Friday, October 31, 2008

Blog #31 - Holiday Activities in Fairfax, Rainy Season Upon Us

There are three great events today in Fairfax to kick-off the holiday season. In Bolinas Park there will be pumpkin carving beginning at 4 PM. Also in Bolinas Park is the Haunted Grove. The Haunted Grove is worth seeing. I have already taken a sneak peek at it and kids and grown-ups alike will enjoy this.

The Fairfax Halloween Parade starts at 5 PM today!! Don't miss this most entertaining parade in Marin.

The forecast is predicting more rain through the middle of next week. Please be sure to remove leaves from your roof gutters and drains. Our public works staff have cleaned the storm drains throughout the Town. If you see any public storm drains that are plugged up please call Public Works at 453-2587.

Have a safe and festive weekend!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Blog #30 Innovative Small Town Mayors and Town Councils Conference

On October 25, 2008, the Fairfax Town Council hosted the first ever Innovative Small Town Mayors and Town Council Members Conference. Mayors and Council Members from Windsor, Benicia, Moraga, Sonoma, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, San Anselmo and Larkspur met with us at the refurbished Women's Club. We asked them to give us their ideas on some pressing issues:

Raising Revenue-- Parcel tax, sales tax, foundation support: how does your Town or City make it work?

Building a Stronger Small Business Core--How can we help local businesses do well and stay? What businesses do we want to attract?

Greening the Town--Global Warming is everyone's concern. What methods work toward being more sustainable?

Creating Affordable Housing--How successful have you been in this area of innovation? What works? What doesn't?

Sustaining Culture: Music, Art, Film, Writing--We think Culture is key to our Town. What do you do to bring and keep people together in this vital way?

Gaining a Stronger Voice on County, State & National Levels--Often times smaller entities cannot gain a strong voice on issues that affect us. What do you do? Can we do some more things together?

They had lots to tell us. Sonoma City Manager Linda Kelly stated Sonoma has a strong tourist economy and it is committed to water conservation. “We offer Cash for Water. We are turning all our lawns to xeroscape yards conserve water. We have new affordable housing that is a model for green building and water conservation" said Kelly.
Benicia boosted its tourism with a historical waterfront emphasis, prompted by town artists.

Windsor has an active Economic Development group. It boosts jobs through its recreation department, too. Mill Valley hired a Sustainability Consultant. “It's probably the best thing we've done in a long time" said Mayor Shawn Marshall.

"We just completed a 79 unit affordable housing complex with EAH in Corte Madera and we are concentrating more and more on Town landscaping and beautification" said Council Member Alexandra Cock.

The meeting was so successful the, the Mayors and Council Members decdided to meet twice a year. One meeting will be in a regional setting with League of California Cities support and the other will be in Fairfax.

This meeting was a sponsored jointly by the Town and the Chamber of Commerce. A special thank you to the merchants, artists and staff that made the Women's Club shine and made the event so successful.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Blog #29 Letter from the Mayor on Mixed Use Overlay Meeting of September 27, 2008

Letter from Mayor Mary Ann Maggiore to the Planning Commission and to the Citizens of Fairfax Following the September 27 Public Workshop on the PC's
Proposed Mixed Use Overlay Zone Ordinance

Friends and Neighbors:

I was unable to reach the IJ reporter before the paper went to print. So I was unable to offer my thoughts to Mr. Rogers, the IJ reporter, who was not at the meeting he reported upon. However, since so many of you have written and called consistently these last days and for the weeks preceding the Saturday workshop, I feel I need to offer a few words. I still believe that the intention of the Planning Commission to frame a document that might help us plan the Town's central corridor and provide for affordable housing, is given a more than adequate framework in this document. But tempers have run high.

Let us pause a minute and consider. Let us calm down and salute both our fears and our needs. Let us also salute the people who worked hard to create a document that we can use. Let us ponder in ourselves what we want from this document. We can adapt it. We can make it one that specifically states there will be no more than X number of affordable dwellings. We can protect view corridors. We can shape meeting areas. We can plan our future instead of having it planned for us. I was, and I am, still excited by the prospect that we could design and see to fruition a model entity that would serve us well and encourage others to treasure Small Town essence in places all over the country, all over the world.

That is what I had hoped for in the meeting. That we would state want we didn't want -- yes. But that we would move gracefully toward what we do want. That is why I created the Roundtable set-up, so everyone could be heard and that is why I offered a chance for talk back and a break for discussion and coffee. And then more discussion.

I think the time we take to look at our thoughts and our feelings and how they may injure others and ourselves, is very important right now. Let us take the heat out of the conversation and go forward with a look to what works, what protects us, what we value. What we are willing to work peaceably and effectively for. And let us from those reasoning’s and considerations, help to make a plan for the Town that will satisfy both our dreams and our realities.

