Novato, CA debates housing density

Hoping to defuse what has been a rancorous debate over affordable housing, Novato city officials argued Tuesday that the city already has much of the “high-density” housing it may be required to provide — and that “high-density housing” isn’t all that bad.

Tuesday’s City Council workshop on housing density attempted to address an issue that has polarized the city since June 2010, when the city released a list of proposed future housing sites — both affordable and market-rate. The Association of Bay Area Governments, which advises the state on housing needs, has determined that Novato should provide enough housing to accommodate an additional 1,241 housing units.

About 590 of those units are already under construction or have been approved by the city. That leaves Novato with the need to provide about 660 units — of which 313 must be low-, very low- or extremely low-income housing. Those housing quotas have sparked a fiery debate among Novato residents. At least three neighborhood groups — Balanced Housing, Novato Community Alliance and San Marin Compatible Housing — have formed in opposition to proposals for “high-density” housing, which refers to complexes of 20 or more units per acre.

“I know you’ve got the tail of the snake to deal with in all these mandates,” resident Nancy Price told the council Tuesday. “But are any members of the council working on a pushback to ABAG, to have them justify some of these numbers.

Read remainder of the story at the Marin Independent Journal


About Bob Voelker

Head of the Munsch Hardt (Dallas law firm) Hospitality & Mixed Use Development Group, and former developer of affordable housing. I'm i
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