The Coalition holds an Annual Community Meeting to update the community on issues being addressed by the Coalition, and to allow residents to hear directly from heads of local government agencies and elected officials. As appropriate, the Coalition holds special Community Meetings during the year if a specific issue or concern needs attention. This page provides a summary of each of those past community meetings, though it does not cover any “Meet the Candidates” nights that the Coalition has sponsored over the years.
Firefighters from Fire Station #55, our local firehouse, stopped by for the meeting. Captain Evan Minard of the SR Fire Department invited all to the department fundraiser Crabfest on December 19th.
Marin County District 1 Supervisor Damon Connolly thanked the group for the honor of serving them. He pointed out that he meets quarterly with the leadership of the San Pedro Road Coalition (SPRC) and values input he gets from the Coalition and the public. He spoke about several issues.
Co-President Bonnie Marmor introduced the SPRC Board Members and the first speaker, Dr. Susan Adams, District 1 Marin County Supervisor. Dr. Adams went over some of the many things she, along with the residents of the Pt. San Pedro peninsula, had accomplished during her 12 year tenure. She discussed the Housing Element and Land Use issues explaining that state law mandates are involved. The communities are interested in local control Marc Levine has put forward Assembly Bill AB 1537 which attempts to undo Marin’s designation as an urban area and keep the designation suburban thus reducing the default zoning from 30 units per acre to 20 units. Supervisor Adams said that the any decisions to have higher densities should be local decisions. She ended her talk by saying she may be leaving the area to take on some exciting possibilities elsewhere.
After 12 consecutive years of speaking at our Annual Community meeting, this was her last presentation as our Supervisor. To thank her, Bonnie read a poem she had composed lauding Supervisor Adams and she and Co-President Denise Lucy presented a plaque as a thank you for twelve years of dedicated service and leadership. Each of the Co-Presidents listed some of the Supervisor’s many accomplishments.
Eric Steger, Assistant Director for the County Public Works Department, spoke next focusing on the San Rafael Rock Quarry. He described the monitoring that the County does with seismic and sound level monitors. He pointed out that activity at the Quarry has been low, but is starting to pick up. He spoke of the County allowing the importation of asphalt to be recycled. He added that more information can be found on the County web site, the SPRC website and the Quarry web site.
In answer to questions, he said that the sound reducing qualities if the material used on PSPR diminishes gradually and should last 5 to 7 years. Then periodic maintenance will be needed. The Quarry is running at about half capacity compared to its peak. Some of the tonnage goes out by barge especially during high production times.
Kellen Dammann, from the Marin County Community Development Agency Sustainability Team, presented next. He described Energy Upgrade, a rebate program that is available using either a whole house approach or a focus on a particular upgrade such as replacing a furnace. He talked about possibilities for paying for projects on one’s tax bill or energy bill. Rebates typically cover 15% to 20% of the cost of the project. He left brochures.
San Rafael Mayor Gary Phillips spoke next. He said that San Rafael had risen in the ranking of smaller cities that are good places to live, now being number 31. He then covered a wide range of topics. He described the progress of some of the seven ad hoc committees the mayor and council set up. Several new businesses have come to town or expanded here. There has been an effort to do away with massage parlors that are fronts for illegal business.
Mayor Phillips spoke about the use of the extra 1/4 cent sales tax, pointing out that there is an ongoing study to determine the most effective locations for fire stations before any upgrades are done. The City is working to upgrade its bond rating now that its financial situation is more stable. The Downtown Streets Team has been quite successful with 22 of its participants now employed and 4 in housing. The City now has a mental health officer who is working with the police and service providers to address the problems of those on the street.
After a period of fires in homeless encampments in the hills averaging about one every other day, there have been no such fires in the last 60 days. This follows an intense effort to remove encampments from the hills. Ritter House wants to relocate and the City is trying to help them do so. Marin Organizing Committee (MOC) is trying to find a permanent location for the REST Program, which shelters about 40 homeless men overnight during the winter season. Mayor Phillips has taken the position that this should be a shared responsibility and that San Rafael will take up to 20 men only if the County takes another 20 and a location south of San Rafael also takes 20. There has been an effort to get liquor stores to stop selling cheap liquor in order to help with alcohol problems among the homeless street population.
The City is going to lease solar panels for all its buildings. The City has a grant from TAM to study parking for the SMART train station. Mayor Phillips hopes to get a lot of public input about having Quiet Zones within the City, putting up infrastructure at crossings so that the train does not have to blow its horn. The City must apply for these crossings. The City was not too pleased with the drawings for the SMART station and has sent in some suggestions for redesign.
