Sunday, December 29, 2019

FABLE: Two Ducks and the Fox




Once there were two ducks that always walked along the same road each day to go to the pond. As they went along, one of the ducks quacked to the other, " Why don't we go on a different path today. There are lots of other roads that lead to the pond?"

      "No, no, no. I have always gone this way and I am not about to change my ways," said the biggest duck.

      As the ducks walked along they came upon a very sly fox. "Hello ladies, how are you doing?"

      "Oh we are just on our way to the pond." The ducks continued to waddled quickly to the pond.

      The next day the duck that had wanted to go to the pond another way said, "Please, lets go the other way. If we go the same way that fox will surely eat us."

      "Oh don't be such a worry wart," snapped the biggest duck.

      So they both had gone the same way that they always had, and there was the fox waiting for them with a sack in his paw. As soon as the ducks walked by the fox pounced on them. The ducks ran screaming back to their house.


      The next day the ducks took another road to the pond because they were both still in shock over what the fox did to them the day before.

Moral: Sometimes it is best to change your ways

Thursday, December 26, 2019

The Marinwood Maintenance Shed map site plan is filled with misrepresentations

Click on map for full size

Who needs an Accurate Map?

The site plan map submitted by the Marinwood CSD  is hugely inaccurate.  It misrepresents the existence of an intermittent stream, top of stream band, a setback of 20’ and claims that bare dirt as an “existing improvement”. 

As of 2007 Marin General Plan, the setback requirement for parcels greater than 2 acres is 100’ or more from the top of stream bank per the Stream Conservation Ordinance. The map shows a 20’ setback. The Marin County Assesors data shows a 120’ setback for the 14.12 acre parcel known as Marinwood Park.

It is believed the map is USGS “Novato” (2002) and the stream bank changed during the 2006 floods. The top of streambank is how setbacks are determined.  It also omits an intermittent stream which has 120’ setback too.

Tell the CSD to “slow down”  and seek public approval.


Sign the Petition HERE

The "public" meeting about the Maintenance Shed where only five members of the public were invited




Marinwood CSD Director sent out only five invitations to the public for a required public forum on the Marinwood CSD Maintenance Facility.  He describes it as an "update" in the posted agenda but it was a full presentation by Bill Hansell, Architect and Former CSD Board Member detailing the plans.

In 2017,  many people attended a presentation on the proposed maintenance shed.  The CSD was surprised that the public did not agree to their plan and hid the meeting in April 2018 in violation of Brown Act laws and the spirit of democracy.

Who does the Marinwood CSD board think they are?  Why does the CSD Manager hide such a major project from the public?  Bill Hansell, Architect was on the board when Eric Dreikosen was hired.  Is this Quid pro Quo?

Many questions need to be answered.  The Marinwood CSD has not even established a budget for this project but expects it to exceed $200,000 plus architects fees. A utilitarian prefab structure can be purchased for as little as $10,000 installed.

What is going on at the Marinwood CSD?

Stop the White Elephant in Marinwood Park

Click on picture for a full size image


Sign the petition HERE 

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Why hasn't the Architect submitted a bill since May 2018? (What are they hiding?)



Watch these videos together.  In the first one a Citizen asks why the architect for the Marinwood Maintenance Shed Compound has not submitted a bill since May 2018.  He has attended many meetings since then and it appears that he is "sandbagging" his billing to keep under the $12,000 limit that CSD Manager, Eric Dreikosen estimated in April 2018 in the second video.

We are not getting the full story from the Marinwood CSD.  They have refused to release an estimated budget for the Maintenance Compound.  This is unethical and in violation of the Brown Act and the spirit of open government.  

Can we trust the CSD to represent OUR financial interests?

