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Pressure Eases on City's Housing Quotas

City manager shares lower targets from Association of Bay Area Governments.

Good news for those opposed to force-fed housing quotas for Novato: Those numbers are going down.

Novato City Manager Michael Frank announced at Tuesday's Novato City Council meeting that targeted figures from state and regional governing bodies are significantly decreasing for the city, alleviating pressure to provide shelter for people expected to move into Novato in the coming decades.

The Association of Bay Area Governments released fresh numbers for the Sustainable Communities Strategy's preferred scenario for housing units and job creation as well as a draft of the Regional Housing Needs Assessment numbers for the next eight-year cycle that starts in 2014.

"In both cases, Novato has significantly decreased numbers," Frank said.

The 30-year housing needs projections for Novato dropped from about 1,600 units to 890 in the Sustainable Communities Strategy report, representing the lowest growth grate for any jurisdiction in Marin County. On the jobs front, the report projected that 3,400 new jobs will be created in Novato over the next 30 years, down from a previous estimate of 6,400.

Last year, Novato was forced to pinpoint locations to zone for 1,241 new housing units in the current Regional Housing Needs Assessment — a quota that prompted a public outcry against forced high-density, low-income complexes that would be needed to meet the state-mandated figures. But the RHNA numbers for the 2014-22 cycle will be 411 units, or about one-third of what the city is zoning for in the 2007-2014 cycle.

Novato residents have been vocal at city and regional meetings about future housing needs, and many opponents will consider the fresh ABAG numbers a major victory. Others who have recognized the need for low-income housing so that people who work in Novato can afford to live in Novato might consider the numbers a huge setback.

What's your response?

For more coverage on this issue, see the article in the Marin IJ.

