Posted 1/29/17: Umbrella Group Monthly Meeting Notes from January 26, 2017

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:

Mayor Gary Philips ran the meeting, which was also attended by Councilman Andrew McCullough and community members.

Status Report on General Plan 2040: Paul Jensen, community Development Director presented information on the work on General Plan 2040. The preliminaries will be presented at the City Council meeting on February 6. The plan is to do an update rather than start from scratch. A single project manager will be used rather than hiring an expensive firm to oversee the process. There will be a 2 ½ to 3 year process.   Planner Raffi Boyolan explained that the SMART train project is triggering desire to build downtown beyond what is allowed now. Material on the city’s vulnerability level and adaption to sea level changes will be included building on the climate change action plan that was added in 2011. Carolyn Lennert from the Coalition of North San Rafael pointed out that she had learned, through attendance at a state planning meeting, that there are new tools and technologies that could be useful.

Disaster Preparation: In response to a request from the Point San Pedro Road Coalition, Bob Sinnott, Deputy Fire Chief presented an update on Disaster Preparation. The most recent person in charge of disaster preparation, John Bruckbauer left about two months ago to take a position with PG&E. The City is hoping to have a replacement in place in another couple of months. In the meantime, citizens can participate in Get Ready classes for individual household preparation planning and CERT classes for a broader focus. The City fire and police departments are staffed to handle everyday incidents, but do not have staffing to take care of disasters, so residents need to know such things as how to turn off the gas at their homes and be prepared to do basic first aid, have needed medications on hand as well as supplies of food and water. More information can be found under Emergency Management in the Fire Department section of the City web site

Toyon Ridge Preservation: Amy Likover of the Federation of San Rafael Neighborhoods introduced Land Wilson who presented material on a project to protect the 10 acre open space area on Upper Toyon Ridge which sits between Ross and San Rafael and is adjacent to open space in San Rafael. A group has formed to try to save this area from development with two large estates which would negatively impact endangered wildlife there and destroy hundreds of trees including Redwoods, Madrones, Bays and Oaks. Marine Open Space Trust has expressed an interest in helping the group acquire the property. To sign a petition and/or pledge financial support go to

SMART Train: Mayor Phillips provided an update on SMART. Operations are expected to begin in late spring. The opening has been setback by crankshaft and rail connectivity issues. It is expected that there will be periods of free or reduced fare during the roll out. The City is trying to prepare. Once work on the extension to Larkspur is underway the Transit Center and its nine thousand daily riders will have to be relocated. This may be done by an initial temporary relocation followed by a permanent relocation. It is important the temporary relocation scheme not default to be the permanent solution. The City has hired Steve Kinsey to assist with the transit center situation. The Mayor welcomes written ideas from residents and neighborhoods, including ideas about the Civic Center Station as well as the downtown station area.