Friday, August 31, 2007

Town Council Meeting Sept. 5th

Here is the agenda for our next Town Council meeting on Wed., Sept. 5th at 7:30 p.m. (Sorry, this program doesn't allow me to sort these pages in the right order.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Creek Road Bridge Repair Update

After many months of delay, on August 16th, the Town received notice from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the biological opinion on the Creek Road Bridge repair project has been completed. The opinion is required for compliance with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

Creek Road Bridge in Fairfax was damaged by the flood waters of the December 31, 2005 disaster. The bridge was initially closed then reopened to foot and bicycle traffic only, and then when engineers detected movement of the bridge in December 2006, the bridge was closed to all use and has been closed since, pending the environmental permitting process. The bridge is a FEMA project as a result of the disaster, and all repairs and work must be completed in accordance with Federal and State regulations.

The proposed work is to repair approximately 130 feet of bridge embankment damaged by the high stream flow, to prevent further erosion of the stream bank which supports the bridge. Temporary fill needs to be removed and fill material will be placed and compacted as a backfill.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued 7 conservation measures and 19 terms and conditions in order for the Town to be in compliance with the Endangered Species Act. As such, the Town will need to take various measures to protect red legged frogs and their habitat, and well as protect any bats, pond turtles, and any other native reptiles and amphibians found during the course of the bridge repair.

The Town is working to expedite the next step of approval from the State Office of Emergency Services (OES) in order that the Town can bid for the project work. It is anticipated that if OES approval is received soon, the Town will be able to have the work completed prior to the 2007 rainy season. Once the repair is complete, Creek Road Bridge would return to full capacity for use by vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians.

A status report on Creek Road Bridge is slated for the Town Council meeting of September 5th. We are aware that the bridge and its usage has become a controversial issue, with advocates asking that we keep it closed to vehicles on a permanent basis. We have received many emails and we received petitions last year on this issue. In my opinion, the larger issue that we need to discuss is traffic calming in the area of Creek Road. The bridge closure has given the neighborhood the experience of lessened traffic, and we all like that effect for our own neighborhoods. This was an unintended, but I understand welcome, effect of the flood damage. The Town needs to follow State and Federal guidelines and repair the bridge to its pre-flood state, else we will risk the funding for this project. We also need to ensure swift police and fire access during emergencies. I invite us to have a larger community conversation on traffic calming and making the area safer for the residents of the affected streets, and I will be asking the Town Council to address this issue.

Joint meeting on planning issues

The Town Council is holding a joint meeting with the Planning Commission and General Plan Advisory Committee on Thursday, September 6th at 7:00 p.m. in the Women’s Club to discuss the following issues:

  • Status of Mixed Use Overlay Zone Ordinance
  • Status of General Plan Elements
  • Pending Ordinances under review by Planning Commission

The meeting is open to the public.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Power Demand Alert

The California Independent System Operator (CAISO), charged with managing the electricity grid in California, has issued a Flex Alert for both Wednesday, August 29th and Thursday, August 30th.

Due to the current hot weather, the demand for electricity is approaching capacity. As a result, state officials have called a Flex Alert. It's urgent that you:

- Turn off all unnecessary lights
- If you must use an air conditioner, turn it up to 78 degrees or higher
- Postpone using major appliances until after 7:00 PM

For updates, please visit

Monday, August 27, 2007

New Crosswalk at Manor School

As part of the "Safe Routes to Schools" program, a new crosswalk was installed on Oak Manor Drive at Manor School to improve pedestrian safety. The attached letter was recently mailed from County Supervisor Hal Brown to Manor Elementary School families.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Committee Meetings

Our citizen committees are at the core of how we integrate the ideas and energies of the community in the process of planning, programs and services. Next week, the Volunteer Board, Tree Committee, Open Space Committee, Citizens' Disaster Council, and General Plan Advisory Committee all hold their regular meetings.

