Saturday, December 30, 2006

Computer recycling - be green!

ReNew Computers offers "free computer recycling" the first Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 1241 Anderson Drive, Suite J, San Rafael, near Orchard Supply Hardware, 457-8801. Their flyer states they accept all electronics for environmentally-correct recycling including printers, monitors, televisions, printers, cell phones, fax machines and other small electronic items. No copiers or household appliances. They are an authorized California e-waste collector.

Jan. 3rd Council meeting info.

The January 3rd Council agenda is posted here (I see there's a typo on it that says it's 2006; it's 2007 of course)

The agenda packet is posted here

Friday, December 29, 2006

Winter creek tips

Public Works Director Debra Sue Johnson has sent the following letter to the residents in the Deer Park area, regarding creek precautions for the winter season.

Not closed for Day of Mourning

We are starting to get questions as to whether we will close Town offices in observance of the National Day of Mourning for the late President Ford on Tuesday. The County of Marin will be open and so will the Town of Fairfax.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Year In Review

Here is the Ross Valley Reporter column I've submitted for publication next week, Fairfax - the Year in Review.

This past year saw much change and progress in Fairfax, and as there is so much news to share, I have chosen to highlight those significant items that were new and noteworthy. From my vantage point, the themes for the Town this past year were flood recovery, financial planning, and expanding communication and connection with the community.

Flood Recovery

New Year’s Eve Storm: We all know that 2006 was ushered in with a devastating storm of FEMA proportions. Most of our merchants were reopened within a week of the flood, and some residents spent the early part of the year repairing flood-damaged homes. The Town still suffers due to projects that have yet to be approved by FEMA, such as Creek Road Bridge and the town buildings which are not yet repaired.

The silver lining of the Ross Valley flooding was Supervisor Hal Brown’s initiative to pull all the Ross Valley agencies together for the Ross Valley Flood Protection and Watershed Program, which has made tremendous progress within the course of the year. The Council voted to join Flood Control District No. 9 to work regionally on solutions for flood control and financial mechanisms to enhance flood protection. At the urging of Council Member Larry Bragman (who is now our Mayor), the Council and the Flood District agreed that the Town of Fairfax will retain the right to approve any flood control project within the Town.

Disaster Preparedness: The flood not only called us all into action but reminded us of the need to be prepared at all times for disasters. The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training effort was bolstered and saw more interest, with several Fairfax residents completing the two-day course. Council Member Susan Brandborg, Mayor for 2006, reactivated the Fairfax Citizens’ Disaster Council, a group of residents assisting public safety officials to work on ways to better prepare our community. Two Disaster Preparedness Fairs were held, in March and September; a Pandemic influenza presentation was hosted; CERT training was more widely publicized; and information and resources continue to be shared. An informal volunteer Creek Monitoring Working Group was formed to harness the volunteer energy around manually monitoring local creek levels and providing information to the Town, and also looking at technological solutions for monitoring. Further, the Town entered into a contract for a siren emergency warning system, scheduled for installation this month. In addition, our Police Department, working in conjunction with the Fire Department and the Citizens’ Disaster Council, updated our Town’s Emergency Operations Plan.

Financial Planning

Strategic Planning: Starting in January, the Council embarked upon the Town’s first strategic planning effort, where one Saturday a month is set aside to speak to the larger issues of the future of Town finances and collective goals of the Council. The Council’s work and conversations in this area have been very lively, thought-provoking and productive. The Council has created a preliminary list of goals and is working on a strategic financial plan which will be completed in 2007.

Economic Development Advisory Committee: Through its strategic planning process, the Council created the Town’s first Economic Development Advisory Committee, which includes six business community members as well as the Council, to brainstorm and study how the town’s revenue base can grow in line with community needs and values.

Budget Process: After three months of extensive public hearings and workshops, the Town Council adopted a balanced budget. During this process, I learned what is and what is not acceptable to the community in terms of budget cuts.

Regional Consolidation Studies: In order to study the possible cost-effectiveness and enhancement of police services, the Towns of Fairfax and San Anselmo joined together and are having a police consolidation study conducted by the Peace Officer Standards and Training agency. Pending the results of this initial study, a further study may be conducted or direction given on the future of this idea. In addition, this year, the Ross Valley Fire Service joined in with other area fire agencies to explore the opportunity for regional consolidation of fire services for potential service enhancement and cost savings. In 2007 we will see some resolution in both of these potential public safety consolidation areas.

Expanding Community Communication and Connection

New location for Farmer’s Market: Council Member David Weinsoff’s vision for moving the Farmer’s Market to a more conducive, attractive and economically viable location came true as the Farmer’s Market was held in lovely Bolinas Park this summer and fall. The move was welcomed and strengthened the sense of community, plus Bolinas Park as a gathering place is a beautiful spot.

Youth & Alcohol Task Force: Council Members Mary Ann Maggiore and Lew Tremaine started a new task force dedicated to helping teens with healthy and fun alternatives to underage drinking, and held Ross Valley’s first teen coffee house in December, which was wildly successful. The Task Force works closely with Drake Leadership and parents in looking at longer-term alternatives focusing on engaging youth in the community.

Town Code on-line: Thanks to the efforts of our Town Clerk Judy Anderson, our Town Municipal Code is on-line for the first time, with a link from our Town website, making it easier for residents to look up Town regulations.

News from Town Hall: In order to enhance the frequency and speed of communications, I implemented a blog which logged over 200 entries in 2006, and also started this newspaper column. The Town’s website has also been kept more current this year to keep residents up to date.

We look forward to a great 2007 and I welcome your comments and suggestions any time.

Council meeting next week

Our next regular Council meeting is January 3rd and we will have an agenda and packet posted this Friday.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


I hope everyone weathered the storm okay. The Town did not sustain any damage to our facilities or infrastructure. Did you sustain any damage at your home? The supply of our pre-filled sandbags are gone and we will have a new load of sand delivered this week.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Spot! This Friday, Dec. 29th

The last scheduled date for the teen coffee house, The Spot!, will be held this Friday, Dec. 29th at the Coffee Roasters, Bolinas and Broadway. Music, games, raffles and great prizes. Admission: $5 at the door, includes a coupon for a beverage and a dessert.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Spot! Again tonight!

Fairfax is holding the second session of its Teens Only coffee house at the Coffee Roasters, Bolinas and Broadway, TONIGHT, Dec. 22nd at Coffee Roasters, 8-11 p.m. Music, games, raffles and great prizes. Admission: $5 at the door, includes a coupon for a beverage and a dessert.

The IJ recently ran this editorial regarding The Spot!

Fairfax teen night off to a good start

12/19/2006 Marin Independent Journal - Editorial

BIG SOCIETAL problems often are so daunting it's hard to know where to start. Starting with what seems like a small step is usually the best way.

That's what happened Friday night at the Fairfax Coffee Roasters shop.

Owner Ed Wall agreed to keep the shop in the center of town open until 11 p.m. to give teens a convenient place to hang out with friends. It provides an alternative to parties and gatherings involving alcohol and drugs.

Wall usually closes about 6 p.m. because it doesn't make economic sense to stay open, but he said he had always wanted to stay open later.

