Tag Archives: Berg-Revoir Hamilton development

NEH, NBTMA, County letters on Hamilton Proposed Development

Costal Post May 31, 1989

 Hamilton Housing And Jobs

 Based on an analysis of the Redevelop­ment dollars that the Hamilton project would generate and the state-mandated 20% minimum set aside for Affordable Housing which total $105 million, I have computed that by year five of the project up to 330 of the lowest salaried families (earning up to $20,000/year) could be receiving $250 per month rent assistance payment for up to 30 years. By year seven, a thousand local fami­lies will be eligible to receive that level of assistance and there will be sufficient funds to provide it.

NEH has recently assisted over 100 fami­lies to secure newly affordable housing in Novato. We have found displaced Novato families with young children will move back from Sonoma to Novato when they can be guaranteed as little as $250/month rent reduction/rent assistance.

Thus, the estimated worse case traffic figures in the EIR are very wrong. The back­ups, both a.m. and p.m., are based on an erroneous assumption that only 16% of the people will be living and working on site at Hamilton. Our analysis shows that over 50% of families working at Hamilton can and will live on site, especially if at least 50% of the first housing units built in phase One will not be generating the 101 peak hour traffic feared.

Additionally, our analysis shows that many of the newly created entry level jobs at Hamilton can and will be filled/held by spouses of active duty military personnel. These spouses will need neither new hous­ing nor will then need to get on the freeway to get to Hamilton—they will already be there at Capehart and Rafael Village. They can be at Hamilton without ever going onto any freeway as it exists or as improved by Berg-Revoir. The EIR did not adequately evaluate the traffic reducing impact of these available workers—already in affordable military housing—on site.


Novato Ecumenical Housing Novato

Traffic Impact Of The Hamilton


Letter to Dwayne Hunn

North Bay Transportation Management Association:

You have asked for a clarification of the County’s projections for the traffic impact of the proposed Hamilton project on High­way 101 as outlined on Page 9 of the County letter submitted to the Novato Planning Commission on September 12, 1988.

The morning queue of bumper to bumper traffic on Highway 101 currently backs up 6.8 miles from the bottleneck at Puerto Suello Hill to Highway 37. As our Septem­ber letter to the Novato Planning Commission indicates, the County estimates that the addition of 1,150 southbound vehicles per hour on Highway 101 headed for Hamilton in the morning would add 9 to 17 lane miles of queue to the existing queue beginning at Highway 37. The addition of 9 to 17 lane miles to the existing queue would back up traffic on the freeway an additional 3 to 6.5 miles extending the bumper to bumper traf­fic from its current beginning at Highway 37 up to San Marin Drive or past Gnoss Field.

The evening queue of bumper to bumper traffic currently begins north of San Marin Drive where the freeway narrows to 4 lanes and extends 1.8 miles to DeLong Avenue. As our September letter indicates, the County estimates that the addition of 865 northbound vehicles per hour on Highway 101 from Hamilton during the evening commute would add 7 to 13 lane miles of queue to the existing queue beginning at DeLong Avenue. The addition of 7 to 13 lane miles to the existing queue would back up traffic on the freeway an additional 2.3 to 4.3 miles extending the bumper to bumper traffic from its current beginning at DeLong down to Highway 37 or Alameda del Prado. In summary, the County estimates that the Hamilton project would add 3 to 6.5 miles of congestion to the freeway during the morning commute hours and 2.3 to 4.3 miles of congestion to the freeway during the evening commute hours. I hope these figures provide the clarification you requested.


Marin County Planning Department San Rafael

 NBTMA Supports The Hamilton Project

North Bay Transportation Management

Association (NBTMA) believes that the public and private sectors working together can create traffic solutions that will improve the community’s quality of life.

NBTMA asks you to support the Hamilton Project for the following reasons:

Hamilton traffic reduction strategies; first right to rent for those who work at Hamilton; Redevelopment Agency funds of$105 mil­lion guarantee low and moderate income households funds to live and work at Hamil­ton; and optimal use of the Northwest Pa­cific Right-of-Way by designing to build a live/work community within a 1,2 mile walk of the transit corridor.

