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


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Volunteers wanted to Save Marinwood

Relax.  We are not asking anyone to fight a 7 headed hydra monster.    We just need a little help with our web-based communications. 

We are currently seeking advice on web design,  social media strategies, public relations, videography, advertising, event planning,  flier distribution,  community based meetings, legal,  financial and political advice.

In other words,  we need your help.  What can you offer in service of your community?   The 2012 Housing Element IS being down on us like the fabled 7 headed hydra.  If we do not respond quickly,  The politicians and political insiders will have conquered Lucas Valley with their affordable housing schemes.  In the process our Dixie Schools will be severely impacted threatening their  very independence and standards of excellence. 

If you never have been involved in any political event in your life,  now is the time to consider it.  We need to get the word out to the neighbors and educate the community. 

If you would like to find more, how you can participate email us at 

One Bay Area and Board of Supervisor's are planning massive growth for Marinwood/Lucas Valley

Editor's note: This came to us from an East Bay group called Bay Area Liberty

Could DESTROY The Character of Your Town
(the purpose of RHNA is 175% income redistribution, see MTC quote below in
“Why RNA?” paragraph)

No One Bay Area
Dictate Housing Numbers**!!
Cities must object by September 10

(officially by Sept 18 but ABAG told us they would probably ignore comments after Sept 10)
 How could these numbers destroy the character of your town?
1.  There is no funding for schools and other services. Local taxpayers will have to bear that burden
(Pleasanton braces for 3X student population-view video here)
 2.  Numbers REQUIRE a ‘fair share” of low income, very low income people in stack and pack housing near transit.  How will that affect the character of your town?
Things You Can Do
Tell your city council to send letter to ABAG protesting the allocation.
Hold a Townhall Meeting to Educate your neighbors 
 Start a petition in your town and send a citizens petition directly to ABAG.
**Bureaucrats in Sacramento at the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) have dictated to each region in the State how much housing they must accomodate.
MTC-ABAG took this number and used a computer model that compared housing value, household income, and school scores to determine the
that each community must take
(failure to comply means loss of road repair funds)
The Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) Methodology specifies how all cities and counties in the Bay Area work to provide a fair share or proportion of the region s total and affordable housing need, which is a core requirement of the Housing Element Law.
“ (One Bay Area)…..adopts a Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) methodology …known as the “175 percent income redistribution”. .. The Complete Community framework, along with the affordable housing strategy of RHNA, is the primary method by which social equity is built into the land use scenarios.”…. Proposed Alternatives Letter  to the One Bay Area Plan dated June 16, 2011 , Steve Heminger, Exec Director, MTC

(numbers are listed by income group, each city MUST take it’s share of very low, low, moderate and above moderate income families, there is a column for each in the document and then a column with the total number the city must accomodate)
Cities that have pushed back have had their allocation reduced. 
You CAN make a difference

Monday, December 17, 2012

The State Mandates are not Real - Elk Grove, Ca discovers the Lies

Much of what we are told about "Housing Mandates"  deserves further review.
Editors Note: Communities are fighting back all over California at new housing mandates that are forcing development in their community.  I received the following communication with comments as I received it:


Comment from Concord, CA:

This came from a friend in Elk Grove,

As I keep stating. AB32 and SB375 are NOT mandatory for local municipalities. We can say NO and we should! Do not let your local officials lie to you about this being a mandate! The mandates only call for state or regional bodies to perform these functions and clearly state that local jurisdictions are not compelled to adopt these in their general plans!


Comment from private developer from Half Moon Bay:

Maybe our Board of Supervisors should take a lesson from Elk Grove.  We do not have to change our General Plan in order to comply with AB32.  Get it?  These are voluntary requirements.  The only reason a jurisdiction would straddle these requirements on their people is in order to make it easier for large developers to slide their projects through the process - without environmental review.  The more dense the easier to get through the process.  I just finished the plans for a building project in Half Moon Bay.  They have adopted these types of requirements.  It was a very small house.  It took 21 sheets to complete this project, not counting the fire and grading sheets.  (It is a flat lot and before Green it only took 9 to 12 sheets).  Since my client is along Highway 1 I told him that he should put a high rise on the parcel and he would not have to meet the same requirements. 

