Saturday, June 30, 2007

Creek Road Bridge update

One more hurdle is over with respect to the repair of Creek Road Bridge. We received a letter this week stating that the California Regional Water Quality Control Board issued water quality certification for the bank stabilization project at the Creek Road Bridge site. We are still waiting for the FEMA and U.S. Fish and Game environmental issues to be settled.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Outcome of Joint meeting on Police Consolidation

On Saturday, June 23rd, the Town Councils of Fairfax and San Anselmo held a joint meeting to discuss the issues related to police consolidation. The meeting was facilitated by former San Carlos and San Anselmo town manager Mike Garvey, and was also attended by the Town Managers, Police Chiefs and Police union representatives of both towns. The meeting was an opportunity for both Councils to come to a concurrence on what goals are shared by the Towns with respect to considering sharing services for cost effectiveness in both police departments. The Councils agreed that the four most important issues are:

  1. Long-term financial effects
  2. Maintain/improve quality of service
  3. Buy-in from stakeholders - Council, community, staff, unions
  4. Explore sharing Town services, starting with Police.

The Councils then listed all of the components a shared service model must have to be accepted and successful. The following ideas were solicited from individual Councilmembers:

1. Save money and not cost more money

2. Equal to or better than current – If more costly, then must be self-supporting, and identify revenue source

3. Maintain 24/7 facility in each Town

4. Maintain/preserve community policing

5. Reflect common goals and beliefs

6. Allow local control by each Town

7. Have the support of staff

8. Fairfax Measure “F” diligence

9. Analysis of the current ordinances and policies of each Town for conformity/differences

10. Analysis to include cost distribution.

Members of the public added the following must have components to the discussion: (1) incorporate green principles/sustainability; and (2) assurance current community-oriented services will continue.

The Councils then listed the following components that a shared service model must not have, which were two items:

1. Must not cost more money

2. No layoffs.

The meeting concluded with the formation of a Joint Shared Services Subcommittee, made up of the following four Council Members – Fairfax: Susan Brandborg, Lew Tremaine; San Anselmo: Peter Breen, Ted Freeman. The subcommittee’s first charge will be to formulate the parameters for a request for proposals for a consultant to study all possible cost-savings opportunities between the two police departments. The two Councils agreed that any cost-savings model with respect to the police departments could also apply to exploring cost savings through joint ventures between other town departments as well. The first meeting of the subcommittee has been set for Monday, July 2nd at 5 p.m. at the San Anselmo Town Hall conference room.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Town Flag Resolution

On June 25, 2007, the Fairfax Town Council adopted Resolution No. 2494, petitioning Governor Schwarzenegger to issue a proclamation permitting the Town of Fairfax and all other State, County and Municipal governmental agencies throughout the State of California to display the United States and California State flags at half-staff on each Friday of any week in which a California resident, or a resident of any other state, is killed while serving in the California National Guard or United States Armed Forces in the Iraq or Afghanistan theaters of operation from the date of the proclamation until the cessation of hostilities. The resolution was drafted by Mayor Larry Bragman. See Resolution No. 2494.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Ross Valley Watershed Mail Ballot Process

The deadline to submit property owner ballots for the Ross Valley Watershed Mail Ballot Election is Monday, June 25th. You can call the County Clerk of the Board at 499-7331 if you have not received a ballot or misplaced yours. For more information, visit

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Joint meeting with San Anselmo

This Saturday, June 23rd, at 9 a.m., the Town Councils of Fairfax and San Anselmo will hold a joint meeting with respect to the issue of police consolidation. Click to view the agenda.

Friday, June 15, 2007

3 Upcoming Town Council Meetings

As a follow up to the meeting held earlier this year, the Town Councils of Fairfax and San Anselmo will hold a joint facilitated public meeting to explore the issues related to consolidation of police services. A main objective of this effort is to identify potential cost savings for both towns. The meeting will be held on Saturday, June 23rd from 9 a.m. to Noon in the Fairfax Women's Club.

The Town Council will hold a special meeting on Monday, June 25th at 7:30 p.m. in the Fairfax Women's Club. The agenda will include five items from the June 6th meeting that were not heard due to the lateness of the hour.

The next regular meeting of the Town Council will take place on Wednesday, July 11th at 7:30 p.m. in the Fairfax Women's Club.

Upcoming Plastic Bag Ban

With the growing load of plastic on our streets, in landfills, and in ocean waters, the Town Council has decided to take a leadership role in stemming the tide of pollution here at home, by banning the provision of the ubiquitous plastic shopping bag at our retail establishments.

