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Novato has done more than any other community in Marin to provide affordable housing. Novato had 56% of the permits issued for very low housing and 85% of the low housing and issued 218% more than allocated. In the last housing cycle, many cities in Marin (Belvedere, Ross, San Anselmo, Corte Madera and Fairfax) had no permits issued for very low and low affordable housing! This is a direct violation of state law (Government Code Section 65584d), which requires that all cities and counties within a region equitably share in providing for very low and low affordable housing. Ross went so far as to zone the long established/never to be developed, Marin Art and Garden Center as a potential site for affordable housing.

Novato is under assault by special interest groups: developers, advocates, and institutional investors/profiteers. Their goal is to make Novato the affordable housing solution for all of Marin at the expense of the the homeowners of Novato.

Novato hired Mr. Bob Brown as the Community Development Director. Mr. Brown, who worked for many years in San Rafael in the same capacity, has been an outspoken advocate of high density housing.

High density affordable housing is property tax exempt, resulting in a shift of burden to property tax paying homeowners. City budget primary revenue sources are property taxes and sales taxes. Affordable housing is primarily built by
"non-profits"-this refers to a tax election, not actual cash flow. Obtaining a coveted "Low Income Housing Tax Credit" from the State Department of Housing and Community Development is key to developing affordable housing projects. The Low Income Housing Tax Credits are sold to investors to provide a dollar for dollar offset to taxable income, and are highly valuable. Using such funds, coupled with guaranteed rent payments from groups such as Local Housing Authorities, and property tax exemption provides these non-profits with dramatic cash flow. Recent growth in affordable housing has been shocking, and is essentially completely the opposite of what has been experienced by traditional "for profit" developers.

Balance. Novato has become "ground zero" for advocates of high density affordable housing. Advocates of high density housing will preach that they are trying to "..preserve our hometown character", and that if you oppose their staunchly held beliefs, you are labeled as a "Nimby", or the more recently used "bully". While advocates will proclaim that affordable housing has to pay all impact and permit costs, the simple fact is that all projects require such approval. Replacing a water heater requires a permit. Advocates will state that the property taxes that reach the City are only about 7% of the property tax bill (inaccurate, but unimportant). The fact is 7% x $0=0. The lack of tax payments by "non profits" presents an ongoing burden on any City, as more residents equate to more services. To fund ongoing service levels, a City must look to either obtaining additional funds from existing households, or cut services. Novato can say it is TMIMBY, Too Much In My Back Yard.

ABAG. Now acting as the proverbial "900 pound gorilla", The Association of Bay Area Governments was originally formed over 50 years ago to allow for the Bay Area to have a unified voice for items such as obtaining Federal funding for projects. ABAG has now morphed into a group that has promulgated the "One Bay Area" concept, which is further advocacy for high density housing. Providing growth estimates that have far outstripped any historical reality, these numbers are then used by the state "Housing and Community Development" Department to generate numbers for the seven year Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA). When a City complains that their numbers are too high, they will be lowered (often without explanation), while another cities numbers will rise. Think about as a "whack-a mole" game, but substitute housing units and you will be on track. To "encourage" cities to achieve mandated housing goals, ABAG will provide items such as grants to assist in funding needs. This has recently occurred with items such as "Transit Oriented Developments"