Welcome to the new world of Green.  It is not about saving the environment.  It is not about health and safety.  It is about putting the lobbyist's widget on every house in California - AND in El Dorado County it's called saddling the cost of high rises, hotels and box stores along our corridors on the back of the tax and rate payers.


Elk Grove says no to green....

Elk Grove rejects plan to cut greenhouse gases

Published: Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3B

The carbon footprint in Elk Grove will stay the same size, at least for now.
The Elk Grove City Council last week backed off on long-range plans to cut its greenhouse gas emissions, saying programs to encourage sustainability might hurt businesses and job creation.
The council put aside two plans crafted by city staff to reduce the city's emissions by about 15 percent by 2020. The plans promote green building, energy efficiency, alternative transportation and resource conservation. Council members, primarily concerned about the effects of green building requirements, unanimously voted instead to meet with business leaders and discuss how to soften any harmful effects of going green.
Key points of the plans called for:
• Requiring all new city and private developments to exceed state energy efficiency standards by 15 percent.
• Requiring large new commercial developments to have electric vehicle chargers and new residential homes to be pre-wired for plug-in vehicles. The proposal called for 300 charging stations citywide by 2025
• Tree planting programs.
• Expanding bicycle parking and storage.
• Converting the city's vehicle fleet to alternative fuels.
Elk Grove's plans were inspired by state Assembly Bill 32, which mandates the state reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, in an attempt to slow climate change.
A centerpiece of the state legislation is the "cap-and-trade" program, which began auctioning off carbon credits Wednesday.
Vice-Mayor Patrick Hume criticized the proposals, especially green building practices that exceed the state's standards, and pre-wiring homes for electric vehicle charging stations.
"What we have before us is not the right course of action today, if ever," Hume said at Wednesday's City Council meeting. "AB 32 is horrible legislation, and (its) carbon offset auction is a joke."
In 2009, the council directed city staff to draft an overarching 20-year "sustainability element" for the city's general plan, and a more short-term Climate Action Plan, which would focus on greenhouse gas reductions through 2020.
The city used federal dollars to pay for the draft proposals, and created a citizens advisory committee for input.
AB 32 doesn't require any local action, so technically the move toward cutting carbon emissions is voluntary, said Elk Grove planning director Taro Echiburu.
But having the plans in place could actually speed development by making the city eligible for certain types of funding, and streamlining environmental permitting on projects, he said.
Echiburu said a recent change in the California Environmental Quality Act requires analysis of greenhouse gas emissions as a condition of development.
"While a Climate Action Plan is not mandated, without it, we will have to comply with CEQA on a project-by-project basis, which adds time and costs to projects for developers and jurisdictions," Echiburu said, adding that projects challenged under CEQA could be delayed or halted. "With a Climate Action Plan in place, the chances of a challenge are low."
Many cities are struggling with whether and how to cut emissions. Because the state regulations are so new, there are no solid data showing they will spur development or save money, Echiburu said. While the city and county of Sacramento and Citrus Heights have adopted Climate Action Plans, the Lincoln City Council voted down its proposed plan.
Echiburu said the controversial green building standards will be needed for the city to meet its 15 percent emissions-reduction target. But it's not clear if there will be consequences for cities that don't meet AB 32 targets.
Like Hume, Elk Grove Mayor-elect Gary Davis opposed the proposed plan, expressing worry about saddling businesses with extra costs. He wants the city to shrink its carbon footprint by bringing in new businesses, particularly in an area slated for commercial development in the southern portion of the city, to allow residents to work closer to home.
"We need to be careful about putting financial burdens on businesses that ultimately prohibits our job growth, which ultimately will prohibit us from lowering our carbon footprint," he said.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

