Saturday, December 29, 2012

BOOK: The Best Laid Plans

Marin County Supervisors have big plans to urbanize Marin along the 101 Corridor-especially in the Marinwood Priority Development Area



The Best Laid Plans: Our Planning and Affordable Housing Challenges in Marin [Paperback]

The Best Laid Plans explores the often byzantine world of planning and affordable housing development, in simple, readable terms. It exposes the fallacies and examines the history and unintended consequences of an antiquated, "top down," decision-making process, largely controlled by unaccountable government bureaucracies, that produces outsized financial gains for the few at the expense of small communities. As we move into an era when sustainable solutions are no longer optional, the lessons of this book resonate far beyond the small towns of Marin County, California.


Friday, December 28, 2012

AUDIO: Vehicle Mileage Tax for everyone!

Although MTC postponed the idea of Vehicle Mileage Tax with GPS devices,  they have initiated metering lights at all freeway on ramps throughout the bay area which if coupled with fees will have exactly the same effect to increase transportation costs.  If implemented,  it would cripple economic growth ESPECIALLY in the small business sector which relies on direct customer contact for commerce, service and deliveries.

Not everyone commutes to large government offices every day.

It is impossible to run a modern economy with public transportation and bicycles alone.

VIDEO: Citizens propose options for a fair public hearing on Plan Bay Area

Frustrated Citizens are earnestly trying to get the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) to engage in a fair process to ensure all viewpoints are heard on the Plan Bay Area initiative. As usual, this speaker was simply allowed to speak and ignored by the ABAG politicians and bureaucrats.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Novato succeeds in reducing affordable housing density


Editor's note:  Citizens are making a difference in Novato.  This article was from 2011 asking for 20 units per acre in Novato.  This lessens the impact on the community.  Marin County is proposing for Marinwood/Lucas Valley 50% MORE DENSITY at Marinwood Village at 30 units per acre. 

We need you to voice your concern and join us.

Novato needs more answers

I need some answers about some of these affordable housing ground rules from the state.
I want clarification about building 30 units per acre of housing plus a bonus of 35 percent equaling 40 units to more than 100 units with few or no constraints. In addition, does the state require that 50 percent of the units be for market rate? Does that mean that 200 or more units will be developed on sites around Novato?

The state, high-density groups, plus supervisors, builders, and developers favor few or no constraints for traffic, design, or concern for impacts on schools, safety and infrastructure in Novato. “Build, Baby, Build” is their motto as long as there are federal and state tax dollars for their political and economical agendas.

Forget about the social impacts on the quality of life in Novato when the threshold of high density is paid by the next generations.

Forget about drought, earthquakes, water quality, community gardens, trees, deer, flowers, wildlife, wetlands, watersheds, shade, valleys, forests, red roses and blue skies, too
Forget about knowing your neighbors, your community and religious institutions.

Forget about the social, economical and environmental costs to the rural and suburban residents.

 One solution for the future is plan for 20 units per acre or less on some locations.
The city staff is apparently afraid or reluctant to do this without the Novato City Council saying the buck stops here (I am from Missouri, home state of Harry S. “Buck Stops Here” Truman, where conservation was ingrained into our souls in school). A solution of 20 units or less needs a feasibility study to show the state that the sites are buildable. Building 30-40-100 units per acre plus adding 50 percent market-rate units to the low-income units do not require any feasibility studies from cities and costs less for the city planners. For whom do they work?

  In addition, the county now wants the Atherton mobile Home park on the east side of 101 for multiple low-income housing. 300 or more units on that site plus additional 50 percent market rate units will wreak havoc on Novato’s vision of a small-town atmosphere.

Furthermore, the county has added back to their quota list the St. Vincent’s parcels near Marinwood, which would add another 1,200 units plus the 50 percent market rate units, plus cars in the future for the county’s quotas.

