Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Office Hours in the Community - tomorrow March 1st

The next session of office hours in the community will be held tomorrow, Thursday, March 1st from 8 – 11:30 a.m. at Barefoot Café, 1900 Sir Francis Drake. I hold office hours in the community one morning a month at rotating locations. No appointment is necessary. Feel free to stop by to discuss any issue of Town business or just to say hello.

Friday, February 23, 2007

CERT Training March 3rd & 10th - sign up now!

The next Community Emergency Response Training course (CERT) will be held on two consecutive Saturdays, March 3rd and 10th, at the College of Marin. The training helps you become better prepared to help yourself, your family and your neighbors, before, during and after disasters or home emergencies. Remember, any Fairfax resident who completes the training is eligible for a $30 registration fee rebate from the Town of Fairfax, courtesy of a grant from Supervisor Hal Brown. The course registration form is posted here:

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Update on various items

February 17th Strategic Planning Meeting: The Town Council and Economic Development Advisory Committee met with Michael Mackintosh, owner of the Marin Town and Country Club, in an open and public meeting to discuss how to move his proposals forward with the Town and the community. Mr. Mackintosh received input and ideas from the community, the Council and the Committee, including the suggestion that he conduct community outreach and facilitated meetings introducing proposed development designs to the community. At this meeting, the Council discussed the recent police consolidation study, and directed staff to communicate to the Town of San Anselmo that we are interested in exploring shared services and cost savings not only with respect to police services, but other town department services as well, and also directed staff to work with San Anselmo staff on a recommendation for a financial consultant to conduct a financial analysis of potential consolidation/shared services agreements.

Meeting with FEMA: Recently, Mayor Larry Bragman, Council Member David Weinsoff and I met with FEMA representatives and Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey’s aide Tom Roth to discuss the outstanding issues that the Town has with our FEMA projects and monetary reimbursements. We received advice and information and made suggestions as to how the process of assisting disaster stricken cities can be improved, including expediting payments and greater communication.

Office Hours in the Community: The next session of office hours in the community will be held Thursday, March 1st from 8 – 11:30 a.m. at Barefoot Café, 1900 Sir Francis Drake. I hold office hours in the community one morning a month at rotating locations. No appointment is necessary. Feel free to stop by to discuss any issue of Town business or just to say hello.

Upcoming Town Meetings: The next regular meeting of the Town Council will be held on Wednesday, March 7th at 7:30 p.m. in the Fairfax Women's Club. The next Town Council Strategic Planning and Economic Development Advisory Committee meeting will be held on Saturday, March 24th from 9 a.m. to Noon in the Fairfax Women's Club. At this meeting, the community members of the Economic Development Advisory Committee will share their recommendations for revenue enhancement and cost savings.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Home Safety Emergency Plan available!

What started out as the Disaster Preparation calendar project evolved into the Emergency Preparation Brochure Project, for which the Town received $2,100 in donations. We have purchased 1,500 of these brochures (pictured). The brochures were produced by the Salvation Army, and contain information and instructions on what to do during various home emergencies and natural disasters, and have a magnet on the back for attaching to a refrigerator to keep handy.

The brochures are now available at each business that contributed to the project, plus at Town Hall and the Police Department. This is a project of the Fairfax Citizens' Disaster Council.

Please join me in thanking the following businesses and organizations for their monetary support of this project to raise disaster preparedness awareness:

  • Marchant Chapman Realtors
  • Good Earth Natural Foods
  • Fairfax Lumber and Hardware Co.
  • Ross Valley Insurance Agency
  • Fairfax Police Officers' Association
  • Ross Valley Firefighters' Club

Please stop by the above businesses and pick up your free Emergency Plan brochure!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Ross Valley Watershed and Flood Protection Project proposed mail ballot

At the third Ross Valley Watershed community meeting held on February 10th, engineers explained that in Fairfax, some of the flood control solutions being considered are water detention basis which could be created at sites such as Lefty Gomez Field and White Hill Middle School. Water could be held in basins during flooding events and then released slowly as to not overwhelm our creeks. The biggest restriction that causes flooding in downtown Fairfax is the undersized culvert that runs under Bolinas and Sherman. The capacity of the culvert is 850 cubic feet of water per second, and during the 12/31/05 flood, the out of culvert flow was 600 cubic feet per second. The culvert needs to be replaced and widened to handle the flood flows, and ideally, the creek in this area should be “daylighted” instead of running underground. Other large projects proposed to reduce flooding risk are needed in San Anselmo and Ross.

