Mayor's Weekly: Kimpton Hotels Honored, Novato Turns 54

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

Novato Mayor Eric Lucan
Novato Mayor Eric Lucan

On my Mind

As I write this week’s blog, I must admit, I am still struggling with the 49ers loss from just a few hours ago.  It was a great season, but unfortunately, it just ended 2 weeks earlier than I would have preferred.  Hoping for a full and speedy recovery for NaVorro Bowman this offseason.

On a lighter note, this past Thursday was an exciting day at work for me and my colleagues as our company (Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants) was rated #21 in FORTUNE’S 100 Best Companies to Work For list.  In fact, this is the fifth time we have been in the top 100.  So, how does a company make the list? Two-thirds of a company’s score and ranking is based on employee surveys and the other third is based on responses from the individual companies.  High job satisfaction coupled with recognition programs, diversity efforts and workplace amenities often propel companies to the top of the list.  While those attributes are a recipe for a great place to work, they also can make an entire city a great place to live.  However, this designation doesn’t just occur because of a few programs implemented by top management.  Likewise, Novato isn’t a great place to live because of a few, but instead because of many.  It is our community and culture as a whole that makes our city so great, and only our entire community working together can make our city even better.  I am proud to work for such a great company and to lend my contribution towards a great place to work. As a councilmember, I hope to also contribute to ensuring Novato remains a best place to live.

Around Town
Large & Small Businesses of 2013 – On Thursday night, I attended the Annual Novato Chamber Board Installation and Volunteer Recognition Dinner at the Marin Country Club.  The Large and Small Businesses of the Year were also recognized.  Congrats to Marin Roto-Rooter (Small Business) and Best Western PLUS Novato Oaks Inn (Large Business) who were this year’s recipients of the annual honor.  At the event, I was also glad to run into Dennis Cooper (a former planning commissioner) who is getting ready to open Cooper’s Public Market in downtown Novato.  The indoor market will sell sustainably raised eggs, produce, dairy, meats, cheese, and other stables all produced within 30 miles.  They open on Saturday, January 25th at 1425 Grant Avenue (www.cooperspublicmarket.com).

Martin Luther King Jr. Remembrance March – Enjoyed walking with several community members at the 14th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Remembrance March in Novato on Saturday.  Special thank you to the Multicultural Commission, Concerned Parents of Novato & the Novato Police Department for organizing this year’s walk, Quest Church for hosting the Celebration, and to Lewis Jordan for speaking.

The Week Ahead
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday

No Council Meeting this week

Paint the Town Red – Celebrate Novato’s 54th Birthday
Visit www.paintthetownred.org for more information

Cooper’s Public Market opens in Downtown Novato
Visit www.cooperspublicmarket.com for more details.

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.