Monday, December 23, 2019

Marin Coalition present Rebels with a Cause



“REBELS WITH A CAUSE –

The Making of the Quintessential Marin Documentary”

 Speaker:

 Nancy Kelly and Kenji Yamamoto

Filmmakers:  Kelly+Yamamoto Productions



The modern history of Marin County is a tale of unexpected drama and courage. While planners and developers penciled out a scheme to grow the region’s population and ramp up infrastructure and density as far as Pt. Reyes, others had a different vision in mind. In December, we welcome the award-winning creators of the astonishing film Rebels with a Cause, which tells the story of a dedicated band of activists whose vision and tenacity completely changed the County’s trajectory decades ago, thereby preserving what we all enjoy today-- For more information about the film and the film makers visit: www.rebelsdocumentary.org

They Saved Marin in the 50s and 60s from this Awful Future



Editor's Note: You simply must go to this wonderful new website to see the San Francisco Bay that might have been HERE .  It is a wonderful tribute to the gallant efforts of people to save our treasured county.  It is a positive crime that the same forces of urbanization are being championed by Steve Kinsey, Kate Sears and Katie Rice under the false flag of environmentalism. Plan Bay Area imposes rapid urbanization of Marin and the other counties in the Bay Area. These are just a few of the stories.  We will Save Marin Again!

Marincello: Invisible City


Marincello may be the iconic example of “what might have been”. Instead of miles of hiking trails, epic vista points, and the occasional bobcat or hawk sighting, one could find themselves standing amongst cul-de-sacs ringed by multiple-car garages and private backyards.

Such was the aim of Marincello, a planned community for 25,000 residents on 2,100 Headland acres proposed in 1964 by Pittsburgh developer Thomas Frouge. The plan included model homes, a mile-long mall, and central high-rise hotel. Financially backing the project was Gulf Oil.

Support for the plan came from local newspapers and on November 12, 1965, the Marin County Board of Supervisors approved the Marincello plan. According to John Hart: “Three attorneys labored on this seemingly lost cause: Robert Praetzel of San Rafael, and Martin Rosen and Douglas Ferguson of Sausalito… ‘I got involved not so much for an environmental purpose as a civic

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Fable: THE TORTOISE AND THE DUCKS

THE TORTOISE AND THE DUCKS

     THE TORTOISE, you know, carries his house on his back. No matter how hard he tries, he cannot leave home. They say that Jupiter punished him so, because he was such a lazy stay-at-home that he would not go to Jupiter's wedding, even when especially invited.

After many years, Tortoise began to wish he had gone to that wedding. When he saw how gaily the birds flew about and how the Hare and the Chipmunk and all the other animals ran nimbly by, always eager to see everything there was to be seen, the Tortoise felt very sad and discontented. He wanted to see the world too, and there he was with a house on his back and little short legs that could hardly drag him along.

One day he met a pair of Ducks and told them all his trouble.
"We can help you to see the world," said the Ducks. "Take hold of this stick with your teeth and we will carry you far up in the air where you can see the whole countryside. But keep quiet or you will be sorry."

The Tortoise was very glad indeed. He seized the stick firmly with his teeth, the two Ducks took hold of it one at each end, and away they sailed up toward the clouds.



[Illustration]

Just then a Crow flew by. He was very much astonished at the strange sight and cried:

"This must surely be the King of Tortoises!"

"Why certainly—" began the Tortoise.

But as he opened his mouth to say these foolish words he lost his hold on the stick, and down he fell to the ground, where he was dashed to pieces on a rock.


Foolish curiosity and vanity often lead to misfortune.

A White Elephant Stampede for a Maintenance Compound at the Marinwood CSD

A White Elephant Stampede for a Maintenance Compound at the Marinwood CSD

The Marinwood Maintenance Facility has a few "problems"



I get tired of fighting for the right of an honest government process.   The Marinwood Maintenance Shed project has been everything but honest.  

Fortunately, the CSD antics have caught the eye of the Community Development and they will require public review of the project.  It may be our only chance at being heard. 

We have a lot to say.

1. The project is too big.   Heck you can literally drive a truck through it!  As those of us who have examined the plans in detail realize,  it is grossly over scaled for our 14 acre park.   McInnis Park is 450 acres yet their six person staff is quite content with 1200 square feet of office and garage space.  Our three workers are outside 90% of the time and don't need exclusive indoor workshops with showers etc.