The valley-wide project costs, including continuing the hydraulic modeling into critical reaches of the creek such as Fairfax and Sleepy Hollow, are currently estimated at $100 million and can only be undertaken with sufficient funding. Last year, the local Ross Valley governments pulled together and raised $660,000 for projects completed during the past year. Additional funding will have to come from a variety of State and Federal sources. Californians recently passed Propositions 1E and 84, which make billions of State dollars available for flood control. However, those funding sources require that a local revenue source. The proposed source is a storm drainage user fee, explained below.

In the Ross Valley Watershed, creeks and streams are part of the natural drainage system that sends stormwater runoff to the Bay. In order to provide initial funding and matching funds for the high cost of completing the many proposed projects that would reduce flooding risk, a storm drainage fee is proposed to be taken to the property owners in the Ross Valley. The fee for a property would be related to how much stormwater runoff it generates. Land that is developed creates “impervious areas” where water cannot soak into the land, resulting in stormwater runoff. The fee would be based on both the size of the property and how heavily it is built on.

Under the proposed fee, the vast majority of single-family residential properties in the Ross Valley would pay $125 or less per year. Most condo owners would pay approximately $30 per year. The fee would be capped at $180 a year for residential properties. The fee would end in 20 years, unless extended another election.

If the Marin County Board of Supervisors determines that the Ross Valley Flood Protection and Watershed program stormwater user fee should proceed with a vote of the property owners, ballots could be mailed in early May. Each ballot will contain the exact fee for a property. In conformance with California law, ballots are mailed to the property owner of record, which is not always the person living in or conducting business in a building on that property (renters do not vote because they don’t pay the fee directly). There would be one vote per property and passage requires at least 50% of the returned ballots. Property owners would have 45 days to vote and return the ballots by mail or in person to the County Clerk.

This effort is an opportunity for the Ross Valley to raise the funds necessary to make monumental and historic improvements to our watershed for restoration and improvement of our creeks and drainage system to reduce flooding risk. More information on the mail ballot will be forthcoming this Spring.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Creek Road Bridge update

Thanks to concrete pier installation and abutment stabilization work that was recently completed, coordinated by our Public Works Department, Creek Road Bridge has now re-opened to foot and bicycle traffic.

Saturday Strategic Planning Meeting

This Saturday, February 17th, the Town Council will hold a strategic planning and economic development meeting in the Women's Club as follows.

9:00 a.m. - Discussion with Michael Mackintosh regarding future of Marin Town and Country Club property

10:30 a.m. - Ideas for economic development from the community members of the Economic Development Advisory Committee

11:00 a.m. - Council discussion and consideration of the POST Police Consolidation Study

The IJ has printed more than once in the In Your Town section that the police consolidation study portion of the meeting starts at 9 a.m. but the Town never told them that.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Update on various items

Here's what I've submitted for my column in next week's Ross Valley Reporter.

Flood Control District: At the February 7th Council meeting, the Town Council voted to remove the condition which was keeping the Town from full acceptance into the Marin County Flood Control and Water Conservation District No. 9. The resolution of annexation now has a clause as follows: “The Town Council provides concurrence to the annexation with the understanding that during the feasibility phase of any proposed project within the Town of Fairfax, the District shall provide to the Town all documents pertinent to the project to allow for review and comment by the Town Council.” This revision was acceptable to the County. All Council Members expressed awareness and concern for the need for a regional process for flood control. The next step is the rollout of the property owner mail ballot election to fund seed money for the Ross Valley Watershed flood control effort. I will provide more details in a future column.

Strategic Planning Meeting: The next strategic planning meeting of the Town Council is scheduled for Saturday, February 17th from 9 a.m. to Noon in the Women’s Club. The first part of the meeting from 9-10:30 a.m. will be combined with the Economic Development Advisory Committee, and Marin Town and Country Club owner Michael Mackintosh has been invited to dialogue with the Council and Committee regarding future plans for his site. The second part of the meeting from 10:30 a.m.-Noon will focus on the issue of the police consolidation study.