Police Chief Diana Bishop took the podium. She has now been in her position for almost three years. She talked about efforts to address homelessness problems in a legal and humane way. Additional rangers and a new mental health person Lynn Murphy have been helpful. Ms. Murphy’s work coordinated with service providers has resulted in some successful reunions of homeless individuals with their families and conservatorship when needed.
The Department has a new mobile unit license plate reader. Chief Bishop agreed with the Mayor that San Rafael has too many massage parlors. She described two ways for citizens to get information. One can sign up to get advisories from www.local.NEXLE.com or use www.Raidsonline.com.
Chief Bishop described how she got a grant and organized an information sharing set up staffed by a crime analyst. All eleven police departments in the County are participating. There will be another Citizens Police Academy to help residents understand how the police work.
San Rafael now has two motorcycle police who are focused mainly on enforcing traffic laws. Since there have been 7 auto vs. pedestrian fatalities in Chief Bishop’s tenure, she wants to focus on both drivers and pedestrians giving their full attention to the traffic situation.
In answer to questions, Chief Bishop made the following points: The City is going to do radar studies of a couple of streets, starting downtown. Overall less than 10% of calls have to do with mental health issues, but the percentage would be much higher for the downtown area. All officers get some mental health issues training. Seventy percent of our police have Crisis Intervention Training.
Since Fire Chief Gray was unable to attend, Deputy Fire Marshall John Lippitt spoke for the Fire Department focusing on vegetation management. The department’s program is mainly public education aimed at getting defensible space around homes so that the fire fighters can defend the homes. The department will do evaluations for homeowners. They also point out code violations and try to be reasonable in the time allowed for corrections. They will grant continuations for homeowners who are cooperating. In the hills, they are trying to reduce fuel load and to make the area not hospitable for encampments. Fire Marshall Lippitt can be contacted for help in setting up Chipper Days for neighborhoods. FireSafeMarin says that they have grant money available. The Fire Marshall left informational booklets, “Ready, Set, Go!” and “San Rafael Fire Department Vegetation Management Program.”
In answer to a question, Fire Marshall Lippitt said that the City Fire Department will do evaluations for people in the County whose property is adjacent to the City and will help them with differences in City and County rules.
Next there were reports from some of the SPRC Committees:
Kevin Hagerty, the Chair of the new Roadway Committee, went first and gave a thorough description of the work of this new committee which focuses on medians, paving, bike lanes, and traffic management.
A Medians Subcommittee is headed by Jim Dickson, and a Traffic Management Subcommittee is headed by Jim Finklestein. In response to suggestions from the Traffic Management Subcommittee, parking spots in front of United were eliminated during daytime hours Monday thru Friday as a trial and this removal is about to be recommended to become permanent. Several parking spots were also eliminated in front of the fire department building in order to facilitate queuing for right turns onto Union Street. Suggestions for better signage and lane marking as drivers approach the freeway were not accepted.
The Medians Subcommittee has worked with the City and there are plans to correct some soil imbalances and plant over 100 new plants once the rainy season begins.
The Roadway Committee participated in the resolution of issues surrounding feasibility of Class II bike lanes close to the Loch Lomond Marina. The City had promised that any removal of parking would wait until after a parking study was done to determine if the space was needed for overflow parking once the Village at Loch Lomond Marina project was built out and occupied.
The Roadway Committee hopes in the future to work with the bike coalition to develop safety education and better understanding of what the new markings and signs regarding bike lanes mean. The City has not yet completed all its markings and signage, but expects to be done by the end of October.
The situation regarding digging up the newly paved Pt. San Pedro Road was explained. The utilities get to choose whether they were to have the County raise their manhole covers and reimburse the cost or whether they do the work themselves. One utility, AT&T, had chosen to do its own work and unfortunately the work is not being completed quickly.
Kevin explained that as soon as all the utility connections for the Village are done, then the developers will repave the entire intersection where they have made trenches. The same sound deadening material is intended to be used as was used on the recent repaving of the road.
In answer to questions, Kevin explained that funding for the grant to pave Pt. San Pedro Road from the Quarry entrance to Biscayne fell through. The City is completing the design work and will re-apply for grant money early next year. In the meantime, some patching has been done, but areas that would require extensive work to make a repair are being left to include in the grant project.
