Posted 5/2/17: Umbrella Group Monthly Meeting Notes from April 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 April 26, 2017 meeting:

Mayor Gary Philips led the meeting. No city staff members were present. About fifteen residents were present representing about 10 neighborhoods.

Topic 1 – SMART Quiet Zones and Safety: Mayor Phillips provided information on the SMART train. The process for establishing quiet zones is progressing. It is possible that the system will be in place as early as May 16. Mayor Phillips wants to be sure that the system is safe, so Paul Cohen, a former councilman has been hired to help access the outreach that has been done and to access what yet needs to be done. San Rafael must decide when the quiet zones in San Rafael, Novato, and areas of the county are ready. The latest safety test was pretty positive at 98% but it has not yet reached 100%. Once the FRA (Federal Railroad Association) approves what the City has done to set up the quite zones, SMART must implement them. SMART is the first system in the country to have positive train control in place under which the train automatically stops if it is not within 2 miles per hour of what the speed is supposed to be.

Topic 2 – Ritter Relocation: There is nothing in the wings right now since there is some reluctance by owners to rent to Ritter and there is need for a location of proper size. There have been problems of concentration with Ritter and St. Vincent close together in downtown. Some of Ritter’s functions such as food distribution and mail pickup have been moved to other locations.

There is need for more showers so the City is looking into mobile shower units that hopefully will be shared with other communities. Novato is willing to participate and it is hoped that Sausalito will also use the system. The County unfortunately has not been interested. The Downtown Streets team will operate the mobile shower system. The city is also looking into some permanent supportive housing with perhaps Ritter and St.Vincent relocated close to this housing.

Topic 3 – Police Relationships with Merchants related to Homelessness Issues: It was suggested by the attendees that the police make even more use of merchant information since the merchants are in a good position to see what is going on. It was also suggested that the chronic inebriate list be brought back since liquor is not supposed to be sold to chronic inebriates.

Topic 4 – General Plan 2040: Time was short for this topic. A list of citizens to help with the update is being formed.