Tina McMillan January 20, 2014 at 12:50 PM
Thank You for mentioning Cooper's Market! The address is 1425 Grant Avenue. The opening day is Saturday January 25th. ========================================== Coopers Market will provide local, sustainably raised produce, meats, eggs and cheese (much like the Sunday farmer's market at civic center) Here is an article from Inside Scoop SF about it: http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/2014/01/17/novato-gets-farm-friendly-grocery-with-opening-of-coopers-public-market-next-week/
Bubba six pack January 20, 2014 at 06:42 PM
How's your campaign going for State Assembly? Will you remember us when you go?
Roger January 20, 2014 at 07:17 PM
Eric: What main thing would you like to accomplish this year as mayor?
Eleanor Sluis January 21, 2014 at 12:56 AM
Cooper's organic market is a welcome addition to Novato. One issue that is recurring is taking time to better plan Redwood Blvd and land use. Redwood Blvd. land use deserves to be the best, friendliest, and most compatible with existing plans. Friedman’s current figure for using the bus site east of the railroad tracks is between 100,000 to 200,000 square feet for a new store- It would look out of place from the freeway, create traffic problems on Olive, Redwood, and Atherton and have a negative impact on Pini, Novato Builders Supply, and Buck’s Saw Service, as well as on Armstrong and Sloat and even the nurseries at other sites. The charettes favored no big boxes, reducing retail, possibly including some mixed use with housing and limiting businesses in the area to 30,000 sq. ft. to maintain a friendly agricultural, rural two story scale. More ideas keep coming forward about North Redwood. Writing the council is important to let them know the public’s views on the best land use for Redwood Blvd. and where to get answers.
novato 3per January 21, 2014 at 01:12 AM
Does Novato have a plan for the growing homeless problem? Diablo / Redwood / Novato Blvd. encampments along the creek are becoming much more noticeable. Right where people enter Novato. First impressions make a big difference. As I drove down Novato Blvd. today near the Verizon building, I noticed several bicycles shopping carts, and numerous bags and boxes stacked up in a makeshift camp, next to a residential yard fence right next to the creek, and then just down the street, I see a Novato motorcycle cop waiting to stop a speeder (presumably oblivious to the problem). Would you care if I told you they were urinating and defecating in the creek? I know I'm not the only one who would favor a shift in police priorities from traffic enforcement, a reallocation of resources to address this problem. Can you tell us, as mayor, what is the city's stance on the homeless problem, as well as the lineup of illegals waiting to be picked up at the Redwood Blvd. / Olive avenue intersections? This intimidates would be pedestrians, children walking to and from school and visitors who would otherwise spend their money in our town. This type of problem used to be taken care of, and out of sight...I know it's not an easy fix, but we would really appreciate your response Mr. Mayor. Thank you.
Sam January 21, 2014 at 04:42 AM
How long does anyone think Cooper's organic market will make it on the 1400 block of Grant Avenue. My office is close by and all day i see people make a u turn over the double yellow line and get a 400.00 ticket so they can shop at the Mexican market next door . Most people with a brain will shop Trader Joes or Whole Foods as plenty of parking. These people would have been better off going to the newly developed square shopping center which will have new stores coming soon
Al Nymous January 21, 2014 at 01:48 PM
Our culture is being diluted by injecting Novato with S8 and low income housing with people with a much different culture. Using the words culture and diversity are used as a PC shield, and is a cowardly act as a elected CEO of Novato. If you do love our culture stop trying to destroying it.
Roger January 21, 2014 at 09:50 PM
I wonder if the homeless shelter to be built in Bel Marin Keys will be mostly for illegal immigrants? If they can only stay for 90 days, can they just recycle back in a week and use a new fake name again? No wonder the neighbors there were upset at the City Council for picking that site for housing a huge number of homeless. Is it a case of "you build it and they come"?
novato 3per January 21, 2014 at 10:23 PM
I don't know, but if thet WERE the case, it would be nice for ICE to find them all in one place, since they can no longer count on the County Jail to turn them over. Yes, with no identity verification, no one will be held to any rules except the poor taxpayers being held up to hand over their income to finance this whole failed social experiment. This whole damn state has become a case of " if you make them welcome, they will come". Stupid Americans. This will only last until they run out of other people's money to spend. I NEVER signed up to take on the failed government of MEXICO and all points south.
Tina McMillan January 21, 2014 at 10:30 PM
Roger here is the language in the Housing Element. "Strategies and Programmatic Responses to Meet Projected Needs Emergency Shelters. The Novato zoning code allows residential shelters in the CG (General Commercial) District with a use permit. Government Code Section 65583(a)(4) (A) requires jurisdictions to designate zoning districts adequate for facilities to accommodate the identified need for emergency shelters, wherein emergency shelters must be allowed without a conditional use or other discretionary permit. In order to accommodate Novato’s identified need for 52 emergency shelter beds, Program 12.A has been added to this housing element to amend the zoning code to permit emergency shelters within the Light Industrial/Office (LIO) zoning district without a conditional use permit." Emergency Shelters The Novato zoning code allows residential shelters in the CG (General Commercial) District with a use permit. Government Code Section 65583(a)(4)(A) requires jurisdictions to designate zoning districts