Rhetoric: Novato’s efforts to provide housing will result in the creation of high-crime, high-rise buildings like projects in Chicago or Detroit.
Reality: Additional affordable housing areas would be similar to what Novato already has. Places like Meadow Park, the Villas at Hamilton and the Next Key show that Novato can offer reasonably priced housing that fits Novato’s character and attract people who make our community stronger. Affordable housing units are generally smaller in size. Multi-unit developments with two or three stories are the norm.
Rhetoric: Novato’s Housing Element should call for a “low density” plan or fewer units per location but spread around to more neighborhoods.
Reality: This approach would require more affordable housing locations and increase suburban sprawl. That’s a threat to our open space and puts a strain on our environment and water systems. Housing close to public transportation and shopping makes the most efficient use of Novato’s undeveloped and underdeveloped land. Today many young families want to live in walkable communities close to restaurants and shopping.
Rhetoric: The more people who come here for housing, the worse traffic will get.
Reality: Actually it’s just the opposite. Most who work in Novato can’t afford to live here, so they commute in their cars every day. If more Novato workers lived here, there would be fewer cars on the freeway for shorter periods of time, thus reducing freeway traffic. Housing is located close to shopping and public transportation will produce less traffic than housing in more remote locations.
Rhetoric: With these tough economic times, Novato cannot afford to bring more people here.
Reality: Providing moderately priced housing is not about bringing new people to Novato, it’s about giving options to those who already work or live here. An extensive 2008 Survey by the Marin County Community Development Agency revealed that 90% of people who currently live in Marin’s affordable housing lived or worked in Marin County prior to moving in. Now is the time to help families, seniors and Novato workers live here. If these people save $400 to $500 a month on housing, they’ll spend that money in Novato, helping small businesses and increasing tax revenue to pay for City services.