Sara Jensen, Co-Chair of the Marina Committee, gave a very brief update since the meeting was running overtime. The developers have just provided an updated construction schedule, which can be found in detail on the SPRC web site. They provided an estimated date of May 2015 for reopening of the breakwater. In the public access area there will be amenities such as a new path, a fish cleaning station, and some parks. Work in this area goes slowly because, in order to protect the fish, work can only be done at low tide. The developers estimate that Loch Lomond Drive will be reopened by December 2014. They said that they expect to have 39 housing units available for sale by the end of December or the beginning of January.
Alan Schaevitz, Coalition Webmaster, introduced the new website. Email had gone out to the email list late last night notifying people of the change. If anyone did not receive the notice that means the SPRC does not have an email address for them. People can add their email addresses via a form on the website. The new web site allows people to use a news feed app to receive posts.
Damon Connolly, District 1 Supervisor-Elect and current San Rafael City Councilman, was the last speaker. He thanked Supervisor Adams for all her work and said he hopes to work with her during the transition around his assuming office on January 5th.
He said that working with the City has been great and he hopes that he can be a lynchpin in dealings between the City and County. In order to devote full-time to his Supervisor role, he is trying to wrap up his law practice and is stepping down from being chairman of Marin Clean Energy. He pledged that the Quarry permits would be vigorously enforced.
Mr. Connolly said that he feels that the County level of government is where the most impactful change can occur. He hopes to bring a fresh perspective to the County and hopes to change things for the better.
He mentioned four areas in particular:
- <Transportation: SMART will need to be implemented so it serves people’s needs and does not have negative impacts.
- Housing: Housing is a huge issue. Marin wants to have local control and wants to preserve local character. [NOTE: Since the meeting, Governor Brown signed the bill sponsored by our Assemblymember Marc Levine that redefines Marin County as suburban rather than urban. This reduces the state mandates for housing density.]
- Mental Health: The County has a 46 million dollar budget, but there are questions about whether the money is being well spent.
- Environmental Issues: This is a priority.
In answer to questions, Mr. Connolly said that there is very little space in the unincorporated County where housing could be placed. He said that it is very important to speak up when imposed housing numbers such as those from ABAG seem too high, because just speaking up seems to make the numbers go down.
Bonnie closed the meeting and thanked Sandy Mahoney of The Madison Company Realtors for providing the refreshments.
Bonnie announced there will be a Candidates’ Forum held at St. Luke Church, 7-9 PM on Monday, September 30th, sponsored by the Coalition. Candidates for City Council and College of Marin Board of Trustees will participate.
She spoke of the community’s loss during the past year of beloved longtime residents Jeanne Cohn, who had served on the Coalition’s Loch Lomond Marina Committee and was a protector of our wetlands, and Marty and Marlene Gershik, who both served on the Coalition’s Disaster Preparedness Committee.
Bonnie thanked Sandy Mahoney of Madison and Company Realtors for, once again, providing coffee and delicious snacks for the meeting from Andy’s Local Market.
John Edgcomb, SPRC attorney for the past 14 years, discussed the recent approval of the San Rafael Rock Quarry’s application to import asphalt grindings for recycling. He explained that in 1982, the San Rafael Rock Quarry’s zoning was changed from Industrial to Residential/Commercial. The quarry was allowed to continue operation as a “non-conforming use.” Under the County Development Code, a non-conforming use is not allowed to expand operations. He said that since it was previously established in court that the quarry was not importing asphalt grindings in 1982, when it became a non-conforming use, he believes that a legal challenge to the approval of the SRRQ’s request for permission to recycle asphalt would result in the County being told that importation of grindings and recycling of asphalt cannot be allowed.
At the conclusion of his presentation, Bonnie Marmor reported that the San Rafael Rock Quarry has not yet begun importing asphalt grindings. When the importation begins, all trucks carrying grindings to the quarry will be tarped. She pointed out that trucks carrying dirt for the Loch Lomond Marina construction project are unrelated to the Quarry truck traffic and are contracted by the developer of that project.
Marin County District 1 Supervisor Susan Adams reported that for the last three years there have been good relations between the Quarry and the community. She provided handouts with a history of the quarry and information about the upcoming road repaving project on Pt. San Pedro Road. She described how, working together, the City and the County will be repaving Pt. San Pedro Road with sound mitigating asphalt, using materials from San Rafael Rock Quarry. Phase I of the project will start in November and will be a test section from the quarry entrance to Riviera Drive. Phase II will be done next year with the County working in consultation with the City to repave the rest of the road to Union Street. In addition, she reported that the City has obtained a grant to repave the road from the quarry entrance to Biscayne Drive.