It is ILLEGAL to dump low income housing in Marinwood/Lucas Valley

 Editor's Note: It is ILLEGAL to dump all the affordable housing in Marinwood/Lucas Valley according to state law.  This is the same state law that angry Novato citizen's used to repeal their aggressive housing quotas last year.  We have been targeted in Marinwood/Lucas Valley because we are politically weak and uninformed.  They are hoping no one notices until AFTER they break ground.  Over 83% of all AFFORDABLE HOUSING (extremely low to low income) is mandated for Marinwood/Lucas Valley.  This is illegal.  The state law requires housing to be spread EVENLY across unincorporated Marin.   (I wonder where the "extremely low income" housing will be built in Belvedere?) 


California Government Code Section 65584

Legal Research Home > California Laws > Government Code > California Government Code Section 65584

(a) (1) For the fourth and subsequent revisions of the
housing element pursuant to Section 65588, the department shall
determine the existing and projected need for housing for each region
pursuant to this article. For purposes of subdivision (a) of Section
65583, the share of a city or county of the regional housing need
shall include that share of the housing need of persons at all income
levels within the area significantly affected by the general plan of
the city or county.
   (2) While it is the intent of the Legislature that cities,
counties, and cities and counties should undertake all necessary
actions to encourage, promote, and facilitate the development of
housing to accommodate the entire regional housing need, it is
recognized, however, that future housing production may not equal the
regional housing need established for planning purposes.
   (b) The department, in consultation with each council of
governments, shall determine each region's existing and projected
housing need pursuant to Section 65584.01 at least two years prior to
the scheduled revision required pursuant to Section 65588. The
appropriate council of governments, or for cities and counties
without a council of governments, the department, shall adopt a final
regional housing need plan that allocates a share of the regional
housing need to each city, county, or city and county at least one
year prior to the scheduled revision for the region required by
Section 65588. The allocation plan prepared by a council of
governments shall be prepared pursuant to Sections 65584.04 and
65584.05 with the advice of the department.
   (c) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the due dates for
the determinations of the department or for the council of
governments, respectively, regarding the regional housing need may be
extended by the department by not more than 60 days if the extension
will enable access to more recent critical population or housing
data from a pending or recent release of the United States Census
Bureau or the Department of Finance. If the due date for the
determination of the department or the council of governments is
extended for this reason, the department shall extend the
corresponding housing element revision deadline pursuant to Section
65588 by not more than 60 days.
   (d) The regional housing needs allocation plan shall be consistent
with all of the following objectives:
   (1) Increasing the housing supply and the mix of housing types,
tenure, and affordability in all cities and counties within the
region in an equitable manner, which shall result in each
jurisdiction receiving an allocation of units for low- and very low
income households.
   (2) Promoting infill development and socioeconomic equity, the
protection of environmental and agricultural resources, and the
encouragement of efficient development patterns.
   (3) Promoting an improved intraregional relationship between jobs
and housing.
   (4) Allocating a lower proportion of housing need to an income
category when a jurisdiction already has a disproportionately high
share of households in that income category, as compared to the
countywide distribution of households in that category from the most
recent decennial United States census.
   (e) For purposes of this section, "household income levels" are as
determined by the department as of the most recent decennial census
pursuant to the following code sections:
   (1) Very low incomes as defined by Section 50105 of the Health and
Safety Code.
   (2) Lower incomes, as defined by Section 50079.5 of the Health and
Safety Code.
   (3) Moderate incomes, as defined by Section 50093 of the Health
and Safety Code.
   (4) Above moderate incomes are those exceeding the moderate-income
level of Section 50093 of the Health and Safety Code.
   (f) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, determinations
made by the department, a council of governments, or a city or county
pursuant to this section or Section 65584.01, 65584.02, 65584.03,
65584.04, 65584.05, 65584.06, 65584.07, or 65584.08 are exempt from
the California Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing
with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code).