Monday, January 30, 2006

Financial Assistance for Flood Victims

I wish I could report that we have heard about the Federal declaration for FEMA funding but there is still not word. In the meantime, we received a press release from Assemblymember Joe Nation, which provides referrals to financial institutions that have stepped forward to offer assistance to flood victims. The following institutions are offering short-term financial assistance in the form of loans at favorable rates to individuals and businesses affected by storm damage:
Redwood Credit Union, (707) 576-5436, for small businesses
Vineyard Bank, (877) 484-6392, for small businesses
Wells Fargo Bank, (800) 869-3557, credit lines and home equity, and business loans
Bank of America, (800) 831-5586, credit lines and home equity, and business loans, access to time deposits and IRAs without penalty
Exchange Bank, (707) 823-3800, for small businesses
Luther Burbank Savings, (707) 523-9746, for individuals and small businesses

Strategic Planning an ongoing project

At Saturday morning's Strategic Planning Workshop, the Town Council discussed ways of moving forward with long-term goal-setting, including the issue of economic sustainability. The Council decided that the process of strategic planning could benefit from more time dedicated to this endeavor, separate from regular Town Council meetings, and decided to hold Strategic Planning Workshops on one Saturday morning of each month (generally the 3rd Saturday of the month). The next meeting will be on Saturday, February 18th.* All of the meetings are open to the public, and individuals are welcome to provide input at the meetings. The Council directed me to look into engaging a facilitator for this process. I am looking for a facilitator, someone who does not have a stake in the process or the Town, to facilitate the process of strategic planning and goal-setting, preferably someone who could offer non-profit or government rates to the Town for their services. If anyone has any suggestions, please call me at 458-2345.

*Note date change.

Chamber Benefit a Success

Saturday night's benefit for our local merchants was a resounding success! Chris Lang of the Chamber reported that the benefit netted just under $14,000 to be used for assisting local merchants affected by flood damage. Kudos to the Chamber of Commerce, Parks and Recreation Commission and Volunteer Board for putting on a terrific event. The food was great, the music was fantastic and a couple hundred people in attendance enjoyed a wonderful evening of entertainment and dancing. The funds raised will be used for an advertising campaign for local businesses, as well as for grants that businesses can apply for, through the Chamber, for flood-related repairs and businsess recovery. Businesses wishing to apply for a grant should contact Chris Lang, President of the Chamber of Commerce, at 457-8687. Thank you to everyone involved in putting on this event. It was very heartening to see the community come together to enjoy a good time and help our local merchants.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Upcoming Meetings & Events

Here's a summary of some upcoming events:

The Town Council's Strategic Planning Workshop will be held tomorrow (Saturday) from 9-11 a.m. in the Women's Club.

"Fairfax Flood Relief," a benefit for local merchants, will be held tomorrow night from 6-11 p.m. in the Pavilion, featuring live music, food, activities, a raffle and silent auction. Sponsored by the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, Fairfax Parks and Recreation Commission and Fairfax Volunteers.

The next regular Town Council meeting is on Wednesday, February 1st at 7:30 p.m. in the Women's Club.

The Town Council's Public Safety Committee (Mayor Brandborg and Council Member Weinsoff) holds its meeting on Thursday, February 2nd at 7 p.m., also in the Women's Club. Agenda topics include emergency evacuation protocol and other issues.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Flood Recovery Update

As of this writing, we still await the Federal declaration of a state of emergency for California. The Governor sent his request to the President last week and we are hopeful that the declaration will be made so that FEMA assistance becomes available for residents and business owners.

Today I attended a meeting of the County's Storm Recovery Working Group, a newly-formed group with representatives from the County Office of Emergency Services, other County departments, the Red Cross, school districts and the Towns of Fairfax and San Anselmo. The purpose of the group is to communicate and coordinate recovery efforts and resources. I learned that if the FEMA declaration is made, a local assistance center would most likely be set up in the Ross Valley as a one-stop location for flood victims to apply for assistance. We heard from the Red Cross that 84 families throughout the County who were displaced from their homes are utilizing Red Cross housing assistance. I asked for Fairfax statistics and received a call this afternoon from the Red Cross, and learned that Fairfax has 10 Red Cross client families for a total of 22 Fairfax residents displaced. Some of these families are in danger of homelessness when the Red Cross assistance ends, and are waiting for FEMA housing assistance. You may have read an article about this situation in the January 18th edition of the Marin IJ.