Marin's high rates of teen drug and alcohol use have prompted debate in the county about what can be done to address the problem. Teens often complain that there is nowhere to go and nothing to do.

Fairfax Councilwoman Mary Ann Maggiore, after talking with local teens and the town Youth Commission, approached Wall about his shop staying open for teens from 8 to 11 p.m. as a pilot program. Teens were charged $5 admission, which included dessert and a cup of tea or coffee.

Organizers figured the night would be a success if 40 teens showed up. They understandably were thrilled when attendance topped 60, with other kids hanging around outside. The night included music by local teens.

Teens who missed last week's coffee night will have at least two more chances to check it out - this Friday and Dec. 29.

The timing also couldn't have been better. Maggiore was right when she pointed out that the holiday season, with its constant stream of adult parties, is an especially crucial time to provide positive alternatives to drinking and drugs.

These teen-only Friday night events also could pave the way for a teen center in the Ross Valley, according to Maggiore, who chaperoned the debut event along with Fairfax Councilman Lew Tremaine.

There is an impressive interfaith teen center in San Rafael, but that's a long way to go for kids in the Ross Valley, especially if they don't drive. They need something closer to home.

It is encouraging to see local officials taking the initiative and tackling this issue in such a positive way. Teen-only events are not a new concept, but they could well prove to be a way to lower the high rates of drinking and drug use by our teens.

Involving local teens in the planning also improves the chances of these events taking off and becoming a local tradition. After all, they are the ones who know what they want

Press Release - Community Office Hours

Here is a press release I issued today.


December 20, 2006 – Fairfax Town Manager Linda Kelly has announced that to initiate her second year with the Town in January 2007, she will launch the start of office hours in the community. Kelly will hold office hours in rotating locations throughout the Town of Fairfax, one morning per month. “The intent is to go out in the community and be available to meet people in locations convenient to them,” said Kelly. The sessions will start on a trial basis for the first three months of the year as follows:

January – Wednesday, January 10th – 8–11:30 a.m., Coffee Roasters, Bolinas & Broadway

February – Thursday, February 1st – 8–11:30 a.m., BookBeat, 28 Bolinas Avenue

March – Thursday, March 1st – 8-11:30 a.m., Barefoot CafĂ©, 1900 Sir Francis Drake Blvd.

Kelly added, “In January of this year, I began a blog of town information as a way to reach out to the community through a user-friendly media, as a means of providing another link to Town Hall. For the upcoming year, I want to expand our communication with our residents by making it easier for them to speak with us in person.” During her office hours in the community, Kelly will be located in the local business, with a small sign to denote that she is available to speak with residents. No meeting appointment is necessary and she intends to be available to speak with anyone who wishes to converse on questions regarding Town business or to hear suggestions on improving Town operations. “I see it as a way to further integrate our services with the everyday needs of our residents. I intend to do a lot of listening and learning,” she added.

Holiday Town Hall hours

Please note that Town Hall will be closed for the holidays Dec. 25th & 26th and Jan. 1st.

Happy Holidays & Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Property tax query

The Economic Development Advisory Committee asked this question so I thought I'd post my answer here for anyone who is interested.

What % of property taxes goes to Fairfax?

Eighteen percent (18%) of a property’s basic property tax assessment goes to the Town of Fairfax. California Constitution Article XIIIA (Prop. 13) limits the property tax to a maximum 1 percent of assessed value. The assessed value of property is capped at the 1975–76 base year plus inflation — or 2 percent per year. Property that declines in value may be reassessed at the lower market value. Property is reassessed to current full value upon change in ownership (with certain exemptions).

Most property tax that you pay goes to finance the local public elementary, middle, and high schools and community colleges.

In Fairfax, we have some additional property-based assessments that not all other cities have, or some have differing variations of:

  • Pension override tax (has been in place since the 1960s, pre-Prop. 13): .0910% of assessed valuation.
  • Measure K bonds (approved by voters in 1999): .0416 of assessed valuation (will increase very slightly with the August 2006 sale of the last in the series of bonds.) The revenue is used for streets, drainage and infrastructure repairs.
  • General Purpose tax (has been in place since 1980s?): $50 per living unit or business occupancy. Can be used for any governmental purpose.
  • Special Purpose tax (Measure F 2005): $125 per living unit or business occupancy. Can only be used for specified purposes as approved by voters, i.e. police, fire, public works and youth program.

All of the above four taxes go exclusively to the Town of Fairfax.

As far as income tax is concerned, in case you are interested, less than 3% of Federal income tax makes it way to cities (most goes to federal defense spending and the national debt) and less than 1% of State income tax goes to cities (most goes to state colleges, health and human services, prisons, and the courts).

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Spot! A Success!

Friday night, December 15th, was the first Teen Night called The Spot, and I heard it totally and completely rocked! About 60 young people checked in and about 10 were outside on the perimeter of the Coffee Roasters, the event's headquarters. The teens were well-behaved, respectful, and full of fun. With weekly help from Vice Mayor Mary Ann Maggiore who leads the Fairfax Town Council Youth and Alcohol Task Force, area teens really took the challenge and ran with it. Drake High School's Leadership Class under teachers Kendall Galli and Peter Parrish did a fabulous organizing job. Students from the class worked to make it all come together. Alex did posters, Kaila and Matt and friends came early; Tim and Emily stayed late for clean-up. The students organized fabulous music. Youth Commission head, Maya Meissner, not only helped organize but also led the musical line-up. Other students planned the great raffle prizes which they announced with merry flair at each musical break. The teens gathered, laughed, chatted, and played cards. Council Member Lew Tremaine and Vice Mayor Mary Ann Maggiore chaperoned the event and were very satisfied with every part of it.

The Chaperones would like to say: "Thank you to Townspeople Wendy Lee and Shoshana Parry and her sister Tina who stopped by to see that we had enough adult support. And to musician Jack who saved the day with the delivery of a great acoustic system. Thank you, too to Ed Wall, head of Coffee Roasters for having everything ready for us and for organizing it with such enthusiasm. Coffee Roasters staff Shelly and Kelly and others were so patient, professional and generous. A special thank you to them, too."

Vice Mayor Maggiore’s favorite moment of the evening was when singer Denali lifted her voice to sing and everyone sat down on the floor and joined her in the chorus. Great kids, a great accomplishment, a great night!

The December 22nd and 29th The Spot! dates are now a definite "go" and we will have more games, music and surprises ahead. The Task Force is also looking for more adult support staff. "Come on down! It's a lot of fun!"

For more information contact either one of the Youth and Alcohol Task Force heads Vice Mayor Mary Ann Maggiore, 460-1106, or Council Member Lew Tremaine, 459-7807.

2007 CERT Schedule Posted

The schedule of upcoming Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) classes has been posted here. The courses are for anyone who would like to learn how to better prepare for and react to disasters, and are sponsored through Central Marin CERT in conjunction with Ross Valley Fire Department. Fairfax residents are eligible for a $30 rebate on their class enrollment fee.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Teen coffee house tonight!

Fairfax will open its first Teens Only coffee house at the Coffee Roasters, Bolinas and Broadway tonight. "The Spot" is happening Friday nights at Coffee Roasters, 8-11 p.m., Dec. 15, 22, & 29.

Music, games, raffles and great prizes. Admission: $5 at the door, includes a coupon for a beverage and a dessert.

