News Alert
Search for Missing Hiker on Mt. Tam Ends in…

Op-Ed: Council Candidates Act as if Nothing Has Changed

Pam Drew, chair of Novato Community Alliance and a former member of the City Manager’s Housing Ad Hoc Working Group, says the city's neighborhoods need to unite.

Novato neighborhoods have gotten a lot of bad press over the past 16 months, first for simply reacting to an ill-designed outside-sourced plan for a large low-income housing development on the west side of town, and second for attempting a plan with dispersed locations. Clearly the neighborhoods can no longer function effectively going it alone.

The state has exacted a new price of commercial development from cities by forcing them to zone significant portions of their land for low-income housing and to reduce the emissions of the new commercial and housing developments. Over the current cycle of city general plan updates (2007-2013), Novato failed to collect enough from the developers and last year made a Hail Mary pass of the bill directly to the neighborhoods — one neighborhood in particular. Unless the council-to-be changes course, the same problem will recur in the next housing cycle. 

Growth in retail, housing or jobs now brings increased housing quotas and the mandate for emissions reductions on the towns that allow it. Local political races continue as if nothing has changed.

We are grappling with the forced residential integration of medium- and high-end housing with low-income housing, on a county-by-county basis, through state mandate with regional execution of the plan. Although the rich may continue to commute, our regional government's growth plan, called One Bay Area, says an increasing number of the poor must be housed near where they work regardless of the cost of the subsidy.

The environmental cost of building low-income housing is being swapped for the environmental benefit from theoretically reduced commuting by those who live in subsidized housing closer to work or in transit-oriented developments. We are also trying to figure out how to pay for it.

Even though Novato already has the most economic integration of housing of any town in Marin, there is no end to the state's required growth process. Essentially the state says that since we grew over the past decade we must continue to grow, but our council hasn't realized that you can't grow your way out of a deficit anymore.

All of our Novato neighborhoods need to come together so that our energy can be put to better use to improve our town. The neighborhoods need to speak in a united way so that Novato City Council candidates by the (Jeanne MacLeamy, Madeline Kellner and Eric Lucan) will support the need for commercial linkage fees and housing elements for commercial developments.

What's the chance the chamber will say we should increase the costs of development by forcing developers to shoulder some of the resulting housing and emission mitigation costs to the city? If the chamber doesn't say this (and it hasn't), the citizens should consider no longer ceding the council to the chamber. We ought to consider voting for an independent.

“What's good for business is good for America” has changed.  Novato neighborhoods need one or more seats on the council to make it like it should be: "Everyone including commerce must pay their fair share of new state mandates up front. Big business shall not overshadow small business. And the neighborhoods count."


What’s different about Novato politics these days? To explore this question, join us for Council Candidates Night, Monday, Oct. 17 at the banquet room. You are welcome if you are a Novato resident or live within her urban growth boundary. Brent Ainsworth of Novato Patch is moderating the event, which begins at 7:30 p.m. A $5 donation is suggested. Novato Community Alliance is sponsoring. If you have questions for the candidates, add them to the bottom of.

