October 29, 2014: S.R. & Umbrella Groups Monthly Meeting Notes

Mayor Gary Phillips ran the meeting and Councilwoman Kate Colin was in attendance.

Sara Jensen and Kevin Hagerty of the San Pedro Road Coalition introduced a topic expressing concern about lack of consistency and clarity in signage and road markings related to bicycle lanes. Nader Mansourian, Director of the Public Works Department explained the standard markings and signs. He said that the county had made some errors in the way Class II and Class III lanes were marked on the new lanes on Point San Pedro Road. Director Mansourian explained that it is more expensive to paint curbs red to indicate no parking than it is to use signs. The signs are also more flexible in that they can be covered for times when parking is allowed for some special circumstance. Kevin is working with Director Mansourian and the Marin Bicycle Coalition to assure consistency in the markings and develop an educational program for the public.

Craig Murray of the Coalition of North San Rafael Neighborhoods presented a topic about San Rafael’s Joint Power Authorities (JPA’s). Nancy Mackel, City Manager, explained that these regional interactions are efficient and promote uniformity while preventing duplication. She passed out a partial list of entities with which San Rafael is involved in regional cooperation: Central Marin Sanitation Agency, Community Development Block Grants Program, Fireflow Program, Hazardous Materials Spills Management Program, Marin County Animal Control Program, Marin County Council of Mayors and Councilmembers, Marin County Major Crimes Task Force, Marin County Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program, Marin Emergency Radio Authority, Marin Energy Authority, Marin General Services Authority, Marin Managers Association, Marin Telecommunications Authority, Marin Transit Authority, MarinNet, Solid & Hazardous Waste Authority, Transportation Authority of Marin. Some on the list are not technically JPA’s, but all represent regional cooperation.

The Application from Mark Day School to construct a new Administration/Library Building was introduced by Carolyn Lenert of the Coalition of North San Rafael Neighborhoods. Carolyn introduced the head of a neighborhood group Terra Linda Cares (TLC) that has a blog. Steve Stafford, Associate Planner, gave an overview of the project at the private school which leases its facility from the City. A resident of Dominican neighborhood spoke about the neighborhood advisory group that the City had helped to set up to work with Dominican University. There was wide spread approval of the idea of working together to solve problems before projects reached the formal approval stage at the Design Review Board. There was widespread approval of the idea of working together. Both the TLC’s head and the head of the school indicated willingness to work together.

The next item, from the Federation of San Rafael Neighborhoods, requested an update on the REST program and the Marin Organizing Committee (MOC) efforts to set up a year round program. Mayor Gary Phillips explained that the REST program, which operates from November 1 to April 15, initially was set up to run for five years and already has operated longer. Mayor Phillips said that he likes the REST program and feels that it is good for the broader community. He has met with the Marin Community Foundation to seek their help.  He stressed that other communities need to step up and share the responsibility, not just financially, but also by allowing a possible site to be used.  He said that there is no effort being made for funding the permanent shelter beyond the first year.  There are still concerns about how the shelter will be operated, who will operate it, and how it will be funded in the long run. These questions need to be addressed in order for it to be successful at any given location.  Who is going to take responsibility for operating the shelter doesn’t seem to be firmed up (presently St.Vincents does this). The funding MOC is trying to set up is only for the first year — funding of 1.2 million a year will be needed).  The Mayor also mentioned that he would like to see three shelters serving a total of 60 men and 20 women with one shelter to be in San Rafael, one in the County and one south of San Rafael. San Rafael will do its share, but others need to step up so that the load is shared throughout the county.

Hugo Landecker of the San Rafael Group made some comments and asked some questions: He stressed that the location is very important to the success of the project and commented that many in the general population erroneously think that a permanent shelter will get all the unhoused off the streets. He asked where the women would stay if a permanent shelter were set up. (Under the REST program, they are sheltered in a conference room in the Health and Wellness Campus at Kerner and Bellem) He also expressed the view that the rotating shelter has exhausted those who have volunteered in recent years. (A year and a half of meetings where this was discussed showed that the rotating shelter system requires a huge effort to provide services thereby causing, as the years have gone by, some congregations to withdraw due to exhaustion.

Meredith Parnell, Communications Director for Communications at Congregation Rodef Shalom spoke for the MOC . She said that it is a myth that the public thinks all the homeless will be housed in the year round shelter and that the public does want the shelter. She said that the volunteers are not exhausted and want to do more for the homeless even though they cannot provide space for 365 days a year. She also said that the idea of multiple shelters would create a situation that is more difficult to oversee. The MOC wants to replicate the success of REST but on a year-round basis. The MOC with County Staff is doing a site search. At the same time that a discussion of this is going on, there could be a parallel conversation about a campus with wrap around services. A set up such as COTS in Petaluma could be a future option.

It was announced that the REST program will continue for one more year using rotating shelters. This will give the MOC more time to seek a permanent location for a year-round shelter.

Councilwoman Kate Colin announced that her Ad Hoc Committee on Homelessness will be making a presentation at the City Council meeting on November 17th. The Council will be reviewing the City’s homeless action plan.