The innovative new teen-oriented hang out is designed to solve a problem that has plagued the County for years: How to help end the disasters of teen drinking? Please join the Town Youth and Alcohol Task Force and Drake Leadership who are sponsoring these Friday night events!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Blood Drive in January

Fairfax resident Cindy Swift, together with the Blood Centers of the Pacific, is planning a blood drive to be held on Saturday, January 27th from 12-4 p.m. at the Fairfax Library parking lot. The event is being co-sponsored by the Friends of the Fairfax Library and the Fairfax Citizens' Disaster Council. Please mark your calendars and consider giving a life-saving gift that day.

Column preview

Here is a preview of the column I've submitted for next week's Ross Valley Reporter:

Economic Development Committee update: The Town’s Economic Development Advisory Committee has held its first two meetings. The community and business representatives on the Committee include Jeff Burton, owner of The Bath and Beyond, Fred Codoni, manager (retired) with Southern Pacific Railroad, Garry Graham, owner of 19 Broadway, Leah Smith of the Marin Farmers’ Market, Mark Squire, co-owner of Good Earth, and Augie Venezia, owner of Fairfax Lumber (Chamber representative), along with all members of the Town Council. The Committee held a general brainstorming and exchange of ideas at the meetings. Some of the issues/ideas discussed were the lack of adequate parking in the downtown which affects the number of people able to shop there, the public events held in the downtown, “growing” what’s working, the need for businesses to provide services needed locally such as a drug store, the constraints on operating a business in town, and budget expenditures for Town services such as labor and benefits of the Town employees who provide services to the community. The community and business members of the Committee will continue brainstorming and plan to come forth with some specific ideas at the next meeting, scheduled for Saturday, January 13, 2007 at 9 a.m. in the Women’s Club. This meeting will once again be combined with a Town Council Strategic Planning Workshop. The Council has in its strategic planning meetings identified and ranked goals in subject matter areas and the next step will be to formalize objectives and strategies for meeting the goals. The Council is also working on a strategic financial plan with the assistance of staff and will be formalizing the document in the coming months.

Creek Road Bridge Update: Per FEMA, this project has been held up for environmental review and is now under further study at the federal level. We have unfortunately been informed that this process may take up to seven months to complete. As it appears right now, the recommended scope of work is eligible for FEMA and State funding. Due to the delay in the environmental review process, we need to protect the bridge from further damage until the permanent repair is approved and we are applying for a temporary repair, which also must be approved by FEMA program and NEPA. In the meantime, the bridge remains closed to vehicular traffic.

Albertson’s Update: There is no new news to report on the Albertson’s property as far as a new tenant for the store. I am informed that negotiations have been lengthy and are still ongoing.

Planning Commission Update: The Planning Commission will be considering the Mixed Use Overlay Zone and the Second Dwelling unit amnesty program at their December 21st meeting. In addition, they will be considering a use permit to allow the Town to install the first siren pole.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Special Meeting Wed. at 6 p.m.

The Town Council will hold a Special Meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, December 13th at 6 p.m. in the Women's Club to consider the following item:

Funding options for Scenic Road roadway stabilization project to address public safety concerns, possible consideration of resolution and agreement, Tremaine/Weinsoff

This meeting will precede our Adjourned Council Meeting at 7:30 p.m. that same evening.

The meeting is open to the public.

Seniors Luncheon - Winter and Disaster Preparedness tips

The Ross Valley Seniors is hosting its monthly luncheon at the Fairfax Women's Club this Thursday, December 14th. At 11:00 a.m., everyone is invited to bring an ornament to help decorate the tree, and help wrap presents for LITA (Love is the Answer) Holiday Gift Project; at Noon, there will be a pot luck lunch; and at 1:00 p.m., Captain Craig Carroll of Ross Valley Fire will speak to the group about Winter and Disaster Preparedness tips. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Monday, December 11, 2006

2007 Stormwater Pollution Prevention calendars available

Thanks to the Marin County Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program (MCSTOPPP), we have a supply of beautiful 2007 wall calendars available at our temporary Town Hall at 14 Park Road. The calendars were funded through the California Integrated Waste Management Board and are free for everyone. Besides the great nature photos of Marin, the calendars contain tips and information about how to keep our watershed waste-free and preserve our environment. Stop by and pick one up!

Holiday Caroling, Potluck & Wreath-Making Party

With Special Guest Santa Claus

Join the Fairfax Volunteers on Sunday, Dec. 17th at the Women’s Club in Fairfax, 42 Park Road. Santa will be there at 3:00 with the Singing, Wreath-Making/Potluck Party to start at 4:00.

Bring a dish to share, something to drink, and evergreen clippings if you would like to make a wreath. Redwood, Douglas fir, Juniper, Eucalyptus, Bay, Holly, etc. as well as Pine Cones, Pods and other decorative elements work well. We’ll supply the songbooks, a warm fire, and all the utensils. Fun for the whole family!

Interested in helping put on this event? We need volunteers from 12-3 to set-up at the Women’s Club (make decorations, assemble tables, decorate, etc.) and from 7-9 p.m. for the clean-up (take down decorations, sweep, take out trash & recyclables, etc.) Free pizza will be provided to those helping with set-up/clean-up! For more information please call 456-5652 or visit:

Friday, December 08, 2006

Adjourned Meeting

Due to the 130 Ridgeway appeal item on the Dec. 6th Council agenda which took most of that meeting, we have carried over several agenda items to an adjourned meeting on Dec. 13th at 7:30 p.m. The agenda for this meeting is at

Furthermore, the 130 Ridgeway appeal item was continued to a Special Meeting to be held on Feb. 21st at 7:30 p.m. in the Women's Club so that the issues of drainage, the proposed road, and the request for a cross-section topography study can be further worked out and brought back to Council.

These meetings are open to the public.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Strategic Planning & Economic Development Meeting

The agenda for this Saturday's meeting is now posted at

The meeting is open to the public.

New Mayor and Vice Mayor

Congratulations to our new Mayor Larry Bragman and our new Vice Mayor Mary Ann Maggiore, who were chosen last night at the Council's regular meeting. Each year, the Council rotates the positions of Mayor and Vice Mayor from amongst the Council Members.

Congratulations also to Council Member Susan Brandborg for her leadership and service as Mayor for the past year.

Photo shows from left, Council Member David Weinsoff, Council Member Susan Brandborg, new Mayor Larry Bragman, and new Vice Mayor Mary Ann Maggiore. Not pictured but present at the meeting: Council Member Lew Tremaine.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Spot! Friday nights at Coffee Roasters

Fairfax will open its first Teens Only coffee house at the Coffee Roasters, Bolinas and Broadway. "The Spot" is happening Friday nights at Coffee Roasters, 8-11 p.m., Dec. 15, 22, & 29.

Music, games, raffles and great prizes. Admission: $5 at the door, includes a coupon for a beverage and a dessert.

The innovative new teen-oriented hang out is designed to solve a problem that has plagued the County for years: How to end the disasters of teen drinking? Head of the Fairfax Youth and Alcohol Task Force, Council Member Mary Ann Maggiore, was fed up with the helplessness of watching kids get in trouble because of alcohol. "Every year we watch with horror as the holiday season fills our lives with reports of teen deaths, accidents and rapes at parties where alcohol is the number 1 culprit. Though many groups start with initiating punitive actions as the first line of defense against teen drinking, we of Fairfax saw a better way ."