Recycling asphalt at the quarry initially was proposed as a cost saving measure for the repaving of Pt. San Pedro Road. She explained that the permit amendment granted by the Board of Supervisors also allows for importing grindings from other Marin County projects, but materials cannot be stockpiled more than a certain amount. The quarry cannot ask for renewal of the permit to do recycling unless they have completed all the conditions of their operating permit within two years. Berenice Davidson, Assistant Engineer for the Marin County DPW, s
poke briefly. She offered to respond to questions regarding information on the conditions that quarry must fulfill. Her email is BDavidson@marincounty.org. Questions regarding the road paving project should be addressed to Ernest Klock at EKlock@marincounty.org.
Supervisor Adams provided information on other topics: She announced that the County has grant money available for Disaster Preparedness. Those wishing to apply should call her aide Susannah Clark. There is information on trail and vegetation management on line under Parks and Open Space. The County budget is balanced and progress is being made on pension and medical costs. The State jails have been determined to be overcrowded resulting in some releases to communities. The County is trying to reduce recidivism through therapeutic approaches. This has resulted in an 85% reduction and the County actually has some empty jail beds. She explained the state mandates for the county to plan and zone sites for a range of housing without any obligation to build.
Supervisor Adams briefly discussed Plan Bay Area and explained that the County has been following a philosophy of building near transportation for years in order to protect open spaces. The County plans have been approved by ABAG and this has resulted in getting some funds for transportation. In response to a question, she said that a study has been done regarding the quarry wetlands (accessible online), and that Ami Dutra can provide more information about that. She also announced that the County will be holding hearings on their plan for Defensive Space.
Aimi Dutra announced the annual Community meeting at the Quarry, including a presentation and tours, which will be held on October 5th. The presentation is from 9-11 AM and will be followed by tours. Those planning to attend should RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
City Manager Nancy Mackle spoke about a range of topics:
Her first topic was the development starting at Loch Lomond Marina. DPW has issued a grading permit with provisions to ensure storm water prevention measures are in place. Soil is being trucked in and the truck traffic will be monitored to be sure that there are not convoys and that dirt is not being spilled on the roadway. The Marina developer, the Community Development Director, and Community Services Director met to discuss public amenities on the waterfront at the site.
She praised the look of the Pt. San Pedro medians, a project done through a public-private partnership. Eight additional trees have been ordered and will be put in the two medians between Main and the fire station.
She announced that FEMA will be holding community meetings about new flood maps in October and notices will be sent to homeowner associations.
She discussed the situation with speeding on Pt. San Pedro Road. She explained that the State mandates that ticketing cannot be done unless there has been an official speed study and the limit has been set to reflect actual speeds traveled. Peer pressure is needed to keep speeds to the current limit before the study is done.
Manager Mackle spoke about City finances: She explained that Measure E is a neighborhood issue because emergency services serve everyone. Currently the fire stations and the emergency services headquarters are not sound and need work to be ready for a big emergency such as an earthquake. The City now has a bit more money for defensible space and open space maintenance, but more collaborative efforts are needed. The City has cut 20% of its staff in the last two years, but things are beginning to be a bit better financially. There is information on the City’s website about progress the City is making in dealing with pension obligations.
The City has obtained a grant to plan for the coming of SMART rail transportation. There will soon be a meeting about quiet zones for the train. The economic health of the City seems good. People still want to open businesses here. Target opens next month and in preparation they have had a jobs fair in order to hire locally. Copperfields bookstore is opening downtown in November. PG&E is cleaning up their site to make it ready for building. City Mangager Mackle stressed that it is important to shop locally to support the health of the City.
The City was recently the recipient of the “Beacon Award” for its work on a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan, Climate Change Action Plan, and other sustainability issues.
There were requests from the audience for the City to remove the street parking by United Market so traffic can more easily flow onto the highway. In the past, nearby businesses have objected to any loss of parking. A suggestion was also made to prohibit parking in front of the fire station.
Nader Mansourian, Director of the San Rafael Public Works Department, said that he would do a study of the traffic and get back to the community.
To keep abreast of what is happening, people can sign up for the City Manager’s blog “Snapshot” which is published on the City website twice a month. The meetings of the City Council are also available on the City web site.
