Saturday, December 20, 2014
ANTIOCH -- Myla Wofford grinned as she slipped behind the wheel of the gleaming white Jeep, the first car the 33-year-old has ever owned.
The Oakland single mother knows a thing or two about hardship, but for a few hours Wednesday she had a respite from a grinding schedule made even more difficult by the hours she spends every day on BART and public buses.
But not any more.
Wofford and her two children were among five needy families who received a set of wheels this week from a Bay Area business that has made the giveaway a holiday tradition for the past 14 years.
Crowds of onlookers applauded as one by one Mike's Auto Body employees whisked car covers and oversize red bows off the row of restored vehicles at the business' Antioch location, then handed over the keys, along with trunks full of wrapped gifts.
"You are truly angels," Antioch Mayor Wade Harper told the dozens of technicians, insurance agents and vendors who had had a hand in providing the early Christmas presents. "You are giving them freedom."
The Concord-based company culls used vehicles from among damaged ones that insurance companies and rental car agencies have donated, choosing those that are easiest to repair.
Mike's Auto Body has repurposed 56 vehicles since it began the outreach; this year's collection featured a Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Hyundai hatchback, Toyota RAV4 and a Jeep. Technicians volunteered nearly all their time to fix bumpers and, in the case of the Toyota, electrical problems under the dashboard.
The Contra Costa County Fire District showed up to the event with wheels of another sort -- bicycles and helmets for youngsters -- while a rental car company provided children's car seats and vendors pitched in with gift cards for gas and oil changes.In addition, Mike's Auto Body will pick up recipients' liability insurance premiums for one year.
The business finds potential recipients by putting out feelers in the communities that its shops serve as well as through the offer it runs on its website. Families apply for the help, which requires writing a letter explaining how reliable transportation would improve their lives. They also must have a valid driver's license and be insurable.
Marketing Director Sal Contreras, who established the giveaway, reads all the applications with an eye for individuals who are trying to better their situations and filters out requests from those with an attitude of entitlement.
He then shows a handful of the letters to the technicians who worked on the cars and lets them make the final decision.
Contreras calls the recipients on a speaker phone so employees can share their delight over the good news.
"Everybody goes crazy -- you get goose bumps," he said.
This year's winners included a single mother of three who bounced around homeless shelters after ending an abusive relationship before moving into a one-bedroom cottage. She needed a car to take her children to therapy as well as to have a chance of getting her old job back, which would necessitate a commute.
There was also the former U.S. Marine who's working toward a business degree and hopes to become a police officer; he had been borrowing a relative's vehicle to get around since an inattentive driver totaled his.
The mother of a 13-year-old boy with kidney disease needs to take him to doctors' appointments out of the area but medical expenses had prevented her from replacing the car that broke down this summer.
There's the Minnesota family who moved to California so their young daughter could receive a double-organ transplant at Stanford University Medical Center only to have their minivan's transmission fail as they drove back and forth between Clayton and Palo Alto for medical appointments.
And then there's Wofford.
Working close to 80 hours a week, she estimates she has been spending an additional four hours a day on public transportation commuting between her jobs in Berkeley and San Francisco and shuttling her daughter to medical appointments.
"That (was) stealing precious moments, time that (my family) could spend enjoying each other," Wofford said.
Contact Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141. Follow her at Twitter.com/RowenaCoetsee.
Friday, December 19, 2014
This brief clip is from the full hearing on the Toxic Waste cleanup for former Prosperity Cleaners site at Marinwood Plaza. It is alleged that Prosperity Cleaners dumped Toxic Waste (PCE) behind their store in Marinwood Plaza, creating a massive environmental problem. The PCE has migrated through the soil under the 101 Freeway and is heading straight for the water well located on the Silveira Ranch. The well provides drinking water for the for the residents and the dairy herd. Potentially thousands of people including pregnant women and children could be affected by the toxic contamination of their milk if the site is not cleaned up immediately.
Supervisor Susan Adams and Assemblymen Mark Levine lobbied the RWQCB to remove the current clean up order and extend the date for compliance so that it will fit their financing and construction schedule. Supervisor Susan Adams has a PHD in Nursing and we are shocked that she would protect the development interests over the public health. She ran on "Cows not Condos" to protect Marinwood from over development in her initial campaign for Supervisor. She is running for re-election in 2014.
Read more on PCE environmental cleanup HERE
|Time is running out.|
Here is a brief video explaining the dry cleaning contamination as is found at Marinwood Plaza.
Prosperity cleaners occupied Marinwood Plaza for approximately fifteen years and high levels of PCE contamination was found in December 2012 at 2000 times above the legal limit. PCE is associated with major health risks and was banned in California in 2007. This report was produced by Stanford University students in 2008 of another drycleaner with issues similar to Prosperity Cleaners.
The PCE toxic waste was extends from Marinwood Plaza, under the 101 freeway and is threatening the water supply of the Silveira Dairy Ranch.