Please join the Town Youth and Alcohol Task Force and Drake Leadership who are sponsoring these Friday night events!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

This Saturday - Economic Development and Strategic Planning Meeting

This Sat., Dec. 9th at 9 a.m. in the Women's Club we will hold the next meeting of the Fairfax Economic Development Advisory Committee, followed by a Town Council Strategic Planning meeting at 10:30 a.m. The Committee will hold an informational discussion regarding the Marin Town and Country Club property, and owner Michael Mackintosh has been invited to share his vision for the property. The Committee will also review follow-up from their November 18th meeting and plan their 2007 meeting calendar and next steps. The Council will continue its work on strategies and objectives for achieving identified goals, focusing on top goals which they have identified so far.

After this meeting, I will provide more of a summary as to where we are in strategic planning to get you caught up on how far we've come and keep you more in the loop, for those who have not been able to participate in the meetings yet. I also need to refresh the Strategic Planning web page on our Town website with the most recent information.

Monday, December 04, 2006

New Year's Eve Ball Fun Family Event!

Please make a note about the New Year’s Eve Masquerade Arts Ball at the Fairfax Pavilion (Dec 31s 8 pm to 1 am). This is a ‘fun-for-the-entire-family’ event, which promises to be a truly amazing gig! Dress up as your favorite artist or come in costume as a work of art and add to the festivities. Prizes, including original art pieces, will be given for best and most zany costumes. There will plenty of music, dancing, games, cabaret and surprises galore for only $7. Tickets will be sold at the door (kids six and under FREE). Food and drinks will be available at low cost. All proceeds go to the Artist in Residence Program to enable us to make more public art and involve everyone in art projects. Bring in the New Year in a really fun-filled way! Don’t miss this first ever extravaganza! Hope to see you there!
Click to enlarge the poster.

Special thanks to Shoshana Parry, Fairfax Artist-in-Residence for coming up with this great idea and coordinating the event!

Chamber of Commerce Holiday Party!

It's not too late to reserve your spot at the Annual Fairfax Chamber of Commerce Holiday Party, taking place on Thursday, December 7th starting at 6 p.m. at Deer Park Villa, 367 Bolinas Road. This promises to be a fun-filled festive night of dining and dancing, starting with a no-host cocktail hour followed by a dinner buffet. Enjoy dancing to the music of the Swampfitties (formerly known as the Bonnie Hayes band). Price is $45; advance reservations necessary. Proceeds benefit downtown beautification projects. RSVP to Ingrid Weiss, 456-5574.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Dec. 6th agenda packet posted

The Council Meeting packet for Dec. 6th is now posted on the Town's website at The meeting is at 7:30 p.m. in the Women's Club.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Volunteers' Holiday Event!

Here is a great message from Adam Neville and the Fairfax Volunteers:

I know we've got a few crazy weeks ahead of us, but how about slowing things down for a couple of hours and joining us for our 5th annual “Holiday Sing Along”. We’ll be meeting in Fairfax, at the Woman’s Club (46 Park Road, just down the street from Peri Park) Sunday, December 17 at 4 P.M. (if you’d like to come early and meet Santa, his sled will be arriving at 3:00 P.M.)

We’ve got a bunch of song sheets printed up, and we’ll have cookies and hot chocolate too. All you have to do is show up and sing your lungs out (or mouth the lyrics while being drowned out by others). It doesn't matter... what does matter is you have fun!

And please join us directly after the caroling for our famous “Pot-luck Party”. We’ll have a roaring fire (O.K., a Duraflame), some great food, and maybe some more singing. Please bring a yummy dish to share and something to drink. We’ll take care of the plates and utensils.

This year we’ve also added Wreath Making to the mix, which will take place during the whole event. If you would like to join this activity, please bring evergreen clippings if you have them (Redwood, Douglas fir, Juniper, Eucalyptus, Bay, Holly, etc. as well as Pine Cones, Pods and other decorative elements). We’ll supply the rings and wire!

This time of year is all about being together with people we care about, spreading love and warmth, and feeling connected. I hope you can join us!

With holiday cheer,
Adam “The Elf” Neville & the Fairfax Volunteers.

P.S. We’d like to continue the tradition of a post sing pot-luck party, but in order to do that we’ll need a few more elves to help out. If you’d like to participate please contact Adam at or by phone at (415) 302-6163.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Sorry for the absence of postings for the last two weeks. My family and I took a vacation. We are back now and I'll be trying my best to keep you up to date on town happenings as we come to the close of 2006. As always, thanks for reading this blog and for your feedback.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Fairfax in Flood Zone 9

Tonight the Council voted to consent to join Flood Zone 9. The conditions of approval adopted by the Council included ensuring that the bylaws would be amended to give us a vote on the Flood Zone 9 Advisory Board, providing that the Town has the final approval authority for flood control projects in Fairfax, and ensuring that we would not be responsible for costs of current construction projects initiated prior to Fairfax joining the Board. These conditions were added tonight by Council Members who wanted to ensure that our interests are best represented financially and with an equal voting voice, and that any project in Town be comprised of environmentally-sound and creek and habitat friendly solutions.

New Year's Eve Family Event planned

Fairfax Artist in Residence Shoshana Parry will host a New Year's Eve Masquerade Arts Ball at the Pavilion on December 31, 2006 from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Everyone is invited to come in costume as your favorite artist or work of art. There will be fun for the entire family, dancing, games, caberet and food! Win original art - prizes for best and most zany costume for adults and kids. Proceeds will benefit the Fairfax Artist in Residence Program. Save the date - more details to come.

Book signing - proceeds to benefit Town of Fairfax

Fairfax resident and author Linda McCarthy will be signing her new book on internet security, "Own your Space: Keeping yourself and your stuff safe online" at an event this Friday, November 17th from 5-8 p.m. at the Tiki Lounge at 19 Broadway, Fairfax. The book provides an introduction to internet security from a teen point of view and also provides information for parents who want to know how to keep their home networks safe.

