwin August 28, 2011 at 09:19 PM
Flooding is going to be the least of problems here. This will house a mojroity of people UNDER 55.....Just watch. Once again....Hook-Line & sinker!
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr August 28, 2011 at 09:47 PM
Strict rules do not matter worth a darned. The city council refuses to enforce them.
SHROYER FOR SUPERVISOR 2014 August 28, 2011 at 10:17 PM
I have a friend who told me they alerted the city council about the problems at Wyndover and their concerns about building across the street from so much crime and problems. As we know the city council approved this project several years ago-- knowing about the challenges at Wyndover--- with another low income project built across the street, there would be concentration of poverty--- which doesn't work on multiple levels. I have advocated for the last 15 months for low income, low density projects---however, the state wants high density, low-income projects, in multi-family rentals (which isn't working in Novato) yet is a cash cow for developers---Wyndover Apts makes 1.6 Million+ a year off the backs of the poor, without providing crime free housing and is tax exempt for 55 years. Novato citizen's are paying for the excessive police calls to the project---Wyndover doesn't pay a dime and has very little, if any,accountability for crime or for not providing safe housing.
lynn August 28, 2011 at 11:23 PM
Regarding the IJ article about the people of Novato being so angry: We are upset that special interest groups are considered and served over and above the desires and needs of the community. The city council has a long history of being led by developers and lobysists like Katie Crecelius. Novato Housing Coalition, Greenbelt Alliance, SUNN, Live Local Novato...the list goes on and on. They ALL lead back to the Marin Community Foundation; money and political infulence - forcing their agenda onto Novato.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr August 29, 2011 at 12:03 AM
lynn, welcome to the Tell-It-Like-It-Is-Club. Get all of your neighbors to read the Novato Patch, daily, so that they can vote intelligently in November, or suffer the consequences.
SHROYER FOR SUPERVISOR 2014 August 29, 2011 at 12:07 AM
Before I sign off--one more thing Vote Leslie Peterson Schwarze for City Council!
Leslie Schwarze August 29, 2011 at 12:20 AM
Hutch, According the regulations that were presented as part of the documentation last Tuesday, they cannot discriminate against Section 8, but there would need to be one member of the household who is 55.
Leslie Schwarze August 29, 2011 at 12:22 AM
This is a perfect letter to the editor for the IJ, and it captures the sentiments that have been expressed for the past year.
Michaela Beradino August 29, 2011 at 06:25 AM
NOVATO IS ANGRY!!!!!!!! WHY? Because our city council, school board and even our sanitary department are all corrupt. We are the Bell of Northern California. Someone is being paid off to look the other way, while Katie Crecelius and her big money interests Marin Community Foundation make money off of the people of Novato. We are subsidizing their tax breaks via Low income Housing. They build the housing with our tax dollars, they pay no property taxes and contribute nothing to the infrastructure. Shame on those who took the kickkbacks and those who looked away and let it happen.. That is why we are angry.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr August 29, 2011 at 07:09 AM
Michaela, please tell all of your friends and neighbors to read the Novato Patch daily, so that they can vote intelligently in November.
Jenny August 31, 2011 at 02:56 AM
Looks like the lot was cleared so the heavy equipment could be moved in - parked and waiting to break ground...here we go. Katie (Marin Community Foundation) and her followers will be responsible for any negative fall out from the proximity to Wyndover and 7-11. I guess the tax credits are worth the risks. Watch and learn: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxwpoLztx70&feature=related
Thomas August 31, 2011 at 04:19 AM
Nice post Jenny. Where do I send the check(s) so I can get by 8609 form to file? Or are they asking for a cash donation?
Paul E. August 31, 2011 at 08:22 AM
Just so you know - not that you seem to care about the facts - senior housing for those 55 and older rarely has young people living in it, even though it is usually allowed in the bylaws. Most people in 55 + housing are much older than 55. If memory serves me, the average age is 74.
Bob Ratto August 31, 2011 at 01:31 PM
Can you please cite something to back this up?...I seriously doubt that the average of residents is 74, when only one resident has to be 55 (and others can be any age)...just show me something. (and if the average is indeed that old, I really hope Eden will provide some decent security)
Steven Norwin August 31, 2011 at 02:33 PM
First of all, how can they call this senior housing? In this economy, how many 55+ yr olds with children, some maybe even with substance abuse move back in with mom or dad and bring the teen grand kids and their lifestyle with them. It should be 55 or older and any visitors staying past 5 days register with the property manager. What is the city council thinking? 60 units with minimum requirements.....Haven't they learned anything?
Maggie August 31, 2011 at 03:19 PM
Our city representatives have no cojones, none! They have allowed Novato to become the bargain basement of Marin. Novato is at a tipping point, we may never recover from what they have set in motion.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr August 31, 2011 at 05:12 PM
Maggie, welcome to the Tell-It-Like-It-Is-Club. Tell all of your friends and neighbors to read the Novato Patch daily, so that they can be an informed electorate in November.
Tina McMillan September 08, 2011 at 07:36 AM
Paul I would be relieved if that were true but why not increase the age to 62 like the Nova Ro development to be certain? It makes it difficult to tell the difference between senior housing and family housing if you have a base age of 55 with two more possible tenants of any age. I know families where grandparents are taking on the responsibility of raising their grandchildren. Having young children on a property requires a different set of needs be met. Most senior complexes also have a minimum age. I went to the Eden House site and could not find the Novato project or the details. 1.5 million is a tremendous investment by the city of Novato. The Nova Ro model would make so much more sense if the population we are trying to serve is the elderly.
Susan Clark September 08, 2011 at 02:18 PM
Please vote for 3 new city council members this November. This is an opportunity to make a difference in our towns direction.
Tina McMillan September 08, 2011 at 04:57 PM
Susan Like you I would like to see change in a positive direction but just voting for three new people will not necessarily get the change you want. I think it's important to listen to the all the candidates and to vote for the ones that represent your viewpoint, whatever that may be. The one candidate for sure that I know I am supporting is Leslie Peterson Schwarze. In my case her views represent much of what I would like to see happen on the council. http://lesliepetersonschwarze.com/ http://www.facebook.com/pages/Leslie-Peterson-Schwarze-for-Novato-City-Council/173412929396825
Susan Clark September 08, 2011 at 08:33 PM
Tina, I think those who are returning for a vote have already shown me what their viewpoint is and most importantly showed me they would go behind Novato residents backs when it comes to such an important issue as extreme low income housing. Also It doesn't seem that our current Mayor wants to listen to the people as she has no patience with the public opinions. I also find it highly offensive that the Mayor will not particiapate in the Pledge of Allegiance. I am only interested in new candidates, as they have no bad habits and know they will be held to a higher standard. We will not have a chance to change unless we clean house....EXAMPLE....It's like Wyndover, we all know what needs to be done before positive changes can happen.

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