Over 150 people attended a Community Meeting at St. Luke Church on May 21, 2013. The topics of the meeting included several current and future projects related to Pt. San Pedro Road, including the Medians Beautification Project and a major repaving project. Refreshments were graciously provided by Sandy Mahoney of The Madison Company.
The meeting was opened with a welcome and remarks from Coalition co-president Denise Lucy. She then introduced S.R. Mayor Gary Phillips who thanked those present for attending and being actively concerned regarding City issues.
MEDIANS BEAUTIFICATION PROJECT
The meeting was then turned over to Nader Mansourian, S.R. Director of Public Works, who spoke on the status of the Medians Beautification Project and took questions at the end of his presentation. He described the medians construction work that is just being completed , including rebuilding the irrigation system and planting trees and other plants on the medians from Union Street to Biscayne Drive. He stated that the white flags and red flags along this route are markers for missing plants that the contractor is required to add before receiving final payment. He discussed the various events that caused delays in the completion of this phase of the work, including utility breaks, weather interruptions, irrigation problems, and unexpected discoveries such as asphalt under some of the medians. He stated that this phase is virtually complete at this time pending the final plantings and that the contractor has the obligation under contract to provide the medians maintenance for one year after the completion of the project. The Public Works Dept. will be overseeing the maintenance.
During his presentation, Mr. Manourian ceded the floor to some residents of the Glenwood subdivision who gave a concise presentation regarding the lack of trees planted on the medians from Main Drive to the fire station. This presentation was similar to the one they gave to the S.R. City Council at their last monthly meeting. Following Mr. Mansourian’s and Glenwood’s presentation there was a lively Q&A period, much of it devoted to the Glenwood medians tree issue. Following are the various topics covered during that Q&A period, during which Phil Abey (Abey Arnold Associates), the landscape architect for the project participated.
Glenwood Subdivision Medians
There is only one tree on all of these medians that are directly along the Bay front for the length of the Glenwood subdivision from Main Drive going east to the fire station entrance. These medians are on the only stretch of the roadway that is immediately adjacent to the Bay with unobstructed Bay views. These medians had been renovated some years ago in a joint project between the Glenwood HOA and the City, but all trees and plantings were removed during this project and plantings, but essentially no trees, were replaced. There were also problems with the health of some of the existing trees.
The rationale for replacing the existing landscaping was to make them consistent with the other medians along the roadway. However, the present lack of trees on these specific medians can have the effect of making them noticeably different from all the others. The absence of trees seems to have been the result of a decision in the landscape architect’s plans to deal with the issue of obstructed Bay views for certain residences.
A group of Glenwood residents conducted an informal survey of Glenwood HOA members in which a strong desire to replace the missing trees was expressed, although there was also a minority in the responses that objected to trees that would interfere with Bay views, especially for residences lining the roadway on Dellwood Ct. and Lagoon Road. The general consensus of this Q&A seemed to be that it should be possible to re-introduce some trees while minimizing those negative view effects. It was suggested that the former tree placement plan that had been approved by the Glenwood HOA might be a good place to start the discussion of adding trees. Another starting point could be a tree placement plan submitted to Mr. Mansourian by this Glenwood group that also attempted to address the view issue. The Coalition stated its interest in working with the community and the S.R. Dept. of Public Works to help resolve this issue and arrive at an agreement that would add some trees to these medians at the next appropriate planting time. Mr. Mansourian concurred with this approach and the Coalition is committed to working with the community and Mr. Mansourian to get this process started.
Weeds in the Medians
Several emails leading up to this meeting and several questions at the meeting addressed the concern about weeds in the medians, on the edges of the curbs around the medians, and on the narrow borders at the top and/or bottom of the various retaining walls along the roadway where it was too narrow to plant. After this concern was raised by the community and the Coalition, S.R. Public Works Dept. has begun to address it and most of those weeds have been removed. Mr. Mansourian pointed out that there are some limitations in the use of pesticides due to runoff to the Bay and manually pulling weeds is cost-prohibitive, so there will likely always be some weeds present. He stated that this is primarily a problem in the spring and then periodically through the growing season. He stated that he has addressed this problem and will continue to do so, including special attention at the beginning of each growing season. If there are areas of particular concern, he asked that his department be notified.