The correct County estimates that the project would add to miles of added queues are 3 to 6.5 miles in the morning and 2.3 to 4.3 in the evening. This is without factoring in the traffic mitigations listed above.

When phased traffic mitigation require­ments are coupled with developers who listen, traffic reduction can be the result.

Local Jobs Data Bank would place pres­ent Novato out-commuters into jobs at Hamilton. Transit providers could shuttle workers from Sonoma to their Hamilton jobs, such as the Santa Rosa Airporter.

Federal Entrepreneurial Capital Grunt funds are available to put a jitney on the road, but to receive them the recipient must show a 3 year business plan which shows that non-public money will make the jitney self-supportive. Hamilton’s developers would consider paying the fares of their workers who commute from Novato to work at Hamilton.

Hamilton is a model that can encourage the development of other mixed-used com­munities along Marin and Sonoma’s rail­road right-of-way. To build those workable communities, a model must be created. Hamilton is the model.

How affordable housing goes in Marin

News Pointer  April 5–11, 1989

 One Point of View

Dwayne Hunn, Community contributor

Often Individuals claim to be for “pro-affordable” housing but against the density of every proposed development. They claim that density causes traffic. Sometimes that’s what I read between the lines of the “pro-­affordable housing” Coastal Post.

Affordable housing in the County is a joke. it IS an endangered specie. There isn’t much of it now, and there will be less in the future… Affordable housing does not ‘result as a byproduct of housing construction. It certainly hasn’t to date. It must be a separate goal with, clear, creative and unusual strategies to make it achievable.

(1-16-89 Costal Post editorial)

Without widespread support successful strategies often take money. In Mann widespread support for affordable housing is usually only verbalized. Where support counts the most in the production of affordable housing is before city councils. The support that appears too often before City Councils is that of NIMBYS (Not-in-My-Back-Yard).

Let’s take an  example of  what  NIMBYs do to projects throughout the county.

Years ago a not-so-attractive average acre of land in Marin sold for  $100,000. That land was zoned for 17 units per acre. Before that builder turned one shovel of dirt, the price of each of those units was 17 units divided into his $100,000 land cost, or $5,900.

Under that zoning this for-profit builder would build 2 units of housing affordable to households who earn $35,000 or less, which was direly needed by those who commuted through this community  searching for afford­able shelter. By just spreading his land cost to the remaining 15 units his per unit land recovery cost only went to $6,600.

What typically happens to projects like this? The NIMBYS ‘fight to reduce  it to 5 units per acre. When they are successful, Which Is often, the cost of each unit Jumps to $2O,000, before a shovel of earth is turned.

Now just because the builder’s land cost has been increased 300% does not mean that his infrastructure costs like sewers, streets, utilities, and fees have been reduced by anything. Usually the NIMBYs have drawn out the approval process  for a year, two or more and this has inflated  construction and financing costs.

Now we all know that in good times in healthy economic markets the big car companies feel safer making profits by selling fewer big cars rather than many small ones. Marin is a healthy economic market because a lot of people enjoying  good economic times desire to live here.

Understanding the economic principles of the auto market, the Law of Supply & Demand, and the fact that 3 out of 5 of his fellow builder/developers are out of the business in 7 years, is it so difficult to understand why he builds a lavish home? principles of the auto market, the Law of Supply‘& Demand, and the fact that 3 out of 5 of his fellow builder/developers are put of the business In 7 years, it isn’t so difficult to understand why he builds a lavish home?

Now the numbers used as examples above happen over and over. The numbers were also happening just up the road in Marin. Two Novato council members supported by a petition carriers want to reduce what was once 3550 residential units to 1000 or less on 215 residential acres where per acre cost was about $102,000.