Police Chief Diana Bishop spoke about residential break-ins and a recent arrest that came about because of neighborhood watch activities in the Dominican neighborhood. She pointed out that it is very important to lock all doors and windows when leaving the house because most of the entries have been through unlocked doors or windows. She urged residents to be on the look out for behavior that doesn’t fit in their neighborhood and to call the police when there is suspicious activity.
Chief Bishop explained that the City has two motorcycle cops who use a laser system called Lidar to issue speeding tickets, but this cannot be done on Pt. San Pedro because the official State-mandated traffic survey has not yet been done. Tickets can be issued by pacing a speeding car with a police car, but this is difficult to do on PSPR because of the many curves.
She spoke of the problems in the downtown area related to homelessness. The City has added a third foot (bike) patrol officer and also a mental health person, Lynn Murphy. The newly instituted Downtown Streets Team, which is designed to help homeless people move into employment and housing, is experiencing some success with people obtaining employment.
Alan Schaevitz, Coalition board member and webmaster, announced that the Coalition is intending to form a new committee to address roadway issues along Pt. San Pedro Rd. Kevin Hagerty, President of Glenwood HOA, has expressed interest in spearheading this committee.
Alan along with Coalition Secretary Sara Jensen briefly presented information on the surcharge process that is beginning at the Loch Lomond Marina. In depth information and updates can be found in the Loch Lomond Marina section of the Pt. San Pedro Road Coalition website.
The meeting was opened with a welcome and remarks from Coalition co-president Denise Lucy. She then introduced S.R. Mayor Gary Phillips who thanked those present for attending and being actively concerned regarding City issues.
Supervisor Susan Adams gave an update from the County. From the City of San Rafael, there were presentations by Mayor Gary Phillips as well as City Manager Nancy Mackle and Department of Public Works Director Nader Mansourian. Milton Davis spoke about Disaster Preparedness and Tamra Peters introduced us to Resilient Neighborhoods through an informative PowerPoint presentation. Members of our Board of Directors reported on Coalition matters.
San Rafael City council members Andrew McCullough, Damon Connolly, Mark Levine, and Barbara Heller were present as well as Carole Mills, aide to Senator Mark Leno, and Assemblyman Michael Allen.
Framed commendations in memory of Bill Hosken from Supervisor Adams and Senator Leno were presented to Bill’s wife, Ruth Anne, and two of his daughters. Bill, who passed away this past May, was a founding member of the Coalition and will be sorely missed. Supervisor Adams read aloud her certificate, describing Bill as “a brilliant and generous man and a treasured member of the San Rafael community who donated his time and advice regarding land use issues in his community and was a revered and respected voice in all projects in which he participated. Carole Mills read Senator Leno’s Certificate of Recognition, “We celebrate the life of Bill Hosken, who spent most of his 91 years on earth in service to his country and community. A loving husband, father and grandfather, Bill exemplified the ideal that one person can truly make a difference . . . .”. The certificate aptly concluded, “. . . we are profoundly grateful for all that he did.”
Following are summaries of the presentations at the meeting:
Marin County Supervisor Susan Adams
Supervisor Adams reminded us that this is her 10th annual State of the County presentation for the Pt. San Pedro Coalition Annual Meeting. We are very grateful for her willingness to come each year to address our community! She noted how much the Board of Supervisors has changed following the deaths of Supervisors Charles McGlashan and Hal Brown. Kate Sears and Katie Rice were appointed by the Governor as the replacements and have hit the ground running.
Supervisor Adams also discussed the Medians as well as the road repaving set to be done next summer. The City of San Rafael is the lead agency for the Median Project while the County will lead the re-paving project. She assured us that noise-mitigating asphalt will be used and the work is expected to take place during the summer of 2013. She also discussed the issues surrounding funding for State parks, including China Camp. She applauded the successful efforts of the Friends of China Camp to raise funds to keep the park open and their work to operate the park in a public/private partnership.
Coalition Board Member Dave Crutcher on the San Rafael Rock Quarry
Dave discussed Quarry issues. The Coalition leadership has met with the County and Quarry to discuss the Quarry’s progress on fulfilling its new permit obligations and will continue to meet periodically. There are a number of outstanding issues as part of the 2010 agreement to grant Dutra Group operating permits and an approved amended reclamation plan that must be monitored for compliance. The Coalition is participating as a representative of the community. Further updates as they become available will be communicated via our website and emails. Dave also mentioned that the Coalition has posted a SRRQ Mining and Quarrying Permit summary on our website of many of the most significant provisions of the 2010 revised permit and reclamation plans. He encouraged residents to read it. He noted that neighbors of the Quarry may be particularly interested in the Quarry’s operating rules once the economy picks up and the Quarry is likely to be running at full capacity.
