OVERVIEW: Novato began as Rancho de Novato, a Spanish land grant given in 1839 to Fernando Feliz, but its roots are far deeper. Olompali State Historical Park just north fo the city is where a panorama of history unfolds in a single afternoon. It's named for a key Miwok settlement, the location of the only battle of the Bear Flag Revolt leading to California's statehood, the setting for Marin's first formal garden, and a hippie commune in the 1960s. Incorporated in 1960, Novato is Marin's fastest-growing city, embracing new residential development and commerce as well. Novato's latest additions include Fireman's Fund headquarters, the county's largest employer; the huge Vintage Oaks shopping mall; Hamilton Field, where a residential and retail complex is underdevelopment; and the Buck Center Research in Aging. The city encompasses 28 square miles containing more than 49,000 residents, second in population only to San Rafael. Its many three-bedroom, tract homes give Novato a distinct suburban feel. There are plenty of recreational activities for all ages, and local schools generally rank in the top 20th percentile.
HOUSING: Housing prices in Novato are among the least expensive in the county, but the city sports a variety of price ranges, including expensive homes on large lots.
EDUCATION: Novato kids attend one of seven elementary schools, three middle schools, and two high schools in the Novato Unified School District. There is also a continuation school, three alternative schools, and a private school.
TRANSPORTATION: Most Novato commuters drive to work, although some use public tranportation. Travel times can be lengthy if going to San Francisco or the East Bay, but are more moderate if going north to the wine country.
PUBLIC SAFETY: Most of Novato is served by the Novato Police Department and Novato Fire Protection District. Crime is relatively low, concentrated mostly in assaults, burglaries, and theft. Earthquakes would cause moderate damage in most areas.
DEMOGRAPHICS: Novato has the second largest population in the county, and one of the most diverse. Age breakdown and education levels run the gamut. Occupations vary, but are concentrated in sales and administrative professions.
PARKS AND RECREATION: Novato has a number of parks and many youth and adult programs available through the Parks and Recreation Department.
AMENITIES: Novato has a large shopping center, many restaurants, and a plethora of churches, as well as a movie theatre, public library and many parks.
WEATHER: Novato is in the county's northern region. It's also the hottest area. Its yearly average temperature is 58 degrees, and its average temperature range is between 46 and 67 degrees. July through August are the hottest months, with an average high of 78 degrees, but it occasionally reaches into the 90s. It has an average humidity of 60 percent and gets about 26.3 inches of rainfall per year, usually between November and April.