Hundreds of Novato residents swarmed into City Hall on the longest day of the year — and one of the hottest — to argue whether eight sites throughout town should be rezoned to accommodate affordable housing.
“I think it’s a shame that we have to line up here like cattle to protect our neighborhoods from what government officials have decided is best for us,” said Novato resident David Wilner, one of 111 people who had signed up to speak at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.
Wilner, like many of his fellow residents, spoke out against the recommendations of the Novato City Manager’s Housing Working Group to declare an area near his home as a potential site for affordable housing.
“I’m not happy watching my city spend tens of thousands of hours of staff time so that we can create an opportunity for developers to make money off affordable housing,” Wilner said. “On top of that, we have nonprofit organizations waiting on the sidelines to sue the city if they defy the state’s mandate for affordable housing.”
So many attendees came to Tuesday’s meeting that the Council was forced to delay its own decision on the matter for two weeks. The council now plans to continue its discussion of the working group’s recommendations until July 11 or 13.
At least one heated exchange took place Tuesday between housing advocates — many of whom came from out of town — and residents, who booed and jeered those advocates when they addressed the council.
Many of those housing advocates criticized the working group’s recommendations, arguing that the concentrations of housing units proposed by the group — about 20 to 22 units or fewer per acre, in most cases — are too small to accommodate Novato’s housing needs, and likely to be rejected by state regulators.
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