Novato, CA – Council says no to density, chooses sites

In a move that some fear will be rejected by the state, Novato’s City Council on July 14 took a stand against high-density housing.

For nearly a year, a working group assembled by City Manager Michael Frank has assembled — and debated — a list of sites to be zoned for affordable housing. The sites would be included in a housing element, part of the city’s general plan, which guides new development.

But before the sites can be carved into municipal code they have to be approved by the state Department of Housing and Community Development. And according to many disgruntled residents, there lies the rub.

With its parks, shopping centers and split-level homes, Novato looks like a suburb. But according to the state, Marin, unlike Sonoma, is metropolitan, meaning it has to zone its affordable-housing parcels at 30 units an acre instead of the suburban zoning of 20 units an acre. The working group recommended a zoning of 22 units an acre, which is below the state minimum but sometimes acceptable if it can be justified by other desirable factors, like proximity to grocery stores and public transportation.

All five members of the council agreed, however, that the city shouldn’t compromise — it should declare itself suburban.

“20 units per acre is my top,” said council member Pat Eklund at the end of an address.

Read more at MarinScope

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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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