Very few people have a backyard at Hamilton Field. At Hamilton Field, Berg, Revoir, and Howard try to address community housing, traffic, and employment concerns in an integrated mixed-use development on blighted, stagnant property, on a railroad line, near the Bay, far from a freeway from which you can’t even see their project.

For NIMBYs backyards spread a long way. NIMBY’s must take a great deal of credit for FCFC–Freeway Congestion For Commuters

Dwayne Hunn works on affordable housing projects as Assistant Executive Director of Novato Ecumenical Housing.)

Points in favor of Hamilton

Marin Independent Journal March 26, 1989

 By Dwayne Hunn


Dwayne Hunn is assistant ex­ecutive director of Novato Ecu­menical Hous­ing and co-di­rector of the North Bay Transportation Management Association

 Opponents of the Hamilton project have used their interpretation of Novato’s redevelopment agency financing to lure supporters to their camp. They would benefit by contemplating Arthur Vandenberg’s wise words from the past.

It is less important to redistribute wealth than it is to redistribute opportu­nity. If the Hamilton project is rejected by the voters in June, the costs of doing business as usual will continue, forcing long Sonoma commutes that gridlock Highway 101, depriving the region of in­creasing and balancing the supply of jobs with affordable housing, and weakening the possibilities of making the train eco­nomically viable on the Northwestern Pacific right of way.

Rejecting the Hamilton project will force us to find more expensive means “to redistribute wealth to regain those lost opportunities in the future.” From this perspective I address some of the is­sues raised by the opponents.

The 400-plus acres purchased by Berg and Revoir for $45 million will be a mas­ter planned community. Opponents compare Hamilton to non-master planned communities where haphazard, piecemeal development at higher densities has occurred.

The Hamilton project calls for 215 acres to have 2,550 housing units, about 12 units per acre. Seventy acres have been set aside for parks, open space, lighted ball fields and so on. Woven throughout the project are bike and walking-running paths.

Hamilton Field’s boarded-up barracks, unused and rundown hangars and decay­ing underground utilities make it a blighted, stagnant area. Hamilton gener­ates no tax revenue to the city of Novato, which has the lowest tax revenue per person of any city in the nine Bay Area counties.

In 1985 the use of redevelopment agency bond financing was an option available to the purchaser. Then, the cost estimates to improve the freeway and frontage road and to add inter­changes (which until the Hamilton pro­ject have never been required of a private developer) were S7 million. In 1988, those cost estimates are $24 million.

The costs to totally replace sewers, electrical and water utilities, drainage and flood control improvements —which benefit the extended region in which Hamilton lies, including the Lanham Village, the mobile home park and the Hamilton School — also increased.

When these escalating redevelopment costs were added to the $33 million of Berg-Revoir site improvement costs, fi­nancial logic dictated that available re­development agency bond financing be requested.

Opponents claim that using redevelop­ment financing will steal Novato taxpay­ers’ dollars. The law says:

“Blighted areas are an economic and social drag upon the community and it is good public business to eliminate them. By the adoption of this constitutional amendment, it will be made possible for the property to pay its own way and if­nance the cost of redevelopment without any additional levy upon the already overburdened taxpayers.”

Project opponents claim there is same deep, dark conspiracy involved in rede­velopment funding. Those weak sisters whom opponents must believe were blindfolded and arm-twisted into giving support include the Novato city staff, the Novato Unified School District, the san­itary district, the fire district and the po­lice department, as well as every member of the Mann County Board of Supervi­sors.

After every new Hamilton-generated city service— every police, fire, school, park and road expense— is paid for, the city will annually receive about $165,000 in general revenues for about 30 years while the redevelopment agency bonds are paid off. After that, the city will re­ceive between $2 million and $2.5 million per year. In addition, the city’s sales-tax revenues will jump by about $500,000 a year.

Perhaps most importantly, redevelop­ment agency financing will generate $32 million (non-inflated) or $92 million (in­flated) to assist on-site workers in own­ing or renting at Hamilton. This assis­tance, mandated by the Community Redevelopment Act, along with the de­velopment and use of the adjacent rail­road lines, is a strength that wasn’t even considered in the environmental impact report, which estimated the amount of traffic Hamilton could generate or the number of workers who could live on site.