Pam Drew October 11, 2011 at 10:16 PM
Please send the Patch questions you want to ask the candidates now for the NCA forum on the 17th. The candidates will not respond until the 17th but give them something to think about meanwhile, as if they didn't have enough to do. People who attend will be able to fill out 3 by 5 cards, some of which will be answered but you could get your questions asked today! Why wait? Please limit your question to a length that can be printed on a 3 by 5 card.
Edwin Drake October 11, 2011 at 11:30 PM
Funny, I thought all the neighborhoods coming together was called the "City Council." Too bad it doesn't work that way anymore, that constituents need to form their own lobbying arm to get some attention and tear the council away from the monied "green" interests controlling the debate. Let's not just get together, let's get IT together, and get a whole new city council!
Michael Reyff October 12, 2011 at 04:15 AM
Pam: Thank you for your as usual excellent well thought out commentary. It is unfortunate that recent readers of Patch are more concerned about Mountain Biking issues than what the implications are of the orientation and decisions of the current City Council members with regards to local zoning and development decisions. I am a long time Marin mountain biker and mountain biking is not on my radar screen as we in Marin have some of the best mountain biking trails in the world and we have much more serious issues to address. JMHO.
Craig Belfor October 12, 2011 at 02:08 PM
Once again I ask the question: What if Novato said NO to the housing mandates? What would the fines, implications, funding cuts, or other penalties be? Maybe we'll be glad to suffer them if it saves our town. If we can afford a 15 million dollar building for a city government that used to use half that space when we have an empty former building and a community center unused, maybe we have funds to pay the penalties. Ross has done it. Greenbrae has done it. So have Sausalito, Belvedere, Kentfield, Woodacre, Fairfax, Mill Valley, Tiburon, etc.What does it take to keep illegal, lazy bums from moving into our town with their section 8 vouchers taped to their foreheads?
Pam Drew October 12, 2011 at 03:00 PM
Craig, I think the questions which need to be asked are: 1) Will this entire low-income housing scheme work? 2) What groups truly benefit? and 3) What groups pay for it? I heard a news broadcast from KQED on the radio yesterday reporting on the Analysis of Impediments by the federal government as to violations of Title 6, the Civil Rights Act regarding fair housing in Marin County. One statement said that Novato was resisting affordable housing. As far as I know, Novato is NOT resisting affordable housing nor low-income housing. Novato has picked sites and has zoned them/is zoning them. The city HAS promised to ASK the California Department of Housing and Community Development if our allocation can be met with zoning for twenty units per acre rather than with thirty which is the default for every city of decent size in any metropolitan county. This instance of unintelligent reporting without fact-checking is slipping the knife to Novato. It calls up the weight of a huge network dedicated to turning cities close to San Francisco and Oakland into satellites that can be triggered by actual defiance. Novato is a long way from defiance. Novato is co-operating while trying to maintain its own identity. It's a tough road. Novato doesn't have the money necessary to even raise a defense against the state of California in this matter so until some colossal agency or organization offers substantial aid, defiance is neither possible nor wise.
Pam Drew October 12, 2011 at 03:49 PM
By the way, Craig, it's a good question and bears asking. The candidates will have a lot to say about what happens if a city just says no to affordable housing mandates. Thanks for engaging in the process. There is huge diversity of opinion on this matter. My own opinion is just one voice. I hope lots of people weigh on questions that they've been wondering about. There is no such thing as a bad question. Everbody needs to know both questions and possible answers.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr October 12, 2011 at 04:45 PM
Solution: sue ABAG if they try to withhold state funds from Novato because the new city council refuses to continue bending over a barrel for increased low income, high density housing when Novato already has more than its share. Sue to remove the tax exemptions for all Novato low income, high density housing ownership/management which creates public nuisances and crime centers by failure to properly manage their properties. Tax exemption is a contract. If they break that contract, then they should suffer having their tax exemption revoked. IMHO. JEROME J. GHIGLIOTTI, JR, NOVATO CITY COUNCIL Take Back Government or suffer the consequences.
Born & raised October 12, 2011 at 05:08 PM
Jerome's answer is to sue? What an incompetent lawer, who incorrectly files frivolous lawsuits. Get a life, and a real job.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr October 12, 2011 at 05:16 PM
That is why the city needs a new city attorney, not the toadie we now pay.
Born & raised October 12, 2011 at 06:09 PM
Notice he doesn't deny it? And if elected will he waste as much time on Patch as he does now?
Thomas October 12, 2011 at 07:53 PM
I don't speak for nor want to for Jerome on the issue, but in case you haven't noticed - in the world of municipal regulations and mandates one of the few tools a city has is court action. It's sort of the normal operating condition of taking action in this country. Now whether this case to challenge ABAG on erroneous conditions they set is correct or not, I wouldn't say right now, but I wouldn't rule out court action for sure.
Craig Belfor October 12, 2011 at 11:42 PM
The court of public opinion holds no power. The court of law does.If elected, Jerome will put his time in and get results that have the power of enforcement.
Steven Norwin October 12, 2011 at 11:50 PM
A vote for Jerome for City Council = Postive Change. We need someone with his backbone not the spine-less members we currently have!
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr October 13, 2011 at 05:19 AM
Steven, Thomas, Craig, thank you. Get your friends and neighbors to read Patch, www.ElectJerome.com and www.smartvoter.org/
gary October 15, 2011 at 08:42 PM
I have two questions for NCA's candidates night on Monday evening October 17th. 1. Do you feel the future and design of Novato should be decided by special interest groups and the Novato Chamber of Commerce, or the citizens of Novato? 2. In your opinion, does a building like Millworks (six stories) belong in the town of Novato?
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr October 15, 2011 at 09:31 PM