Milton Davis on Disaster Preparedness
Milton provided information on disaster preparedness. He encouraged people to host “Get Ready” sessions in their homes and to take CERT classes. Information can be found on the Coalition, City of San Rafael and County of Marin websites.
Mayor Gary Phillips on the City of San Rafael
Mayor Phillips introduced the council members in attendance and discussed the focus of the ad hoc council subcommittees and what the Committees have been doing:
- Pension: Phillips (Chair) and McCullough. Some progress has been made and the City is no longer borrowing for pensions, but there still are problems.
- SMART: Heller (Chair) and Phillips. There has been progress toward having all or nearly all San Rafael crossings identified as Quiet Zones (that is, have crossing barriers that do away with the need for a train to sound its whistle each time it passes through).
- Group Homes: Levine (Chair) and Phillips. Mayor Phillips discussed group homes and the concern in some neighborhoods about the impact of excessive clusters of these homes. Clarification and some action are expected soon.
- Homelessness: Levine (Chair) and Phillips. The City is likely going to have to do something about reducing homelessness.
- Sustainability: Connolly (Chair) and Phillips. This subcommittee will be reviewing and considering progress and priorities in the implementation of the City’s Climate Action Plan.
- Facilities: Connolly (Chair) and Phillips. A ballot measure to fix problems did not pass last election cycle. The City still needs to work on this.
More detailed information on these subcommittees is available on the City of San Rafael website.
Nancy Mackle, City Manager
Ms. Mackle described her job and mentioned projects coming to town including possible purchase of the Loch Lomond Marina. This arrangement has since fallen through.
Nader Mansourian, Director of Public Works
Mr. Mansourian described what has been going on with the road median work. He explained why all plants and trees had to be removed and discussed the planned schedule for completion. He pointed out that there is now a page on the City’s Public Works website devoted to this project.
Tamra Peters for Resilient Neighborhoods
Ms. Peters described how neighbors can get together to work on becoming more energy efficient as well as being prepared in the event of a disaster. Below is a brief summary of how the Resilient Neighborhoods program works:
A team leader invites neighbors and/or friends to form what is call an EcoTeam. You need to recruit 5 – 8 households to begin the program with each household agreeing to attend 5 meetings, (of 2 hours or less each time and scheduled at the group’s convenience) over approximately 8 weeks. Between meetings, the households will implement the carbon-reducing and resilience-building actions they have chosen to take to try to reduce at least 5,000 pounds of carbon. The EcoTeam leader supports his or her team members on their low carbon diet and leads the meetings following a Guide that we provide. We assign an EcoTeam coach to support the leader every step of the way. The coach attends the first and last meeting. The program is completely free, and we provide a Handbook and materials for people to use.
Another model is for the team leader to organize and host the meetings, but a Resilient Neighborhoods coach comes and actually runs the meetings so the Team Leader can just be a participant. This works best for team leaders who are busy or don’t enjoy facilitating or leading meetings.
For more information and other ways to get involved, see their website at resilientneighborhoods.org.
Coalition Board Member Alan Schaevitz on the Coalition Website
Alan pointed out that the Coalition website has much useful information for our neighbors. The home page has a section for news events of current importance. He is working on a section addressing the history of our area with text and photos. If anyone has any information to contribute, please contact him at email@example.com.
All five candidates for San Rafael City Council were present: Gary Ford, Barbara Heller, Eric Holm, Marc Levine and David Mayer. Also present was Carole Mills, aide to Senator Mark Leno.
County Supervisor Susan Adams led off the program and her comments included the following:
Budget. As a result of the slowdown in sales and property taxes and state revenue reductions the county’s FY 2009-2010 budget includes major reductions, notably in Health and Human Services. Marin anticipated the slowdown and began preparing for it two years ago. In the past two years Marin has reduced its budget by $15 million and eliminated more than 70 positions. In addition this year administrative personnel have foregone COLAs and many unions have negotiated lower amounts However more cuts will be coming and although Marin is also one of three California counties in a fairly good position and able to weather the next year, the public at some point will feel the cuts.