To keep up to date on Town meetings, please visit our Calendar on the Town website at

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Debra Sue Johnson Leaves for Corte Madera

We are saddened to announce that Debra Sue Johnson, Public Works Director, has accepted the Public Works Manager position with the Town of Corte Madera. Debra Sue previously worked as a consultant for Corte Madera for 12 years before joining Fairfax. She is returning to fill a very important role for their town and will be working for Corte Madera Town Manager Dave Bracken, formerly their Public Works Director, and mentor to Debra Sue.

Debra Sue joined the Town of Fairfax in 2005 and seven months later, the flood hit. Immediately she was on the scene mobilizing staff and resources to restore safety to our roads and to assess the damage. She navigated the Town through a very trying period of time with our FEMA projects and secured funding for several grant funded public works projects. During this time, Debra Sue also made time to study and complete her Bachelor’s degree. We all benefited from Debra Sue’s talent and dedication, and we wish her the best of success in Corte Madera. Her last day with the Town of Fairfax will be Sept. 7th.

Town Budget Adopted

On August 15th, the Town Council adopted a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2007-08. The budget maintains staffing at current levels and maintains all current services to the residents of Fairfax. We project continued recovery from the flood disaster of December 31, 2005, and the ongoing pursuit of all reimbursements owed the Town. Furthermore, our budget allows us to continues moving forward with Capital Projects that were deferred last year, and funds the Energy Efficiency Project for retrofitting Town facilities, at $114,000.

As residents are aware, the Town has many needs that we are not able to fund due to revenue limitations, and thus the list of needed but unfunded projects is long. Due to ending some unusual one-time revenue sources, the Town ended the fiscal year in approximately $356,000 in the positive. After considering many important needs, the Town Council decided to use the funds on the following fiscal and physical safety priorities.

Reserves: The Town Council has committed to increasing our reserve fund, which serves as a rainy day savings account for economic uncertainty, reducing the Town’s financial risk. The Town Council has directed the transfer of $141,944 transfer to our reserves, currently $858,056 which creates a new total reserve of $1 million. This is a very positive move for the Town and enhances our financial security.

300 Olema Road Flood Mitigation Project: The Town Council committed additional funding to completed this sorely needed project, which will alleviate the repeated flooding at Olema Road and Village West.

Upper Scenic Road Retaining Wall: The Town Council allocated funding to install a new retaining wall to repair December 2005 landslide damage on Scenic Road. The road is at risk of further failure if permanent repair measures are not taken. At the initiative of Mayor Larry Bragman, a meeting was held recently with State Office of Emergency Services (OES) officials and representatives from Senator Carole Migden’s office, where we toured the landslide on Scenic Road. The Town had appealed this project to OES and FEMA, urging that they provide the Town with financial support for the project due to the imminent public safety hazard and the threat to the road. Mayor Bragman’s lobbying and follow-up has resulted in the OES agreeing to fund a geotechnical study of the slide situation, and to strongly consider funding the entire project. If this turns out positive, the Town may be reimbursed approximately $100,000, which we could in turn use for some of our unfunded projects (described in more detail below).

Bus Shelter at 2525 Sir Francis Drake: The Town Council also committed funding to install a bus shelter in an area near apartment complexes with many public transit riders. The shelter will encourage bus use and shield the transit riders from the elements.

The remaining list of unfunded projects was long, and the Town Council has prioritized the following projects, to be funded when and if additional monies become available:

  1. Americans with Disabilities Act transition plan.
  2. Consultant for Noise Element of the General Plan.
  3. Widened driveway curb cuts on Sir Francis Drake for the five residences impacted by the new sidewalk across from the Manor bridge.

Prop. 1B Funding: The Proposition 1B State bond funding approved by the voters in November 2006 is minimally estimated at $400,000 for Fairfax. The State has not yet decided which fiscal year(s) the funds will be allocated. The allowed uses of these funds include: repair and maintenance of existing road and drainage infrastructure that does not currently have a dedicated revenue source; traffic safety projects; and use as a local match to obtain State and/or Federal transportation funds for similar purposes. As the funding becomes certain, staff will program these funds into the budget.

