Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Blog #57 - Year in Review - Town Accomplishments

Another year has gone by in our great Town and you may wonder what has the Town accomplished this year? Here is a list of some of the highlights of 2009 in chronological order:


Marin Energy Board of Directors Formed: The Town Council voted to appoint Lew Tremaine as the representative from Fairfax to sit on the MEA Board. The MEA Board is in the process of approving a purchase agreement with a preferred vendor to start the process of providing clean energy to many Marin residents.

FOCUS Programs Revived:
The Town Council approved an agreement with Camille Esposito to establish children’s recreational programming in Fairfax by reviving the Fairfax Open Arts Circle (FOCAS) program. Emphasis is on affordability and nurturing the culture that is unique to Fairfax. Program ideas include arts & science, sports, music, dance, a new Mom’s group, and special events. Camille has done a great job and many classes are well attended.


Artists in Residence - Shoshanna and Sam Perry: Our artists in residence have done an incredible job this year with many special events including the repainting of the wall around Central Field. Other great events included: Cake Decorating Contest held in April, a fantastic musical play in July and August titled "Relativity" was written and produced by Sam and included many talented local actors including Shoshanna and her sister Sisi who was appointed to the Park and Recreation Commission this year.

Fairfax Volunteers Spearhead Brush Clearing Project: The Fairfax Volunteers, with support from the Town Council, Ross Valley Fire Department and Town staff, were very successful with a pilot brush clearing project on Scenic and Tamalpais roads. Defensible space was created around many homes that previously had little or no defensible space. The Fire Grant the Town was recently awarded will allow for more brush clearing in many other neighborhoods.

Solar Panels installed on Pavilion Roof in May: These solar panels power the Pavilion, Town Hall, and the Police and Fire Stations! The Fairfax Theater is the first theater in the United States to go solar! Congratulations to Fairfax for leading the way in energy efficiency and reducing our carbon footprint.

Affordable Housing Committee Created: The Town Council created the Affordable Housing Committee and appointed Council Members Larry Bragman and Lew Tremaine, Planning Commissioner Peter Ramsay and community member with experience in affordable housing, Tony Gardner. Two private property owners have approached the Town requesting we work with them to provide affordable housing units on their property. We will have more to report on this in 2010.


Town Budget Adopted: The Town Council adopted the FY 2009/10 budget. It included the loss of $212,000, borrowed by the state to balance its budget. Many thanks to Laurie Ireland-Ashley, Finance Director, for assembling a difficult budget with many cuts, including major reductions to retirement benefits for new hires and requiring many current employees to pay for part of their retirement contribution.

Mission, Vision and Core Values Statement adopted:
After much discussion, in August, the Council adopted the Mission, Vision and Core Values Statement for the Town. Please see below this important document that guides the Town Council, staff and the community.

Emergency Siren Installed for Cascade Neighborhood: In the summer of 2009 an emergency warning siren was installed on Bolinas Road for the Cascade neighborhood. The addition of this siren to the one at Town Hall increases emergency warning coverage to nearly the whole Town. Many thanks to Sgt. Stuart Baker and Police Chief Ken Hughes for making this project happen.

CAMP EARTH: Marin's first totally sustainable Summer Camp was held August 17-21, 2009. All 30 slots were filled and this special camp will return in 2010! Day Campers spent time in Peri Park, at Central Field and at the Pavilion working on art projects and learning about the natural environment and sustainable living practices.

Glen Dr Culvert: This project was finally approved by FEMA in early 2009 and was completed in the fall for $112,000. It involved replacing part of the pipe and improving the culvert that runs under Sir Francis Drake to Glen Drive.

