Friday, April 27, 2007

Flood Control District 9 update

Fairfax representative to the Flood Zone 9 Advisory Board, Council Member David Weinsoff, reported that at the recent annual meeting of the Board, the annual budget was approved, including the expenditure of existing revenue of $320,704 on flood control measures – primarily for maintenance. Further, the District bylaws were amended to include Fairfax and San Anselmo as new members of the District. The Board also heard a presentation on the status of the Army Corps of Engineers’ flood control projects, and learned that the Corps is specifically prohibited by Federal law from undertaking work upstream of the Town of Ross. Council Member Weinsoff is maintaining a public file on meetings and activities of the Flood Control Zone 9 Advisory Board, which is available to the community upon request.

Fairfax enters Team Bike Challenge

To support the effort to reduce the number of vehicles on our roads, and in the nature of good-spirited competition, the Town of Fairfax is entering a team in ’s “Team Bike Challenge.” The Town’s team consists of our Mayor, Larry Bragman, Finance Director Ian Roth (our Team Captain), Planning and Building Director Ann Welsh, Administrative Assistant Susan Waters, and me. Our collective goal is for each of us to ride our bikes at least once per day for the entire month of May – yes, all 31 days - for an errand we otherwise would do by car. Please cheer us on if you see us pedaling around town!

Participants in the Team Bike Challenge form teams of two to five individuals who then think of a creative name for themselves (ours is Team PSYCHE - Public Servants Yearning to Curb Hazardous Emissions), and log the days they bicycle on a personalized calendar at Each individual team member earns a point every day he or she uses a bike for transportation purposes. Teams around the bay compete with each other for points to win a grand prize of a bike rack to be placed in a public space of choice.

Susan Waters’ bike was old, rusted, and not in any shape for riding…so, at his own expense, Ian Roth went out and bought her a refurbished bike. Now there’s a dedicated Team Captain!!! See the photo of Susan and Ian.

Don't forget - Thursday, May 17th is Bike to Work Day!

Town Council Meeting May 2nd

The agenda and packet materials for the May 2nd Council meeting have been posted on the Town website here:

Monday, April 23, 2007

Town Council Meetings

The next Strategic Planning meeting of the Town Council will be held on Saturday, April 28th from 9 a.m. to Noon in the Women's Club.

The next regular Town Council meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 2nd at 7:30 p.m. in the Women's Club.

The Sunday IJ incorrectly reported there being a meeting this Wednesday the 25th, and there is no meeting scheduled.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Back to Basics - Overview of Town Services

I am taking the opportunity to share with you a basic overview of services that the Town provides with your generous tax dollars. The services your Town government provides and their costs are outlined in a draft Strategic Financial Plan that your Council is currently reviewing. Preparation of such a Plan was a pledge with respect to our five-year Measure F tax, and is an excellent opportunity for all of us to have a document detailing the services we provide and how much it costs to run Fairfax’s government. In order to provide the Plan to a wider audience and to enhance transparency in decision-making, I will periodically provide sections from the Plan in this blog.

Like most municipal agencies, the Town is in the business of providing “service.” We exist to serve the public and to help solve community problems. The people who provide this service are our employees, and this results in personnel costs being the largest expenditure in our budget (
approximately 77% of the general fund budget). The Town currently has budgeted 29 full-time employee positions. In comparison to other small Marin municipalities, Fairfax has the lowest employee/population ratio in the County.

To work toward a sustainable budget, while saving money in order afford fair compensation and benefits for our existing employees, one Administrative Assistant position has been frozen since September 2006, with the workload being absorbed by current employees.

The Town recognizes that personnel will always be its largest expenditure category, and the Council must strike an appropriate balance between providing fair wages and benefits and living within a sustainable budget. The Town of Fairfax government provides a “no frills” modest level of basic services to its residents. Demand for responsiveness just to meet these basic services, plus frequent requests for enhanced services, always exceeds the staff and resources available based on our revenue limitations. It is important to acknowledge the services which are currently provided so that if discussions regarding where services can be reduced or if the community is interested in where funding is currently being allocated, the information may be included as part of that conversation.

Police: The Police Department handles approximately 14,000 incidents per year and provides a full-range of services including routine patrol services, accident investigation, juvenile support programs, alcohol enforcement, traffic enforcement, domestic violence and drug investigations as well as other complex criminal investigations. They are the primary agency responsible for commercial parking enforcement and also coordinate tree regulations within the Town.

