Saturday, January 16, 2016

Marinwood Village- an ideal home for Napa's Workforce?

[Editor's Note In Fiscal Year 2006/2007  Marin won a grant from Caltrans to study Marinwood Village for housing Napa workforce commuters 36 miles away .   As unreal as this sounds, they actually won $91,120 for the study which became the "Marinwood Village Collaborative". The hand picked  participants  were sworn to keep matters secret  until it could be presented to the community.  Just another example of your tax dollars at work and Supervisor Adams "efforts to redevelop the Marinwood Plaza site"]




Community--Based Transportation Planning Grants
Marinwood Village Planning Process

  • Grant Amount: $91,120
  • Grant Recipient: Marin County Community Development Agency
  • County: Marin

Project Area – An underutilized shopping center on a five-acre commercial parcel in the Marinwood community.

Project Focus – The Community Based Transportation and Coordinated Land Use Plan (CBT Plan) will concentrate on coordinated transportation and land use within Napa County and into our neighboring Counties which provide Napa with its work force. According to the recent Napa County Community Indicators report, a growing number of Napa County’s residents are retirees who no longer contribute to the work force. As more of Napa’s baby boomer residents retire in their homes, there will be an even greater need for employees to commute into Napa for work. Also according to the Indicators report, there is an increasing trend in retirees relocating to Napa County. The combination of the availability of jobs and higher priced housing or lack of available affordable housing in Napa County has forced many Napa employees to commute into Napa from Solano and Lake Counties

Project Goals – The Marinwood Village project will provide transportation, housing and environmental benefits that support local, regional, and State planning goals. Redevelopment of Marinwood Plaza will also help fulfill the County’s goal of less development in the rural areas of west Marin County and more in the urbanized area along the Highway 101 corridor. The project will
combine housing and employment opportunities on one site, thereby improving the jobs/housing balance in the area; and it will expand shopping opportunities for Marinwood residents, thereby reducing the frequency and length of vehicular trips. The project will also encourage alternative modes of transportation by improving bike and pedestrian routes and providing better access to the bus stops along Highway 101.


Community Outreach – Over the course of this planning project, more than 100 meetings with public interest and advocacy groups were held. In addition to these special purpose meetings were two series of general, open public meetings, in the fall of 2007 and the spring of 2008, each of which had three meetings for a total of six. Also in the fall of 2007 Napa’s Transportation Future hosted a Speakers Series with six outside experts to bring national transportation experts to the community.


Why Politicized Science is Dangerous- A lesson for the "Genius" Planners and Politicians that endorse the One Bay Area Plan





Friday, January 15, 2016

LEARN: A Crash Course on ABAG and MTC

Politicians and Planners are hiding the truth behind jargon, agencies and committees.


Bill Graham-Reefer  explains:
For those of you who have never heard of ABAG and MTC let me give you a crash course. MTC is the Bay Area Regional transportation authority. It was created by statute to coordinate the funding and construction of mass transit and road maintenance throughout the Bay Area. ABAG is not a statutorily created government body. It is at best a quasi-governmental group. It calls itself “part regional planning agency and part local government service provider.” All Nine Bay Area counties and 101 cities in the region can volunteer to contract with ABAG by paying membership dues. ABAG deals with the RHNA housing allocations and is also tasked with creating a regional Sustainable Communities Strategy Plan for all 9 Bay Area Counties.

In 2006 the legislature passed AB32 the Global Warming Act which created a state level agency CARB (California Air Resource Board) to inventory GHG (Green House Gas) emissions statewide and come up with a plan to reduce GHGs to 1990 levels by 2020. In 2008 the SB375 (SCS) Sustainable Communities Strategy bill passed which links transportation to land use. The SCS plan for the Bay Area is referred to as “Plan Bay Area” or “One Bay Area”.

This plan has been sold to the public as a way to save the planet from GHGs and global warming by transforming our single family residential neighborhoods and suburban towns into high density stack and pack housing next to transit. This plan also advocates for a less cars, higher fees for parking, gas, bridge tolls as well as environmental and social justice. There are $277 billion dollars in our tax and gas funds that are being handed to ABAG by our federal government to ensure that this plan gets adopted by the local municipalities.