Measure F Funding: In 2005, the public generously approved Measure F, providing five years of augmented general fund monies of approximately $465,000 per year. This funding expires with the 2010-11 budget year, three years from the adoption of the current budget. During the public discussion leading up to the vote on Measure F, the Council agreed to undertake strategic planning and look at other ways of doing business. The Council undertook this exercise during the 2006-2007 fiscal year, which included the establishment of, and report from, a citizen’s Economic Development Advisory Committee. The Council has also been discussing with neighboring communities ways to reduce costs for police and fire services. Because these efforts are ongoing, the Council has not as of the adoption of this 2007-08 budget reached consensus on identification of revenue sufficient to offset Measure F revenue upon its expiration.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Moving back to Town Hall

This weekend, we are finally moving back to Town Hall! As of Monday, August 20th, Town Hall staff will be back into our regular location at Town Hall, 142 Bolinas Road. The restoration of Town Hall offices from the effects of flood damage is complete, but work continues on the Police Station and Fire Station. As we say goodbye to our modular trailer, we look forward to serving you in our restored digs!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Status of Creek Road Bridge

Today, we issued this press release on the status of Creek Road Bridge. Click on the image to enlarge.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Office Hours in the Community

My next session of office hours in the community will be held at the Fat Angel Bakery, 71 Broadway, on Thursday, Sept. 13th from 8:30 – 11 a.m. I will be available to speak with any resident who has any issues of Town concern, and no advance appointment is necessary.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Town applies for solar energy bond

The Town recently applied for a Clean Renewable Energy Bond for the installation of solar panels on two Town buildings: the Pavilion and the Community Center/Youth Center. If the Town receives the award for the zero-interest bond for $249,000, the Town Council will hold a public discussion on whether to accept it and move forward with the proposed installations. The zero-interest monthly payment would be offset by savings in our PG&E bills. The award allows five years from the date of issue to use the bond funding and a 16-year payback period with no interest.

Next meeting of Disaster Council

The next meeting of the Fairfax Citizens' Disaster Council will be held on Thursday, August 30 at 4:00 p.m. in the Community Center/Youth Center at 16 Park Road. We will have an update on the Town's flood mitigation planning activities; the Town's budget with respect to disaster recovery and disaster preparedness projects; the installation of the two remaining emergency warning sirens; volunteer training for disasters; CERT; and Flood Zone 9 activities. The meeting is open to the public.

Upcoming Events - Mark your calendar

We have a few community events coming up in Fairfax.

The Good Festival is being held on Saturday, August 25th from Noon to 5 p.m. at Fairfax Park, and is co-sponsored by the Parks and Recreation Commission. The event will feature music, environmental and peace oriented activities for the whole family. The event is being put on by a group of young people associated with the College of Marin.

The Annual Car Show will be held in downtown Fairfax on Sunday, Sept. 9th.

The Annual Town Picnic will be held on Sunday, Sept. 16th from Noon to 5 p.m. at the Central Ballfield.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Flood Mitigation Planning Meeting notes

Notes from the public Flood Mitigation Planning Meeting held on July 27th are now available for viewing at:

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Third draft of budget on-line

The 3rd draft of the Fiscal Year 2007-08 Town budget is now posted on this page and will be considered at the August 15th Council meeting at 7:30 p.m. in the Women's Club.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Compass for local government managers

Many residents may not know of the support systems that local government managers rely on in our profession. I’d like to make you aware of the top professional organization for city and county managers, the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), of which I am a member.

Founded in 1914, ICMA’s mission is to create excellence in local governance by advocating and developing the professional management of local government worldwide. In addition to supporting its 8,200 members, ICMA provides publications, data, information, technical assistance, and training and professional development to thousands of city, town, and county experts and other individuals throughout the world. The organization is an internationally recognized publisher of information resources ranging from textbooks and survey data to topical newsletters and e-publications. ICMA provides technical assistance to local governments in emerging democracies, helping them to develop professional practices and ethical, transparent governments. The organization performs a wide range of mission-driven grant and contract-funded work both in the U.S. and internationally.