The Department has 16 full-time employees, including 11 sworn employees, five non-sworn employees and four part-time/reserve employees. They maintain a 24/7 state of the art dispatch center, handling all 9-1-1 and non-emergency calls, all while providing an around the clock walk-in lobby for residents. The Department is committed to providing high visibility service for the unique, vibrant nightlife that draws many visitors to the various bars that host live entertainment.

Fire: Since 1982, the Town has been in a Joint Powers Authority for fire services with the Town of San Anselmo. The Ross Valley Fire Service is funded by the two towns, and has achieved efficiencies of service delivery and is a more viable and efficient method of providing fire services than for each town to maintain their own fire department. The two towns own the fire station buildings and are responsible for capital improvements to the facilities. The Town of Fairfax is responsible for 30.4% of the Ross Valley Fire budget each year, which represents approximately 18% of the Town’s general fund expenditures.

Public Works: This department is staffed by six employees, the Public Works Director, two Lead Maintenance Workers and three Maintenance Workers. The array of services provided with this small staff include managing the capital improvement program and Measure K-funded infrastructure improvements, public street maintenance and repair, storm drain and disaster related repairs, storm water program management, plans and specifications for bidding procedures, cleaning and maintaining all parks, public landscaping, and Town facilities management.

Planning and Building: Planning and Building Services are provided by four staff members, the Planning and Building Director, Building Official and Senior Planner, with staff assistance from an Administrative Assistant who is shared with Finance. Services provided include facilitating a comprehensive update of the General Plan, which has been a priority articulated by Council, processing planning and building permit applications, building inspection, processing variances and Planning Commission items, supporting the Planning Commission, General Plan Advisory Committee and Design Review Board, drafting zoning amendments, and assuring project compliance with the environmental review process.

Recreation/Volunteers: The Volunteer Program and Parks and Recreational Program are supported by one half-time Community Resources Coordinator. Services provided include staff support of the Volunteer Board and the Parks and Recreation Commission and coordination of the programs and priorities of each board, which include certain community special events.

Administration and Finance: This department consists of four employees, down from five since September 2006. The employees are the Town Manager, Finance Director, Assistant to the Town Manager/Town Clerk, and one Administrative Assistant. Services provided include management of the Town and the staff, support of the priorities of the Council, all mandated financial responsibilities and reporting requirements, budget development, payroll and personnel functions, technology and website management, building rentals, government code mandates such as local elections, plus Brown Act compliance (agendas and minutes) and customer service.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Join the Human-Powered Parade!

Message from Renee Goddard, Manor School team leader:

Attention all biking, walking and otherwise human-powered people!

Fairfax will celebrate the 30th year of its fantastic summer festival with the always colorful and innovative Fairfax Festival Parade on Saturday, June 9th.

Climate change is the theme of the Festival's Eco-Fest (held in the Fairfax Pavilion) and Safe Routes to Schools will be sponsoring a "human-powered" section of the parade to address this significant global and local issue. Come on out and help us raise community awareness for the need to create safe alternative transportation options and to celebrate our feet and non-motorized wheels.

Our children are leading the way by walking and biking to school in unprecedented numbers. We know how children's creativity and energy can steer us all in amazing directions. To bring visibility to their efforts and respond to our climate crisis in a positive and proactive way, we invite all of you to join and support the Human-Powered Parade. Create a float as an entry for your school, your family, or your neighborhood that celebrates human mobility and sustainable travel. For information or to share your ideas please contact Renee Goddard at 497-5134 or

Friday, April 13, 2007

Step it Up! Location April 14th

"Fairfax Confronts Global Warming Day" - STEP IT UP MARIN - April 14th

NEW LOCATION!! Please meet at the Fairfax Pavilion at 10:30 a.m. for the Fairfax rally and then march to San Anselmo - rain or shine!! (60% chance of rain tomorrow so if it's clear, the rally will be outside.)

Ask Congress to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.

Go to

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Siren Test Friday the 13th at 11:45 a.m.

Our first test of the new emergency warning siren will take place this Friday the 13th at 11:45 a.m. Here is a fact sheet on the siren.

Emergency Warning Siren Information:

The Town of Fairfax has installed the first of three emergency warning sirens in the Corporation Yard behind Town Hall. These sirens are designed to warn residents during a wildland fire, flood or other local emergency.

The warning siren is a Federal Signal Corporation Eclipse8 siren and is mounted atop a 70 foot pole. With 360 degree omni-directional coverage, it is expected to reach one mile in all directions.