In one fell swoop of about 10 years, Hamilton does more than 100 smaller projects to balance jobs and housing, to increase Novato revenues, to encourage the first of many needed pedestrian pockets which will promote transit use and traffic reduction, and to increase the supply of affordable housing.

Why is it that so many of the tradi­tional naysayers want to push those op­portunities off onto future generations where the cost will be much higher?

  Building a better Marin

Marin Independent Journal    Friday, December 16, 1988

 By Dwayne Hunn, Co-Director of North Bay Transportation Association

TWO guys, an avid health nut and an ex-Vietnam helicopter pilot, return to Marin.

From the rough-and-tumble of life, they have learned to be pleasant gents and not pushy cowboys. In reputed red­neck Novato, they are refreshing fellows.

On their return, they venture about as far west as they can, buy 400 acres and propose to build 3,500 homes and 7,000 jobs at Hamilton Air Force Base.

They knew they had emptied their pockets. They didn’t know they had put their necks in a noose laid by self-appointed posses.

When the necktie party started, the noose wasn’t too tight. Coolly these two listened and responded to concerns from community activists, Marin and Sonoma officials as well as the typical Marin naysayer.

Sometimes they backed off, totally changing their plan to mollify Sonoma officials. Other times they stood eyeball-to-eyeball with the Department of Defense and wouldn’t flinch, forcing a toxic bowl to be cleaned.

Now, long before the rubber hits the road of 101, and while their feet are still on the ground and not dangling from a tree, other peoples’ boots are starting to step on theirs. “Too many rentals! Too much traffic! Too many households earning less than $35,000 a year — what a troublesome ghetto It’ll be. Too much biomedical research! Too few bird sanctuaries!” All this because two pleasant gents want to go back to the future.

Part of the reason the Old West was won was because we had men with steel nerves who found that steel rails were a more efficient means of sending trade, doing commerce and cutting through frontiers to build the future.

Every now and then, a city with shops. schools, businesses and homes grew up around the rails of the Old West. Then and for some time thereafter, America was known as a “can-do nation.”

Then America had no choice but to become melting pot of rich and poor, colored and clear to get a job done and build a future. Do Marin, Sonoma and Novato want to go back to the future?

America has become great from the strength it built during those bursts when it acted with vision. Hamilton should be looked on as part of a vision. Hamilton should not be just another de­velopment that the gang of naysayers attacks as though no answers exist for any problem that bedevils us.

You want to deal with the lack of affordable housing? Allow solid residential intensities to be built into projects that also set aside a lot of adjacent open space and that provide recreation and child-care facilities.

To fund city services? Use funds from the Hamilton Redevelopment Agency to fund essential city services as well as generate rental subsidy and affordable housing financing.

To deal with 101 gridlock? Build these intense residential projects along another transit way — like the Northwestern Pacific right of way.

To cut the single-occupant-vehicle commute? Build office and commercial space within this residential community and build 10 to 12 of these along the NWP right of way so that people are given both opportunity and reason to climb aboard a train, work at one rail stop and live arid love at another.

America is weak when it fails to turn problems into opportunities. Mean when it shuts its doors as an answer to problems. Hamilton is a microcosm of problems faced in the North Bay and America. If the Berg-Revoir Hamilton development results in  a small number of exclusive homes or an enlarged military barracks, Novato had voted for the America  of weakness and meanness.

The 21st century will not be controlled by nation, that generate the most law-’suits or commute the farthest to jobs and affordable housing. If American communities choose the weak-and-mean route, then America can expect Arabs to fuel our inflation as Japan buys our productive facilities and real estate.

Participatory democracy gives its participants precious gifts. Moderate-income households, renters, commuters, and those who ignore the intricacies of housing development should learn about and support projects like Berg-Revoir’s.