adequate for facilities to accommodate the identified need for emergency shelters, wherein emergency shelters must be allowed without a conditional use or other discretionary permit. In order to accommodate Novato’s identified need for 52 emergency shelter beds, Program 12.A has been added to this housing element to amend the zoning code to permit emergency shelters within the Light Industrial/Office (LIO) zoning district without a conditional use permit. The LIO zone contains 557 acres and over 150 parcels and buildings. A number of the buildings within the LIO districts comprising the Novato and Bel Marin Industrial Parks 108 couldbe retrofitted to meet the identified need of 52 shelter beds. With the prolonged economic downturn, which drives up commercial vacancy rates and can contribute to the need for emergency shelter, a location(s) within the LIO district for a shelter can be viewed as appropriately adaptive. Within this zone, shelters will be subject to the same development and management standards as other residential or commercial uses within the zone and require only design review. The City will also develop objective and predictable standards for shelter operation, including security, the maximum number of beds, parking requirements, hours of operation, management requirements, proximity to other shelters, lighting, length of stay and security. Permitted uses within the LIO zone include manufacturing, warehousing, offices, and assembly uses, involving a limited generation of nuisances. Land uses that create objectionable noise, smoke, odor, dust, noxious gases, glare, heat, vibration, and industrial waste are not permitted. Live/work projects are permitted in the LIO District without a use permit, and have been found to be compatible with existing light industrial and office uses. Most LIO parcels are located along the Highway 101 corridor, and therefore provide access to transit and job centers."
novato 3per January 21, 2014 at 10:36 PM
I think I hear crickets coming from city hall. Not surprised, no one has a plan to fight this. Everyone is politically compromised and co-opted by the special interests and loudmouthed activists. So we just sit and wait for someone else to do something for us . Who will emerge to really lead us out of this abyss? Will we wait for things to get worse? How long will the silent majority remain content to vent to their family or blog or their dog and simply allow this to continue. Our old ways of politeness respect, civility are lost in this new environment. We need to get in touch with the savage barbarian within in order to combat what's going on and what's to come. Start networking with like-minded individuals. So many of us on the verge of explosion, telling ourselves we'll hope that one more election will do it, and if that doesn't work then we'll consider the alternatives. Will we wait for our government to become even more oppressive? What's your line in the sand? Haven't you had enough already? How many people read this damn patch anyway? I guess it's good that I vent = free therapy. I think to myself maybe if I can encourage just one person who will do the same for another, perhaps we'll have a group ready for action.
Al Nymous January 21, 2014 at 11:47 PM
BMK is a flood zone. Why put a emergency shelter where a tsunami can wash it away?
Eric Lucan January 22, 2014 at 12:24 AM
Roger - to answer your question about what I would like to accomplish this year, here are a few items I brought up in my first blog post in December: "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."
Eric Lucan January 22, 2014 at 12:33 AM
Novato 3per - I am very interested in reducing homelessness in Novato and the county. Along with other council members from throughout Marin, I am a part of a newly formed Homeless Policymaker Subcommittee and our first meeting is next week. Special thanks to council member Kate Colin from San Rafael for organizing the subcommittee. I am sure I will do a blog post in the near future on some of our efforts.
Al Nymous January 22, 2014 at 12:58 AM
bums are like bears. Don't feed them and they will go away. Eric I really hope you don't intend on spending taxpayer monies (including revenues) on the bums. Leave that to charities, they are better at managing money than government.
novato 3per January 22, 2014 at 08:38 AM
Thanks for your reply Mayor Eric, good to hear that this problem will be addressed. I think most thinking people would agree with Al insofar as we don't want to in any way incentivize or attract a homeless population here with food or benefits. It's been well documented that other counties, states and countries send their "problems" to our area with the promise of food, care and benefits. We don't want that. We also cannot look the other way, because rather than go away , they have multiplied. We need constant enforcement of every law they break, and telling them to move on, destroying their comfort zone until they get out of town. While we're at it, we also need to keep an eye on that trailer park and apartments across from the auto dealerships on Redwood, a lot of seedy characters coming from there and spending their day at the safeway outdoor tables, drugged out doing laps around the parking lot on bikes, looking into parked cars, up to no good.
Roger January 22, 2014 at 11:53 AM
Eric: I am glad you voiced your support for a multi-screen movie complex downtown. Eklund has voiced her opposition to the idea. I think we should encourage Prado to risk their money to help our downtown get more foot traffic and more sales (tax revenue). My wife and I often have date night in Petaluma's theater district because it is a busy social hangout place. Maybe Prado can make Novato's downtown a thriving social destination area.
Al Nymous January 22, 2014 at 12:32 PM
Why does everybody say that the city needs more taxes, fees, and revenues all the time? If the city can't operate with the taxation and fees that it collects then maybe its time to make some serious cuts.
Al Nymous January 22, 2014 at 12:55 PM