If local cities and counties do not adopt these plans ABAG will withhold much of their transportation funds. So our tax dollars are being used to coerce our councils into adopting this otherwise voluntary plan. You see, any town that wants their portion of the $277 billion dollar transportation pie must agree to designate an area within their town as a PDA (Priority Development Area). SB375 page 32 defines PDA development projects or TPPs Transit Priority Projects as an area that is within ½ mile of a major transportation hub or is along a major transportation line.  Marinwood/Lucas Valley is laughably refered to as an "urban" county and must build at minimum of 30 units per acre.
This is where the real issue lies. If  Marin County does NOT adopt the higher-density housing provision put forth in it’s 2014 General Plan, it will lose it’s share of the $277 billion dollars.
How much is that exactly? I have no clue. But I’d bet you that the money is already included in the town budgets. Losing it will no-doubt have an impact.

What I’d like to see is simply more transparency. We citizens deserve to know exactly how much money we stand to lose if we refuse to comply. Then, we can make an informed decision.
The only thing constant is change itself. Property owners will continue to develop downtown for the highest-and-best-use of their land. Having more residential units downtown isn’t necessarily a bad thing, nor is having a percentage for lower-income earners.

What matters is that we should be in control of our own destiny. We should know all the players involved and all of the stakes. It may be that the best thing for Marinwood/Lucas Valley and all of it’s residents is to comply with the plan to get’s is share of the global warming pie. Our Supervisors seems to think so.

But lay everything out on the table and let us decide. It’s our community.
--------------------------------------------------------------------

ABAG = Association of Bay Area Governments www.abag.ca.gov

Supervisor Susan Adams served as Vice President in the past.

MTC = Metropolitan Transportation Commission www.mtc.ca.gov

Supervisor Steve Kinsey currently serves as President

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Smart Growth is dead. Landscape Urbanism lives on in Marinwood-Lucas Valley



A lecture on Landscape Urbanism by Professor Charles Waldheim of Harvard.



We are in the midst of fad of "Smart Growth" promoted by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG)".  Smart Growth which promotes walkable communities and smart growth with its Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and Traditional Neighborhood Design.  It is a sort of "Disneyland" approach to design to create nostalgic urban utopias.  In this video Charles Waldheim introduces the concept of Landscape Urbanism that promotes the idea of the natural environment as the unifying approach to design. 

The Smart Growth approach design has been in use for decades, beginning in socialist countries like East Germany and later China where individual property rights are not recognized as an essential element in a free society.  It is shocking that Smart Growth is coming to Marin of all places where for decades we have valued our natural environment in our approach to community planning.  

Architects should be studying Marin for walk/bike friendly cities and towns.  Instead they are imposing their will upon us to urbanize .  In a few short years,  all of this "Smart Growth" will seem like another passing fad.  Smart growth developments have failed all over the world.  Planners are actually surprised that people prefer a little single family home with a backyard instead of being crammed into apartments above a store.  Stores need parking, low prices and appeal to a regional shopping base. Small shops in the Smart Growth Urban village fail with the lack of foot traffic. People no longer chose to live above their "store" . A dynamic economy requires connection via personal transit. Mass transit is impractical for the tradesman, sales person or consultant. We don't work in factories and  have centralized  urban based economies. We have vastly different lifestyles than nostalgic vision of the  Smarth Growth advocates.

The economic reality will begin to really sink in soon.  All levels of government are broke and funding will disappear. The romantic ideal of returning to a 19th Century style Urban Village will fade.

Most of us in Marinwood have been living the "green" lifestyle for decades.  We watch our energy usage, have organic gardens, collect rainwater, recycle, compost, etc.

Very little building has been occuring in Marinwood-Lucas Valley.  There may be small developments here and there but nothing that constitutes "sprawl" since Eichler and Hoytt completed their developments in the 60s. Therefore trying to remedy our "sprawl" with further growth and compaction of our community with high density housing seems very misguided at best.

How does moving in 1500 new people into the bedroom community of Marinwood-Lucas Valley make us consume fewer resources, the roads less crowded and make us more independent? .

We need to preserve our green space not compact our beautiful neighborhoods in Marinwood-Lucas Valley.

It will be the wise political leader who recognizes that "Home Sweet Home" is the Marinwood-Lucas Valley we have now. 

We are believers in principles of community, sustainable living and protecting our open spaces. We are believers in Landscape Urbanism.. 


