August 28, 2013: S.R. & Umbrella Groups Monthly Meeting Notes

Carol Thompson of the Business Improvement District presented the 2014 Goals for the self-funded assessment district.  They are focused on Safety, Streetscape, Transportation, Promotion and Events, Economic Development.  Their work is based on the Main Street Four-Point Approach:  Organization, Promotion, Design, and Economic Restructuring.  They want to bring residents of San Rafael to the Downtown area and they plan to actively recruit the businesses we need downtown (in a manner similar to how a mall would be managed).  They are helping Ritter Center to find a new location.

Andrew Henning of the Downtown Streets Team spoke about the newly started Streets Team in San Rafael.  The project is underway with members out cleaning the streets.  They are tracking trouble spots to see if they can make improvements. The organization helps members with job search, resumes, etc.  They have drawn participation by some of the young homeless and are setting up collaborations with business people and the local service providers.  Currently there are fourteen members with some working part-time since there is funding for only 12.  There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Farmer’s Market in a few weeks.  There is a video about the program available on the city website under the Social Services listing in the Our Community pull down menu.

Stephanie Lovett spoke about downtown improvements.  The City has allocated one hundred thousand dollars for these improvements.  There is a pilot for replacing old newspaper racks at 4th and A and a pilot for corner plantings at 4th and C.  Improvements in the twinkle lights are planned as well as new banners and bike racks.  Dan Sonnet of the Federation of Neighborhoods presented an 8-point list of simple beautification projects at the Gateways to town. This list ranged from the need to control weeds and repair a fence to resurfacing and restriping the parking lots under the freeway and replacing a chain link fence with a more attractive wooden fence.    Mayor Phillips said this list would be passed on to the ad hoc committee.  The Mayor also mentioned that the traffic cameras are about to the removed and that parking meters fees are about to go up.

Paul Jensen of the Community Development Department spoke about the reasons that the City has not withdrawn from ABAG.  The City is about to publish answers to 90 questions concerning the Plan Bay Area.  This publication will address many of the ABAG issues and can be found through a link in Nancy Mackle’s Snapshot.  Paul explained that ABAG administers the housing allocation numbers that come from the state and that these numbers would exist even if the City withdrew from ABAG.  Several people in the audience suggested that the City look into working with others to establish a separate administrative agency for the county or perhaps the county plus Sonoma and or Napa.  It was voiced that ABAG may be controlled by a group with an urban orientation and that setting up a separate agency would keep the focus on the suburban/rural mix that characterizes Marin, Sonoma, and Napa.