The proposed Hanna Ranch development in Novato has . Right now it seems the tug-of-war is being won by the opponents, but only if you're swayed by who speaks up at civic meetings.
Those against Hanna Ranch seem to be folks hoping some affordable housing can be mixed into the undeveloped site just south of . As it stands right now, there will be some retail stores, a few restaurants, a 116-room hotel and some office space if plans are approved by the Novato City Council and other entities that must sign off (including the , the , the plus several county and state agencies).
Urban One, the L.A.-based development firm, has spent several years trying to go through the approval process in Novato and in the past year has met resistance from the local housing advocates. Their point: Many workers at the hotel, restaurants and stores will be making minimum wage or slightly higher, and they might as well have a chance to life on the site to reduce their commute, alleviating traffic and greenhouse gas emissions.
Dennis Allen of Urban One has cited the remote location of Hanna Ranch as the main detractor for including housing, but the some say the real drawback is that requiring any housing would cripple the project's profitability and probably kill it outright. He also points to the around Novato — none of which included Hanna Ranch — for potential rezoning for housing as part of the city's 2007-2014 general plan update.
The pro-business, pro-taxation faction, including the , says we can't miss the chance to develop this property because Novato needs more choices for its residents to keep them from leaving down and spending money elsewhere. There are only a few plots left in the city limits that are zoned for commercial/retail use.
Have a look at this editorial in the by colunmnist Dick Spotswood and the share your comments below. He wrote that developers have a social responsibility to contribute to afforable housing options.
Ponder this question: Would you rather for the housing upon the developer and risk doom for the project — and probably another decade or so of inactivity at Hanna Ranch — or let it go and focus the housing issue on the sites pinpointed in the recent housing element hunt?
What do you hope happens? Can this problem be solved through compromise?