John Wyek March 14, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Much better, but it still should be a local decision, driven by the market. Not something imposed by those whom it doesn't directly impact.
Steven Norwin March 14, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Don't fall for this technique. They give us an extreme high number at first. Then, when they give us the actual intended number it will seem very low...Hook-Line-N- Sinker. Novato has more than it's share of low and extreme low income housing. Say NO to ABAG!
Craig Belfor March 14, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Sounds like the gas price thing- make us fondly remember the good old days of $4 per gallon. Only 411 more affordable housing units now. Wanna cut down the crime? Only let in local taxpaying workers, E Verified by the government. Let the rest shack with Mom.
Mark Burnham March 14, 2012 at 08:09 PM
McMurphy's "problem" is that he is a logic-minded individual in a society ruled by bureaucratic illogic. McMurphy dares to think for himself, and question authority. He resists taking his medication, and makes a perfectly rational declaration to Mildred Ratched (Louise Fletcher), the ward's head nurse: "I don't like the idea of taking something if I don't know what it is." Her immediate response— "Don't get upset, Mr. McMurphy"—mirrors the manner in which those in power will pigeonhole the individual who questions the rules. Of course, McMurphy does not belong in a mental ward, but his objection to blind authority makes him as much a threat to society as the worst kind of sociopath. "He's not crazy," one of the hospital doctors tellingly observes at one point, "but he's dangerous."
Greg Yates March 14, 2012 at 09:02 PM
My guess: its all smoke and mirrors. BAG ABAG and and return to local control and that may mean new supervisors for Novato.
Karen Mace March 14, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Other cities that were faced with this dilemma chose to mandate that the low cost housing was to only be made available to seniors. Yes we need to meet a quota but we can decide how to apply the requirement. I know this worked in Saratoga. They made the housing available to seniors, crime rate did not go up, more shopping dollers were spent, and jobs were created for folks in the service industry.
Bob Ratto March 15, 2012 at 01:57 AM
I guess the City will go into self congratulatory mode....lower numbers are better, but the fact is this is all somewhat of a smokescreen...Novato got less, Mill Valley got way more, Corte Madera ended up with less (but already announced they were quitting ABAG)...it's just a whack a mole game, with completely phony numbers. Ross City Planner upon finding out they were getting 130 units of housing...said something to the effect of "we'll take one for the team"...followed by, "it is not going to happen here"...and it simply won't...why? because Ross does not want it. Accepting made up housing numbers from an agency who is hell bent on building on high density housing to supposedly reduce greenhouse gases (to satisfy SB375, whose author, Steinberg, is wholly financed by building trades), is a very strange strategy...if you are naive you may think "regional planning" is a great idea, but you need to always think through issues and repercussions of decisions. Love the Cuckoo's Nest piece, very cogent.
Craig Belfor March 15, 2012 at 06:22 AM
I love the way they can lie with numbers. Here are some numbers: The Titanic cost $7.5 million to build, and housed 3547 people. The new Winchester house for the city will cost $15 million and house 60 people. See how easy it is too manipulate numbers? Obviously the only relevance is that neither will float.
Steve Christie March 15, 2012 at 02:18 PM
I would like to sign up to move to a beautiful city that I cannot afford...ocean view please.
Craig Belfor March 15, 2012 at 02:32 PM
I know you're not Jerome's new nom de plume because you said 'city', not 'country'.
Craig Belfor March 15, 2012 at 02:32 PM
I know you're not Jerome's new nom de plume because you said 'city', not 'country'.
Christine March 15, 2012 at 03:48 PM
My thoughts exactly.
Lloyd March 15, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Greg you hit the nail on the head. Our county sups have rarely supported their constituency. Local control means fair distribution to all towns and areas coupled with density and design that the town approves not some state social gestapo engineers.
Bob March 15, 2012 at 03:57 PM
If I am not mistaken only a percentage of the subsidized housing can be for seniors. And I guess "senior" does not necessarily mean a retired person as the new Novato Eden senior housing age requirement starts at 55 years.
Cindy March 15, 2012 at 07:05 PM
They're giving us a little pat on the head and saying "now go away citizens and let us put in high density housing, you won part of the battle so go back to your little lives and let us do what we will with your community". DON'T FALL FOR THIS BULL, DOWN WITH ABAG!
Straighttalk March 15, 2012 at 07:40 PM
People are confusing the One Bay Area with affordable housing issues. One Bay area is for all housing, mostly market rate. It looks at historical population growth, jobs projections and then says of the anticipated growth, a portion should be focused near transit and downtown so as to cut down on suburban sprawl and car-dependancy. It is a 30 year timeframe, so these numbers represent about one tenth of one percent growth in households compared to the last 30 years when we had over 1% growth per year. One downside to not providing starter homes near transit/downtown is we will not attract as many young famililes. Schools are already struggling with declining enrollment, and they are paid by student attendance, so we need homes that are attractive to young famililes. research shows those homes near transit and downtown hold their value more and are selling better in current economy. Many new home buyers look at walkscore.com before they even consider purchasing a home to see how "walkable" it is. This is a trend across the Country.
Bob Ratto March 15, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Uh, not exactly. It is all a bit more than your utopian vision. More later, I have to go spew some GHG's going to Napa
Lloyd March 15, 2012 at 09:15 PM
gee I thought most housing of the market variety was a by product of that ancient yet effective principle known as supply and demand. One Bay Area and its so called sustainable communities strategy are nothing more than the usurping of local control and community needs based mis-stated on very fuzzy math that is not reality based. Starter homes should be a product of local planning and zoning. There is no evidence that supports all communities being one and the same have a benefit in fact diversity in each community is what buyers seek. Home values in Novato have no relation to any downtown/transit based development. Suburban sprawl are already controlled through a growth boundary and car dependency can only be curbed when you have viable alternate transit in place. We understand the need for affordable housing for seniors and our working force. I believe when we are treated honestly and openly by ABAG & HCD we can self-determine solutions that are achievable and beneficial for all concerned.
The Surgeon General March 15, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Warning: Persistent belief that One Bay Area is "for all housing" may be a sign of more serious dementia. Consult your physician.
Eleanor Sluis March 15, 2012 at 10:47 PM
People who are espousing about urbanism and sustainability for large populations have a romanticized viewpoint. One view is that high density is only about jobs and walking, while listening to music and shutting out the rest of the world. People with a more realistic, down to earth viewpoint have observed that over-crowding near railroad tracks with diesel engines running on them has meant that neighborhood schools are also over-crowded and ill equipped to handle the many needs of low-performing students. Add to this the higher rate of health issues and an increase in traffic not a decrease. High density in Oakland and Richmond are good examples of issues with school performance, crime, and lack of infrastructure. Living near railroads isn’t like living in the green countryside. The real need is to remodel and switch to green building with non-toxic paints, windows, wood, and water and energy efficient appliances.... continued
Eleanor Sluis March 15, 2012 at 10:55 PM
Having organic gardens and planting trees is another way to reduce CO2. Inventing new technologies to reduce the use of rubber tires, gasoline, and plastics emitting toxins into the water and soil will have a large impact on the environment. Skilled technicians are needed to implement changes in the chemical industries. Using tax dollars for schools and tuitions for higher education is better than overcrowding, subsidized housing near trains and buses. It is a matter of federal and state priorities. Keeping Napa, Sonoma, and Marin Counties suburban and organic is more realistic than changing into urbanized space. The romanticizing of sustainability and creating a fantasy and myth about urbanization is a dangerous lack of awareness of reality, which points low-paid workers and others into not analyzing the repercussions of this false ideology.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr March 16, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Zero is a nice number for subsidized low income, high density, welfare felon housing. People should live where they can afford to live. There is no Constitutional right to live beyond your means at taxpayer expense. The elderly have paid into the system all of their lives, and deserve a discount.

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