2. The project is too expensive.  In February, Eric Dreikosen announced that he was in talks with a mysterious architect  that would cost $12,000 for the ENTIRE PROJECT.  Two months later Hansell Design billed $11,931.73  by May 2018.  He hasn't billed or submitted time sheets since that date but we expect his total billing to exceed $42,000 BEFORE Plan Approval.   Despite, this the Marinwood CSD board and staff are unconcerned and WILL NOT REVEAL PROJECT COSTS.

3. The project has severe legal implications for Marinwood CSD. Why did Eric Dreikosen forget to mention the architect he hired was Bill Hansell, the former CSD director who hired him in 2016? This is clearly a violation multiple codes of government contracting rules, open meeting laws and conflict of interest.  Severe fines and even felony charges could be levied.

4. The project is too close to Miller Creek and violates the Marin County General Plan of 2007.  The project is a mere 40 feet from the top of stream bank.  Because the architect chose a drive through design, the 4400 square foot compound is much larger than it needs to be.  A conventional side access garage as built in virtually every other landscaping department in Marin requires only a third of the space.   In addition, the Marinwood "White Elephant"  will require additional outside storage of vehicles, materials, equipment and landscaping debris.

5. Marinwood CSD is violating the purpose of Measure A funds to enhance the beauty of the parks, recreation, accessibility and restoring natural areas.  They are using it for a capital project which should have been part of the long term strategic plan.  Improvements for park shade structure, safety handrails, playground equipment are being ignored over protest from the public.

6. Ironically, a sensible maintenance garage alternative was identified by Irv Schwartz, CSD Board Member and well known Engineer/Developer in 2017 in a project known as Option #3 .  It is a long side access garage that is largely outside the stream conservation area and can be built for a fraction of the cost using conventional construction or prefab units.  The public enthusiastically endorses this alternative and it could be approved immediately.
Maintenance Shed Option 3.PNG

Marinwood CSD needs to get this project back on track immediately with a full review of its government contracting process, public disclosure, accounting and environmental process.  If it willfully violates the law, then all parties responsible should be held to account.

Let's replace the maintenance garage instead.