Profits from the book signing will be donated to the Town of Fairfax. Thank you, Linda!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Update on Public Works Projects

Public Works Director Debra Sue Johnson has provided the following update on our projects:

  • Forrest Avenue Retaining Wall and Bank Stabilization: This project has been completed.
  • Manor Circle Safe Routes to School and SFDB Sidewalk (Marin Rd to Olema): Bauman/McGuire & Hester will begin construction this week on the Manor Circle SR2S project. Construction of the sidewalk from Marin Road east to Olema Road will require changes to the striping on SFDB to allow for a safe construction zone. It will not impact vehicle traffic. This will impact the on-street parking for the few (seven+/-) homes on the north side of SFDB near the San Miguel intersection. It will also require eastbound bike traffic to be detoured at Marin Road to Olema. Signage and striping should be clear to the users.
  • Scenic Road Retaining Wall: Maggiora & Ghilotti will begin construction on this retaining wall on Monday. This will require that Scenic Rd be closed to through traffic near 185 Scenic and traffic to be detoured on Tamalpais during working hours. There may be some confusion during the first few days; however, the drilling rig needs access.
  • Measure K: Beginning the week of the 20th, Scenic and Tamalpais Roads will have pavement section repairs (digouts) completed by McLellan Co. This is the first phase of the next Measure K projects. Due to the severe deterioration of Scenic and Tamalpais we are making these repairs to provide safe travel by bicycles and vehicles over the next few winter months until we bid the overlay project in February. This will also require road closures and detours on Scenic and Tamaplais Roads. Traffic control and signage will be in place before construction. Notices will be mailed to the neighborhood. She is working with our new engineering firm, Ken Hall of CSW/Stuber-Stroeh, on a complete assessment of the remaining Measure K projects for prioritization and scheduling over the next three fiscal years. She will be scheduling a Measure K oversight committee meeting later this month.
  • Glen Drive Culvert: The temporary bank stabilization design is 95% and will be ready for an informal bid soon. This project is being constructed to protect private property (Village West) from further damage and erosion over the winter months while we continue with the permanent design work and regulatory permitting to replace the damaged culvert outfall at SFDB. (FEMA project)
  • Mono Alley (1-21 Bolinas Avenue): The design of the re-routing of the drainage network that currently runs under these downtown businesses is 95% complete. We will be constructing a new drainage line down Mono Alley from Bolinas to Pacheco. We are expecting to be able to issue an informal bid next week.
  • Sandbags: Maria Baird, Community Resources Coordinator, has successfully organized a group of Sir Francis Drake High students to volunteer to fill sandbags for the Town. They will be here on Wednesday morning! Thanks Maria!
  • The new stop sign was installed at Iron Springs Road this past Thursday.

Public Workshop - Bike and Ped Plan Updates

Tonight, November 13th at 7:00 p.m., the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM) will be hosting a workshop to discuss the update to bicycle and pedestrian master plans throughout the County. The meeting tonight is specifically for Fairfax, San Anselmo, Ross, Larkspur, Greenbrae and San Rafael. The meeting will be held at the San Rafael Community Center at 618 B Street.

Click on the attached flyer to enlarge.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Flood Zone 9 meeting on Wednesday

A special Council meeting has been called for Wed., Nov. 15th at 7:30 p.m. for the purpose of considering joining Flood Zone 9. Your participation in the meeting is welcomed. You may view the staff report here

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Reflections on what I do for a living

Today, I participated in a speaking panel for the Municipal Management Association of Northern California (MMANC). Along with two other city/county managers, I was asked to provide encouragement and insight to those who are starting their career or seeking to advance to the next level of their career in municipal government. I chose to speak of the values that drove me to this line of work. I have condensed my remarks here for you, in the hopes of giving you some insight as to my motivation for being here in Fairfax and serving you in this role.

I grew up in a small urban blue collar pocket of L.A.; my father came to this country as a political refugee of the Hungarian revolution in the 50s. That’s important to note as it helped frame the value I place on democracy and our democratic processes and institutions. My father worked as a skilled laborer, and I was the first in my family to earn a college degree. He frequently shared stories with me about the governing systems in Eastern Europe that were inequitable and undemocratic, and I was at a young age determined to be a part of making our own country a better place to live and a place of even greater equity.

I am asked questions pretty frequently relating to my choices I’ve made in my career, somewhat because I think it is still somewhat of an anomaly for a younger woman with young children to become a city manager.

What brought me to the city government profession?

I like working for the form of government that is closest to the people. I get a great deal of enjoyment out of being able to affect the day to day lives of people. Furthermore, one of the reasons I chose the public sector because it seemed to me that minorities and women could advance more rapidly based on merit not on the good old boys network, or what social status you were born into (because I knew I did not have that going for me). For the most part, this has held true. I have found the public sector merit system, while not without flaws, to be fair and equitable overall.

Why did I choose to become a city manager?

My motivation was to live my values in the city management field, the values that keep me working in the public sector. As I progressed in my career, the values that I hold dear were becoming more and more clear to me, and two in particular:

1. The value of service –As the manager, for me that is the opportunity to put into practice each day my strong belief in customer service by doing what I can to make government more responsive to its residents.

2. The value of representative self-government; democracy – As the manager, I am able to serve elected representatives by giving them the best information and the tools they need to do the best job that they can. In this way, I think I play an important role in helping a community govern itself.

When I looked at all of the jobs available in local government, I knew right away that the position of city manager was where I could live those values and advance those values most strongly, and have the maximum impact on a community. And in the end, enhance my own sense of personal satisfaction and happiness.

I strongly believe that if you are in this business for the right reasons, it’s not about you. As you move up it in the city management profession, it becomes less and less about you and more about helping others and helping a community. It’s about making your community successful, helping your council be successful individually and as a group, and helping your staff be successful. And if you’ve got all of those going for you, then you will be a success.

I encourage you to reflect on what values draw you to the work that you do, and think about what type of position will help you best live those values in your everyday work. For me, being a city manager is where the rubber meets the road and where I have the privilege of putting my values to work everyday and impacting the community and impacting the organization in a positive way. The experience with Fairfax so far has been immensely fulfilling for me.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

San Jose de Apartado, Colombia, Sister City Peace Community

On Saturday night, the Town co-sponsored a reception for Renato Areiza, who is on the Council of San Jose de Apartado, Colombia, and visited Fairfax as part of our sister city outreach. About 65 people were in attendance. Vice Mayor Larry Bragman explained his recent trip there and we viewed a film that showed in vivid detail the resolve of this peace community which refuses to take a side in the civil war between the military forces and the guerrillas. Taking part in this program reminded me of how blessed we are in Marin to live in a peaceful community where people's rights are respected and protected even though we may disagree. The issues we debate seem small in comparison to people who are resolved to live in peace even though they are risking their lives. We are privileged here to be able to debate issues that are at a higher level than the basics of ordinary living that we take for granted. The event made me pause and be thankful for all we have.

Monday, November 06, 2006

CERT training

Here are a few photos from the Central Marin CERT program which concluded its last class of about 20 people on Saturday. The class was made up of residents of Fairfax (3), San Anselmo, Larkspur, Ross and Corte Madera. Among the things we learned was how to use a fire extinguisher and how to conduct light search and rescue after an earthquake. Here in the photo you see some class attendees learning how to lift a portion of a collapsed building off of a victim. The 2007 CERT class schedule has been posted at

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Thanks to our Volunteers

One of the wonderful things that makes Fairfax an exceptional community is its spirit of volunteerism. I knew that the Fairfax Volunteers were an important part of our town when I came on board, but as I have had the fortunate opportunity to experience the remarkable things this group has done for our community this past year, my sense of respect and awe for these community builders has really grown. From last week's creek clean-up to the awesome town-wide picnic they sponsored in September, to yesterday's haunted house and back to the enormous help they were to the town during and after the flood, the Fairfax Volunteers augment our community in ways our town government is unable. While the municipality of our 30 employees busily balance the many hats we wear to keep the basic mechanics of this town running, the Fairfax Volunteers are able to muster the help of hundreds of community members who are truly the icing on our cake, each in some way answering a call to help fill a need. I’d like to express my heartfelt thanks for the tremendous organizing talents of the Fairfax Volunteers group and to the network of town residents who willingly pitch in on worthwhile projects all year long. There is no greater compliment nor stronger expression of love for one’s community than to so eagerly and generously give of one’s time and talents for the betterment of the whole. The robust spirit of volunteerism in Fairfax is what enables our small community to accomplish many great things. I salute each and every person who has helped our town in some way this year. Thank you.