As you may be aware, petroleum-based plastic bags do not biodegrade, but rather break down into smaller pieces through wear and tear, abrasion, and photo-degradation. Any plastic that does not get stored in landfill ends up eventually in our streams, bays, and oceans. Plastics are entering our food chain as marine animals of all sizes can mistake these plastic bits for food. Plastic ingestion leads not only to discomfort, suffocation, and starvation for the consuming creature, but also to hormonal disruption all along the food chain. Worldwide, plastic bags are proliferating at an alarming rate. Over one million bags are used per minute across the planet, at the cost of over 12 million barrels of oil per year for their manufacture. Californians throw away over one billion plastic bags each year.

The Town Council took the lead 10 years ago when it banned the use of disposable Styrofoam containers for food take-out. Now, as the world’s burden of plastic continues to grow, the Council is working toward a ban on the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags by all stores, vendors, and eating establishments. If adopted, a Town ban on petroleum-based plastic bags would take effect in February 2008. Compostable plastic bags would be allowed for a three-year period to help make the adjustment away from what has, in a few decades, become a deeply entrenched habit of shopping. The Town wishes to encourage the use of recycled and recyclable paper bags, and ideally, the use of reusable cloth bags by patrons to all businesses in Town.

The second reading and adoption of the proposed ordinance is scheduled for the Town Council meeting of Wednesday, July 11, 2007 at 7:30 p.m. in the Fairfax Women’s Club at 46 Park Road.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Climate Protection Information

In 2000, the Town of Fairfax adopted Resolution No. 2109, pledging to join with jurisdictions from all over the world in the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign. We are a member of ICLEI, the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. ICLEI recently sent its newsletter, which is filled with many articles and resources on climate change. I've posted the newsletter here, where you can link to the hyperlinks in the document.

Resolution No. 2109

ICLEI Newsletter - Can be found at the bottom of this page - a Word document.

Peri Park Toy Drive a Success!

A Fairfax resident, Bill Johnston, took the initiative to start a toy drive for Peri Park.

You can read all about the success of the project here:

Thank you, Bill, for spearheading this project and the kids I'm sure will be very happy to have new toys to play with!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Column preview

Here is a preview of my Ross Valley Reporter column submitted for next week.

Financial Sustainability in a Changing Climate: As part of an executive seminar application, I recently responded to the question, “What do you perceive to be the most important issue facing local governments, and why?” I share my response here.

The most important issue facing local governments is financial sustainability, especially in the wake of a changing global climate and the need to respond to environmental concerns. In 1978, Proposition 13 forever changed the way that cities are funded, and since then, municipalities have responded to the need to maintain services in various ways. Some have seen the “fiscalization of land use” impact the character of their communities as cities chase retail developments in order to gain sales tax revenue. Others, like the Town of Fairfax, with a limited retail base, have had to turn to parcel taxes and ballot measures as a means to augment the general fund.

The threats to our natural environment, brought about more aggressively by the consequences of climate change, will mean that more local financial resources will need to be devoted to disaster preparation and response. As first responders, cities must be prepared to react immediately to disasters such as fire and flood. Ideally, this role requires dedicated funding in order to maximize preparation and response. Like most of the Ross Valley, Fairfax sustained a flood in December 2005 that we are still recovering from. Recent research as printed in the Marin Independent Journal explained evidence that the flood conditions were likely made worse by climate change factors. Continuing to provide the same compliment of services that we currently offer to our residents - while dealing with the looming threat of more and frequent disasters as well as the need to take actions to reduce our energy footprint and hence stem the factors leading to climate change – is a tall order for cities. Maintaining financial stability in the wake of these developments is an enormous challenge.

The Town’s public facilities sustained approximately $1.5 million in damage due to the flood, and many residents and businesses were affected as well. We have worked closely with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency throughout the process, and have done our best to comply with all of their agency regulations. The outcome has been that we are in five appeals regarding our public projects, in those instances where FEMA is not approving funding for various reasons. The situation continues to be unacceptable and is devastating to the Town financially. The lessons learned are that we needed to get our State and Federal elected officials involved earlier in the process and on an ongoing basis, in order to assist us with lobbying for the monies we are owed from the disaster. Seventeen months after the disaster, we are still fighting for funding from FEMA. We understand that FEMA is understaffed, but this is a great burden on a Town that already has a very limited budget with little reserves. I can only imagine the lingering suffering of the Hurricane Katrina victims and municipalities that are having to rebuild.

Ross Valley Senior Club: The Town of San Anselmo and Fairfax have 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 that one year the Ross Valley Seniors have grown to over 80 participants! All seniors are welcome to become members and enjoy meeting new people and participating in many exciting events. Annual membership is only $20. For more information, please call Dana at San Anselmo Recreation, 258-4669. The next Senior Club event will be held on Thursday, June 14 at 11 a.m. in the Fairfax Women’s Club, featuring an “Introduction to Water Color Painting” with San Francisco artist Tina Moylan. Lunch is included for current members, non-members pay $5 per event. RSVP to 258-4669.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

FEMA Approves appeal

In a letter just received from FEMA, they accepted our explanation for the emergency contract for street debris and mud removal which took place in the hours after the 12/31/05 3 a.m. flood, and are approving our appeal for $220,245!