Examples of high density in our rural, suburban county are the Millworks/Whole Foods complex on De Long Avenue in downtown Novato and the large buildings in downtown San Rafael.
Moreover, massive high-density buildings and millions of dollars for a passenger train system deny respect for humans and our need for open spaces, fresh air, clean water, parks, uncrowded schools, safety and cultivated land. Will robots and politicians replace conservation?
Novato must be the poster child for common sense and 20 units or less per acre. Feasibility studies will show we can do this and have a community that thrives now and in the future.
No more passing the buck.



Nicely done Eleanor! Thank you

Bob Ratto

The whole things does make one's head spin...There are 10-12 people in the County that are the main "pushers" of this, and it does boggle the mind how far this all gets taken...using the income models proposed, most of Novato could qualify for this, and maybe that very same majority could come to their senses and decide what is appropriate for our community. Wishful?, maybe. The proposed sites just keep getting bigger and bigger.

janna nikkola

Well said, Eleanor! What bugs many of the taxpayers in Novato is how the entire concept is being shoved down our throats ("you have to build the number of units we tell you to build, but you can choose where to build"). What also grates is the number of people who are advocating this high density housing who don't even live in Novato or Marin County. They should have no say about where to build this high density housing and how many units "we the people" of Novato allow to be built. I'd like these people to be excluded from City Council meetings entirely. Let them do their politicking in their own communities. There's so much going on here that is not being made public. There are huge profits and tax incentives for the developers who build these projects and the number of units initially approved can be increased by the developers, all to the detriment of the neighborhoods where they're built and to the detriment of the Novato taxpayers and residents whose neighborhoods will change forever after the high density housing is built. Most people who live in Marin County moved here to escape overcrowded cities and to enjoy a bucolic, country-like lifestyle with a low crime rate and being surrounded by open space. The taxpayers, residents and homeowners of Novato have nothing to gain by these high density projects and much to lose. Why is no one defending our right to say "no" to these projects?

Edwin Drake

Definitions of Metropolitan and suburban come from the US Census Bureau.
This needs to be changed at the federal level.
(Who's running to replace Woolsey?)
Please see parts of: California Government Code Section 65583.2
(d) For purposes of this section, metropolitan counties, nonmetropolitan counties, and nonmetropolitan counties with micropolitan areas are as determined by the United States Census Bureau. Nonmetropolitan counties with micropolitan areas include the following counties: Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Nevada,
Tehama, and Tuolumne and such other counties as may be determined by the United States Census Bureau to be nonmetropolitan counties with micropolitan areas in the future.
(e) A jurisdiction is considered suburban if the jurisdiction does not meet the requirements of clauses (i) and (ii) of subparagraph (B) of paragraph (3) of subdivision (c) and is located in a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) of less than 2,000,000 in population, unless that jurisdiction's population is greater than 100,000, in which case it is considered metropolitan. Counties, not including the City and County of San Francisco, will be considered suburban unless they are in a MSA of 2,000,000 or greater in population in which case they are considered metropolitan.

Edwin Drake

Definitions of Metropolitan and suburban come from the US Census Bureau.
Please see parts of: California Government Code Section 65583.2 and nearby
(f) A jurisdiction is considered metropolitan if the jurisdiction does not meet the requirements for "suburban area" above and is located in a MSA of 2,000,000 or greater in population, unless that jurisdiction's population is less than 25,000 in which case it is considered suburban.

Bob Minkin

Thanks Eleanor. It's disgusting what these "housing advocates" and working groups are trying to ram down our throats and destroy Novato. The only people who stand to gain are the developers. It's all about money and not helping anybody truly in need.