Measure K and Prop 1B Projects Completed: Pastori Storm Drain Project was completed this summer after years of gathering the funding and environmental permits. This storm drain pipe runs down Pastori from Sir Francis Drake Blvd. to the Pastori Bridge. This new and much larger pipe will greatly reduce the flooding that has taken its toll on the neighborhood adjacent to Pastori. Pastori Ave. also received an overlay. Other overlay projects completed in 2009 include: part of Scenic, Hillside, Spring, Inyo, and Mono. The Mono Parking lot was resurfaced and the Women's Club received a resurfacing of the floor, new paint, and other improvements. Many thanks to Director of Public Works Kathy Wilkie for executing many of these projects and daily thanks to Jack Adams, Tom Bruce, Rudy Contratti and John Tierney for maintaining the parks, Town buildings, streets and storm drains in Town.

Hazardous Fuel Reduction Grant: The Town has been granted $168,831 in funding from the USDA Forest Service! Our Fire Hazardous Fuel Reduction grant proposal was one of 397 grant proposals this year requesting a total of $70 million. The grant covers environmental consultation, photo monitoring, and contract administration. We will receive funding in early 2010, so the program will start next spring. Many thanks to former Town staffer Yvonne Roberts for securing this important grant.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory: In August the Town Council accepted the Town of Fairfax 2005 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report and set an emissions reduction target for 2020 of 20% below the 2005 levels. The first step towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions is to identify sources of emissions and establish baseline levels. This information can later be used to form possible reduction measures to be included in the climate action plan.

Producer Responsibility: In September the Town Council adopted a resolution supporting extended Producer Responsibility, a policy to hold product manufacturers responsible for the management of their solid waste disposal. Many communities have also passed similar measures and it appears that in the coming year there may be state or federal legislation putting more pressure on manufacturers to come up with more sustainable packaging.


Administrative Enforcement Mechanism: In October the Town Council adopted Ordinance 745 establishing an administrative enforcement mechanism for violations of the Town Code. Prior to this ordinance town staff had to take matters through a formal abatement process which is very expensive and time consuming. Hats off to Mark Lockaby, our Chief Building Official for writing this ordinance.

Oak Manor Abatement: After many months of working with the neighbors and the property owner on Oak Manor Drive who had four goats, two pigs, six sheep, and a dozen chickens (in violation of the Town Code) the Town Council and staff were able to abate this nuisance. Thanks goes to the entire Town Council that wrestled with this issue for many council meetings and to our Planning Director, Jim Moore, Senior Planner, Linda Neal, and Chief Building Official, Mark Lockaby for many hours of work on this.

Labor Agreements: In October, after many months of negotiating with all three labor groups I presented the Town Council with Resolutions approving the Memorandum of Understanding with the Fairfax Police Officers Association, the Fairfax Management Unit, and SEIU Local 1021. All three MOUs have no cost-of-living adjustments through June 30, 2010 and institute a two-tiered retirement system which will save the Town an average of over $13,000 per year per each new hire. Both the Management Unit and SEIU agreed to have employees pay a portion of their retirement contributions. The Town thanks all the staff for bargaining in good faith and understanding the need for these structural changes that will begin the process of creating a long term sustainable Town budget.

Town Council and Measure I Election: It was election season in Fairfax and there was no shortage of citizens interested in serving on the Town Council. Seven candidates ran for three seats. David Weinsoff was returned to the Town Council and Pam Hartwell-Hererro and John Reed were elected to their first term. Measure I was passed by 73% of the voters in Town. This is the municipal services tax of $125/year per dwelling unit and business unit which generates about $465,000 per year to the Town's general fund. Without this vote the Town would have cut this entire amount from the budget. Thank you Fairfaxians for renewing this important measure!

Town Web Page Receives a Facelift: The Town's web page is being redesigned and will include far more information than in the past. It will have a different look, will include information from each department about services they provide and will have more information about the Town Council Members. Many documents will be on line for the first time including the Town Budget. Many of the drop downs are not yet working, but they will be activated in early January. Many thanks to Judy Anderson, Town Clerk and Laurie Ireland Ashley, Finance Director for spearheading this effort.

I hope all residents have a safe and Happy New Year!!