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."
CANDIDATES NIGHT OCT. 17
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.