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The Real Truth About Affordable Housing

I am buying copies of Bob Silvestri's new book and sending them to the Novato City Council, as we are at a tipping point in Novato.

Bob Silvestri has written a superb book on the real truth on affordable housing in Marin. This is critical issue for Novato moving forward as this will impact the largest investment made, your house and its value.

Novato can not overbuild affordable housing without risking overloading the city services without sufficient tax base as well as driving down the value of housing that people have work so hard to buy and maintain as well as pay taxes.

Silvestri's book, "The Best Laid Plans: Our Planning and Affordable Housing Challenges in Marin" is a detailed review of the true story on affordable housing. I am buying copies and sending them to the Novato City Council, as we are at a tipping point in Novato.

From 1996 to 2006 Novato built 51.4 percent of all new affordable housing in Marin. The following are the details:

Novato built 56 percent of very-low-income housing of all of Marin. Belvedere, Corte Madera, Fairfax, Ross and San Anselmo had none.

Novato built 85 percent of the low-income housing in all of Marin. Belvedere, Corte Madera, Fairfax, Ross, San Anselmo and Sausalito built none.

Novato built 48 percent of the moderate-income housing in all of Marin. Corte Madera, Fairfax, Ross, San Anselmo, Sausalito and Tiburon built none.

Novato built 48 percent of the above-moderate-income housing in all of Marin and 146 percent more than required.

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Dave Robertson November 07, 2012 at 12:54 AM
There are likely vacant homes and apts all over Marin. We definitely do not need more housing anywhere in this county. In addition there are lots of people who would sell immediately if they weren't so underwater. So the Marin (and national) housing stock looks a lot lower than it really is - mainly because of the scarcity of financing, the degree of owner solvency, and the inventories sitting in bank portfolios until they decide to unload them. It will take years to act like a healthy market, but either way there are likely far more housing units than required. It all comes down to the issue of price. When you add lots of subsidized housing in an area such as Marin, you see them snapped up as to be expected. But it is contrary to the law of supply and demand. The lower prices just makes the subsidized housing more in demand. Therefore people move here to get in on a good deal. The people who have to buy non-subsidized housing still want to get out from underneath all this. It is artificial growth when there is no reason to grow.
Bob Silvestri November 07, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Good comments, Dave. But it's even worse than that. The kinds of affordable units that are being built are not the type we really need in Marin, and so, they are not snapped up at all. The Fireside in Mill Valley is an example of this, taking almost two years to rent up. And since we mostly develop using "in lieu" methods, we get a raft of unsaleable and even unrentable units added with each project. The Millworks in Novato (which failed financially) and 505 Miller Avenue in Mill Valley (16 market rate units with 4 "affordable") are good examples.
Al Dugan November 07, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Both Dave and Bob are both right on.....both susciently outline both sides of the down side of this housing. The bottom line is it drives down the price of houses that people have work hard to buy, maintain and pay the taxes by artificially low prices and too much housing.
Dave Robertson November 07, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Yes, the Millworks failed miserably - but would not have not failed if it were built in the right area. Unfortunately, Marin is not that area. Al and Bob are spot on - these projects are not the type of housing we do need, and building them in a negative housing market only serves to lower prices more considerably. The City of Novato is so desperate to keep things "flowing" in this city that they are dooming the city to a bleak future as a "gas stop" on the way to Sonoma.
Al Dugan November 15, 2012 at 02:04 PM
SUNN the Stand up for affordable housing development (more descriptive name) continues to try and increase the city plan unilaterally. If you got their letter make sure you read Bob Silvestri on the real truth and the numbers above about Novato has far over built affordable housing already. SUNN is follow the money for developers, builders and institutional investors to build high density affordable housing.

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