The Hanna Ranch development, designed by Los Angeles developers, has a lovely proposal: Fifty-five percent of the 19-acre parcel would not be developed. Attractive restaurants, a commercial building, a hotel, bike and foot paths, and preservation of most of the old oak trees — it all sounds fabulous.
One thing is dramatically missing: Where is the housing element that would include affordable housing? I understand that the developer did not put in a residential housing component. The rules are that without plans for residential housing component, there cannot be a mandate for affordable housing. Commercial buildings bring revenue to the city — but why can’t we have affordable housing? The Square on Wilson Road and Novato Boulevard is zoned Commercial Residential, and there are 90 affordable housing units being proposed on that 6.5 acre parcel. This density is not appropriate in a neighborhood.
Couldn’t this be a win-win for all? If there was a housing component, the residents that lived in the affordable housing on Hanna Ranch would be close to public transport, and within walking distance of places to work and grocery stores. This is consistent with the Site Amenities Scoring of the 2009 Low-Income Tax Credit Financing Application, which is on page 53 of the Planning Commission staff report of June 7, 2010. The Hanna Ranch location scores 15 points, which satisfies the affordable housing location criteria.
I appreciate the hard work the staff of Novato has done up to this point in regard to this development. Things do change and issues do come up. Novato residents want affordable housing in this development. We need to investigate changing the general plan for Hanna Ranch to include a residential housing component. We can be the industry leader in green building and have a revolutionary affordable housing with low-energy, solar, and supplies created with recycled materials.
Novato has 676 units left of our state mandate to fulfill for our affordable housing. There is only a finite amount of land in Novato, and we are running out of space. Don’t forget, the state is mandating more affordable housing every five to seven years.
I invite Novato Housing, Sustainable Novato and the Greenbelt Alliance to join with me to see this happen.