Saturday, December 22, 2012

Novato Citizens fight to retain control of local planning

"I bought my home. I pay my taxes. I vote in local elections.  Now they tell me that ABAG is in charge?"

Editor's Note: This is from a May 2011 opinion piece in the Novato Patch.  The grassroots citizens who sought reasonable growth plans for Novato were met with a massive "astroturf" campaign of professional activists, advertising and marketing consultants with the financial backing of the Marin Community Foundation. There is something unseamly about outside money trying to buy public sympathies to influence local development.  Who are these elitists of the democratic process and what is their REAL agenda?  Do  Novato citizens have a right to manage growth in their own community?

Unfortunately Marinwood/Lucas Valley will be visited by the same activists intent on squelching local voices for the "public" good of big box affordable housing complexes.


Op-Ed: We're Losing Local Control on Affordable Housing Issue

Reader Eleanor Sluis says the nonprofit Stand Up For Neighborly Novato is pushing the city in the wrong direction.

Three Marin County supervisors are endorsing a density of 30 to 50-plus units per parcel and/or acre for housing advocated by the new nonprofit group Stand Up for Neighborly Novato, and it makes one think about losing local control.

Local control for housing drives Novato's general plan, a document that must be updated every seven years by state law. It is statistically better for schools, crime control, integration into neighborhoods, infrastructure and taxation purposes if the smaller contractors, builders and bankers help to provide quality housing for low-income people.  A 2008 transportation survey shows that most families want homes with a yard. I will add that families also want good schools and safe neighborhoods as essential qualities for building a community for our children, so they may reach their potential in this world.

The $75,000-$80,000 SUNN recently received from the Marin Community Foundation would be better spent on cooperating with the other housing groups of diverse neighborhoods and the city manager’s ad hoc working group on affordable housing in working toward a goal of building 20-25 units in certain areas rather than building in the higher numbers, which the SUNN group advocates.

It is time to work for Novato and its budget deficits in the city, schools, parks, safety personnel, maintenance and environmental issues. Unsubstantiated needs of a 15 percent more or less decrease in gas emissions costing the public more than what was voted for (SMART train) and increasing more housing than needed is not equitable nor financially feasible.

Buses and low-emission cars and trucks will substantially help more than 2,100 new low- income, non-taxpaying, subsidized units to Novato in the coming years. Seven hundred units is a more reasonable number to build according to some residents.

Soliciting support from outside big labor unions, big-buck developers, big banks, big government organizations to get subsidies and politicize the issues is not the answer to Novato's budgetary deficits. The sanctions for SUNN from the supervisors, League of Women Voters, Buck Trust/Marin Community Foundation and the Novato Democratic Club would be more appropriate if they worked toward what is needed in Novato. And what is needed here? A highly educated public to provide technological, environmental, educational and financial skills for correcting the errors of overpopulation and project-dense building.

The method hasn't worked in Oakland, San Jose, Richmond, San Rafael and Petaluma in fixing their city budgets. Remodeling homes and building units that fit into neighborhoods is favored by most of Novato residents.

Say yes to Balanced Housing, the Novato Community Alliance, San Marin Housing, Pacheco Valle housing, Hamilton Housing and Neighbors 4 Novato. Say yes to the small contractors, builders, laborers, remodelers, small lumber and supply businesses.

Stand Up for Neighborly Novato is against all of these groups by wanting only big-buck money for development of 40-50 or more units/project housing for renters instead of working to build smaller rental properties in appropriate places for our children. They need a better future than living in big project-oriented boxes, unsafe neighborhoods and crowded schools.

Please write to the Marin County supervisors, the Marin Community Foundation, the League of Women Voters and Novato Democratic Club saying that you support affordable housing in appropriate places and want support for all groups. Please ask the supervisors to rescind their vote on support of only one developer, SUNN, and that supporting affordable housing of all the aforementioned groups works better for quality living. Also, write to SUNN to not break the nonprofit rules of soliciting political support for their campaign of divisiveness in not supporting lower housing densities that fit into existing neighborhoods and provides quality living in Novato.

Another perspective on Novato Housing


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