M.T. Liggett's Art Sculptures




M.T. Liggett's Political Sculptures

Field review by the editors.
Mullinville, Kansas
M.T. Liggett insists that he's not angry with anybody.
"I have a very different kinda outlook on life," he says. "You can't make me mad. Only me can make me mad."
Whoever is responsible for M.T. Liggett's outlook, he expresses it with art: hundreds of flapping, whirling, and static metal sculptures set on poles -- some are 20 feet tall -- along the fence line of Highway 154, just west of tiny Mullinville, Kansas. Liggett was born here in 1930 and, aside from some years in the military, has lived here all of his life.
He works in an old barn with a dirt floor, around the corner from his pasture gallery. His tools are a plasma arc cutter and an arc welder. His material is metal: junked farm machinery, car parts, road signs, railroad equipment. "If I just think of something, I make it," he explains, chalking the design on the metal, then setting to work with the plasma torch. "You draw it out, cut it out, and that's it."
Liggett welds.
M.T. -- an adopted name that some say stands for "Moon Tosser" -- does not play the part of a whimsical folk artist. He is a big man with ill-tempered gray hair; large, weather-beaten hands; and a sharp, gruff voice that's surprisingly high for someone so sizable. His speech is blunt, his attitude is cantankerous and contrary, his bib overalls are dark with metal grit and rust. He looks like he should be on a tractor.
"When I put up a piece of art, I don't ever ask anybody if they like it or they don't like it," he declares. "If you like it, that's fine. If you don't, I don't care."
There are some who do not like M.T. Liggett's art. Or, rather, they don't like some of M.T. Liggett's art. Everyone enjoys his windmills, gyros, and whirligigs, spinning and flashing in the prairie wind and Kansas sun. Almost everyone appreciates his fanciful creations: his grinning dogs, ancient gods, a smiling pumpkin, a giant dung beetle, chickens wearing boots, and imaginary creatures that seem tailored to the metal, rather than the other way around. Most folks even enjoy his many exaggerated representations of his former girlfriends, such as "Tokyo Rose," a blond who he met on the Tokyo Ginza when he was in the Navy, and Marilee, "the honey-haired enchantress."
Fence line of artwork.
Where Liggett runs into trouble is with his opinionated -- but not angry -- political art. He calls these "totems," but really they're political cartoons, carved in metal: human caricatures with long, warty noses, buck teeth, pot bellies, giant feet, and balloon butts. None of them are flattering.
Here's Vice-President Joseph Biden, labeled by Liggett on accompanying signs as a "sycophantic plagiarist" and "worthless bastard." Over there is Hillary Clinton, "Our Jack-Booted Eva Braun," depicted as a swastika with arms and legs, holding aloft a communist hammer and sickle. A sculpture titled "Right Wing Republican" is a man with his thumb up his ass; a depiction of James Carville, advisor to former President Clinton, is labeled "Political Whore," and "Bill Clinton's white boy Cajun procurer." Underneath is the epithet, "You're a pimp, stupid."
Sculptures accompanied by labels and statements.
"They're not angry," Liggett again insists of his sculptures. "If you would just stop and look at 'em and read 'em and look at the intent behind them, you'll see they're not angry."
We looked again. "Evolution is wrong," declares another of his signs. "Only a miracle from the Almighty could have created the moronic dumbasses on the Kansas State Board of Education."
Putting aside intent, is M.T. Liggett worried that people might be offended by, say, his rendering of former attorney general Janet Reno as the "Bitch of Buchenwald," with her head torn off and shoved up her ass? "Absolutely not," says Liggett, who favors the emphatic phrase. "It doesn't bother me the slightest bit" (Reno is singled out for her role in the Waco massacre of the Branch Davidians).
Hillary Clinton is not beloved by M.T. Liggett.
Despite Liggett's gruff posturing, he is proud of his art and enjoys being appreciated for it. If you admire it long enough from the roadside, he may even drive out in his old Ford pickup to look you over. This is a dark thrill, like unexpectedly encountering a wild bear or a killer elephant: you don't want to leave, but you don't want to get in his way and piss him off, either.
We got in M.T.'s way through our usual clumsiness, by asking stupid questions -- such as why he doesn't have any caricatures of George W. Bush in his iron menagerie (Just a big metal square with a "W" cut through above "Dubya.")
"I don't got nothing to do with George W. Bush," he declared. "Period." Does he plan to put up any more George W. Bush art? "No. Absolutely not."
M.T. Liggett.
M.T. Liggett has slowed his production in recent years ("Hell, I just got out of the hospital," he told us.) and continues to endure occasional sour relations with his neighbors ("That'll always be. But that's their problem, not mine."). He's not going anywhere any time soon, and as long as he can heft iron and grip an arc welder he will make art and put it out by Highway 154. Just don't try to read anything into it, or him.
"I'm not a Libertarian. I'm not a Republican. I'm not a Democrat," he insists. "I don't have any agenda." So why do people try to find one in his art? Liggett struggles to explain. "The problem is, I grab ideas right out of the blue."
"I'm not looking for notoriety whatsoever," he added. "Most people, they want to look for fame and fortune and to be recognized. Bottom line: I really don't care."
- See more at: http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/11212#sthash.8M5ieiyf.dpuf