The medians are solely under the jurisdiction of the City even though the roadway weaves in and out of City and County jurisdictions. This is as a result of an agreement between the City and County that the City will be responsible for the funds generated by the Special Assessment District and will handle any and all contracts for medians work. The same is NOT true for the roadway itself nor for the sidewalks and edges of the roadway that remain under split jurisdiction. Mr. Mansourian stated that he did have the contractor do some weeding of the edges of the roadway but that he can’t afford to continue to do so for those sections of the roadway under County jurisdiction (see Additional Subjects later in this summary).
Trees in the Median at San Marino Drive/Court Going East
A series of trees in this median are oaks that are expected to grow especially tall. This will eventually cause serious view obstructions to several homes on San Marino Court. The Public Works Dept. was asked to re-look at this issue and to consider replacing those oaks with trees that will have a lower mature height.
Ivy on the Retaining Wall between Beach Drive and Main Drive
Sections of this ivy have died back or are in poor shape. Mr. Mansourian was asked to remove the dead ivy and otherwise work to improve the look of this ivy. It was explained that some of this result was due to lack of irrigation and that it was hoped that over time the ivy would respond.
There was also a concern for vehicle safety on Beach Drive merging onto Pt. San Pedro Road heading west. The topology of the roadway at that point makes this maneuver difficult, and it is made even more difficult by the ivy at this end of that median that obscures oncoming west-bound traffic. It needs to be trimmed back significantly and maintained so that visibility of oncoming traffic is not impeded. Mr. Mansourian stated that some trimming has already been done.
If a resident chose to make a lump sum payment of the Special Assessment District assessment, why is there still an amount being charged on our property bill?
It was explained that the assessment was comprised of two parts: the medians repair/planting and the ongoing medians maintenance. The lump sum was only for the first part. The annual property tax bill would still include the annual charge for maintenance. A resident could have chosen to pay the entire amount in yearly installments that were set at roughly $75/year.
Did the medians project include signage to welcome drivers to the Pt. San Pedro Road community?
Mr. Mansourian said that he had investigated the cost of such signage and the bids he got were in the range of $50,000 so he did not include them in the project plans. Mr. Mansourian said he would continue to look into the possibility of signs if the costs can be contained.
Why were the particular types of trees chosen?
The landscape architect stated that trees were chosen for their tolerance to the specific weather and salt conditions on the roadway. In addition, they were chosen for their mature height to avoid interfering with the electrical lines that go along the medians. Finally, they were planted in clusters to make them more natural and random rather than a straight line of similar trees.
ROAD REPAVING PROJECT
Coalition Co-President Bonnie Marmor gave a brief explanation of the Coalition’s role in the Quarry, County and City agreeing to repave Pt. San Pedro Road using noise-mitigating asphalt materials. This outcome was as a direct result of the successful settlement agreement between the Coalition and the Quarry related to long-standing litigation brought by the Coalition against the Quarry. This agreement was reached in conjunction with the Quarry receiving its operating permit from the County to continue mining operations.
Susan Adams, County Supervisor for District 1, spoke about the conditions of the operating permit as well as the repaving project. She stated that the Quarry must abide by 173 conditions in its new operating permit. She also explained that approximately $1,000,000 in materials to repave the road is to be provided by the Quarry as a result of the settlement. The City of San Rafael is providing $625,000 of the costs (NOTE: Mr. Mansourian reported after the meeting that he had increased the City’s original $500,000 budgetary commitment to assist with the new pavement design requirements). The County of Marin will contribute $2,000,000 toward the approximately $3.5 million dollar project.
Ms. Adams then turned the podium over to Ernest Klock, Marin County Dept. of Public Works Principal Civil Engineer and project manager for the project. This project is a joint project of the City and County since the roadway weaves in and out of both jurisdictions, but is being headed by the County.
Material Used and Schedule
Mr. Klock described the asphalt material that is intended to be used, called “Bonded Wearing Course” or BWC, that is designed for both excellent wear and lower noise factors. It is designed for a 10-year lifespan, so repaving would normally be expected every 7-10 years. Mr. Klock provided a BWC Report from CHEC Management Systems, Inc., an outside consultant.