Sylvia Barry

I was looking at the same section – I think the problem with Marin is it's part of San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area), which includes San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties The combined population is over 2,000,000 in 2014. Since Novato has over 50,000 populations, its designation is ‘Metropolitan’, same as San Rafael.
Petaluma is part of the Santa Rosa-Petaluma MSA, which includes Sonoma County with just over 480K population. Even though Petaluma's population is similar to Novato, due to different MSA it belongs to, it's designation is Suburban.
If what I interpreted is correct, Petaluma’s suburban designation allows them to have 20 units per acre, while Novato’s Metropolitan designation forced it to have 30 units per acre in the context of what we are talking about here.
Unfortunately, the removal of Jared Huffman’s AB1103 eliminated the part to “allow a local government to petition the regional governing body for a density designation that more appropriately reflects the area.” which affects Novato and San Rafael. The part about conversion of 2nd units help Southern Marin towns more than Novato (only 13 units projected for the next four years in Novato).


Didn't Katie Crecelius "work" with Huffman recently in Sacramento on AB1103? SUNN founders say they are in favor of the bill? They are in the pocket of the investors/developers......Marin Community Foundation- the bill works in their favor not Novato's.

Sylvia Barry

Hi Brenda - Politics is not my forte. I can only tell you what I learned as I research this. The original AB1103 did include the language but was stripped of that first item at the request of the Assembly HCD committee chair towards the end.

Austin Morris

Let us revert back to the basics of the matter and build the case from there. We first need to start with a level playing field. If ‘we Novato’ are being mandated, then so too all other communities in Marin bar none must take their share. We must not think of this as the community with open or buildable space; but assignment of x-number of Affordable Housing Units and obtain equity from that standpoint.
Novato must stand tough, hold the line and stop any further discussions until the County & 100% of the cities that comprise Marin County are onboard. Then and only then do we walk into the water holding hands. Sausalito, Mill Valley, Tiburon, Ross, to the north may claim they don’t have buildable space/acreage, that is not our problem find it, condemn it by ‘Imminent Domain’ if need be; but get those properties on the books and then Novato will take this matter into consideration.
They won’t, and thereby we should not be dictated to. Can you see some nice AH units being constructed on Belvedere Lagoon, I don’t think so, and that is what democracy is all about. We can not have voices in Belvedere, who won’t do their share, casting ballots to dictate to us within even the same County of Marin. Stop it here, and then widen the ring to the County, to ABAG (were they to be recognized) then to the State, when we have Representatives who know our voices.

Trish Boorstein

Thank you Eleanor for your Op-ed piece and to everyone else who has been participating in this forum to educate our community. Thank you everyone for your cheers of support during the Parade today! Let's stay active this summer in any way possible and be ready to organize petitions or any other necessary action. Way back when I attended an ABAG meeting in San Rafael one of the Reps said something about every jurisdiction should just turn in a housing element and show good intent. I agree Lloyd, Novato has probably done more than any other Marin jurisdiction in putting together a community involved Housing Element. That's why I asked Tina if all the cities in CA that have been sued have actually submitted a City approved Housing Element. We have to convince the City Council to accept the lower densities and Working Group Sites and deal with the fall out afterwards. Novato has demonstrated good intent over and beyond.

Edwin Drake

An idea occurs: The "metropolitan" designation does somewhat rely on population. Let's split Novato into two cities, that would drop us below the threshold. I know it's crazy but, as always, trying to think outside the box here to get fresh perspective.

Trish Boorstein

Edwin, Lloyd had also mentioned this same idea some time ago. If we ultimately can't change our designation then I think this needs to be looked at. Keep thinking outside the box!

Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr

Please, please, browse Palo Alto Patch for the article about housing requirements. The Palo Alto city council and staff have taken a stand against Sacramento leftists and told them "this is our town, we are going to plan for our future". Why not Novato? Because the Novato City Council uses sanctuary social engineering as a tool against their own constituents. Vote the bums out. Screw leftist "affordable housing" social engineering mandates.



Movie Recommendation: Les Miserables

Les Miserables, The people's barricade against injustice.

Les Miserables

We recommend Les Miserables  now showing at Smith Ranch Road Theaters.  It surely will receive Oscar nominations for set design and performances.  It also provides good reminders about how social change is brought about through determination, moral courage and the willingness to stand up against injustice.