New Health and Wellness Campus. The campus at Bellam and Kerner opened in November, construction paid for by a combination of funds from a tobacco settlement and savings from being able to consolidate county services that has been leasing quarters in various locations around the county. She is currently serving as vice chair on the National Association of Counties Health Steering Committee, so involved with healthcare on a national level. In October she and County Health and Human Services Director Larry Meredith will hold a forum on healthcare reform as Congress works through the options.
Government G-Channel. She invited residents to visit Marin’s new online government channel (www.co.marin.ca.us/G-channel) where they access videos on many county meetings.
Flu Season and Swine Flu. Her website will post vaccine dates but there will be a lot of emphasis this yer to get flu shots.
Glenwood Parking. She is working with a resident, Stuart Brown, on parking issues in the Glenwood School vicinity.
San Rafael Rock Quarry. She stated her long-held concern regarding the health risks of dust and diesel from the operations at the Quarry as well as the impact of noise and blasting on surrounding residences. She described the upcoming schedule of public hearings on the Final EIR to be followed by the Board of Supervisors vote on certification of the EIR.
City Manager Ken Nordhoff spoke on several issues (information also on the city’s website at www.cityofsanrafael.org):
Loch Lomond. There is no new owner to date. However new state law allows for extension of housing project entitlements if the city council approves and this could affect Loch Lomond and several other projects n the city.
Ascona Place Subdivision. Nine large single family homes are proposed on this 6.2 acre site west of San Pedro Elementary School and bordered by San Pedro Cove, Seastrand, Loch Lomond and Villa Real. The revised application is currently being reviewed by the city for completeness. The site is on a ridgeline and has an average slope of about 40%.
Police Activity. From January through mid-August the San Rafael police have responded to about 300 calls in the Loch Lomond and Peacock Gap neighborhoods; these included an unusually high number of residential burglaries in recent months. A common M.O. and proximity of many of the victim homes helped police toward resolution of the burglary spree and in early arrests were made by San Rafael and San Anselmo police that have resulted in a sharp decline in the burglaries.
Canalfront Vision. A Canalfront Advisory Committee has worked for about a year to develop a draft Canalfront Conceptual Design Plan, which is due to be presented to the city this fall. It should include a safe route from Pickleweed Community Center to Pt San Pedro Road. There currently is not funding available for implementation.
San Rafael Rock Quarry. The city commented on the quarry EIR, noting that there is no traffic capacity for the proposed redevelopment and supporting the Coalition’s request for further air quality studies.
Third and Union. The northwest corner curb ramps were done on Friday, new sidewalk ramps will be on Union by August 25, the northeast corner traffic signal is being installed and the entire project should be completed in October.
- Northgate will open in November 2009 with new restaurants and retailers.
- The city is processing the EIR for the Shoreline project.
- They are filing a grant for a multi-agency study about the downtown transit center.
- An extension has been granted to the Corporate Center for completion of its new office construction.
- The city raffic engineer is looking at the roadway parking situation near United Market and other locations.
- The city is working with the county to discuss repaving of Pt. San Pedro Road, but not funds are currently available for this.
San Rafael Battalion Fire Chief Jeff Buscher’s comments included the following:
- Despite the budget crunch department staffing remains stable and operations have not changed.
- City fire stations are old and in disrepair; the public is welcome to come by and tour the stations.
- A ‘Stay and Protect’ program reported by the media is not intended to encourage citizens to ignore evacuation orders in a fire emergency; rather it means the public should prepare their homes for an emergency – but vacate when asked.
- Long and short programs on disaster preparedness are available and the public is encouraged to take part in these.
- The fire department has expanded its relationship with neighboring fire departments and a lot of training has been done to maximize their joint ability to serve the public.
- There are no plans for prescribed burns in China Camp for this year (not a city project).
Coalition Board Member Dave Crutcher described the Coalition’s position on the quarry applications and project EIRs.
- The County Board of Supervisors will hold the first of three meetings on the quarry’s dual applications for its operations and reclamation (future redevelopment) plans, and their environmental impact reports. The meeting Tuesday, starting at 1:30 PM in the Supervisor’s chambers, is one of the public’s last opportunities to speak before board action is taken.
- The Coalition does not support certification of the EIR for several reasons, including: understates health risk, uses an improper baseline for operational activity, assumes an unstudied reclamation plan, and allows quarrying under the guise of reclamation.
- The quarry is currently operating at a reduced level and, subsequently, resident complaints have been fairly muted. But the current situation does not represent what is proposed.