Sign the Petition HERE

Friday, December 20, 2019

Forced Upzoning is Bad Policy, But Here’s How We Can Mitigate Its Impacts



A number of bills in the legislature would attempt to “solve” the state’s housing challenges by overriding local municipal zoning ordinances and statutorily allowing developers to build up to Sacramento-mandated levels of density. The most notable of these bills is SB50, which has no provisions to make any of the housing built affordable, but espouses a “trickle-down” theory which suggests that market-rate (i.e. luxury) housing will “filter” down to create more affordable housing.
This “theory” not only has its foundations in Reaganomics, but is both opportunistic and false. Building more Porsches won’t bring down the price of Priuses. And however you try to frame it, upzoning is a wealth transfer from the public to the private sector. Mind you, on principle I oppose preemptive statutory upzoning that comes from either Sacramento or Washington. I believe that each community has its own unique DNA and, especially in major metropolitan areas, it is important for us to be able to make lifestyle choices which give us the ability create a sense of place, a sense of home and a sense of belonging, all of which are best created within individual communities.  In an increasingly cold, impersonal and faceless world, Community is more important than ever.
Statutory upzoning as proposed by Sacramento politicians, taking a number of chapters from the Trump Administration’s playbook, is the urban planning version of turning copper into platinum. Plain and simple, it’s a wealth transfer from the public to the private sector; in most cases that’s probably exactly the point. Strengthening communities made up of real, live people is not the ultimate goal of these policies, but rather the creation of corporate wealth on the backs of the larger community. Real estate interests and developers donate a lot of money to the political campaigns of Sacramento politicians and in our plutocracy, profits often outweigh people.
Nonetheless, politicians are crafty, and, at least in California, they understand that instituting policies which amount to corporate welfare don’t play well among the public.  So they need to use that most effective of political tools: spin. The “public” goal of these developer giveaways is, at least ostensibly, to create affordable housing and thereby ultimately to serve the public good.  But for all those California politicians who don’t want to wear their plutocratic tendencies on their sleeves and who want to envelope themselves in the mantle of progressivism, the true-believers in blanket upzoning should clearly support ways to limit the wealth transfer and to capture the value that their proposed upzoning creates.
One solution would be to introduce a progressive upzoning tax. Such a tax would work in a similar fashion to the way a progressive income tax is structured: the more expensive a luxury condo or apartment created through statutory upzoing is, the higher the tax rate would be.
Public services and infrastructure need to be funded (not to mention public employee pensions – but that’s another story); creating more development and adding more people to the mix clearly leads to increased needs. In fact, numerous nexus studies have shown that increases in market rate and luxury housing actually exacerbate the need for more affordable housing — a simply logical conclusion, confirmed by data.
Progressive upzoning taxes would not only help to capture the value created by Sacramento policies but would also provide local communities the resources to address the inevitable impacts.  With more people comes a need for more housing, transportation, infrastructure, schools, childcare, green space, etc.
A progressive upzoning tax could be implemented in a number of ways. It could be levied on the developer directly, but since Sacramento and the Trump Administration seem more concerned with developer profits than affordable housing (including self-styled progressives like Senator Nancy Skinner, who authored SB330 at the behest of developers), it would be more likely that such a charge should be levied on the well-heeled buyers or end-users.
The reasoning is also fairly simple: someone who can afford a $25 million luxury condominium or $50,000 in monthly rent for a luxury apartment can also afford to pay an additional 40% in upzoning taxes.  This is simply another tool to address growing income inequality, which is one of the root causes of our state’s housing affordability challenges.
The sliding scale of an upzoning tax would clearly and obviously not apply to affordable housing.
Studies and surveys repeatedly and continually show that the level of trust of citizens for their local communities and locally elected officials is much greater than their trust for Sacramento or Washington politicians. It isn’t even close.  And it’s understandable. Local communities are where we live and we can participate in our communities in a way that Sacramento and Washington don’t allow. When done right, local government is inherently more transparent and democratic than state or federal government, which is yet another argument for why subsidiarity should be a guiding principle within our democracy.
Progressive upzoning taxes would make the best out of a bad, preemptive situation in which Sacramento politicians show their disdain for local communities across the state. They would at least allow communities to capture some of the value created by Sacramento’s peremptory wealth transfer and put those funds to better use within our diverse and unique communities, to serve the residents and to alleviate the impacts of bad policies from Sacramento and Washington.
And what of the self-styled liberals who would oppose such a truly progressive way of mitigating this unprecedented wealth transfer and of capturing value for the public? They simply out themselves as what they really are: Trumpian corporate shills who are more concerned with Wall Street profits than anything else.
This piece first appeared on Fox and Hounds Daily.
John Mirisch has served on the Beverly Hills City Council since 2009. He is currently serving his third term as the city’s mayor.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Miller Creek after a Rainstorm


Miller Creek, one of Marin County's pristine watersheds is under threat of a 4400 square foot development in Marinwood Park. The proposed Maintenance Facility is excessive for the tiny park.  It is three times the size of the maintenance facility McInnis Park despite the fact that McInnis is employs double the staff and is 450 acres.  Marinwood Park is a mere 14 acres of which only about 7 acres is improved property and the excess. The rest is open space.  The Maintenance facility is gobbling up the open space and prime recreation area to fullfill the ambitions of the architect and former CSD board member Bill Hansell.  Despite the violation of the 2007 Marin County general plan that prohibits development within 100' of the stream bank, the Marinwood CSD is seeking approval of its design.  Neighbors are upset and the Marinwood CSD has kept its plans and budget secret.  They have violated numerous government contracting rules, political practices, transparency laws, in addition to numerous environmental laws.  This is quite unfortunate because there is unanimous agreement to approve a smaller structure outside the prohibited zone.  A 1200 sf structure identical to McInnis Park Maintenance Facility will be easily approved by a grateful public.