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.