A clean up order has been issued to current Marinwood Plaza owners, Marinwood Plaza LLC (aka Hoytt Enterprises) to remove the PCE by August 1, 2016. On January 12, 2014, Hoytt Enterprises appealed the order to allow more time for clean up to a distant date in the future so that Bridge Housing could get permitting and financing together to build Marinwood Village, a 81 unit apartment complex.
Despite the threat to the Silveira Ranch, the dairy herd and the health of potentially thousands of people, Supervisor Susan Adams and Assemblyman Marc Levine, lobbied the RWQCB to remove the order and delay the clean up for the benefit of Bridge Housing, Wells Fargo Bank and Marinwood Plaza,LLC.
|Dry Cleaning Toxic Waste Health risks|
Silveira Ranch and Marinwood residents, the RWQCB voted unanimously to keep the order in place for the health of the community and our water supply. Half of the directors even supported an accelerated cleanup by July 1, 2015 due to the severity of the risk.
See the full Marinwood Plaza Hearing: HERE
Supervisor Susan Adams/Assemblymen Mark Levine Lobbies RWQCB to change Toxic Waste Clean up Order (1 minute)
The toxic plume is migrating eastward under the 101 freeway and now is found perilously close to the drinking well on the Silvera Ranch from which dairy cattle and residents derive their water. Supervisor Adams and Assemblymen Mark Levine lobbied AGAINST the speedy cleenup for the benefit of Bridge Housing and Marinwood Village LLC. The Toxic Plume is expected to contain PCB, the same toxin found at Love Canal, NY which was proven to cause cancers and birth defects. There is no known intrusion on the Silvera Ranch at this time but it is urgent that this matter be resolved before traveling further.
Supervisor Susan Adams holds a doctorate in Nursing and cites her healthcare background as a key asset for serving as a County Supervisor. Check back. The full meeting video will be published shortly.
See the story in the Marin IJ HERE
AS A CATHOLIC SECOND-GRADER, first confession meant entering a small, dark closet- like room and waiting for the priest to hear our sins. Eighth-graders started the rumor that child-eating mummies were hiding in a secret passage behind the wall of the confessionals. Fear and pandemonium ensued, making it almost impossible for the good sisters to control the chaos.
I am reminded of this as I read the blogs, Lucas Valley and Marinwood doorway leaflets and letters to the editor about the horrors that will supposedly befall us if we allow workforce housing into our communities.
According to these literary works, education will deteriorate, property values will crash, high-rise Dubai-style apartment complexes will sprout up in Lucas Valley and thugs will terrorize our neighborhoods.
Misinformation and half-truths are being purported as fact. SPAM email petitions disappear in county SPAM filters and don't allow the opportunity for responses to concerned constituents.
Fear No. 1: Gangs and thugs equate with affordable housing. "Those people" increase crime and don't pay taxes."
Examples of affordable, high-quality, high-density housing exist in our county. Non-profit housing projects which are run by organizations such as EAH and BRIDGE exist in West Marin, Larkspur, Corte Madera, San Rafael and Novato and rent to low-income seniors, child care and home support workers, retailers, teachers, nurses and others making less than $65,000 per year who contribute to the fabric of our communities.
Properties are typically well managed. Anyone can drive down Lucas Valley Road and see what a high-density housing project with a three-year waiting list looks like for low-income seniors at Rotary Village.
The 80 units are clustered, small, one-story and well- maintained with residents engaged in the community.
Fear No. 2: The quality of public school education will deteriorate. There are already too many children and no capacity.
Established in 1864, Dixie is one of the oldest districts in Marin. It started as a small one-room school house serving the local farming and ranching families.
During the development surge of 1955-69, two junior high schools and eight elementary schools peaked at 4,900 students.
The lowest enrollment of 1,000 in 1985-86 left only Miller Creek Middle School, Dixie and Vallecito operational. As older people leave the district and new families arrive, another expansion is underway. In Basic Aid schools, property owners pay taxes regardless of whether they have children in school.
District taxpayers consistently vote for parcel assessments because it's good for our kids and our property values. Those without children in school continue to subsidize the educations of those with children.
While non-profit housing is exempt from ad valorem taxes, they are not exempt from the extra school parcel assessments and taxes.
Fear No. 3: Affordable workforce housing will ruin property values. A derelict strip mall with a toxic plume, drug dealing and vandalism ruins property values.
The Marinwood/Lucas Valley community and the property owner worked together over the past eight years to create a redevelopment concept for the Marinwood Plaza.
There have been many meetings over the years.
The concept of a mixed-use village has been in the works for quite a while and was memorialized at a board meeting about the general plan Sept. 26, 2006, which is archived on the county web for viewing.
Phase 1 brought our wonderful grocery store and farmers market. An eyesore has been transformed, the toxic waste remediated and a vibrancy is returning.
The county website is a great resource.