Maybe you have not noticed, but I was NOT endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber was very specific about who they supported, incumbent status quo and the new candidate who agrees with the incumbents about development. First, I want the Chamber to explain what it has done with $100,000 per year that the City gives to the Chamber every year to market/advertise Novato as a retail destination. Second, I want that $100,000 to be divided among other civic retail groups in the future. The Millworks is both an architectural and a financial boon-doggle. The council and the promoters advertised it as ownership housing for Novatoans. Surprise! My information is that only two condominiums have been sold to resident owners, the rest are rentals. Another council failure. If you do not tell your friends and neighbors that there are REAL choices on the November ballot, you will get more of the same; and teh voters will deserve what they get. I have already advertised that I want a 2 story limit on any structure within Novato, except for hospitals www.ElectJerome.com www.SmartVoter.org/ Real choices!
T. Allen October 15, 2011 at 11:05 PM
By special interest groups I'm sure you are referring the the NCA who is hosting this forum right? It is clear to me this forum is a sham and they are doing it only because their candidate (Leslie Peterson Shwarze) hasn't received a single real endorsement (not the IJ, the Pacific Sun, The Chamber of Commerce nor the North Bay Leadership Council). This is another PR trick to try to make their candidate look good. Biased questions, biased screening, prepping of only their candidate etc. No thanks, I'll watch one of the real forums instead.
Edwin Drake October 15, 2011 at 11:50 PM
How, in specific dollars and cents, does it pay for Novato to spend over $2.3 million to keep the Redevelopment agency alive? Please explain the specific reasoning, following true costs and benefits in dollars, considering the required annual payments start at $500,000 - nearly the same amount as the Rowland rent the council said was unbearable.
Dennis Cooper October 16, 2011 at 12:42 AM
Edwin, it's a very good question. It is actually $3.5m for the first 3 years. I think the only reason they elected to pay to keep the RDA open is to try to protect the bond money they raised to build the office building downtown. If the RDA goes away, so does the bond money and any of it that has already been spent will need to be paid back out of the General Fund. The way I see it, we can add the $3.5m to the cost of the City offices which puts us at $18.5m before even breaking ground. It seems to me that it would be safer and more fiscally responsible to spend the the $3.5m on an existing building for City offices and then let the RDA close if that's what the State decides to do.
Stacey October 16, 2011 at 03:28 PM
Dick Spotswood: County supervisors should have told HUD to 'get lost' 10/16/11 http://www.marinij.com/opinion/ci_19116465#.Tpr2MZzHzh4.email
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr October 16, 2011 at 05:21 PM
That is the battle I have been waging in Novato for 3 years. The Novato City Council bends over for the Sacramento leftists for every socialist program. The collapse of the USSR and the 47 year failure of socialism in the US should have proven that socialism is a tool for welfare-felons to get more welfare. Marin HUD does not even follow its own rules. If a HUD tenant is convicted of a crime they MUST be evicted. Marin HUD refuses to report any evictions, even though they are public records. If paying for one of your neighborhood welfare families is not good enough, then return the Novato incumbents and developers and you can support two welfare-felon families. www.ElectJerome.com or, The League of Women Voters: www.smartvoter.org/ I am the only candidate with a printed, published Platform, because I will not hide behind the politicians' campaign promise evasion of "I never said that."
joyce macleod October 16, 2011 at 06:36 PM
How would you handlel the mandate that the city of Novato rezone properties for high-density low-income tenants.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr October 16, 2011 at 09:43 PM
Either reason with or sue ABAG to remove their quotas, as Novato is already over-represented in welfare-felon housing. Novato has 30% of Marin's population and 50% of existing AH housing. Bay Vista at Hamilton could not even be filled. The city council had to advertise in the East Bay to fill the units, 3 of which have already defaulted and 6 more want to have the City buy back their homes. Grrrr!!! Please, tell your friends and neighbors before they cast their ballots. www.ElectJerome.com or League of Women Voters: www.smartvoter.org/
ONM October 16, 2011 at 10:08 PM
Craig Belfor October 16, 2011 at 10:12 PM
Let me get this--our affordable housing is so crime ridden that the people from Richmond want their money back? When are we going to get the point?
Steven Norwin October 16, 2011 at 10:36 PM
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr October 17, 2011 at 02:04 AM
Good, that means that we can split the legal expense of fighting COG/ABAG with Irvine, or get Sacramento to disband COG/ABAG.
Gomer October 17, 2011 at 03:34 AM
Game, set, match..... http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-e-verify-20111017,0,5139224.story
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr October 17, 2011 at 05:06 AM
Wrong. I have not yet begun to fight. Assemblyman Fong stated that the E-Verify system should be banned until it can be "fixed up". He lies. With 99% first response accuracy, and 90% of false negatives due to women who married and forgot to advise Social Security of their name change, E-Verify is the most accurate federal system. Fong and the other Brown-outs have amended California laws so that any law that adversely affected illegal aliens has been eliminated. The Brown-outs have achieved Amnesty in California without the adverse publicity it has received at the national level. A legal citizen? You had better get used to sitting at the back of the bus, because you are now second class. Will the Brown-outs make bank robbery by illegal aliens not a crime because they were just trying to better themselves? You may feel immune, but you will feel it when an illegal alien does something that bites you in the buttocks. Call La Raza, because the police have been handcuffed. Vote! Or you deserve what you get.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr October 26, 2011 at 09:39 PM
I have been accused of being a "racist", in this column, I wrote a Letter to the Editor of Novato Patch clarifying my position on race, and the editor declined to print it. The editor wrote: "We'd like our site to be the forum for civil discussion and productive changes of ideas." Out of respect for the First Amendment rights of Freedom of Press, I am not going to try to sneak that letter into comments, However, I have to reiterate the recent court argument of Michael Richards that only Caucasians can be called "racists". Racist acts and words by non-Caucasians are immune. Why?


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »