Posted 1/29/16: Umbrella Group Monthly Meeting Notes from January 27, 2016

Joint Meeting: City of San Rafael — Federation of Neighborhoods — Coalition of North San Rafael — San Pedro Road Coalition

Item 1: Essential Facilities Exterior Designs presented by Mary McGrath of Mary McGrath Architects

The exterior designs for fire stations 52 and 57 were presented. There will be open houses to see these plans on February 9 at station 52 at Third and Union and February 10 at station 57 at 3530 Civic Center. Plans for both stations will be available at both locations. The open houses will run from 5:30 to 6:30 on a drop-in basis. There will be refreshments and staff will be there to explain the plans. The plans are not yet available on line but will be posted on the city web site soon at

Item 2: Canal Dredging

Richard Landis, Administrative Assistant DPW led the discussion. The Army Corp of Engineers (ACOE) has been responsible for maintenance dredging since 1919, when the 2.5 mile long Canal was declared a federal waterway. There have been 13 dredging cycles since 1930, the most recent during the winter of 2011-2012. At that time, it cost $1,400,000 to dredge the Inner Channel (Grand Avenue Bridge to Pickleweed Park) and Outer Channel/Across the Flats (Pickleweed Park to Marin Islands to a depth of 5 feet. The maximum depth of both channels is 6 feet. The project was 100% federally funded, utilizing “ear mark” funding that is no longer available. This 2011-2012 project did not remove what the ACOE refers to as 17,500 cubic yards of “challenged” (that is, toxic material) that is concentrated in the so-called “turning basin” just east of the Grand Avenue Bridge. To do so at that time would have added approximately $3,360,000 to the cost.

The ACOE plans to conduct a condition survey in 2016 that should indicate the extent that siltation has occurred since the 2011-2012 project and the status of the “challenged” material.

The canal is steadily silting up and will fill in if not dredged. Shallow draft canals such as the one in San Rafael are not a high priority for the national government. The City is now trying to figure out what to do. Businesses along the canal, which bring in $10 million in revenue, are dependent on it and it has recreational value as well as use by the police boat. The City needs to work out a financial model the show the ACOE. The City is exploring a self-taxing district as well as partnerships with other cities. Work with other agencies and with those with experience in dealing with the ACOE is needed.

Item 3: CA SB876 Homelessness

City Manager Jim Schutz led the discussion. This bill, which allows homeless to occupy public space, was put forward again by Carol Liu in January. Each city in California has a representation in the League of California Cities and the League has recommended that the bill not be adopted and is working to have it dropped. Last year when essentially the same bill was put forward and the League unanimously opposed it, the bill was dropped. The League plans to meet with Senator Liu. The City of San Rafael has opposed the bill in the past and will again take a formal position as soon as the meeting with Senator Liu has taken place.


City Manager Jim Schutz announced that the Citizen of the Year will be named soon. The State of the City dinner will be held on March 3 at Peacock Gap Golf Center. Sara Jensen thanked Dean Allison on behalf of the San Pedro Road Coalition for his help in improving safety on Point San Pedro Road. Carolyn Lennert expressed concern about the heavy, character-changing development that is being planned for Terra Linda.