ICMA members are committed to

  • Representative democracy
  • The highest standards of honesty and integrity in local governance, as expressed through the organization’s Code of Ethics
  • The value of professional management as an integral component of effective local government
  • The council-manager form of government as the preferred local government structure
  • The value of international association, and
  • Ensuring diversity in local government in the organization.

ICMA members strive to be “leaders at the core of better communities.”

I am reproducing for you here the ICMA Code of Ethics that I subscribe to. I hope it will provide some insight as to the values I strive to uphold in the honorable position I have of being a part of Fairfax’s local system of democratic governance.

ICMA Code of Ethics

ICMA members adhere to the principles of the ICMA Code of Ethics, developed in 1924, as a condition of membership and agree to submit to a peer-to-peer review of their conduct under established enforcement procedures. The mission of ICMA is to create excellence in local governance by developing and fostering professional local government management worldwide. To further this mission, certain principles, as enforced by the Rules of Procedure, shall govern the conduct of every member of ICMA, who shall:

Tenet 1: Be dedicated to the concepts of effective and democratic local government by responsible elected officials and believe that professional general management is essential to the achievement of this objective.

Tenet 2: Affirm the dignity and worth of the services rendered by government and maintain a constructive, creative, and practical attitude toward local government affairs and a deep sense of social responsibility as a trusted public servant.

Tenet 3: Be dedicated to the highest ideals of honor and integrity in all public and personal relationships in order that the member may merit the respect and confidence of the elected officials, of other officials and employees, and of the public.

Tenet 4: Recognize that the chief function of local government at all times is to serve the best interests of all people.

Tenet 5: Submit policy proposals to elected officials; provide them with facts and advice on matters of policy as a basis for making decisions and setting community goals; and uphold and implement local government policies adopted by elected officials.

Tenet 6: Recognize that elected representatives of the people are entitled to the credit for the establishment of local government policies; responsibility for policy execution rests with the members.

Tenet 7: Refrain from all political activities which undermine public confidence in professional administrators. Refrain from participation in the election of the members of the employing legislative body.

Tenet 8: Make it a duty continually to improve the member's professional ability and to develop the competence of associates in the use of management techniques.

Tenet 9: Keep the community informed on local government affairs; encourage communication between the citizens and all local government officers; emphasize friendly and courteous service to the public; and seek to improve the quality and image of public service.

Tenet 10: Resist any encroachment on professional responsibilities, believing the member should be free to carry out official policies without interference, and handle each problem without discrimination on the basis of principle and justice.

Tenet 11: Handle all matters of personnel on the basis of merit so that fairness and impartiality govern a member's decisions, pertaining to appointments, pay adjustments, promotions, and discipline.

Tenet 12: Seek no favor; believe that personal aggrandizement or profit secured by confidential information or by misuse of public time is dishonest.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Next Council Meeting

Our next Council meeting will be held on Wed., Aug. 15th at 7:30 p.m. in the Women's Club. The subject matter on the agenda will be the adoption of our new fiscal year 2007-08 Town budget.

This week I am out of the office attending a program called the Berkeley Executive Seminar held at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. It is a leadership development program for local government executives, 28 of us in the class from across the state and Oregon. I am fortunate to have received a scholarship to attend. We are working with professors, practitioners and speakers on issues confronting local governments, both specific to our jobs and also wider issues such as developments in Washington and Sacramento that affect us locally. Some of the topics we have covered and will be covering include ethics in government and what does it mean to do the right thing, what is leadership at the local level, budget strategies and equity in resource distribution, the state budget process and potential reforms, negotiation strategies, problem solving in the public arena, sustainable communities, and leadership and visioning to support civic vitality and public engagement.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Annual Report of the Fairfax Citizens' Disaster Council

If you are wondering what the Fairfax Citizens' Disaster Council has been up to over the past year, take a look at their annual report to the Town Council, which is posted here:
The group has been working to raise awareness of the need for disaster preparedness and has been quite active since their formation in July 2006. Most of their work has been accomplished with no funding or donated funds.