Saturday, April 11, 2015

Novato Community Alliance exposes Housing Mandate Fiction

Housing Advocates tell us the darnest things.

Marinwood-Lucas Valley will grow by 37.5% if all of the housing is built according to the 2012 Housing Element. There are many reasons to be concerned with their "facts". Here is how Novato Community Alliance is addressing some of the FICTION created by ABAG and Housing advocates.

Fiction and Facts about

Planning for Housing Mandates


1. Novato will "takes care of its own" by acting on the affordable housing allocation from the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG)


1. The ABAG allocation identifies need at a regional level, not at a local level. ABAG has little knowledge of the numbers of Novatoans, or even the number of people working in Novato, who live in substandard housing.
2. Novato teachers, firefighters, policemen, nurses, and clergy find high density housing attractive.
2. Some of the teachers and policemen who lived in Bay Vista (220 unit complex located in the Hamilton area of Novato) found the experience less than optimal. High density housing starts at around 30 units per acre.
3. Novatoans against high density housing are NIMBYs, racists, and/or bigots.3. Novatoans against high density housing object to crowding large numbers of people into small areas because they believe the crowding has negative impacts on human beings.
4. Good design compensates for high density; the council can set aside regulations in favor of buildings that they consider 'exceptionally well-designed'.

4. Good design makes high density housing more livable but greater numbers of people still have greater numbers of needs to be met. The Council sometimes sees 'exceptionally good design' where others see large ugly massing which is out of scale with its surroundings.

5. Compact city development and mass transit are the most efficient ways for Novato to combat global warming.

5. Novato's population is not large enough to create much reduction of greenhouse gas through mass transit. The SMART train is only predicted to reduce traffic by one percent or less. Locating enough high paying jobs in Novato so that people do not have to drive every day to San Francisco would help reduce greenhouse gas. 85% of the land in Marin is already set aside as agricultural or open space; industrialization of Marin is hardly feasible with the exception of a few very clean small industries.
6. High density does not increase crime or demands for infrastructure; it decreases congestion.

6. By definition, high density housing increases population. Increased population causes increased infrastructure demands of all types, including demand for transportation and city services. Although the cost per high density housing resident may be lower because building costs per unit are lower, the dollar costs for additional infrastructure (including demand for transportation and city services) are significant .
7. High density housing projects subsidized by tax-increment financing (Redevelopment Agency financing) are cost effective.

7. Tax-increment financing effectively transfers tax revenues from schools, fire, police, and other essential services to property developers. Tax increment financing is exempt from voter approval. Cities end up raising taxes or cutting services or both.
8. Property values are not affected by large high density developments nearby.

8. Zoning for different densities was originally created to protect property values. State housing law requires that land be "up-zoned" to accommodate medium density for low income housing, unless enough medium density zoning already exists. That is, city planners don't have to provide much documentation about feasibility of "up zoning" if they submit high density affordable housing options. Additionally, California Housing and Community Development offers "safe harbor" rules which allow for even greater up-zoning for high density (up to 30 units/acre).

9. People will want to live in high density housing near transit so they can walk to nearby transit or ride their bikes to commute to work.

9. People take transit when it competes favorably with the automobile in ease, speed, and cost. Most Marin County transit at present does not compare well.

10. Best practices in management are always used in affordable housing developments. The state and local governments are proactive in following up on problems in housing projects.10. There is a great deal of confusion about the responsibility for poor management of affordable housing. State and local agencies are strapped for money and are cutting back on policy enforcement personnel.
11. Mixed use zoning discourages business investment. 11. Mixed use zoning may not result in profit margins as large as those where housing does not have to be considered at all however, that does not mean that mixed use development is not profitable.
12. The European Model, which is compact development, coupled with the transit option of the SMART train, will enhance Novatoans' quality of life. 12. Europeans were forced into compact development early on by population and the lack of wood, conditions which do not necessarily apply here. In stark contrast to European train service, the SMART train is on the road to becoming the little train to nowhere, reducing more of Sonoma's congestion problems than Marin's.

13. Everyone deserves to live in Novato.13. If everyone got what they deserved, where would we all be?

See more at Novato Community Alliance

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