The rainy season is here. What has the Town done to prepare for the possibility of another flood?

Since January, the Town of Fairfax has actively taken many steps to address the risk of flooding. Some of the actions taken are short-term and some are aimed toward long-term systemic solutions. Here is a list:
  • Ross Valley Flood Protection and Watershed Program: The Town of Fairfax, along with San Anselmo, Ross, Larkspur and the County, have joined together under the leadership of Supervisor Hal Brown on the first-ever watershed-wide approach to flood mitigation and creek restoration solutions to protect all of the Ross Valley from the threat of flooding. Fairfax Council Members Lew Tremaine and David Weinsoff serve on the elected officials committee which is advising the Watershed effort, our Public Works Director Debra Sue Johnson serves on the Technical Working Group, and I serve on the Financial Working Group. Each committee complements the work of the entire effort by focusing on key areas to make the watershed-wide approach as successful as possible.
  • The Ross Valley Flood Protection and Watershed Program staff, along with town staff, walked the major creeks in Fairfax and identified the sources of potential debris jams and key constrictions. This information is critical to understanding the long-term work that needs to be done such as raising bridges and culvert replacement.
  • The Ross Valley Flood Protection and Watershed Program was granted $100,000 from the California Coastal Conservancy which is enabling the creation of a computerized hydraulic model of the Ross Valley Watershed. The model will serve as a predictive tool that will help determine which flood protection projects should be completed first to achieve the most reductions in flooding.
  • A creek-wide clearing and clean-up took place in September, accomplished through the joint efforts of the Marin Conservation Corps, the towns, and the County. Items which could cause major blockages this winter such as debris, overgrown vegetation, and branches were removed from the creeks. This was followed-up in Fairfax by the annual Creek Clean-up coordinated by the Fairfax Volunteers in October, where more trash and debris was removed.
  • Thanks to a grant from Supervisor Hal Brown, the Town has entered into a contract for the installation of a siren emergency warning system, which would serve as an audible alarm system to warn residents of impending disasters such as flood or fire. The installation of the first of three sirens is scheduled to take place in January 2007.
  • The Town’s supply of sandbags, available to residents, is being replenished and a new sandbag-filling apparatus is being installed. The location of the sand, sandbags, and machine will be located in the same place as last year, the parking lot below the Pavilion. In addition, as they did in the spring, Drake High students will be helping to fill sandbags as a community service project in November, so that we will have a supply of pre-filled sandbags readily available for our residents.
  • The Town is participating in the home elevation program through FEMA, and residents who live in the flood plain and have flood insurance are eligible to apply for a FEMA grant to assist with raising their homes. Eligible residents were notified of the program, and if awarded, the grant would cover up to 75% of the cost for those property owners who are participating in the grant.
  • A brochure, “Protecting Yourself and Your Property Against Flooding,” has been created with flood safety tips. The brochure is available at Town Hall, the Police Department, and is posted on the home page of the Town’s website at
  • The Telephonic Emergency Notification System (TENS) through the County of Marin has been improved and the system is available for the Town to use to broadcast an emergency telephone message to a wide area of residences and businesses in the event of flooding.
  • A volunteer Creek Monitoring Working Group was formed, with Fairfax residents serving in the role of creek monitors and providing information to the Town when creek waters rise to threatening levels.
  • The Town’s Citizens’ Disaster Council was reactivated, and is focusing on how residents can be better prepared for disasters such as flood and fire.
  • The Town is actively engaged in promoting Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) through a newly revitalized Central Marin CERT program. The Town, through a grant from Supervisor Hal Brown, is providing a $30 refund to any resident who completes a CERT course.
  • The Town created a disaster preparedness web page linked off of the home page of the Town’s website at
  • The Town has scheduled a special meeting for November 15th at 7:30 p.m. in the Women’s Club for the purpose of considering whether to join Flood Control District Zone 9. Flood Zone 9 is an existing governmental entity which could serve as a financing mechanism for flood control and environmental restoration efforts. Your participation is encouraged at this special meeting.

Since January, many hours of Town staff time have been devoted to both recovering from the New Year’s Eve flood disaster, and in preparing for this winter’s storm season. For more information, see, or contact me at 458-2345.

Monday, October 30, 2006

CERT Training schedule for 2007

Central Marin Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) has set its training class schedule for 2007, found here

I took the first segment of the class on Saturday and I will complete the remainder this Saturday, November 4th. I recommend the course if you wish to be prepared to handle disasters and emergencies. You will learn about home safety, assessing potential hazards, disaster triage techniques and what to do when disaster strikes. The information is useful if you wish to set up a neighborhood emergency response team, or if you simply wish to become more prepared to help yourself and your family.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Bring your kids to the Trick or Treat Parade!

The Downtown Fairfax Halloween Trick or Treat Parade will take place on Tuesday, October 31st at 5 p.m., beginning at the Fairfax Movie Theater. Merchants will be open late to give out candy. Free glow necklaces to all participants! Sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Strategic Planning & Economic Development

At its October 21st strategic planning session, the Town Council decided that the new Economic Development Advisory Committee would be folded into the strategic planning effort by holding the Economic Committee meetings during the next three strategic planning meetings. The purpose of this approach is to take advantage of the fresh ideas and input of the Economic Committee and integrate that into the draft strategic financial plan. The Council brainstormed the following issues for the Economic Development Advisory Committee to consider:

  • Come up with an implementable plan to increase Town revenue
  • How can we increase sales tax and property tax revenue
  • How to make the most of underperforming assets in the community
  • How to increase business in the downtown area
  • Audit of business license revenue to ensure all businesses are paying
  • How can we attract businesses that are commensurate with our style of town and those which have the capacity for success
  • Future economic development in Fairfax

The next Town Council Strategic Planning/Economic Development Advisory Committee meeting will be held on Saturday, November 18th at 9 a.m. in the Women’s Club.

Reminder from Ross Valley Fire

The Ross Valley Fire Department would like to remind everyone that as you change your clocks back this weekend, change the batteries in your smoke detectors!

When changing the batteries, it is recommended to use lithium batteries as they have a longer life then regular alkaline batteries.

A few tips about smoke detectors:

  • Install a working smoke alarm on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas, and inside bedrooms.
  • Test your smoke alarms at least once a month.
  • Mount smoke alarms high on walls or ceilings (remember, smoke rises). Ceiling mounted alarms should be installed at least four inches away from the nearest wall; wall-mounted alarms should be installed four to 12 inches away from the ceiling.
  • If you have ceilings that are pitched, install the alarm near the ceiling's highest point.
  • Don't install smoke alarms near windows, doors, or ducts where drafts might interfere with their operation.
  • Never paint smoke alarms. Paint, stickers, or other decorations could keep the alarms from working.