Mary Ann Maggiore
Mayor of Fairfax

Blog # 28 Notes from Special Council Meeting on the Mixed Use Overlay Ordinance


Round Table 1
Facilitator: Mayor Mary Ann Maggiore

Public Comments, Questions and Concerns:

· Implement affordable housing
· Create housing and commercial corridor that will improve aesthetic with more reclined cooridors
· Encourage innovative building around transportation hubs and encourage more pedestrian and less automobile interaction in the town
· Density of 20 dwelling units per acre – Albertson’s – “no less than 25”
· 50% commercial in any structure built
· At least 20% of all building must be affordable
· 1 person household = $24-$79K
· 4 person household = $33-$114K
· Green building, bike friendly, preserve Town character
· If we don’t build are we still eligible for grants and tax benefits?
· How will we have pedestrian pathways and not disrupt traffic and not disturb flow? (safe guard character of town and use of paths without encouraging?)
· How will pedestrians be safe with so much new movement/construction/traffic? Traffic is already is brutal. It is both unsafe and unpractical – more people means more traffic, more construction can mean more limitations on pedestrians, bike and car movement
· What is a unit? 500 to 1200 sq. ft, 1.5 spaces for parking for anything above 1 bedroom.
· Is there enough water and sewage? (infrastructure impact)
(MMWDS@2 – we have less than 380 sq. ft. available)
· Comment – If we do nothing we leave ourselves open to trouble. Well design, small dwellings, edible landscaping, parks, stages, plenty of funk, links to Broadway and enhances, let us not do nothing, it’s dangerous
· Competition that is too stiff or maybe will prove unnecessary to new biz will fail
· Look at San Anselmo – new plan will mean new competition
· Mortgages – failures?
· Let us not turn downtown into San Rafael
· What about state mandate to build affordable housing?
· EIR – Town has said mitigation negative declaration, that impact will be minimal. How do we avoid 300 units? What about rental vs. ownership?
· What is the residential mix?
· About 14 per acre?
· Kellie – We are a canyon – likely not familiars out of hillsides.
· What about looking at MTCC? – solve some of the problem? Burke Jones, ballot measure?
· This must be written.
· We can now build 65 units in Town without mixed use overlay – why don’t we do it?
· There is potential of upwards 264 units – why not specify that we are not doing this?
· Make housing money even more affordable
· ABAG breakouts of “affordable” definition – needs to be reexamined
· Traffic mitigated by streets – one way
· Why not legalize second units – Mill Valley model
· Engage designers/architects to stipulate height and parameters
· Strong elements for green elements
· Parking is 1.5.
· What does .5 mean?
· Look at Gainesville, 2 stories and parking garage, non-starter Durke Jones
· This is the gateway to our Town, visual corridors, Ryan O’Neill
· Requirements for parking, landscaping and setbacks brings down Town acreage of how many dwellings can be built
· Town needs to do feasibility study to analyze
· But people taking public transport during the day usually have cars at night.
· Pedestrian and bus – protect spaces
· More commercial means less parking, less traffic at night
· What happens if we don’t do any affordable housing? Julie Aronson
· Do we need to change the zoning to build affordable housing with the ordinances we have?
· Who builds most affordable housing? Study this.
· Ordinance permits more possibility but the ratio should be 50 to 100% affordable – instead of 40% (Peter Jacques), unless we do a high % will not be worth it – grants available, to get funding we should use non-profit proportions
· The MXO is a requirement of general plan (state requirement?)
· The work shows state does not approve what doing with affordable under 50%
· What are the consequences of not doing the state requirements?
· What we are missing here is an understanding of private developer, 40% is too much without a third story and we need to cultivate a non-profit.
· Roger Smith – developers cannot afford within 35 feet to 40% affordable housing, ABAG increasing power will have more influence
· There have been no consequences but Corte Madera – sued because they had no affordable housing.
· We need a housing inventory, income abilities of who is here.
· Set up a task force first.
· Instead of working toward others’ requirements let us determine what we want.
· What about people with lower incomes being able to live here?
· Start with: redefine these discussions, involve green building ordinance
· Why change ordinance?
· Affordable definition doesn’t give value to property.
· Other properties for AFH – affordable housing

Round Table 2
Facilitator: Ann Welsh, Planning and Building Services Director

Public Comments, Questions and Concerns:

· Parking concerns – Will they park on street?
· Need low cost housing, i.e. Rite Aid employee
· Green building – reduce greenhouse gas
· Ballot initiative – to change zoning
· Grant eligibility – Prop 1C, can’t apply now
· Design – How to maintain character with density increase – Design Guidelines
· 2 stories – height limit- view corridors must be preserved
· Social gathering space needed
· Scenic vistas – retain view shed
· Grants – eligibility?
· Scenic units – grants to encourage
· Reduce fees for 2nd unit
· Mixed use – reduces greenhouse gas
· Finance – have you done the math?
· Are we being held to a higher standard?
· How many other Town’s have complied?
· Why allow more commercial if there are vacant commercial properties?

