Novato CA needs a constructive and civil affordable housing debate

A POLITICAL firestorm has erupted in Novato over how to meet the city’s regional share of affordable housing.

Many residents object to mandates from Sacramento that they feel undermine local control, especially when it comes to setting land-use guidelines.

That’s understandable.

The place to challenge those mandates, however, is in Sacramento, not at Novato City Hall.

Novato, just as other cities have done, needs to draft a plan that sets the stage for the construction of affordable housing. In Marin, such housing is for teachers, government employees, store clerks, office and restaurant workers and others now forced to commute long distances to their jobs in Novato.

In Novato, the drafting of a plan got off to an ugly start, with some couching their protests in thinly veiled references to stereotypes that associate high crime rates to low-income housing and minorities.

That was painful to observe. And discouraging for those who have worked to develop much-needed workforce housing in Novato and the rest of Marin.

We hope Novato’s draft housing plan gets a more constructive reception at the June 21 City Council meeting.

This process is not about changing the character of Novato, but about trying to reduce the number of local workers who are priced out of town by high real estate prices. Affordable housing advocates say 9,000 Novato workers live outside the city and commute to work.

How and where to encourage affordable housing should be discussed and debated. Consensus needs to be reached on potential sites, the number of units that could be built on them and the architectural design and future management of those complexes.

Read more at Marin Independent Journal

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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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