If you need assistance changing the battery or would like an inspection of your home for fire safety, please contact Ross Valley Fire Department at 258-4686.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Thank you Creek clean up crew

Thank you to the wonderful volunteers who showed up yesterday to take all of the debris that you see here out of our beloved creeks:
  • Lola Pettit
  • Phillip Hoffman
  • John Berret
  • Yvonne Roberts
  • Trudy Totty
  • Michael Silbert
  • Gary York
  • Brijette Overby
  • Claire Hadley
  • Zoe Levine
  • Melanie Peratis
  • David Glick
  • Larry Bragman
  • Craig Zellers
  • Payton Zellers
  • Foster Zellers
  • Jasper Scozzafava
  • Sarah Shockley
  • Penny Clark
  • Dianne Zellers
  • Jon Carter
  • Holly Dines
  • John Reed
  • Michael Branton
  • Sammy Branton
Our community and our creeks thank you!

Ross Valley Watershed and Flood Protection Project Update

A very informative meeting was held on Saturday regarding the progress made so far on the Ross Valley Watershed and Flood Protection Project. A few hundred people attended.

The following document was provided at the meeting, which gives an overview of the progress made to date. The four page pdf document is posted on the Town's website here

An Evening of Solidarity with the Colombia Peace Community

The Town is co-sponsoring an "Evening of Solidarity with the Colombia Peace Community" on Saturday, November 4th at 7 p.m. in the Women's Club. Vice Mayor Larry Bragman recently traveled to Colombia to visit the San Jose de Apartado Peace Community and he will be reporting on his trip along with Renato Antonio Areiza who will speak on the pledge of non-violence that the community has taken. Music will be provided by Otis Scarecrow and the Film "Hasta La Ultima Piedra" will be shown. For more information, see the flyer.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Strategic Planning Meeting, Sat. Oct. 21st

Tomorrow, Sat. Oct. 21st at 2 p.m. in the Women's Club, the Town Council will hold its next Strategic Planning meeting. Everyone is welcome to attend. The agenda is posted here.

The meeting is being held at that time since the Ross Valley Watershed Flood Protection Community meeting is being held that same morning at 9:30 a.m. (at the Drake High small gym). You are welcome and encouraged to attend that meeting as well. It is a report to the community on the progress made so far on flood protection and creek preservation. There will be a PowerPoint presentation with photos of projects and information on the hydraulic model of the creeks.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Haunted House Volunteers needed

Would you like to be a part of the all-volunteer haunted house this year? Sign up to help the Fairfax Volunteers put on this fun and community oriented event! A volunteer meeting will take place this Saturday, Oct. 21st from 10-Noon at the Pavilion. Click on the flyer to view details.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Community Meeting on Flood Zone 9

A special Council meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday, November 15th at 7:30 p.m. in the Women’s Club for the purpose of considering the option for Fairfax to join Flood Zone 9. A resolution of consent is required for Fairfax to become a part of Flood Zone 9, which is a separate governmental agency that could serve as a conduit for raising revenue on a regional basis to assist the towns in the Ross Valley with flood protection and creek/watershed restoration. The County Flood Control Engineer and the consultant MIG will be present at the meeting to answer questions. Public participation is encouraged. Questions regarding the meeting may be addressed to me at 458-2345 or

Friday, October 13, 2006

Fairfax Creek Restoration / Flood mitigation at 300 Olema

We are excited to report that this project began yesterday, according to our Public Works Director, Debra Sue Johnson. Work has started on the natural creek section of the project. We are still working on the design modifications to decrease costs in the concrete channel section since this area will need additional structural analysis for the bridge work. This project will widen the culvert and allow a greater flow capacity, restore the natural creek bank, and alleviate the flooding risk in this area. The bids came in quite high on this project, but thanks to Debra Sue, she has been able to negotiate and modify the project to complete the major work within our budget.

The future of Albertson's

I am sorry that I do not have something certain to report on Albertson's. A local paper recently reported that a local grocer is moving there. This information is premature as I have been told by the parties involved that there is more than one tenant vying for the site and negotiations are ongoing. No deal has been made yet. Making premature announcements does not help and may actually hinder negotiations, I was told. I know it is frustrating as we wait to see what will happen there, and the Town is as anxious as anyone to find out what new development will take place. All I can say is stay tuned.

Youth & Alcohol Task Force - Oct. 23rd

The next meeting of the Fairfax Youth & Alcohol Task Force has been scheduled for Monday, October 23rd at 6:30 p.m. in the Fairfax Library. All are welcome to attend.

Questions regarding the Task Force may be directed to Council Member Mary Ann Maggiore at or Council Member Lew Tremaine at

Flu Pandemic informational presentation on Monday

A reminder that on Monday, Oct. 16th, the Fairfax Citizens’ Disaster Council is sponsoring a presentation by County Public Health Officer, Dr. Fred Schwartz, who will explain the pandemic influenza threat, the risks, and how you and your family can best prepare and respond to this potential disaster. The presentation will be held at 7:00 p.m. in the Fairfax Women’s Club and is open to everyone. Click here to view more information.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Congratulations Ross Valley Seniors!

Today, the Ross Valley Seniors Club celebrated its first anniversary with a pizza luncheon and a movie showing at the Fairfax Women's Club. Some background: a year ago, the Towns of Fairfax and San Anselmo developed a special program for Ross Valley Seniors. Each month a special event is held specifically designed for people age 55 and over. Activities include organized walks, board games, special presentations, guest speakers, bocce ball, luncheons and much more. In less than one year the Ross Valley Seniors have 75 participants, 39 of whom are from Fairfax! All seniors are welcome to become members and enjoy meeting new people and participating in many exciting events. Here are some Ross Valley Seniors upcoming events:

  • Thursday, Nov. 9th, Robson House, San Anselmo – Historical slide show of San Anselmo
  • Thursday. Dec. 14th, Fairfax Women’s Club –Holiday party and create a food basket/gift for local family
  • Thursday, Jan. 11th, Fairfax Women’s Club – Introduction to Yoga; play Mah Jong and other games

For more information, contact Dana of San Anselmo Recreation at 258-4669. Membership in the Ross Valley Seniors Club is $20 for one year.

Special thanks to Karen Arnold of Fairfax Parks and Recreation Commission for her unending enthusiasm for organizing and supporting this wonderful group. Also thanks to Ghiringhelli's Pizza for donating today's lunch.

Sustainable Fairfax Announces Two Special Workshops in Natural Building and Permaculture planting

Sustainable Fairfax requested that I post this message regarding their upcoming workshops:

Sustainable Fairfax’s Backyard Class series is offering two weekends in October and November open to additional participants. The first weekend will be October 21-22 and will focus on natural building with cob. The second weekend, November 11-12, will teach participants about plants and irrigation. The cost is $100 per weekend or a discounted rate of $150 for both weekends. Cob is a very old method of building with earth and straw or other fibers. It is quite similar to adobe in that the basic mix of clay (which comes from soil dug from our pond) and sand is the same, but instead of creating uniform blocks to build with, cob is normally applied by hand in large gobs (or cobs) which can be tossed from one person to another during the building process. The traditional way of mixing the clay/sand/straw is with the bare feet, so we need lots of feet. Because of all the straw, cob can be slightly more insulating than adobe and would make a very comfortable house California climate. In this two-day class we will be making a bench that will become a permanent piece of art in our Sustainable Backyard. The wonderful thing about cob construction is that it can be a wildly freeform, sculptural affair, participants are encouraged to bring bits of tile, glass, ceramic and marbles to contribute to the bench. Cob was a common building material in England in the nineteenth century, and many of those buildings are still standing. The Permaculture planting class will discuss the best plants to use in our climate for native, habitat, medicinal, and a multilayered food forest, there will be hands on planting and installation of a drip irrigation system in the backyard.