VIDEO: San Carlos says "No!" to transit village like Marinwood Priority Development Area


San Carlos objects to ABAG Mandates.
Citizens everywhere are waking up to massive high density housing developments being forced on their community. San Carlos, CA is the latest community to join the protest.


Video: Public Unhappy and Ignored with Plan Bay Area

If you haven't been to a public meeting recently, you are in for a surprise.  The Association of Bay Area Governments pay lip service to the public but routinely ignore average homeowner's  concerns in favor for big development and activist organizations.  We homeowners will be paying for the folly of the One Bay Area plan for decades.
Most homeowners affected have no idea the extent of the huge changes coming as a result of Plan Bay Area.  Only a handful of people have been following and have been able to attend the weekday meetings. The above is a comment from a frustrated homeowner that is simply trying to get earnest dialogue about the plans. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pleasanton Changes High-Density Housing Plans After Residents Protest

It is possible for citizens to fight high density housing proposals for more appropriate development.

 Ideas for what to build on vacant piece of land, dubbed "Area 15," now range from houses to a school or a park
Ideas of what to do with a vacant plot of land are swirling after residents rallied to defeat a plan to build high-density housing on the site.

The piece of land, known as Area 15 by Pleasanton’s Housing Element Update Task Force, is in the Valley Trails development, between Hopyard Road and Interstate 680 and along Valley Trails Drive.
Residents packed City Hall during a recent meeting to protest plans for high-density housing, prompting the city to change course. Now ideas include everything from single-family houses to schools to parks.

The site is one of several empty pieces of property the city is looking at for future housing after it lost a lawsuit last year to Urban Habitat, an Oakland-based social justice advocacy organization, which challenged the city’s growth cap. The final plan must be approved by the state.

“There will always be speculation (about what is built) as long as that area isn’t developed,” said Pleasanton Planning Manager Janice Stern.

Residents submitted their ideas and thoughts on the property to the task force and city by mail, comment cards at meetings, by addressing the city council and by e-mail.  The land is owned by the Evangelical Free Church on Valley Trails.

The ideas have run the gamut — from adding housing that fits in with the one-story residences, or again, adding parks or a school. Concerns about adding housing or a school ranged from the impacts on housing values, traffic, noise, pollution and other negative effects.

“I don’t think it is a good place for high density,” said Vice Mayor Cheryl Cook-Kallio, who is one of two council members on the task force.

“I think lower-density senior housing could go there. I think you could put single-family homes, but it should match the neighborhood.”

Valley Trails resident Carl Pretzel favors the idea of putting a school, church or other public or institution on the site. The city’s general plan calls for such a use, but it is currently zoned for single-family residential housing.

“A small school would probably be acceptable. The hope is they will rezone the land public-institutional,” Pretzel said.

But a church or other religious institution would be an ideal use, Pretzel said.
Single-family homes would number 20 to 30 homes and wouldn’t impact traffic horribly, long-time Valley Trails resident Bob Gallagher said.

“If anything, they will be nice new homes," he said. "It blends in with the neighborhood.
“Schools and daycare people are picking up and dropping off kids at the same time the commuters are trying leave,” Gallagher added.

Valley Trails resident David Pastor said the uncertainty about the site, along with failed past attempts to develop, is cause for concern.

“This is the fourth time the hornets (nest) has been disturbed,” Pastor said. “We would love to see it made a park, but we know that isn’t going to happen.

“What would probably fit in there would be maybe senior housing, but we are not talking multiple-story senior housing and 30 units per acre," he said.

"Maybe duplexes, smaller buildings with open spaces and parking instead of senior housing that would require an elevator."

The City Council will ultimately decide how to rezone the site after hearing the task force and planning commission’s recommendations this summer, but after months of examination, Cook-Kallio said the choice is pretty clear.

“From my perspective, it will not be on the list for high-density," she said. "If there were to be any building there, it would have to be consistent with the single-family homes."

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays to Everyone

Be Sure to check out the Bear House on Quietwood Dr. and the Mickey Mouse house on Blackstone Canyon Rd.