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Novato City Council to Discuss Downtown Parking, SMART Land

Tuesday night's meeting starts at 6 p.m. with a closed session about land that the transit rail authority would like to obtain to build stations.

The Novato City Council will hear a report Tuesday night on how parking will work out for a tentatively planned downtown office building for city employees and how it might affect commerce in the surrounding Old Town shopping district.

The council has not voted on the whether to relocate about 60 city employees from its leased space at to a new “civic center” administrative building on Machin Avenue, a few yards from and across the street from the .

The council has seen architectural drawings of a new building of 22,000 to 25,000 square feet but wanted to hear more about how parking would be handled and its relation to current parking availability in the Old Town area.

San Francisco-based Walker Parking Consultants were contracted to analyze the supply and demand near the civic center area and found that available parking is sufficient, according to a staff report. The analysis concludes that an office building without additional parking would create problems and that the city needs better management of the current parking spots.

Walker Parking concluded that there is a need for 518-540 parking spaces in the civic center area where there is an existing supply of 394 spots. The firm said it factored in parking demands of the Millworks/ complex two blocks to the east and the planned construction of a multi-use building at 999 Grant Ave. one block to the west.

Also Tuesday, the council is to have a closed-session discussion about small city-owned parcels near the land owned by Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit. SMART is starting the process of to construct stations along a passenger rail route through Novato.

City Manager Michael Frank said the city does not plan to sell “any amount of any significance” to SMART and only owns remnant right-of-way parcels needed by SMART to build a station just north Atherton Avenue, about a mile north of Old Town.

Frank said the city is hoping to work something out with SMART about the land it owns off Grant Avenue where an old train depot sits. City officials have targeted that area for more downtown parking.

The two parties are to discuss not only 695 Grant Ave. where the depot is located but also a parcel on B Street in Hamilton (between Palm Drive and Hamilton Parkway) where a South Novato SMART station is scheduled to be built and slivers of property at the site of the North Novato station near Atherton and North Redwood Boulevard.

The closed session of Tuesday’s meeting starts at 6 p.m. followed by the open session at approximately 6:30.

Edwin Drake May 05, 2011 at 11:40 PM
And for David L - the "mixed" in Mixed Use is residential, so that there are still people around after the office workers go home. Office/Retail gets you nothing. If the city wanted to help, they'd build an apartment building, with a ginormous parking structure, on that city owned lot. As it's near the Police Station, they could even include some affordable housing.
Roger May 07, 2011 at 07:12 PM
I heard from a neighbor that attended the affordable housing advisory panel meeting Wednesday that the group came up with a new idea...to place lots of dense housing in cow pastures just north of the Smart stop at San Marin. All the panel thought it was a good idea. It will help get that Smart stop approved now and few people live out there to care. But I live nearby in Partridge Knolls-II and care. I am quite willing to have my share of affordable housing near me, but it seems that other parts of Novato need to have their share, too. I heard the panel a month ago say they wanted to avoid concentrating affordable housing and creating hot spots for crime. Well, afforable housing locating guidelines require retail to be close, so that will probably trigger a 7-11 to be built at the corner of Redwood and WoodHollow. Are we really headed in the right direction here? I thought the far north Redwood area was zone for commercial/business for a reason. The next meeting of the advosory housing panel is May 18th.
Edwin Drake May 08, 2011 at 06:19 AM
Putting City offices in the current downtown area (somewhere near oldtown Grant) is a waste of both money and space. On an annualized basis the City employees won't pump THAT much money into the local area, and the space is better used for either residential and/or parking. The "mixed" in mixed use is residential, so that retail establishments have potential customers after everyone goes home. And this idea of live-work-play in the same area is fantasy. That's why the city needs to foster a 24/7 customer base for local retail/commercial establishments. The elephant in the room is the zoning for North Novato. What the heck is going on with that anyway? (You'd think the city was planning a D-Day invasion the way the way they LOVE secrecy.) As for getting around (in both directions, more or less) : Shuttle from Fireman's along Redwood Blvd then in-and-around Grant and THEN along Railroad and UNDER FREEWAY to hospital and Vintage Oaks (which are physically close to Oldtown) then maybe out Rowland and along Novato to Simmons (or San Marin) and out to Fireman's again and the other direction as well.
Edwin Drake May 08, 2011 at 06:27 AM
The idea of affordable housing north of Fireman's Fund, is idiotic ... and EXACTLY the stupidity one can expect from this city council and staff. Roger is right: affordable housing must be near transit options (and SMART is not a transit option ... too few stops and in all the wrong places) Why, oh why, are we hearing nothing about mixed use and form based zoning in the North Redwood plan? The City is goig to foul this up, and we'll be suffering with dumb decisions for years. It's Dillon -Knutson deja vue: Her comment on the Whole Foods project 'I didn't know it would be so big,' (or words to that effect. When WILL the City Council and staff shake the cobwebs out of their heads and think long-term, common-sense, and practical? Just watch, North Redwood will end up all two-story commercial and it will be, essentially, another Vintage Oaks. There is already a surfeit of retail space in Novato, and they will simply add to the glut without adding any customers to the base.
Roger May 09, 2011 at 11:56 PM
I am actually looking forward to the City Council election this Fall. Chance to send a message...if the right candidates run.

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