Washington's 'Fair Housing' Assault on Local Zoning

This 81 unit Apartment Building in Portland, Oregon in the background is being built nextdoor to bungalows on a tree lined street. The apartment build has no parking spaces for it's tenants in the belief that the tenants will ride bicycles or take public transit as preferred means of transportation. 

From WSJ.com

Washington's 'Fair Housing' Assault on Local Zoning

Our experience in Westchester shows what the country can expect from a new federal discrimination rule.


By ROBERT P. ASTORINO

Do you think it is a good idea to give the Department of Housing and Urban Development unchecked power to put an apartment building in your neighborhood? HUD has proposed a new rule that could do just that.

In July, HUD published its long-awaited proposal on "Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing" in the Federal Register. It is a sweeping set of land-use regulations that has attracted little national attention. The agency wants the power to dismantle local zoning so communities have what it considers the right mix of economic, racial and ethnic diversity. A finding of discriminatory behavior, or allegations of discrimination, would no longer be necessary. HUD will supply "nationally uniform data" of what it thinks 1,200 communities should look like.

Local governments will have to "take meaningful actions to further the goals identified." If they fail to comply, HUD can cut federal funding. Westchester County north of New York City has firsthand experience of what the rest of the nation can expect.

HUD and Westchester are battling over local zoning that arose from a 2009 settlement (signed by my predecessor) to build 750 affordable-housing units in 31 mostly white communities. Westchester is well ahead of schedule in meeting these obligations. Almost 400 units have financing and 124 are already occupied. But HUD isn't satisfied because it wants to control local zoning and remake communities.

HUD has told Westchester that any limits on the size, type, height and density of buildings are "restrictive practices."

It demands that the county sue its localities over such common zoning regulations, which are not exclusionary by any stretch of the imagination. If HUD can define what constitutes exclusionary practices, then local zoning as it is known today disappears. Apartments, high rises or whatever else the federal government or a developer wants can be built on any block in America.

This is not hyperbole. Consider that HUD's list of "restrictive practices" includes limits on density even around reservoirs that supply drinking water to New York

City's eight million residents. Who knew ensuring clean water was discriminatory?
HUD's power grab is based on the mistaken belief that zoning and discrimination are the same. They are not. Zoning restricts what can be built, not who lives there.

In the 1970s, New York's highest court, in cases known as the Berenson decisions, established rules for what constitutes exclusionary zoning. Westchester's municipalities either voluntarily or through legal challenges have complied with these judicial rules. Any local zoning code also remains open to legal challenge. There are long-standing legal standards by which local zoning is judged and continually reviewed.

As required by HUD, Westchester County analyzed all 853 local zoning districts in February 2012. It found no evidence of exclusionary practices based on race or ethnicity. The county's conclusion was supported in a separate analysis by John R. Nolon, an affordable-housing expert at Pace University's Land Use Law Center.

HUD rejected the findings and cut off $17 million of federal funds to the county. The county prepared seven additional analyses, each one exploring more data as demanded by HUD. But as many times as HUD attempted to move the goal posts, the findings did not change. There is no evidence that zoning requirements on things like building size and height are racially exclusionary.

Last month HUD finally demanded—without presenting any facts—that the county accept its conclusion that there is exclusionary zoning in Westchester as a condition of releasing the funds. The agency's demand flies in the face of the July 31 "report card" issued by James E. Johnson, the federal monitor hired by HUD to oversee its 2009 affordable housing settlement. Mr. Johnson found no evidence of exclusionary zoning based on race or ethnicity.

Westchester is proudly the fourth most diverse county in New York in its population of African-Americans and Hispanics. Hispanics are the county's fastest-growing ethnic group, increasing in every community in the last census. The number of African-Americans continues to grow in contrast to an exodus from many areas in the Northeast. But HUD won't budge. Its vision for remaking neighborhoods depends on gaining control of local zoning.