The theater is a non-profit and relies on donations!?? What a joke this project is. Visiting the website, I can't understand who owns it. There is a dozen board members who apparently are unable to make this theater work. They got a 25k loan and still are not able to open the doors! Get the city out of this project and sell the property to a business that will show movies and make money. What a well painted picture of how the city of Novato is unable to run a private business! What a joke! I feel bad for the poor fools that made donations because they will never see those doors open as long as it remains a charity and not a business. Keep dreaming Roger!
Roger January 22, 2014 at 01:28 PM
Al N: There are two theaters being discussed on Grant. I agree with you that the old theater project is a loser. Many years ago I gave money to that charity effort and it later actually was transferred to some other project. That made me upset. I am in favor of a Prado's private project on the west side of Grant for a big new 7-screen movie complex and parking garage. Prado has big bucks and is willing to take a chance on Novato. How brave and exciting!
Tina McMillan January 22, 2014 at 01:36 PM
Eric: ========================================== I just received your announcement that you are withdrawing from the state senate race. With more time to focus on your work as a council member what will you do to address the recent comments by our two Marin County Supervisors, Arnold and Kinsey regarding our Housing Element? ========================================== In a meeting of the board of Supervisors, on January 14th, Judy Arnold said that Novato "gave up local control" when they got their element approved at a lower density of 20-23 units per acre. She implied that Novato's decision would negatively affect West Marin and that unless we build Wincups up and down the freeway we will lose our open space. ========================================== "Arnold also took the occasion to explain that Novato won state approval of a less intense zoning program than the county settled for because the city agreed to relinquish strict environmental overview." ========================================== "The multifamily component of Novato's housing plan as approved by state officials calls for 20 to 23 units per acre, while the county's plan calls for up to 30 units per acre. Novato's plan, though, enables affordable development "by right" at the expense of local control, Arnold said." ========================================== Steve Kinsey is quoted in the IJ as saying "protests are being driven by a "blizzard of fear." Neither Supervisor congratulated the city, the residents, the council and the many grassroots neighborhood groups that worked so hard for the past three and half years to achieve a housing element that is a win/win by meeting HCD requirements while maintaining our suburban/rural character. ==========================================
Roger January 22, 2014 at 02:57 PM
Tina: Wow, thanks for all the interesting new news. I wonder why Arnold would attack Novato when she needs Novato's votes in her re-election effort against Shroyer.
Hopkin January 22, 2014 at 03:13 PM
The Mission Lodge lot looks nice with no building there. They should turn it into some kind of park/playground, as the "entryway to Novato". ~~~~ P.S. Postage rates going up effective Monday - stock up on stamps this week!
Eileen Plunkett January 22, 2014 at 03:34 PM
Lucan forgot to say that he has dropped out of the State Senate race!!!!!!!
Tina McMillan January 22, 2014 at 03:54 PM
Arnold's belief system is based in part, on information from Katie Crecelius who is a founding member of SUNN. Arnold has stated that should she be unable to function in office Katie is her first choice as stand in. ========================================== SUNN fought the housing element tooth and nail right up to its final submission. Had it not passed, due to SUNN's machinations, we would have had to add our unbuilt inventory to our next years RHNA. At current count that would have taken us from approximately 415 units to 1025 units. ========================================== Avoiding litigation and penalties is a huge part of submitting a timely housing element. We just made it in by the skin of our teeth. Arnold is angry because she believes that the only way to address housing, climate change, and transportation is to develop the 101 corridor with Wincups. ========================================== Neither Arnold nor Kinsey congratulated Novato because the county didn't address the 30 unit per acre base by doing an EIR like Novato did. That means all the county property zoned for AH will be developed at a base of 30 units per acre with density bonuses and height bonuses. ========================================== This is Arnold and Kinsey's legacy to Novato. Arnold spoke about Marin county having established a goal decades ago to not develop open space. What she doesn't realize is even West Marin must provide some housing to meet state mandates. If all growth happened organically rather than forcing the kind of growth called for by Plan Bay Area we would be able to see if natural resources like water and public resources like education can handle the additional people. ========================================== Low income housing is frequently developed by non profits that don't pay property tax. Novato's largest source of revenue is property tax. It's how we pay for much of what we have here. We desperately need better representation. In addition to Toni running against Arnold we need a advocate to run against Kinsey that appreciates the needs of his entire voting base and not just the few that he currently represents.
Sam January 27, 2014 at 09:06 AM
I guess the Motor mouths came back to post against Kinsey and Arnold as Once again they are biting off more than they can chew. I agree this place was a great site while they were gone but now we must listen to the lies once again. San Rafael has some interesting posts about them and then they ran them out
Hopkin January 27, 2014 at 03:55 PM
Sam, it's a good thing they can find Sanctuary in Novato.


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