All of Marin and Sonoma’s projected population growth could be housed in 20 mixed-used projects built along the Northwestern Pacific rails. If we take that route we will be emulating the visionary periods of America when steel nerves turned problems into opportunities that built our nation’s strengths.


Visionary Leaders needed

Marin Independent Journal Tuesday, May 19, 1987

By Dwayne Hunn

      Forty years ago, the United States was so productive that America felt compelled to rebuild most of Europe and Asia so that nations there could recover from war and be profitable enough to buy our goods. Today, our trade deficit, rather than our productivity, sets world records. Once our educational system stood out for the world to emulate. We proudly proclaimed bow ready our youth were to face the world’s challenges. Today, we look to copy not only other nations’ production techniques, but also how they teach and mold their young. The proud inflection of the “Can-do nations!” now leaves many with the hollow sound of the “Can-do-nation?”

For many of us living and working at the local level, these national and international issues seem too large to handle. Many who read and think about these issues may be upset that America has been slipping, but if we don’t feel our local efforts have an impact on national and international issues, we only cringe and go on with life.

We seem to have forgotten the roots of America’s democratic and economic structure. We have forgotten that local politics is the source of America’s strength and long-term resiliency.

Just consider the long-term effect of an actual Marin local government decision, as it is played out numerous times throughout one of the richest counties of America.

A Novato developer wants to build a significant number of affordable housing units so that a better jobs/housing balance can help reduce freeway gridlock. The developer is blocked because the neighbors oppose the density, or question the fumes from parking cars in the neighborhood, or distrust the “low income” people who will reside there. The neighbors win. Does their victory serve Marin and Sonoma? Does it bring America closer to energy self-sufficiency? Does it allow commuters to use their wasted commute time for skill-building, educational enrichment, or more quality time with their families?

Each time one of those projects fails or is delayed interminably, all of £he following happen:

  • The extended commute to Sonoma, Napa, etc., increases the pollutants in the air our children must breathe.
  • America’s reliance on expensive imported fuels increases as does the national debt we pass on to the young.
  • The percentage of household income that goes to housing and transit climbs while the money and time available for skill, education and family time declines proportionally.

Marin has one of the higher percentages of single-parent households in the nation. Thirteen percent of Novato’s households are run by single parents whose median income is $15,676. These households desperately need affordable housing in Marin. Are local officials aware of how their decisions on issues like parks, child care centers and affordable housing have an impact on these important parents and children? Are they aware of how their decisions form the foundation of a strong America, whose core is a secure family, or a shaky America, whose footing teeters over a troubled family?

In an increasingly competitive world, enlightened leadership requires much more than concern about one’s neighborhood or high-sounding speeches about what ‘America’s’ world role should be. Visionary local officials must make decisions that reflect concern about the long-term strength of this nation. Patriotic local leaders must weigh each of their decisions in terms of how they help prepare those of lower and middle incomes in Marin to compete among the 5 billion who now inhabit the increasingly interdependent nations of Planet Earth.

It is more difficult for local leaders to avoid the immediate consequences of their decision than it is for those cushioned by the miles to Washington, D.C. Therefore, it is often easier for local leaders to follow the desires of vocal advocates of self interest. Too many local leaders fail to recognize that a constituency larger than neighborhood groups ends their leadership, namely —the children of tomorrow, single parents, the American family structure, and all of us negatively affected by our nation’s declining competitive capacity and increasing trade deficit.

Leadership isn’t easy. It is difficult to lead because in order to lead without too much pain the education of those led’ must move in step. Christ exemplified the pain of leadership out of sync with- the masses. Churchill learned how tortuous trying to educate others to lead can be, as he tried to mobilize his lethargic peers to action.

Far-sighted leadership for the common good is difficult. For America to grow strong, however, more courage an& vision and less parochial and petty rationalization must go into local decision making.

Dwayne Hunn, a former Peace Corps volunteer, has a Ph.D. in Public Finance & Administration and has taught at the college level in Southern California.