Posted 10/27/16: Umbrella Group Monthly Meeting Notes from October 26, 2016

The Coalition meets monthly with the City of San Rafael along with two other umbrella groups (Federation of San Rafael Neighborhoods and Coalition of North San Rafael) to discuss activities, concerns and/or issues that are not readily addressed directly with the appropriate City agencies or where there is concern about the City’s approach. Items are placed on the agenda by the City and/or the three umbrella groups. This provides the Coalition with an opportunity to raise issues of particular interest to residents of our area. If you have any suggestions regarding potential topics for these meetings, we urge you to let us know via the Coalition Board contact form. Following is a summary of the most recent meeting:

SMART’s Deferred Service and Quiet Zone Implications: Mayor Gary Phillips explained that since the start of service on SMART has been delayed until late April of next year, the City had agreed to aid Novato in obtaining quiet zones by taking the lead for both cities. Because the Quiet Zones cannot be operational until the train is actually providing service, the horns will continue to blow while testing continues. The delay in beginning service is primarily caused by faulty crank shafts that must be replaced in the engines and also rust and dirt on the tracks which prevents good electrical contact. The dirt problems will subside once trains are running more frequently on a regular schedule. Because there will be quiet zones and because the horn warnings are required to reach the areas from which cars and pedestrians are approaching the tracks, the option of unidirectional horns is not being pursued.

Pedestrian Safety: The topic of pedestrian safety when crossing multilane roadways was triggered by the recent incident of a middle school student being hit by a car as he tried to cross Point San Pedro Road at Summit. Bill Guerin, Director of the Department of Public Works (DPW), said that he is going to work with the Roadway Committee of the San Pedro Road Coalition to identify approaches to create safer crossings. He expects some solution to be in place within months.

He also stated that there soon will be more robust crosswalk striping and clear-the-box striping placed at the 3rd and Heatherton intersection to improve pedestrian safety at that location. Once the new signaling related to SMART service is fully in operation. a new traffic study will need to be done for this area.

Transit Center Relocation:  Kevin McGowan, Assistant Director of the DPW, presented a slide show illustrating some possibilities for relocating the transit center as a result of the planned extension of SMART to Larkspur. Construction of that extension is expected to begin in the summer of 2017 with service to begin by the end of 2018. The Transit Center will have to be relocated to allow room for the train tracks.

Full information on this complex situation on can be found in a written report and a slide show that was recently presented to the city council. This presentation is available on the City of San Rafael City Council public meetings website page. Look for the City Council October 17, 2016 meeting, click on “Agenda”, scroll down to “Other Agenda Items” and select Item 5.c. The DPW is expected also to post the slide show on the city website soon.

Some of the questions/issues brought up at the Umbrella Group meeting included: why isn’t relocating the transit center outside of San Rafael being considered; what are the advantages and disadvantages for the City of having the transit center located in San Rafael; and could the building of the tracks for the extension to Larkspur start at the Larkspur end working back to San Rafael in order to allow the relocation to occur before the operations started, thus saving the $3.5 million cost of the temporary interim relocation of bus services. The Mayor’s concern that the interim solution not become the permanent solution was shared by the group.