The letter says “FEMA has determined that with this additional information, the contracts met the criteria for Federal Time and Material contracts. Therefore, the appeal is approved. FEMA will prepare PW 1845 Version 1 for an additional $220,245 for eligible costs.”

They were questioning our rationale for not going out to public bid on having the mud removed from the streets and we argued that due to the emergency nature of the situation, we had to use the contractor that was available and could do the work immediately. It has taken since August 2006 to resolve this appeal in the Town's favor.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Festival Website is Updated and Live!

I just received an anonymous message in the on-line suggestion box:

Please note that the Festival Website has been updated and was live as of May 18th:

The link from the Town's home page has been live since then too. Much thanks to Steve Wyrostock for a fabulous Festival website!!!

Ross Valley Fire CPR Classes on again!

After a long absence, the Ross Valley Fire Department is pleased to announce that CPR classes are available once again.
The dates for the CPR classes are (Saturdays) 6/16, 8/11, 10/13, 12/15. The cost is $20 and students MUST sign up in person at 777 San Anselmo Ave., San Anselmo, prior to the date of the class. No phone registrations will be accepted . Each class will be taught at our Fire Station at 10 Park Road, Fairfax and starts at 9 a.m. The class lasts approximately 5 hours (depending on the class). The class taught is titled "HeartSaver CPR" by the American Heart Association. It teaches the student to perform CPR on adults, children and infants. This class is geared toward the "bystander" not the healthcare provider. It also teaches how to relieve airway obstructions/ chocking in the adult, children and infant. After successful completion of the class the student will recieve a CPR card (approximately 2-3 weeks after the class).

Friday, June 01, 2007

Column preview

Here is a preview of my Ross Valley Reporter column submitted for next week.

Thank You Economic Development Advisory Committee: In November 2006, your Town Council decided to enlist the assistance of the business community in reviewing and tackling the issues of how we can foster greater business success, increase revenue to the Town, and enhance economic development activity. To that end, the Town’s first ever Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) was formed. The members of the EDAC include: Jeff Burton, owner of Bath and Beyond; Fred Codoni, retired railroad company manager; Garry Graham, owner of 19 Broadway nightclub; Leah Smith, manager at Marin Farmers Market; Mark Squire, co-owner of Good Earth; and Augie Venezia, co-owner of Fairfax Lumber and Hardware. Over the course of six months of volunteering their time to this endeavor, these businesspeople met several times, reviewed financial data provided by the Town, and provided the Town Council with their suggestions on how the Town can generate more revenue and augment economic development efforts. Their proposal has been posted on the Town website for two months now for all to view at, click on Strategic Planning, then locate the item, “Final Economic Committee Recommendations.” The list of ideas is long, and I recommend that everyone read through the posted 5-page document. The next step is for the Town Council to make its recommendations regarding the EDAC proposals and to direct staff regarding implementation of the ideas. On behalf of the Mayor and Council, I would like to publicly thank the members of the Economic Development Advisory Committee for their time, thoughtful deliberation, and dedication to helping the Town of Fairfax in this with this critical issue.

FEMA Appeals: I’d like everyone to know that we are in the midst of five appeal processes with the Federal Emergency Management Agency on disaster-related projects from 17 months ago. We are supplying them with additional justification and data that they have asked for, and we are still waiting for responses on these issues while approximately $700,000 due to the Town of Fairfax hangs in the balance. We have enlisted the assistance of our State and Federal elected officials to help with lobbying on behalf of the Town. Regarding the status of Creek Road Bridge, on May 17th a FEMA Senior Biologist informed us that they obtained concurrence from the National Marine Fisheries Service for us to move forward on the repair. However, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants additional information as they believe there is still potential for red legged frogs to be in the area, even though FEMA found there to be a low potential for the frogs in their environmental review conducted under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. A FEMA representative indicated to me that they are “trying to speed up the process.”

Town Council Meeting: Our next regular Town Council meeting is on June 6th at 7:30 p.m. in the Women’s Club. Among the items on the agenda will be the introduction of an ordinance establishing a second dwelling unit amnesty program, and an ordinance banning the use of plastic take-out grocery bags by retail stores in town. We will also have a review of a Marin Grand Jury report on retiree health care costs.

Joint Meeting on Police Consolidation: As a follow-up to the joint meeting with San Anselmo with respect to the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) study on police consolidation held in January, the Town Councils of Fairfax and San Anselmo are holding a joint meeting to further explore the issues with respect to potential consolidation of police services for cost savings. The public meeting will be held on Saturday, June 23rd from 9 a.m. to Noon in the Fairfax Women’s Club at 46 Park Road.