On a disaster-related topic, some residents have expressed an interest in a new alarm/warning siren system for Fairfax that could be used in the event of flood or fire disasters. We will have a report on this issue on the Town Council agenda for the regular meeting of Wednesday, February 1st.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Saturday Morning Strategic Planning Workshop

This Saturday morning, January 28th from 9:00-11:00 a.m., the Town Council will hold a Strategic Planning and Goal-Setting Workshop. The Council will be discussing the process of setting long-term goals for the Town. The meeting will be held in the Women's Club and is open to the public.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Park Clean-up

Many residents have asked about the status of our beloved Peri Park, which was inundated with mud during the flood. I am happy to report that contractors started yesterday removing all contaminated sand and wood chips. Once this is completed, our Public Works maintenance crew will inspect and tighten all fittings and power wash all of the equipment. If all goes as planned, the park should have a final playground inspection the week of January 30th, and then we will be enlisting the help of volunteers to spread new sand and wood chips. If you are interested in helping with the volunteer effort, please contact Volunteer Board Chair John Reed at Included here is a photo of the work being done today.

Event Seeks Help & Donations

Rose Taber asked me to post the following request. She is organizing the "Flood of Appreciation" event this Sunday the 22nd from 2-4:40 p.m. and is asking for volunteers to help with the event and also for donations. If anyone would like to help, please contact Rose at Rainbow Fabrics, 50 Bolinas Road, 459-5100.

Water District Provides Billing Relief

We received the following announcement from the Marin Municipal Water District yesterday.

At their January 18 board meeting, the Board of Directors of Marin Municipal Water District voted in favor of discounting the cost of water used by customers to clean up their properties in the wake of recent flooding. The emergency measure will permit an adjustment to the water bill of customers who can substantiate the extraordinary use of water for the 30-day period following December 31, 2005 (ending January 30, 2006) for the sole purpose of cleaning up their properties in the aftermath of the flood. The adjustment for qualifying customers will be limited to two billing periods and is at the discretion of MMWD General Manager Paul Helliker. To initiate a request for adjustment or for more information on the calculation used for the billing adjustment MMWD customers should contact the Customer Service Department at 415-945-1400 or by email at and follow-up with a formal written request.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Relief Measures for Flood Victims

At the Special City Council Meeting held last night, Wednesday, January 18th, the Town Council took the following actions to provide relief to the victims of the flood disaster:

Council approved a process to allow property owners to expedite storm damage repair, and a waiver of permit fees, for individuals seeking to make storm-related repairs to their properties, including creek-related repairs. Property owners are to notify Town staff by February 28, 2006 of their intent to apply for permits; the permits and work do not have to be completed by that time but the Town needs to be notified by that date. The Town will process refunds to those property owners who already pulled permits for storm-related repairs. Property owners and business owners affected by the flood disaster are encouraged to contact the Town’s Building Department at 453-1584 should they wish further information regarding this expedited permitting process.

The Town Council also approved an extension of the grace period for business license renewals for businesses affected by storm damage. Under the Town’s Code, the grace period for 2006 business license fees is February 1st. The Town Council has now extended the grace period to May 1, 2006 for those businesses affected by flood damage in order to provide some financial relief while merchants are working on restoring their businesses. Affected merchants can contact the Town at 453-1584 for any questions about business license renewals.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Meet Maria

I'd like to introduce Maria Baird, our new Community Resources Coordinator. Maria started this week and she is working on a part-time basis to assist our Volunteer Board and Park and Recreation Commission with their programs and administrative operations. Maria's resume includes work in a similar position with the Town of San Anselmo plus public outreach experience with the City and County of San Francisco. Maria jumped right into the heart of the volunteer effort by attending the special Volunteer Board meeting last week and giving constructive input. Please join me in welcoming Maria to our community.

Flood Appreciation & Relief Events

I wanted to share the following announcements with everyone:

First, "A Flood of Appreciation" which is an afternoon reception honoring all of the "neighbors helping neighbors" following the Fairfax flood. The event takes place this Sunday, January 22nd from 2:00 - 4: 40 p.m. in the Women's Club on Park Road. Fairfax musicians will be performing and light refreshments will be served. Rose Tabor is organizing this event.

Secondly, "Fairfax Flood Relief," a benefit for local merchants, will be held on Saturday, January 28th from 6:00 - 11:00 p.m. at the Fairfax Pavilion. A donation is being requested, sliding scale. The event will feature live music, a raffle and silent auction, community activities, and food, beer and wine will be available. The event is being sponsored by the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, Fairfax Parks and Recreation Commission and the Fairfax Volunteers.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Special Meeting Wednesday night

The City Council will hold a special meeting on Wednesday the 18th at 7:00 p.m. in the Women's Club to consider disaster recovery issues. The following items are on the agenda: authorization to increase the Town Manager's authority to enter into contracts related to disaster recovery; a contract with a firm to assist the Town with financial recovery from the disaster; a contract with a company to restore damaged Town buildings; consideration of an extension of the grace period for business license renewals for flood-damaged businesses; and discussion of the permitting process as it relates to properties damaged by flooding.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Thanks for attending

I enjoyed meeting with many residents last night at the Volunteer Board meeting. A lot of good ideas were discussed, and I will be working with John Reed, Board Chair, on some of these. A group is forming on voluntary creek monitoring. E-mail me at my link to the right on this page if you are interested in joining in the creek monitoring discussion. I have many issues to follow-up on from the meeting and I will be contacting those of you who wished follow-up (if I was able to get your name and contact info.; if not, contact me directly).

I have been in contact with the offices of our Member of Congress, Assemblymember and U.S. Senator today asking about the FEMA declaration and there is no word yet. I learned that Assemblymember Nation is heading an effort to ask the State to ensure full-funding of reimbursement for damaged public buildings and infrastructure.

Tomorrow, a group of volunteers is planning to do a clean-up project at the 65 Spring landslide. Folks are meeting at Mono and Bolinas at 9:30 a.m. I will join in for a few hours.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Meeting Tonight

Tonight, the Fairfax Volunteer Program Advisory Board will hold a special meeting in the Women's Club, 46 Park Road, at 7:30 p.m. I will be there to give a brief overview of Town activities related to disaster recovery, but for the most part I will be there to listen. The Volunteer Board will be presenting an update on their Neighborhood Groups project, and there will be a discussion of volunteer efforts and suggestions regarding community support and preparation before, during, and after a disaster. Many ideas and suggestions were put forth at the City Council meeting of January 4th, and this will be an opportunity to explore those ideas in more detail. A few of the ideas brought forth include a volunteer telephone tree for disaster notification and a voluntary creek monitoring system. Some of the best ideas come from our community members and I look forward to hearing your input regarding volunteer efforts. Hope to see you tonight.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

FEMA Update, Town Hall and the Weather

Today I participated in a conference call with the Office of Emergency Services (OES) for the County and representatives from all cities in the County along with special districts. We were told that FEMA has completed its assessment of Marin and that the total damage assessment at this point is $110 million for the County as a whole. Fairfax staff met with County and FEMA and Small Business Administration (SBA) representatives on Friday of last week and we completed all the steps they requested for providing initial damage assessments for both private and public property. The County is projecting that the Presidential declaration of an emergency could take place as soon as the end of this week. So, we are all waiting for this, because this will open up assistance to residents, homeowners and business owners as well as financial help for the Town in the form of partial reimbursement for disaster related expenses.