The current schedule is to pave a test section of the roadway from the Quarry to Riviera (all lanes in both directions) by September2013. This will allow residents to “test” the material and ensure it meets noise and safety objectives. Assuming that it does, the full repaving project, from Union Street to the Quarry, would be done in the Spring 2014. A question was raised as to why the project stops at the Quarry and does not extend to Biscayne Drive. Nader Mansourian interjected that he has applied for a federal grant that, if given, will cover that section of paving, too.
Another question was raised about the “ponding” of water at certain places along the roadway during high tides and/or heavy rains. Mr. Klock stated that he was aware of this problem and it would be addressed to the extent feasible during the project. No details were provided but the Coalition will follow up on this issue.
San Rafael Rock Quarry
Eric Steger, Marin County Dept. of Public Works Assistant Director, spoke on the status of the San Rafael Rock Quarry. Mr. Steger provided a brief summary of the permitting and amended reclamation plan process, and a status report on implementation progress. He also mentioned that, due to very slow business over the past several years, the Quarry has been given additional time to perform some of the studies, mitigations, and reclamation work required under the amended reclamation plan. Some of that work is now scheduled to commence in the summer of 2014, including substantial earth moving that will take place in the northeast quadrant of the property. He noted that relevant documents, including the Reclamation Plan, Marsh Restoration Plan, and Noise Reduction Plan, etc., are available to the public on the Public Works website.
One attendee asked whether South Hill (the most prominent hill to the west of the Quarry bowl) would be completely reduced over time. Mr. Steger explained that most of South Hill would remain along with its tree groves.
When a question regarding mosquitos in the marsh was posed, he indicated that he was aware of spraying, but suggested further questions should be asked of the Marin County Mosquito Abatement District.
Pt. San Pedro Road Speed Limit
San Rafael City Councilman Andrew McCullough spoke on the regulations that might result in an increase of the speed limit on Pt. San Pedro Road. He stated that State law requires, as a condition to radar enforcement of posted speed limits, that the city first conduct surveys of existing speeds on its roads. Speed limits must then be set to accommodate a speed that is related to what is 85% of the existing speed of drivers during that survey. Mr. McCullough pointed out that on streets in which the speed limit was raised to meet this criteria, the actual speed of vehicles rose very little. He discussed ways that could be implemented to encourage drivers to slow down in advance of the survey. No timeframe was given for the survey to be implemented. There was also a discussion of having different speed limits for passenger cars versus larger trucks, but no conclusion was reached as to whether that was allowable on residential streets.
Condition of the Roadsides
Coalition Board member Alan Schaevitz spoke about the conditions along the sides of the roadway. He stated that the City has sole jurisdiction over the medians as a result of an agreement between the City and County, with the City taking responsibility for the funds from the Special Assessment District formed for the reconstruction and maintenance of the medians. However, the same is not true for the roadway or for the sides of the road (sidewalks, curbs and the space between them). Pt. San Pedro Road weaves in and out of City and County jurisdiction. Due to restrictions on the Special Assessment District limiting those funds strictly to the medians, the condition of the edges of the roadway continues to be divided between these two entities, both of whom claim lack of funds and personnel to perform adequate maintenance. Mr. Schaevitz suggested that the Coalition could be a focal point for creating a partnering between the City, County and community to organize volunteer work crews to get rid of weeds, trash and improve the look of the roadsides.
“Temporary” Wood Telephone Poles
Mr. Schaevitz also pointed out that there were three or four wooden telephone poles along the roadway that were supposed to be temporary replacements for damaged metal poles. These “temporary” poles have been there for quite some time now and PG&E does not seem to be in a hurry to replace them with new metal poles. Mr. Schaevitz stated that he is working with Mr. Mansourian to encourage PG&E to complete this task.
Several attendees stated their concerns for pedestrian safety when crossing Pt. San Pedro Road. Even at marked crosswalks, drivers seem to ignore or can’t see pedestrians in the crosswalks. It was suggested that, as part of the repaving, crosswalk lighting such as that used on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. in San Anselmo or some other such solution would be desirable. The Coalition representatives stated that they would address this issue with the City and County during the repaving project.