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.