Floodgates: In order to encourage the installation of flood gates, the Town Council recently approved the waiver of permit fees for the installation of floodgates for any structure in town, a savings of approximately $80 per installation. Floodgates can be an effective and quick way to protect storefront properties during the threat of flooding. Floodgates are also much more effective than sandbags at keeping high water from damaging your property and are much less time consuming than filling and stacking sandbags. The Town has a sample plan for floodgates available at no cost. The plan is an example of a typical floodgate, but not necessarily one that is appropriate for every property. Installation of these gates is a worthwhile investment, and while they are most typically installed for business structures, some residential structures may also benefit depending on the design on the home. Our staff is eager to help with any questions regarding floodgates. Please feel free to contact Mark Lockaby, the Town’s Building Official, at 458-2370.

Wood burning appliances: In order to reduce the particulate emissions in the air we breathe, the Town Council at its February 7th meeting agreed with Council Member Susan Brandborg’s proposal to move forward with an ordinance regarding woodburning appliances. Such an ordinance would require the conversion to cleaner-burning fireplaces and woodstoves upon new construction or remodels. The ordinance would have an educational component to educate residents on the health impacts of wood smoke, and encourage cleaner-burning alternatives such as gas-fueled devices, pellet stoves and proper wood burning techniques to build hotter, more efficient fires. A wood burning fireplace emits almost a half-pound of particulate pollution in just one evening and wood smoke is responsible for about 30% of wintertime air pollution in the Bay Area. The ordinance would have a phased-in approach and hardship provisions for those who rely on wood burning as their main home heat source. The ordinance details are still being developed and the draft will be brought back for further discussion at the March 7th Council meeting.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Creek Gauge installed

This week, a creek level gauge was installed in the Fairfax creek behind the Youth Center. As you can see, it has a solar panel to charge the battery pack. The gauge still needs to be connected to a computer which will allow for remote monitoring. The gauge will collect creek level data that can inform the Ross Valley Watershed hydrology effort, and the system has the capacity to send notices to staff computers and cell phones when the creek rises to a certain level.

We were able to purchase this from some money saved on the siren pole which was donated by PG&E and through using a paging system for siren activation as opposed to computerized activation. The emergency warning siren is to be installed within the next two weeks, and I will provide more information here when we get to that point.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Council meeting Wed., Feb. 7th

The agenda for the next regular Town Council meeting this Wednesday night is posted here:,%202006%20TC%20Agenda.pdf

The packet is here

Email me if there's an item you'd like to see that is not posted electronically and we can email or fax it to you.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Police Consolidation Meeting summary

The Town Councils of Fairfax and San Anselmo met on January 31st at Drake High and heard a report from the State of California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) on a study of consolidating the police agencies of the two towns. Here is a summary of the report’s findings and recommendations.

Summary of POST Study Findings:

1. Consolidation or contracting between the departments is feasible, and may be desirable. Cost savings are possible, depending upon the form of consolidation.

2. No “significant event” (e.g. loss of a chief executive, internal turmoil, or political agenda) has taken place that would often stimulate immediate discussion of potential contracts or consolidation. Recent flooding has resulted in financial troubles for both towns and may have prompted discussions, particularly from a cost standpoint.

3. Information and presentation of what consolidation is, its various forms, how it works or can work, and how services can be provided to the community without the loss of local control and input is vital to the success of a possible consolidation. Without an outreach effort, the concept has little chance of approval or success in any form.

Summary of POST Recommendations:

1. Hold an independently facilitated “consolidation” workshop/seminar/retreat(s) for key decision makers, with the following goals:

Inform participants of preliminary information on consolidation to allow them to decide if there is sufficient reason to continue dialogue and to continue to study and evaluate the consolidation option.

Identify the issues that need to be resolved to make informed decisions about consolidation.

Identify the necessary steps that must be taken to successfully accomplish planning and implementation of consolidation.

2. Determine if there is sufficient support for additional study of consolidation; if so, what form of consolidation or contract. If, after sufficient public discussion, it is determined by the agencies to be feasible, pursue a more detailed cost/benefit analysis and other studies of the “approved” forms of consolidation/contracts.

Both Councils agreed that the idea of further exploring consolidation opportunities had merit and each Council will be discussing the issue of police consolidation in its own Town Council meeting format. The Fairfax Town Council will be discussing the police consolidation issue at its next Strategic Planning workshop on Saturday, February 17th from 9 a.m. to Noon.