- They have asked that all production restrictions be lifted and that they be allowed to engage in substantial operations seven days a week year-round.
- The Coalition is concerned about health threats posed by the planned operations: not only diesel dust, but also crystalline silica, which accumulates in lungs and, over time, leads to silicosis or lung cancer.
- The EIR admits that the risk of cancer from quarry operations is cumulatively considerable and cannot be mitigated.
- The Board of Supervisors has the ability to limit operations to the 1982 level, which is all that Dutra purchased. The health risks are so extraordinary that intensified operations should not be allowed.
Coalition Co-president Denise Lucy described the structure of the EIR structure which analyzes several alternatives to the proposal provided by Dutra Corp.
- Denise prepared a PowerPoint presentation on the material in the Coalition’s Position Paper. (The PowerPoint presentation requires Microsoft’s PowerPoint Viewer or PowerPoint application. The Position Paper is a PDF document.)
- The EIR describes several alternatives and, of these, the Coalition supports the “reduced alternative.” This calls for limits on rock and asphalt production to 1982 levels, phasing in best practices over a two-year period, various restrictions on blasting, washing and tarping loaded trucks leaving the quarry. Limiting operation to the hours of 7 AM to 5 PM and reducing truck traffic by 50% from what is allowed by the interim conditions. However, the Coalition feels strongly that there are some key modifications to this alternative that are required to make it compatible with nearby residences.
Coalition Board Member Sara Jensen briefly spoke about Loch Lomond:
- The owner, Oaktree Capital, still intends to sell the property but the general economic situation has slowed down progress toward a sale. Developer Thompson/Dorfman of Sausalito has been replaced with Real Estate Strategies and Solutions of Emeryville.
- Entitlements are now good until August 2010 and may be extended to August 2012 under a new state law.
- She is in regular communication with Paul Jensen at the City planning department about the sad state of the replanted area behind Andy’s market. Cuts in city staffing has slowed reaction time down.
- She is also in communication with BCDC about the part of the boardwalk near the spit that needs to be repaired. An amendment to the BCDC plan is needed. Pat Lopez, harbormaster, is to provide engineering plans before the work can be approved. [NOTE: On Monday those repairs were completed and the boardwalk has been reopened}
- We need to support our local market. Because of economic condition the new store will not be available as soon as expected. If we want to keep a full service grocery store at the marina, we need to use the current market so that it remains economically viable.
Coalition Medians Committee Chair Sandra Sellinger gave an update:
The purpose of the committee is to provide a garden gateway to our homes. (Note the committee had set up a display of satellite images of medians along the corridor in the back of the meeting hall.) She noted that the medians and sidewalks under county jurisdiction are in great need of repair and has approached the county’s Parks and Open Space Department but they do not have funds for work here and suggested a volunteer effort. Supervisor Adams was able to arrange release of some discretionary funds for a one-time clean up of the medians under County jurisdiction, but the community must develop a management plan for on-going maintenance.
Environmental Scientist Stuart Seigel described the situation with the quarry marsh and Beach Drive marsh.
The quarry marsh looks better this year than it sometimes has in the past but there is a great opportunity here for improvement and the marsh has the potential to provide nice wildlife habitat.
The Beach Drive marsh suffers from being cut off from bay tidal action by construction of the adjacent marina and from sediment deposition due to its low energy environment and development in the watershed above it over the past half century. As residential development took place the new roads, roofs and other impermeable surfaces created faster runoff which scours out the drainage channels and deposits sediment in the inlet. The Coalition has studied ways to increase drainage for the marsh and improve its health. The county has installed a flapgate in its outlet to keep sediment out in storm events and this has helped. However it is clear that the presence of the marina has caused the problems with this marsh.
Coalition Co-president Bonnie Marmor and Bayside Acres HOA Liaison Bill Gates of the Disaster Preparedness Committee reported that a recent meeting of the committee was held at the home of Milton Davis (president of the Villa Real Homeowners associtation). Representatives of several HOA’s all along Pt. San Pedro Road attended the meeting, as did representative of the San Rafael Office of Emergency Services.
Subsequently, a grant application was submitted to the County for funds to purchase mobile kits containing medical trauma supplies, light search and rescue equipment for storage at strategic locations along Pt. San Pedro Corridor.
Residents were encouraged to attend and/or host Get Ready trainings and CERT trainings, as well as to volunteer as liaisons to the Committee.