I want to give you a brief update on Town Hall, the Police Department and Fire Department. The carpet has been removed from most of the areas in these buildings and clean-up and restoration work needs to be done. Some staff may move out of the building during this process. If this happens, we will provide public notice as to where we are located so that we can continue to provide you with service.

OES notified us that two storms are on the way, one tonight and one Friday night. Friday night's is predicted to be a heavier storm. We are restocking our sandbag supply and checking the creeks as best we can for removal of branches and debris. If your property borders a creek, we ask that if you are able, please remove any obstructions that you see that may impede the flow of water.

As a side note, I'd like to say a word of thanks to everyone for their patience during the storm aftermath. This being only my second week with the Town, I have met so many residents who have come through this experience with a positive attitude and with constructive ideas for helping. I have also enjoyed a very warm welcome from so many people. Thank you for making Fairfax a great place to be.

Please check our website at under Town and Community Events on the home page. The dates of the Thank You reception and the Volunteer Board meeting have changed, partially due to limited space availability since our Communuity Center building floor is being replaced due to flooding.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Disaster - One Week Later

So much has happened during this past week, it is hard to know where to begin.

What may be on the minds of many residents and business owners is: "How do I apply for financial assistance?" As of today, the Federal government has not yet declared a state of emergency for California and Marin County. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance, which includes grants and loans, will be made available to flood victims if a Federal declaration is signed by the President. As it stands now, the State does not offer direct monetary assistance to disaster victims. The Town is not in a financial position to offer loans or other financial assistance to victims.

What is the Town doing?
We have been answering the many questions that people have had since the storm hit, and providing referrals to other agencies for help as necessary. Please see the Town's home page at for phone numbers of resources.

The Town's Public Works Department has been working ever since the flood hit to clean roadways of mud and debris, remove tree branches and other obstructions from creeks, distribute debris boxes, assess damage to public infrastructure, and perform emergency repairs to bridges and roadways. The Town's Planning and Building Department has been dealing with issues related to damage to private property, and assessing landslides and related safety concerns. Of course, during the storm itself and immediately following, the Town Police Department and Ross Valley Fire responded to a number of life-threatening emergencies related to the flood waters and landslides. And, Town Finance and Administration have been preparing for the State and Federal reimbursement processes that we are hoping will be made available to the Town as a result of damage to Town-owned public infrastructure.

Over the past week, staff compiled damage assessments in conjuction with the County Office of Emergency Services, and met with FEMA representatives who are currently performing an assessment/audit of the damage. As of yesterday, we were told that the Presidential declaration of a state of emergency could be made within a week. There are certain thresholds that need to be met in order to qualify for the declaration, and the the information I have been provided indicates that we are meeting the thresholds. If FEMA comes in, we have been told that they will conduct a massive outreach campaign in the community to let everyone know what services are available and how to apply for help.

Please see our website at for two events that are upcoming: a Thank You Reception for everyone who helped with the storm response, and a Volunteer Board meeting to discuss volunteer efforts for this disaster and future emergency preparedness response.

The Town staff has performed admirably throughout the disaster, and I feel fortunate to have such a dedicated group of people working to help this Town recover and become an even greater place to live and work.

Please check back as I would like to post here at least a few times per week if not more often.

New Blog Created!

Hello and thank you for visiting this blog.

My name is Linda Kelly and I am the new Town Manager of Fairfax. I've created this blog as a way to communicate with the residents of Fairfax about their Town government and the community of Fairfax. I welcome any feedback or questions regarding the items posted on this blog to my e-mail address at Lately, our Town internet connection has not been extremely reliable due to the damage to the Town Hall as a result of the flooding, so if I do not respond to your message right away, I will get back to you when I can, but I will get back to you.

Part of my mission here is to promote proactive communication and responsiveness, and I look forward to making this blog a tool that enhances information sharing with the residents of Fairfax.

A few legal items: the Town of Fairfax does not endorse and is not responsible for the contents of other links from this site which are not under the control of the Town of Fairfax.

I am using this tool as Blogger is available at no cost.