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City Council, City Manager Stand By Hiring of Bob Brown

Novato's community development director, who has been in favor of affordable housing complexes, has met some vocal opposition by residents worried property values and crime.

Bob Brown received a rock-hard vote of confidence from local government leaders Tuesday night in light of some opposition to his recent appointment as the city of Novato's new community development director.

Members of the Novato City Council were unanimous in their support of City Manager Michael Frank naming Brown to the post after Brown served 10 months in an interim role. The vacancy was created by the 2012 retirement of David Wallace.

Mayor Pat Eklund addressed the matter after a few members of the public, mostly notably Al Dugan and Trish Boorstein, spoke during open time at Tuesday's council meeting, essentially calling Brown an advocate for high-density housing. At one point, Frank and Brown were called "the enemy."

For about 2 1/2 years, Novato has undergone a very public rift about forced planning for future housing developments; hundreds of residents have joined grassroots groups against low-income, high-density housing over concerns about potential crime increases and potential decreases in property values. It's a touchy issue to say the least.

Frank made the decision to hire Brown, who has more than 30 years of community development experience with public agencies and retired in 2011 as community developement director in San Rafael. Frank's move last week was met with some opposition, but Frank stood by his choice Tuesday and reiterated that the decision was not made without careful consideration and solid input from others.

"I do expect the community to hold council accountable, to hold me accountable and our department heads accountable," Frank said. "I'm accountable to the council — they're my bosses. ... I can assure those in the community that it's not our role as staff to advocate. Bob and I have had conversations about this as far to take positions that are in opposition to what council advocates. I would be very surprised if that were to occur."

The council members clearly stated their support of the personnel move and their support of the council being accountable for staff member's actions.

Councilwoman Jeanne MacLeamy said she has found Brown to be a "true professional" who has found creative ways to solve problems and make improvements during his interim stint.

Addressing the public opposition to Frank's appointment of Brown, MacLeamy said, "Obviously there is a level of trust that is missing, and we have to earn that trust. We hope you gain trust in us. Truly, Michael and Bob are not the enemy."

Council members Eric Lucan, Madeline Kellner and Denise Athas also took a minute to support Brown.

"We don't have rogue employees roving out there doing their own thing," Lucan said.

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Trish Boorstein January 14, 2013 at 09:49 PM
Dave T.P. How is it that it's ok for Southern Marin to look untouched by all this high density housing or equivalent development and Novato must change? This is the same message that HCD is telling Novato- we're held to a much higher standard than our neighboring cities. Hence my message to you above about taking your campaign to So. marin with "NIMCITY". How can you expect the majority of Novato to not see this epic inequality? It's not about living in the past. Currently Novato has to be very concerned about what our Planning director and staff are planning for our city, since they most likely will not be involving this community in their decisions.
Dave Robertson January 15, 2013 at 02:36 AM
The problem with agenda 21 is that it assumes that areas are growing. Right now we are not growing. These overly progressive dreamers need to look at reality. California is a sinking ship economically. All of these plans are simply wishful thinking on the part of people who devise them. The whole "one Bay Area" concept is a joke. Perhaps in 200 years or so ... That is if people want to expand our "give away" society.
Dave Robertson January 15, 2013 at 02:45 AM
I guess I see a lot of objection here but no calls to action?! If everyone is so fed up with all of this why don't we boost organizations to repopulate the City Council? Is there any single viable organization that exists to stop further development and systematically oust the whole city council as the come up for election? The next election is this coming fall!
Trish Boorstein January 15, 2013 at 06:16 AM
Dave R., sadly at the last election only 30% of Novato voted! There are several organizations and Homeowner Associations (some forming as we speak) thru out Novato. Even with this outreach voter turnout was low. We really need to launch an education campaign to inform residents of what's going on, many still have no clue. Getting the vote out is also paramount. Getting residents to subscribe to Patch would also help in education outreach. You can start by talking with your neighbors and joining Novato Homeowners Association(in the works), Novato Community Alliance, San Marin Compatible Housing Coalition, or another organization. We also need to recruit a candidate to run this Fall. Be a part of this process and maybe change can begin to happen.
Lloyd January 15, 2013 at 04:38 PM
What utter nonsense. The only vote in your club is your own. As I said b4 you are a shill who is totally without credibility. You make pronouncements and when asked to support you fall silent because there is no substance to your rhetoric. There is an old custom for how to deal with people of your type: Klingon Discommendation. You no longer exist by any of your troll names to me.

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