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Housing Showdown Expected at Novato City Council Meeting

A year of debate over possible placement of high-density, low-income housing complexes inches toward a conclusion Tuesday at Novato City Hall.

The volunteers have done their job on Novato’s highly contentious affordable housing issue. Now it’s time for the elected officials to take a crack.

The public will get to sound off Tuesday night before the Novato City Council about eight sites around the city recommended by a volunteer group for rezoning for housing. The special work study session starts at 6:30 p.m. at Novato City Hall.

On June 8, the City Manager’s Housing Ad Hoc Working Group met for the final time and discussed — occasionally through gritted teeth — nine properties in Novato that potentially could be targeted for a zoning change to help the city comply with state mandates for affordable housing. The group voted to reject the idea of one chunk of land near the Trader Joe’s grocery store on North Redwood Boulevard before approving eight others.

The eight recommended properties are:

* 1787 Grant Ave. (1.5 acres at Virginia Ave., site of Bridge Point Academy preschool)

* Wood Hollow Drive at Redwood Boulevard (1.8 vacant acres just north of Fireman’s Fund Insurance

* 495 San Marin Drive (1.25 vacant acres next to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church)

* 1461 Novato Blvd. (1.5 vacant acres on the west side of The Quest church)

* 1901 Novato Blvd. (1.1 vacant acres at the junction of McClay Road)

* North Redwood Blvd. (3.6 vacant acres on vacant lot between Pineiro Circle and Ranch Drive)

* Landing Court (1.5 acres on RV and boat storage lot, just off Redwood Boulevard)

* 102 Hill Road (1.3 acres just off Redwood Boulevard, behind Journey Ford)

At 22 housing units per acre, the combined properties would potentially accommodate 276 units of housing. The group’s minimum target calculated to meet state mandates was 213 units. City staff wants to make sure the numbers would be acceptable to the California Department of Housing and Community Development, which has final say on the matter.

In previous meetings of the working group and Novato Planning Commission, the site at 495 San Marin Drive was the most hotly debated. It is just north of the Novato Seventh Day Adventist Church on Simmons Lane and is owned by the church. Neighbors, church members and church clergy have been adamantly opposed to any high-density housing complexes on the property, mostly citing traffic concerns and the lack of services nearby. As with most of the other properties, opponents expressed worry about crime that is often associated — erroneously or not — with low-income housing.

According to the meeting agenda, the council will convene at 6:30 p.m., hear a report by the city planning staff, ask questions of the staff and then open up the microphone to the public at approximately 7:30 p.m. The goal of the meeting will be for the council to provide direction to staff about preparing the housing element of the general plan update, which is about two years overdue.

Susan Clark June 21, 2011 at 09:28 PM
Jeanne lives in ignacio/Pachecho.... Denise lives by Laurie Dr.... Madeline lives by San Domingo St..... Pat lives in Pt. Marin/Ignacio...... Carole lives in San Marin on the mt. Burdell side..... Frank, City Manager lives in a new house off Simmons.... Annan Patterson/Sunn lives on a St. off the top of Santa Maria Dr. (not in their back yards)
DINAH MATTOS June 21, 2011 at 10:37 PM
It is time for me now to say once again SUNN ...SNAKES IN THE GRASS...LIES..LIES..LIES. I knew it awhile back and I stick to it now. I was veribally told to get out of Novato because of my feelings about whats been happening...I have been here for 45yrs and I love Novato. I will keep on fighting against any changes. It seems to be the only way to get people to WAKE UP. More and more I see people paying attention to what changes will take place if we don't STOP This INSANITY. NO HIGH DENSITY..NO SMART TRAIN.. NO GANGS. Remember....VOTE
DINAH MATTOS June 21, 2011 at 10:45 PM
My words exactly! I can't be there tonight but I will be there in spirit. WAKE UP NOVATO. Will someone say "Dinah said, "I will be back"
Roger June 22, 2011 at 12:10 AM
Lynne, there are a few citizens that may say things that are negative profiling. However, much of the dialogue here in the Patch is from factual people like Bob Ratto, and you wouldn't cover him with your broad brush of Novato being unfriendly, would you? Many readers voice support for what he says; are you also calling them unfriendly? If so, that hurts my feelings. When you attack people, you need to be careful and not to do it too broadly. If there is a city in Marin that is unfriendly, it is San Rafael that asked that half their affordable housing allotment be done by Novato. Novato is a role model with 33% of the affordable housing and only 20% of the county's population. Thank you, friendly Novato. I like your recommendation on the Wood Hollow site, and I hope you voice that recommendation tonight. Tonight let's all try to focus on what we want and not attack people.
Steven Norwin June 22, 2011 at 03:55 AM
Don't forget the city council tried to sneak it by us last year...that's why all hell broke loose. I find it difficult to trust them because of this.

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