My door is always open and I welcome the opportunity to discuss your concerns and suggestions. Together, we can work through the challenges.
Susan Adams of Marinwood represents District 1 on the Marin Board of Supervisors. She has served on the county board since 2003.
This piece is breathtakingly deaf to the real concerns of accommodating 71% of all affordable housing for unincorporated Marin in Marinwood-Lucas Valley.
We would rather have productive communication and practical solutions.
P.S. State regulators confirm that the toxic waste spill at Marinwood Plaza is still not fully remediated. Although there is a slow process underway to clean it, the major removal of soil on the property and under the 101 Freeway on ramp has not begun. Even Bridge Housing acknowledges that only a portion of the clean up has begun. We cannot understand why Susan Adams claims it is complete. Perhaps she will be willing to speak to the subject in full detail. To accuse the public of "spreading misinformation" when there is lack of transparency and misinformation given to the public is misleading at best. Susan Adams lobbied to DELAY TOXIC WASTE clean up in February 2014 despite the health risk to the community. See this shocking video above
One thing we can thank Supervisor Adams for is building community in Marinwood-Lucas Valley. We have met hundreds of our neighbors since this controversy arose.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Susan Adams starts speaking at 10:00
Does having your heart in the right place count when you are housing people in environmentally hazardous locations (Marinwood Plaza) or concentrating it in one community who will bear all the costs? Is it right to burden middle class homeowners who EARN LESS than the individuals who qualify for these subsidized housing units to PAY MORE TAXES to support wealthier neighbors?
Is it moral to ask that others pay for your favored charity while you escape the cost of your "kindness"?
The SMART financial plan is built on a Mountain of "Ifs"
It’s spin and built on a mountain of “ifs”.
If sales tax revenues grow every year and never declines
If the unions agree to contracts where workers get no real pay increases for 14 years
If oil prices don’t return to higher levels.
If there is never a significant recession
If ridership doesn’t decline when there is a recession
If trains operate perfectly without delays
If they get federal funding to extend rail south of 3rd st (to larkspur)
If there is other funding available to move the transit center.
In the land of SMART, revenues always grow and costs do not.
We’ve got reserves to “shore up our budgets,” that is – if we don’t spend them on
a bike path, because after all, we promised the bikers we’d build one.
All in attendance blessed an incredibly optimistic financial plan
based on a mountain of ifs that are highly unlikely to occur.
No one, despite me giving them analyses raised a single issue
that was raised at Marin Coalition, like the contractual growth in
the debt service. In fact, no one mentioned debt service.
Rabbitt at least mentioned operating expenses and then deferred
to Erin – who me worry – McGrath who babbled about controlling
expenses. The labor unions are coming and do you really think
they’re going to sign up for NO REAL WAGE INCREASES OVER 14 Years?
But here’s the bottom line: they don’t control sales taxes. When
the recession hits, if they haven’t planned for it, the cuts in services
and loss of the tiny ridership they have will be even worse.
Unless they can fight off the interest groups that want them to
expand north/south and complete the pathways, it’s hard to
see how they’ll make it without serious cuts in operations.
Funny, that’s what all the transit agencies do when recessions
Train was to run from Larkspur to Cloverdale
The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit agency needs another $225 million to get commuter rail and a pedestrian pathway from Larkspur to Cloverdale, as promised to voters in 2008.
That's according to SMART's strategic plan, which was discussed by the agency's board Wednesday. The report is conducted once every five years and offers an assessment of where the rail project is heading.
In the short term, the $427.9 million first phase is on financial track as it rolls toward a 2016 opening. It will provide rail service from downtown San Rafael to Airport Boulevard in Santa Rosa. Marin rail stops will include downtown San Rafael, the Marin Civic Center and stations in Novato at Hamilton and at Atherton Avenue.
"Our phase one project is financially very sound," said Erin McGrath, the agency's chief financial officer. "We are good to go and in very good shape."
But future phases to extend the rail line, along with a pedestrian and bike path, to Larkspur to the south and Cloverdale to the north are not as sure.
For years, talk of a North Bay rail line was slammed as a "train to nowhere" because initial plans had it ending in San Rafael, without connecting to a ferry terminal or large transit center to take people into San Francisco.
When voters in Sonoma and Marin counties approved a quarter-cent sales tax in 2008 to fund SMART, the project was for train service from Cloverdale to Larkspur, along with a path for walkers and bicyclists.
But the downturn in the economy left the plan without full funding and the ability to borrow the needed money to complete all the work as promised. Now the project is being phased.
Finding money for the path and the rest of the rail line is an ongoing pursuit, said Farhad Mansourian, SMART's general manager.
"We're actively trying to find the money," he said of the path. "It is a priority, as is completing Larkspur to Cloverdale." See the full story HERE
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Susan Adams first open Town Hall Meeting in Marinwood on June 26, 2013 to discuss Housing Challenges
Sooner or Later we need the truth