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Mismanagement of Public Housing Funds Spreads Misery in Richmond

A soft-spoken man lives in public housing at the Hacienda in Richmond.  He preaches to relieve his stress.  He has no where else to go. "Amenities" which were undoubtedly promised next to Richmond City Hall seem beside the point when compared to maintenance issues like leaking sewage and roofs.  The local government's track record is not good.  Click here to read the story and scroll to the bottom of the linked page to hear "Nowhere Else to Go, Eddie Williams."

Contrasting Novato's and Strawberry's Housing Elements

At the February 11, 2014 Board of Supervisors' Meeting, Bruce Corcoran of Strawberry contrasts Strawberry's and Novato's Housing Elements.  This was Bruce's fifteenth consecutive appearance before the Board of Supervisors, including Strawberry's Supervisor Kate Sears who has finally allowed the question of Strawberry's opting out of their PDA to be heard on February 25th. Bruce has been asking at least since December.  Thanks again for such good work to Hans Grunt and Elizabeth Dunn, Novato city planners.

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Judy Arnold Appears Confused and Uninformed Regarding Novato's New Housing Element

Judy Arnold

Marin County Supervisor Judy Arnold says Novato gave up CEQA environmental guidelines in our recent housing element. Novato Community Alliance begs to differ.

Watch the portion of the Board of Supervisors Meeting of 1-14-14 with Susan Adams introducing Judy Arnold's speech. Does Ms. Arnold's delivery inspire credibility? Can you understand what she is saying?

If not watch it again while reading the transcript here.

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Thank you Novato: The State Approved Our Housing Element!

Dear Novato Community,

I am immensely thankful that the state of California has certified Novato's 2007-2014 Housing Element. As former president of the Novato Community Alliance (NCA) and a member of the Housing Working Group, I have been involved since the controversy erupted in June of 2010. The past three years has been characterized by the intrusion of lobbies organized through large interlocking Smart Growth networks simulating grassroots organizations. These networks include the Marin Community Foundation, Nonprofit Housing for Northern California, the Urban Land Institute and Greenbelt Alliance, among others. This Housing Element is what a lot of the fuss has been about in Novato politics since 2010--the selection of sites for affordable housing, now zoned with an affordable housing 'overlay'.

Both the Pacific Sun and the Novato Advance carried stories incorporating much of Novato's (new PR officer Peggy Flynn's) news release. Nicole Bautista of the Advance additionally contributed a sketch of some the tumultuous history of this particular housing element. Although the Sun and the Advance recycled some of the old saws about residents crying foul and expecting crime, noise, and traffic with affordable housing, the high point was omitted. Hans Grunt's and Elizabeth Dunn's arguments about a range of 20-23 units per acre being reasonable for our affordable housing base density, despite housing law's default density for Novato of 30 units per acre, were agreed to by the state of California. Recall that Hans and Elizabeth are the city planners who shouldered major responsibility in writing the housing element. The state commended Hans and Elizabeth as well as Assistant City Attorney Veronica Nebbs in their approval letter and Novatoans should thank them for their service.

This, by far, is the most significant recent achievement of Novato's planning department. Novato achieved this while the County of Marin did not. Although Judy Arnold appeared to be aware of Novato's achievement in off the cuff statements at the Board of Supervisors meeting last month, she erroneously credited it to two city council members and the Housing Working Group. The two council members in question, Denise Athas and Jeanne MacLeamy, in fact, brought in a new affordable housing site north of the North Redwood Redwood Corridor, unvetted by the Housing Working Group which understandably stirred a hornet's nest of opposition. Also, this along with the last minute emergency shelter zoning near Bel Marin Keys did not really allow time for community/neighborhood feedback. This is one area in the process the city could improve upon in order to promote citizen trust and co-operation for our next Housing Element. The Council kept four sites and threw out four recommended by the Housing Working Group.

Another high point of the 2007-2014 Housing Element is that our planning department and the state shifted their emphasis from 100% affordable housing sites to 20% inclusive affordable housing requirements for all housing developments in the city in order to disperse the affordable housing rather than concentrating it.

Unless genuine local volunteer groups like NCA, the San Marin Compatible Housing Coalition, Partridge Knolls neighborhood associations, Novato Homeowners Association, the Clausen Court Neighborhood Association, the Bel Marin Keys Homeowners Association, Novato Neighbors, and others continue to organize, the outside networks will move in again to try to regain control. Please continue to support us as we turn this year towards a general emphasis on good local government and particularly the issue of transparency. We have a long way to go on transparency.

Pam Drew

PS. Please consider This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , the City Manager, commending Hans, Elizabeth, and Veronica.

Bob Silvestri's Presentation March 20

The presentation Bob Silvestri gave at the Citizen Marin event on Wednesday, March 20 was significant for Marin, Novato, and Novato Community Alliance. Before the event occurred, it looked like protesters might disrupt Mr. Silvestri’s talk, but the police presence and the skillful moderating by Susan Kirsch and Toni Shroyer allowed the event to proceed in a productive manner. When the program began, many protesters came in and listened to the presentation.

In summary, Mr. Silvestri argued that local control, as opposed to state control, was best for helping local people in need. He argued that state enforced affordable housing mandates from ABAG and other state agencies mostly served to increase the wealth of developers and bankers without effectively solving the problem of providing affordable housing. Mr. Silvestri, as we understand it, will make part of his digital visual presentation (Powerpoint) available and we’ll post it on our website when he does.

To help our members learn more about the specifics of Mr. Silvestri’s speech, NCA offers these links to articles and videos.

The Marin IJ wrote an article called "Marin residents protest meeting in San Rafael on affordable housing developments."

The Novato Patch wrote an article called "Hundreds Turn Out for Controversial Affordable Housing Meeting."

There is a video of Mr. Silvestri’s talk, although the quality is poor.

We at our NCA table expressed our support for Novato’s Housing Element Draft that requests 20 units per acre, rather than our 'default' density of 30 units per acre.

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