Saturday, February 15, 2014

Strawberry Citizen will not be Deterred from getting a hearing on the Strawberry Priority Development Area.

Prepared Remarks Delivered during Open Time for Public Expression at the Marin County Board of Supervisors Hearing on February 4, 2014

This is my fourteenth consecutive appearance, this time to acknowledge that you finally have set a date for the Strawberry PDA after 7 long months of unjustified delays.

In contrast, you rescinded other PDAs in less than 40 days from start to finish.

No other PDA had to wait this long for a hearing.

No other PDA had to wait for an arbitrary window imposed by ABAG to opt out.

And, no other PDA had to appear before the TAM Board.

To his credit, Supervisor Kinsey is the only one of you to announce that he would vote in favor of any community that wanted to opt out because inclusion in a PDA is supposed to be voluntary.  On the other hand, each of you could have moved to put the Strawberry PDA on your calendar sooner, but none of you did.

President Sears announced that you will “consider whether to maintain, re-draw, or entirely withdraw” Strawberry’s current PDA designation.

Let me be crystal clear: The overwhelming majority of Strawberry residents wants to opt out.  If any of you are entertaining a vote to maintain or re-draw our PDA, then you will be exposed for continuing the pattern of refusing to listen to your constituents.

Please think about how this headline will play politically:


You will destroy Plan Bay Area’s tenet that PDAs are voluntary agreements, and you will infuriate taxpayers by mis-allocating scarce transportation funds.

Strawberry residents who live on Belvedere Drive have asked President Sears for relatively modest amounts for real and immediate improvements, such as the installation of speed bumps, or traffic signs that say “No Right Hand Turns During Rush Hours” to curtail the current practice of many motorists who cut across our community and speed through our surface streets to avoid bumper-to-bumper traffic on Highway 101. 

None of us has asked for a $261,000 PDA grant to fund yet another study prepared by private-sector traffic consultants.  This Board has a penchant for directing substantial sums to outside consultants, when our very capable Public Works staff could perform the same tasks in house.

We all have to face the facts: Our PDA system of awarding transportation grants is not working as originally envisioned for Transit Oriented Development, and may not even be appropriate for our small County.

Of the 11 cities and towns in Marin, not a single one has volunteered to be a PDA, except downtown San Rafael.

Only 3 PDAs remain in unincorporated areas.

Strawberry and Marin City have the two highest percentages of renter occupied units in the County.  Strawberry has 61% and Marin City has 69%.
They will never be served by Smart Train.

By refusing to let Strawberry opt out, you expect us to absorb even more high density rental units than we have already.

You can’t foster sustainable communities if there are far more renters than owners because the tax base will not support it.

Here’s one solution.  Let Strawberry opt out and redirect our PDA share to Downtown San Rafael and Cal Park.  One of our County’s top priorities is to complete the missing Smart Train link from San Rafael to Larkspur.  Both of these PDAs lie along the proposed link.  They will need all of the money they can get, and they aren’t complaining about their PDA status, so let them have the money."

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