The warning siren will be tested the first Friday of each month at 11:45am for 30 seconds.

In the event of an emergency, the siren will sound for three minutes. Tune into local radio or television stations for information.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. What do the sirens look like?
    The siren resembles a large bell turned on its side, sitting on a small platform. The siren can be viewed from by standing on the sidewalk on Park Road, and looking to the left of the Fire Station, between the Fire Station and the Fire Station parking lot (which now houses the temporary Town Hall at 14 Park Road).
  2. What kind of sound will the siren make?
    The sound is a steady signal. Initially, it will sound like a fire truck siren, then increase in pitch and sound a constant tone signal until the alert is complete. At the end of the 3-minute alert, the siren will shut down. During the shutdown, the siren will decrease in pitch for 20-30 seconds until it turns off.
  3. What does it mean when I hear a siren?
    A siren sound alert means that there is an emergency in your area, potentially dangerous condition or impending threat. You should turn the radio and tune into local emergency broadcast news stations KGO (810AM), KCBS (740AM), KNBR (680AM) or local TV stations and listen for instructions. Emergencies could be a wildfire, flooding, a large building fire with toxic smoke or a chemical release into the air.
  4. If I'm inside my home or office, will I hear the siren?
    The siren system is primarily designed to alert people outdoors. Some people will be able to hear the siren indoors, depending on how close the indoor location is to the nearest siren and depending on the volume of other noise indoors, such as a TV, radio, or machinery, and whether windows are open or closed.
  5. If I'm driving, will I hear the siren?
    It depends on how close you are to the siren when it goes off and whether your car windows are open or closed. You may or may not hear the siren.
  6. How will I be affected if I'm standing near the siren when it is activated?
    The sirens are very loud and no one should stay close to them during an activation. The sirens are installed in accordance with FEMA guidelines, which means that they are mounted approximately 45 feet above ground, so that if you are standing underneath it, no harmful permanent hearing damage will occur. Also, the siren rotates during activation, so that the loud sound level will occur in a single direction for a short period of time.
  7. What is the sound range of the siren?
    The siren sound range is approximately 1 mile. The sound range will vary based on location and conditions, such as hill terrain, a tall building or high outdoor noise levels.
  8. The siren points away from my area, so how will I hear it?
    The sirens are a directional design to project a more powerful sound alert in a specific direction. During activation the sirens will rotate 360 degrees to provide sound coverage in all directions. The siren will rotate 4 times per minute.
  9. How does the siren system operate?
    The sirens will be activated from the police department.
  10. How long will it take to install the siren?
    The first siren has been installed. The other two will be installed after locations have been identified.
  11. Who authorized or approved this particular site?
    The Fairfax Planning Commission approved this site after discussions with the vendor and recommendations from town staff about the best location for the siren.
  12. When will the rest of the sirens be installed and where?
    The other two sirens will be installed after locations are determined.
  13. Who should I call with questions?

Questions on the siren may be directed to Fairfax Town Hall at 453-1584. After business hours, questions may be directed to the Fairfax Police Department at 453-5330.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

At Coffee Roasters on Thursday

I will be holding my next session of office hours in the community on Thursday, April 12th from 8:30 -11 a.m. at the Fairfax Coffee Roasters. Please feel free to stop by and discuss any issues of Town business, or just to say hello.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Actions from April 4th Council meeting

Here’s a summary of actions from our April 4th Town Council meeting:

  • Ross Valley Watershed Flood Protection and Watershed Program – The Council received a presentation by County Supervisor Hal Brown, Jr. and Flood Control Engineer Jack Curley regarding the proposed storm drain user fee and mail ballot process for flood control and watershed improvements. Questions were taken from the audience and information was provided. The Council adopted a resolution supporting the Ross Valley Flood Protection and Watershed Program and the proposed drainage system fee for the Ross Valley Flood Zone 9.
  • An appeal set for 75 Rocca Drive was postponed at the request of the appellant.
  • Council endorsed the Fairfax Open Space Committee’s request to designate the 99-acre “Wall Property” as a priority for acquisition as open space. The property is located on the eastern border of the Town, covering 99 acres above the Willow Street and St. Rita’s neighborhoods.
  • Received a request from the Fairfax Volunteers to further develop their “trail and walkway project” to install reflectors, posts and benches at the access points to select rights-of-way walking trails, to encourage the use of trails as an alternative to motorized transportation. All costs would be paid for through the volunteers’ fundraising activities or through donations. The Council requested that the Volunteers provide the Council with a specified list of prioritized trails to be worked on, and the proposed work for each trail.
  • Designated April 15-21st as “National Library Week” in Fairfax through a proclamation which recognizes and celebrates the amazing array of services provided for our residents through the Marin County Free Library System.
  • Approved the temporary closure of School Street (next to the Women’s Club) for Saturday, May 12th from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the “Fat Tire Festival.” The event is sponsored by Velo Club Fairfax in association with the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, and is the Bay Area’s premier off-road mountain biking festival.
  • Held first reading of the wood burning appliance ordinance, pertaining to the reduction of air pollution by regulating the installation of wood burning appliances (i.e. wood burning stoves), and removal and operation of non‑certified wood burning appliances. The Council agreed to institute a deadline of 2010 for the removal or discontinuance of all non-EPA certified wood heaters, with exceptions granted in cases of hardship.
  • Awarded a bid of $195,000 plus a 20% contingency to Knight Construction for the repair of Town buildings damaged by the flood.
  • Approved agreements for an Emergency Watershed Project at 82 and 88 Creek Road, through a Federal program that provides 75% Federal funding to pay for repair/replacement of a retaining wall damaged by the flood. The private property owners are responsible for the remaining 25% of the project cost, with the Town donating in-kind staff time for contract administration. Of over 100 project applications submitted from throughout Northern California for creek-side damage from the 12/31/05 flooding disaster, the Creek Road project was one of only eight to qualify for 75% Federal Funding.
  • Approved a request by the Marin Farmers Market to hold the 2007 Fairfax Farmers Market in Bolinas Park, with direction to move the booths off of the lawn as much as possible to minimize impacts to the grass. The Fairfax Farmers Market will commence on Wednesday, May 2nd.
  • Received an update from Council Member Weinsoff regarding Council attention to problems with the Canyon Road Sewer Extension. Mayor Bragman and Councilmember Weinsoff have presented the Sanitary District with a comprehensive letter outlining concerns relating to the District's implementation of the sanitary sewer extension on Canyon Road. A response from the District on how it intends to address the Canyon Road community's complaints is expected by the end of April. The Council will consider the District's response at its May 2nd meeting.
  • The following items were continued to the next Council meeting on May 2nd: (1) Discussion and consideration of possible conversion of Mono Avenue between Bolinas and Elsie into a pedestrian-only right-of-way, Tremaine; (2) Discussion and consideration of the introduction of an ordinance regarding impervious surface limitations and water runoff mitigation in new developments to reduce surface runoff contributing to flood risk, Bragman/Tremaine
  • The update on fiscal year expenditures to date was carried over to the next strategic planning meeting (date to be determined).

Friday, April 06, 2007

Open Space Committee Fundraiser

The Fairfax Open Space Committee invites everyone to a benefit party on Saturday, April 21st from 5-10 p.m. at the Fairfax Women’s Club. The event features music by Otis Scarecroe, Steve Wolk and the Tom Finch Band, plus a lasagna dinner with beer and wine included. There also will be a raffle and silent auction to raise funds toward open space. Tickets are $20, on sale at BookBeat, Town Hall or at the event.

Toy Drive for Peri Park

Fairfax resident Bill Johnston has volunteered to spearhead a new project to purchase new push and riding toys for the little ones to use at Peri Park. The goal is to have new toys at the park by the beginning of May, and the project is being coordinated in conjunction with the Fairfax Volunteers. You can contact Bill at if you are interested in donating or helping out in some way. See the flyer for more details.

Step it up Marin!

The National Day of Climate Action will take place on Saturday, April 14th, calling on Congress to Step It Up and cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. Fairfax's rally, "Fairfax Confronts Global Warming Day," will take place on April 14th at 10:30 a.m. at Bolinas Park with a march to the San Anselmo rally at Memorial Park. See the calendar of events for more info.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Egg Hunt this Saturday

This Saturday, April 7th at 10 a.m., the Town's Parks and Recreation Commission will host the Annual Egg Hunt at Bolinas Park. The event is free - kids, bring your own baskets!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Suggestion Box Summary

Here is summary of the Suggestion Box messages submitted and responded to over the past two months. I have been busy with many projects and did not post the summaries for a while so they backed up on me. Thus, the following link is to a long list of suggestions that was easier to make into a .pdf document than pasting into this blog. All suggestions were read by me and Mayor Larry Bragman and were responded to in a timely manner. Please keep those suggestions coming!

Click on this link to read the Suggestion Box Summary: