Stand Up for Neighborly Novato supports Senate Bill 375 (SB 375) and its goal of reducing greenhouse gases by encouraging Novato and all of California's 18 metropolitan regions to better handle inevitable population growth by encouraging new homes near transit and commercial areas where residents work. We also applaud SB 375’s effort to hold cities and towns more accountable for passing future housing elements in a timely manner.
Unfortunately, there has been some misinformation spreading about SB 375 so let us set the record straight.
With our population growing, it is critical we come up with a long term plan to keep our communities sustainable. SB 375 asks towns to anticipate where growth will occur and design transportation and housing to fit the character of their community, reduce the need for residents to drive so far to jobs and shopping, relieve traffic and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Here’s what SB 375 will NOT do – take away people’s cars, force people to live in places they do not want to live, take away anyone’s freedom or rights, especially property rights, or infringe on Novato’s suburban lifestyle.
Some people in Novato are incorrectly using an obscure United Nations proposal called “Agenda 21” as a rallying cry against SB 375 and similar efforts to develop sensible plans for future population growth. They seem to think regional planners are somehow soldiers in a worldwide conspiracy to control people’s lives. This premise is completely false and SB 375 has nothing to do with the United Nations anyway.
Others in Novato have also claimed that SB 375 was the inspiration for SMART’s housing recommendations. They twist the facts into claiming that SMART is requiring Novato to build “2200 high density affordable housing units” around a future station. This is a fabrication. To qualify for some of its funding, SMART stations need to be located in a way that overall, an average of at least 2200 or more existing or planned homes are within half a mile from stations. This goal has already been met, meaning SMART does not require additional housing of any kind to be built. That being said, we support new walkable housing communities being built close to SMART stations, instead of continuing a pattern of car-dependent suburban sprawl.
Overall, SB 375 works to give Novato more certainty in its future. We need to design a blueprint to handle growth that will come with (hopefully) more economic growth and jobs coming to Novato. SB 375 should be seen as a tool to preserve neighborhoods while giving people more sustainable transportation options.
At the same time, SB 375 asks communities to take environmental impact into consideration when designing their “blueprint.” We all take pride in our open space and should use SB 375 to preserve it.
This debate is an important one, so we ask Novatans to participate using the facts in a civil, respectful manner, to keep in character with our neighborly town.