Potential risks, unknown factors an administrative costs are leading the city of Novato to recommend the release of housing responsibilities previously owned by the city’s redevelopment agency and allow the county take them over, according to a city document.
It will be up to the Novato City Council to decide Tuesday night whether to adopt that recommendation and let the Marin County Housing Authority assume duties for all the redevelopment agency’s past issues.
Housing assets of the soon-to-be-defunct Novato Redevelopment Agency include deed covenants and restrictions for complexes in Hamilton such as Meadow Park (351 condominiums), Creekside and Bay Vista (297 apartments) as well as Villa Entrada (67 condos) on the west side of Highway 101 in the Pointe Marin neighborhood.
The city, which owns the land on which those complexes were built, would sacrifice the right to repurchase any foreclosed properties in those complexes if the council follows the staff recommendation. The question of whether the city had the money to buy any more foreclosed properties is up for debate; voters approved a five-year, half-cent sales tax increase in 2010 just to help the city balance its books.
Last year, the state Legislature followed Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies to save money, and all such agencies are to be dissolved by Feb. 1 unless city councils make a move to spend local money to retain all the assets and staffing needed to handle redevelopment functions.
The Novato Public Finance Authority oversaw financing activities and operational transactions of city-owned properties, including those Hamilton sites. But last year all of that was transferred to the city.
Clark Blasdell, chairman and CEO of Novato-based NorthBay Family Homes and the Suburban Alternatives Land Trust, said there are no assets of the Novato Redevelopment Agency that could result in additional housing in the Hamilton area. He said one city-owned, 2 ½ -acre spot off Hamilton Parkway — just east of Homeward Bound of Marin and just north of the planned Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit station — was heavily marketed as a location for affordable housing, but no developers were secured.
According to a city staff report, transferring city housing assets and staff functions to Marin Housing Authority would save the city countless hours of administrative time and approximately $75,000 to $125,000 annually depending on the amount of oversight and involvement.
The Marin Housing Authority is better-suited to oversee affordable housing in Novato because it is a more specialized agency and it already performs similar functions for other Marin cities, according to the staff report.
A state senate bill, SB 654, is working its way through channels that would give the county housing authority permission to decline Novato’s housing assets and functions and turn it over to the state.
Also on the council’s agenda for Tuesday is a second reading of the approval of a new commercial/retail development on the site of the at 7370 Redwood Blvd.
The Novato City Council meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at .