Posted 9/12/16: Umbrella Group Monthly Meeting Notes from August 31, 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:

  1. Sidewalk Policy Community Meetings:  Bill Guerin, Public Works Director, explained that there will be a series of meetings to get community input on sidewalk and street tree repair.  After these presentations (to be held at 6:00 p.m. on October 3 at Al Boro Community Center, October 4 at the Terra Linda Community Center and October 5 at the B Street Community Center), he will then take information to the City Council.  State law says that the property owner is responsible.  San Francisco has passed a parcel tax and does the repairs itself.  San Rafael could do the same by setting up assessment districts.
  2. Offer of Dedication to the City for Open Space of Greenwood Avenue Lots:  Paul Jensen, Community Development Director, explained that two lots adjacent to open space near Gerstle Park have been offered to the City.  They were part of a mid-1980’s Oakwood Subdivision but were never built on and are currently used informally for open space access.  The owner decided to sell them for development.  Neighbors funded purchase of the lots and are offering them to the City via Marin Open Space Trust (MOST).  In recent times that City has not been accepting this sort of thing because of liability, but this situation unique in that it provides access to existing open space.  The City Council will be given an information presentation on September 6th, then the issue will go to the Parks and Rec Commission for review on September 15th and back to the City Council for a vote on October 3rd.   Public comments can be given at this meeting or sent to the Council Members before the meeting.
  3. Planning Updates:  Paul Jensen presented information on three topics:
    • The DaVita Dialysis Building is expected to have a slow ramp-up time of probably three years.  In the meantime, people have been sleeping in the lot.  The City could suggest that the owners secure the area.
    • The Mission/Lincoln project for a 36-unit condo building was granted state-ordered extensions during the recession for all projects that had a vesting tentative map.  The last extension is due to expire in about a year.  They will have to start from scratch if the permits expire.
    • Cultural and Historical Preservation will probably be addressed in General Plan 2040.  This program calls for an updating of the inventory.  The City will have to prioritize when it will be implemented.  It could cost half a million dollars to do the inventory.
  4.  Anti-Panhandling Efforts:   Andrew Hening, Director of Homeless Planning and Outreach, gave the presentation.  Many panhandlers are housed and do not use the money they are given wisely.  The City wants people to give within the system, not on the street. There will be an educational aspect to explain how giving to panhandlers reinforces this behavior and distracts people from solving their problems. It is difficult to enforce the panhandling ordinance since there are free speech issues.   Meters similar to parking meters are going to be installed where people can donate.  This is part of an on-going public-private partnership for the meters.  The meters will help reduce the financial burden on San Rafael.  Initially 10 meters will be installed in the downtown area and will provide a construction way for people to give.