Sustainable Fairfax began its Sustainable Backyard Class in early September at the future site of its Sustainability Center on Bolinas Road in Fairfax. Taught by Sentient Landscape designers Kamala Bennett and Geoff Hall, participants are learning different techniques that they can use in their own backyards. Classes include harvesting water, growing live soil, composting, mulching, creating habitat, wildlife diversity, integrated pest management, using recycled materials, and solar features in the garden.

Sustainable Fairfax began out of an inspiration to take local action on the global warming crisis in February 1999. Sustainable Fairfax is working on developing a plan for opening the Sustainability Center in the summer of 2007. The Sustainable Backyard space will be a demonstration site for sustainable practices for outside the home. It will also be used for Sustainable Fairfax events and meetings and be available for other local organizations to utilize.

For more information and to signup for the classes please contact, Pam Hartwell-Herrero at (415) 269-0621, .

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Youth wanted for new Commission

Are you age 14 to 19 and interested in participating in your town and making a difference? A new Fairfax Youth Commission was created by our Town Council last week, and we are looking for five to seven teenagers from Fairfax who want to be a part of establishing events and programs for the teens in our community. Click on the image to view the Resolution creating the new Youth Commission. For more information, please contact Youth Commission Liaisons, Council Member Mary Ann Maggiore, at or Council Member Lew Tremaine at

Creek Clean-up October 22nd

Here is a press release regarding the Volunteers' annual creek clean-up:

The photo is displaying the items cleared out of the creeks at last year's 2005 clean-up event. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Is it a civic art project? A neighborhood yard sale? No, the massive pile of debris you’ll see in Fairfax’s Bolinas Park on Sunday, October 22, will be the results of a satisfying day of clean-up in the town’s creeks. This mountain of refuse – old furniture, discarded toilets, pots and pans, car parts, lost toys – doesn’t stay in the park for long. It’s put there to remind neighbors that we all need to work together to keep our creeks clean.

Fairfax Volunteers invite everyone who loves our open spaces to get involved in this critical annual volunteer activity: the care and maintenance of the creeks and streams that run through Marin. “Fairfax Volunteers has been holding a creek cleaning event every fall for several years, collecting garbage and debris that has no purpose being there,” said John Reed, President of the Fairfax Volunteer Board. “Over the years, we've hauled out literally tons of garbage, from trash to water heaters to old couches. It's astonishing what gets thrown in the creek by thoughtless people. Their garbage doesn't just disappear! It's ugly and it pollutes as it rots, clogging our streams.”

Creek clean-up volunteers are encouraged to wear old clothes, sturdy shoes that can get wet (no sandals please), and gloves. A sense of adventure is a plus, and families with kids over seven are encouraged. Volunteers will meet at 9:30 am on Sunday, October 22, at the Fairfax Community Center/Youth Center, 16 Park Road (next to the Fire Station), and leave for the creek clean-up at 10 am. For more information, call Maria Baird, Community Resources Coordinator, at 456-5652.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Town website?

Is there anything you'd like to see added to our Town's website at Please email me at with your ideas and suggestions and I'll let you know if we can accommodate the changes.

Flood insurance settlement received

Today we received checks totalling $188,163 from the Town's flood insurer. So far, between flood insurance settlements and FEMA reimbursements we have received $772,564, which is approximately half of what is owed to the Town from the Dec. 31, 2005 and the April 11-12, 2006 disasters.

Column preview

Here is what I have submitted for next week's Ross Valley Reporter:

Flood Zone 9 and Fairfax: Years ago, the Towns of Fairfax and San Anselmo opted out of joining Flood Zone 9, which is a separate governmental entity with authority to collect funds and implement flood control measures in the Ross Valley. With the new effort of Supervisor Hal Brown’s Ross Valley Flood Protection and Watershed Program taking a cooperative regional approach to flood control, we need to consider whether to join Flood Zone 9. Current methodologies to control flooding do not involved concrete channels, which was one of the objections the Town had to joining Flood Zone 9 years ago. Modern watershed conservation efforts include restoring creek capacity and habitat by using environmentally-friendly methods which do not involve channelization or environmental alteration. In order for the Town of Fairfax to fully take advantage of the regional efforts heralded by the Ross Valley Flood Protection and Watershed Program, Fairfax will need to be included in Flood Zone 9 in order to gain the financial benefits of this governmental entity. Flood Zone 9 is able to raise funds not only through taxation - which is subject to a vote of the people - but also by leveraging the Ross Valley’s collective need when applying for federal and state flood mitigation grant funding. At our October 4th Council meeting, we heard a presentation from the County Flood Zone 9 Engineer regarding the progress made to date on understanding the causes of flooding and the need to make changes to our watershed and water conveyance system to reduce our future flooding risk. Your Town Council has scheduled a special meeting for November 15th at 7:30 p.m. in the Women’s Club to consider joining Flood Zone 9 through the adoption of a resolution of consent. Your participation in this meeting is encouraged and welcomed.

Siren Warning System approved: At our October 4th Council meeting, the Council agreed to enter into a contract for the purchase and installation of a siren warning system. After the December 31, 2005 flood disaster, many residents expressed their concern that the former Town siren at the fire station needed to be replaced to provide an audible warning system that can warn residents of flood, fire or other disaster. Our initial approach to this project will be to have a siren installed first at the Pavilion, and after testing, install two additional sirens - one in the Cascades and another at the west end of Sir Francis Drake, near Olema. We will have the first siren operational in three to four months.

It is very important for residents to understand that a siren system is only one component of an emergency warning system. When a disaster strikes, residents need to be ready to tune into their radios and televisions for announcements, listen for a phone call from the Telephone Emergency Notification System (TENS), and, depending on the nature of the disaster, assemble with their neighbors to check on neighbors’ well-being. In future columns, I will be providing more information on the siren and its testing and implementation.

Grant for Fire Sprinklers in Fire Stations: The Ross Valley Fire Department was fortunate to receive an $186,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. This grant was received to fund the installations of automatic fire sprinklers and fire alarm systems at the Department’s three fire stations. The grant, which only requires a 10% match, has allowed us to replace the Department’s outdated, nonfunctional fire alarm systems. In the case of the Butterfield Road station, there was no alarm system. The new alarm systems include the required smoke, heat, and rate of rise detectors; horn/strobe indicators; and manual pull stations. Additionally, the alarm systems will be monitored by an UL Approved Central Station. The installation of the alarm systems are now complete at all three stations. The installation of the fire sprinklers at all three station is well on its way, with anticipated completion by mid-November.

While firefighters may be more vigilant than the average citizen when it comes to fire safety, on average 150 fire stations burn each year in the United States. The installation of the fire alarm and fire sprinklers systems at Ross Valley Fire Department’s fire stations will significantly reduce the risk of a devastating fire.