March 25, 2015: S.R. & Umbrella Group Monthly Meeting Notes

Assessment District Guidelines: After an introduction by City Manager Nancy Mackle, Rebecca Woodbury, Management Analyst for the City, presented a draft outline of guidelines for how to initiate an assessment district. She based this on the recent assessment district formed to redo the medians on Pt. San Pedro Road. The guidelines are to be presented in order to show groups who might be interested in funding large improvement projects in their areas by setting up such a district.

Sidewalk Liability Ordinance: Lisa Goldfein, Assistant City Attorney, discussed liability for situations in which a person is injured due to hazardous conditions on a public sidewalk. Since 1935, owners of adjacent residences have had the obligation to maintain safe conditions.   A proposed ordinance to clarify liability for injury is going to go before the City Council. If adopted, this ordinance will enable the City to better bring in homeowner’s insurance companies when the City is sued in an injury situation.

Ms. Goldfein also explained that the City has no records of who planted street trees. The current view is that the City does not own any street trees.

Staff hopes to develop programs for enforcement of repair and maintenance obligations with the possibility of creating partnerships with neighborhood groups to repair sidewalks and replace trees whose roots are causing problems with sidewalks. In the past Dominican neighborhood set up a project for sidewalk repair in which individual homeowners joined together to get a better price for a larger job done all at once. Gerstle Park is currently working on such an arrangement for their neighborhood.

When there is a safety problem with a sidewalk, one can call the Department of Public Works at 485-3375 (or the main DPW number 485-3355). The City can provide a temporary fix with asphalt, but a long-term fix will need to be done by the homeowner.

Collaboration to Stop Illegal Dumping: Amy Likkover, speaking for the Federation of Neighborhoods, described the problems Gerstle Park has been experiencing with people dumping unwanted furniture in certain locations within the neighborhood. She explained that they have set up a 7-step anti-dumping program which includes a surveillance camera, posted graphics to engender respect for the neighborhood, information on alternatives to dumping, reference to $500.00 municipal fines, exposure of culprits on NextDoor, etc.

Update on Whistlestop: The City is awaiting the filing of an application. After filing the next step would be for the City to hire a consultant, tentatively this might be in July, followed in August by a scoping session at the Planning Commission level. An Environmental Impact Review (EIR) usually takes 9-12 months. In response to a question, Mayor Phillips said there are discussions of another location for Whistlestop. He personally prefers the PG&E site for Whistlestop.

Nancy Mackle reported that the City got a grant for a study of the Downtown including the train station area.

City Manager and Director of Public Works Recruitment: Nancy Mackle said that interviews for the Public Works Director will take place in June. In mid-July there will be interviews for Assistant City Manager after Jim Schutz the current Assistant City Manger takes on his new position as City Manager.

Announcements: On Tuesday March 31, when City Hall is closed for Caesar Chavez Day, the City telephones are going to be worked on.

Boyd Park will reopen on April 26. In response to a question, it was explained that money to redo the park was available because the economy is improving and there was $750,000 above budget.

Mayor Phillips invited people to join him in a Water Conservation Challenge on behalf of San Rafael. For details and prize descriptions, go to