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One Bay Area Arbitrarily DOUBLES Novato's Housing Numbers

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This Tuesday (Jan-10) the Novato City Council will take up under general business item 8, Dave Wallace's courageous and informative Staff Report, which describes the most recent MTC/ABAG Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS), its changes from the last version, and the implications to the City of Novato.

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A new set of projections is being presented in parallel with the second round of One Bay Area workshops (see MTC Link) where they were supposed to be presenting these alternate scenarios and trying to garner public feedback in order to satisfy the legal requirement under SB 375 (as implemented in the MTC Public Participation Plan). Supposedly feedback based on the previous round informed some of the decisions re setting up alternative scenarios and presumably this round of workshops was for the same purpose regarding selecting the Preferred Scenario from the Alternative Scenarios.

The early reports from the San Francisco workshop indicate that the OneBayArea facilitators routinely do not allow for adequate feedback during meetings, but more importantly have not engaged the public in any more than the vaguest, shallowest pretense of considering alternative scenarios. Consequently the preferred scenario will not in any way reflect the rank and file citizens’ wants and needs. Although participants who had attended the last round of workshops expected to confront the same limited choices allowed by the instant voting technique, the clickers were used more innocuously to determine the race, age, and county of the participant. There were few conclusions drawn and fewer questions asked. Those were so general, that they could not be answered without the participant offering his own constraints.. For example, Do you value clean air? What kind of a question is that? Of course everyone is going to answer yes. But if respondents really knew what their 'yes' answer meant in terms of how it would be used, they might reconsider. If it meant that to have clean air according to CA Air Resources Board, they would have to implement a massively draconian emissions program effectively limiting how much everyone could drive, what would be your answer then? And despite the Novato Council’s agreement that the original housing quota was reasonable, why is OneBayArea (MTC/ABAG) still coming back to Novato for MORE housing?

What MTC/ABAG means by 'MORE', to use Dave's staff report:

Projections

Novato  Initial Scenario Alternative Scenarios
Housing Projections: 778 btwn 1,574 and 1,605
Jobs Growth Projections  5,368 btwn 5,820 to 6,840 

Questions:

a) MTC/ABAG, arbitrarily increased the span of this 'plan' by 5 years, to the year 2040. A five year increase does not explain a doubling of Novato’s housing numbers. Furthermore, do any of our readers know or frankly plan investments, etc. over 30 years? With any certainty, does anyone know how transportation will change in 30 years? Maybe a fusion car will become a reality by then. At that point would all this government regulations with the inevitable cost and concern really be worth it?
b) Where will these jobs come from? Does it pass the believability test? Can Novato's present number of commercially zoned acres support this type of employment growth? If Novato cannot support up to 6,800 new jobs then won’t we then contribute more to what they are trying to avoid as these drivers will be driving to jobs outside of Novato?
c) What is the assumed mix of jobs across income lines? Will Novato just be adding thousands more to low-income housing?
d) Was there a connection between Novato's housing number almost doubling and San Rafael's number being reduced by 20 to 50%? What is the relationship between the new Alternative Scenarios and San Rafael's strong objections to their original housing numbers? Was a purely political calculation made?
e) Does Hanna Ranch have anything to do with this huge increase for Novato?

Contact (either by email or phone or even in person) any of our council members and tell them how you feel.

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