Round Table 3
MIXED USE OVERLAY: Traffic Mitigation
Facilitator: Council Member Lew Tremaine

Public Comments, Questions and Concerns:

· How many homes? State – 65 afford
· What can state do? (not much) (state wants more)
· Is Albertsons only place for housing? (no)
· More density from transit? (light rail)
· Open to 360?? – no
· Why need to change zoning? Leave as is.
· Ambiguous wording – open to additional
· Additional renters – voters will change
· Present zoning would spread housing
· More affordable housing – less traffic
· Possible trolley lines – less traffic
· Try to get affordable housing through commercial development
· Better housing along transit route (spread)
· Not enough parking in town (now)
· Change zoning – more density
· Density needed for transit (in Fairfax 75% shoppers solo driver)
· Impact of overnight parking
· “Low income” households own cars
· Number units: acreage – setback reduces density
· O.S. Committee – bad traffic in Town Center now conflict with O.S. Committee at Fair Anselm
· Lew sentiment to reject 3 stories
· Possibly build parking garage?
· Good public transportation does not exist.
· Keep parking out of negotiations
· Commercial will generate traffic
· Money coming to reduce greenhouse gas
· Find money to build affordable housing
· Get good data on traffic modeling
· Look at Alexandria, VA’s limitations
· Enforce current parking laws
· Do an EIR report
· Why commercial? Just do affordable housing
· Local shuttle every 15 minutes to San Rafael
· Get rid of free parking?
· Move Java Hut
· Aging population needs to drive
· Limitations on cars
· Friedman property is used now for event parking
· Pedestrian improvements across Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
· Low income families need cars
· Underground the Parkade?

Round Table 4
MIXED USE OVERLAY: Design and Local Character

Facilitator: Council Member Larry Bragman

Public Comments, Questions and Concerns:

· Cost of report
· Scope
· Traffic Impact
· Decision to adopt
· Quality of life
· Freedom to control
· Fairfax’s development (Jane Jacobs)
· Changes to character in Fairfax
· Low income housing
· Parking
· Local business loss
· Environmental impact
· Greenhouse gas
· Traffic
· Diversity/aging
· Housing prices, 2000: 250-300; 2008: ?
· Affordable low income (range of income)
· State density bonus – on top of ordinance?
· Albertson’s/Fair Anselm height – “Spot Zoning”?
· Empty stores
· Vision
· Parking
· Scale

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Blog #27 Town Council Actions from October 1, 2008 Meeting

The Town Council met on October 1st and took the following actions:

· Announced vacancies on the Measure F Oversight Committee and Open Space Committee

· Announced that Richard Pedemonte, Parks and Recreation Commissioner and Chair of the Fairfax Festival Committee was honored as the Fairfax Volunteer of the Year at the Spirit of Marin Awards Luncheon on September 26th.

· Proclaimed October 18, 2008 as Biketoberfest Day in Fairfax.

· Introduced and had a first reading of Ordinance No. 737, an ordinance re-enacting the second unit amnesty program for a one year period.

· Heard an update on the possible abatement of a vacant commercial property (formerly the New Albion Bookstore) from Chief Building Official Mark Lockaby.

· Adopted Resolution No. 2581 increasing the change order authority on the Pastori Overlay Project.

· Adopted Resolution No. 2582 authorizing issuance of a Request for Proposals for the installation of solar panels on the Pavilion.

· Heard a report on the services provided by ABAG (Association of Bay Area Governments). Directed staff to write a memo on the effects of not being a member of ABAG.

· Discussed possible changes to the tree ordinance. Discussed waiting until the tree survey is complete before contemplating any changes to the tree ordinance.

· Discussed and considered proposed changes to the CCA (Community Choice Aggregation) Ordinance previously approved by the Town Council. The proposed changes would broaden the scope of the JPA to include working on green house reduction and sustainable energy programs. The JPA Agreement and CCA Ordinance are still being crafted. Another version is due to be reviewed late next week by all cities, towns and the County of Marin. The Town Council expressed their desire to keep the JPA focused only on the creation of the CCA so that the primary intent of creating the mechanism to supply renewable energy in Fairfax can begin.

· Adopted Resolution No. 2583 opposing California Proposition 8 which would eliminate the right of same sex couples to marry.