January 28, 2015: S.R. & Umbrella Group Monthly Meeting Notes

Police Chief Diana Bishop discussed car burglaries and several other crime-related issues at this meeting….

Brigitte Moran, Executive Director, Agriculture Institute of Marin (AIM) made a presentation regarding the permanent Farmer’s Market Canopy and Market Hall proposed for the Civic Center which will utilize the overflow parking lot (also known as the Christmas tree lot) on the west side of Civic Center Drive across from the auditorium. Input to the design has been received from the Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy, City of San Rafael, Marin County and SMART. Brigitte advised that they are seeking to exceed LEED Platinum standards for the project.

When completed the Canopy will serve as protection from inclement weather for the outdoor market’s 230 vendors. The Hall will house an educational kitchen, restaurant, meat shop, small market selling local products, “day tables” which farmers may rent to sell excess produce on non-market days, production facility for start-up food businesses, conference hall, and offices for AIM and other related not-for-profits.

Unlike the Ferry Building in San Francisco and Oxbow Market in Napa, the AIM project is a not-for-profit endeavor. The total cost of the project is estimated at $24 million. AIM is currently in the “quiet phase” of its fundraising for the project. The county has also budgeted $4 million for upgrades to roads and sidewalks that will integrate the new market, SMART station and Civic Center Campus.

San Rafael presented the Community Engagement Action Plan that was approved at the January 20 City Council Meeting. The plan was the result of input received from the community via surveys and outreach meetings regarding how people would prefer to engage with the City and perceptions of the City’s transparency and outreach efforts. For details about the Plan go to the City of San Rafael Agenda Report on this topic.

Mayor Phillips advised that the next step is to prioritize the action items set forth in the plan. He advised that the implementation timeline was uncertain, but that the City wants to move as quickly as possible given available resources.

Police Chief Diana Bishop discussed burglaries, drug dealing and graffiti. She acknowledged that there has been an uptick in vehicle burglaries throughout the community and especially along the HWY 101 corridor that are being committed by Marin and non-Marin residents. They currently have suspects and active surveillance at one restaurant parking lot that has been repeatedly targeted. She advised that perpetrators are highly opportunistic. Specifically regarding residential burglaries, care should be taken to lock cars, park in well-lit places and not to leave anything visible that might indicate valuables inside. For example, If thieves see an IPhone charger, they will think there may be an IPhone inside. She said there is no apparent pattern to the neighborhoods being hit. She has only 5-6 officers on patrol at night, so citizens need to help. She urged that if someone sees anything suspicious or experiences a break-in to call the police. It may take time for them to respond given priorities, but they will respond.

Chief Bishop advised that the City has signed an agreement with the County’s Major Crimes Taskforce to handle major drug dealing investigations. The Task Force is comprised of officers from CHP, Novato, and County Sherriff and Probation Departments. San Rafael is paying $144,000 for the service in lieu of providing an officer to the task force and will measure success in one year.

Chief Bishop advised that Public Works is responsible for graffiti clean-up. They advise building owners of the graffiti and give the owner a reasonable time to fix the problem. Otherwise Public Works will make the repair and charge the building owner. In her experience, the best way to combat graffiti is to paint over it as quickly as possible.

Paul Jensen, Community Development Director, gave an update on the Whistlestop building. A conceptual plan review is scheduled with the Design Review Board to give preliminary feedback before a formal proposal is submitted. The meeting will be held February 18 at 7:00pm. The public is welcome to attend and give feedback specific to the building design. A second meeting will be held with the Planning Commission to give preliminary feedback with regard to all planning related matters such as land use, traffic, parking, environment, etc. This meeting is scheduled for February 24 at 7:00pm and the public is welcome to attend and comment.