The $17 million that HUD is withholding include Community Development Block Grants to help needy residents with neighborhood revitalization, new playgrounds and sidewalks, programs to prevent homelessness and, ironically, affordable housing. Westchester has sued the federal government to release these funds. Our claim is that HUD is unfairly holding hostage the communities and nonprofit agencies that administer those programs in its fight with the county. A federal judge dismissed Westchester's claim last month, saying HUD's ruling was written in a way that "excludes it from judicial review." The lawsuit is now before the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

HUD has no idea how much its new rule will cost, or whether it will even work. The only economic analysis HUD has provided concerns how much it will cost communities to comply with the paperwork. HUD estimates $3 million to $9 million. The agency has not published any estimate of other effects, such as on local real-estate markets or local budgets. As stated in the Federal Register, "HUD cannot quantify the benefits and costs of policies influenced by the rule."

HUD is asking for comments on its new rule by Sept. 17. If elected officials and citizens do not want to cede control of their streets, neighborhoods and open space to Washington, now is the time to say so.

Mr. Astorino is the Westchester County executive.

Editor's Note:  Marin is under a similar agreement with HUD and Marinwood-Lucas Valley is the "test market" for implementing the changes.  We have written extensively about it.  Click on the "HUD" category in the right hand column for more info.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Don’t Take HUD Money: Feds Will Swallow You Whole


By Stanley Kurtz — January 11, 2016

David Bowie on Politics


Why Dense Development Might Make the Housing Crisis Worse

Why Dense Development Might Make the Housing Crisis Worse

Posted By  on Mon, Jan 11, 2016 at 1:05 PM

MIKE BOENING PHOTOGRAPHY/FLICKR
  • Mike Boening Photography/Flickr

Good news if you’re in a NIMBYish mood of late: A new study from Chapman University in Orange County gives you the anti-Manhattanization rationale you’ve been waiting for. In “Building Cities For People,” author Joel Kotkin, a former San Franciscan turned urban studies fellow at Chapman, argues that increasing building density actually makes the housing crisis worse, and also makes San Francisco less likely to attract and retain anyone except the super-rich.

Kotkin contradicts the common supply-side argument that a modern metropolis can only drive down housing prices (and retain populations of working and middle class families) by building more, thus reducing scarcity and bringing supply in line with demand. That sort of thinking only makes sense to a point, he says.

“Once I started talking to developers, they pointed out that once your building gets higher than four stories, your price goes through the roof,“ Kotkin says. “That has to do with seismic safety, the switch from wood to steel frames, bigger crews of union labor, lots of things.”

In San Francisco, it also means a much longer planning and approval process.
The result, Kotkin argues, is that the only way big buildings can be commercially attractive to those building them is by catering to the rich. The “pack and stack” method of approving bigger and bigger development in an attempt to relieve the housing shortage only pushes prices higher, because builders want a return on those huge investments.

“In San Francisco, townhome building can cost more than double that of detached buildings. Units in condominium can cost as much as 7.5 times” to build, according to “Cities for People.”

“It surprised me too,” Kotkin says, since it flies in the face of basic assumptions about supply and demand. But it does explain a few things, like why
the world’s biggest cities have been unable to build their way out of soaring home prices. Kotkin cites East Asian cities such as Singapore — so dense that it’s a miracle light can escape its borders — as the ultimate case study. There, housing prices only come down when government steps in and converts buildings to public housing.

That’s music to the ears of San Francisco activists who oppose towering condo palaces on principle anyway. Kotkin notes that he’s a pretty middle of the road guy politically, and “very sympathetic to Libertarians, normally.” But numbers don’t respect your politics.

If the present building trends continue to proliferate, even the young Millennials who are supposed to fuel our tech economy will eventually drift away, back toward the suburbs or to cities in places like Texas, where housing costs are on average less than 30 percent of monthly take home pay. That means a city that becomes older (we have the smallest percentage of child residents of any large city), whiter (white people now count for only a fifth of suburban flight), and, of course, wealthier, since only those who can afford those giant buildings will stay.

A better solution, Kotkin argues, is to build small: wood-framed, single family houses, the type we usually call starter homes. Rather than turning the city’s disused industrial tracts into towering redevelopment complexes, we’d be better off replacing them with something that resembles the Sunset, homes that builders can afford to erect and then sell more cheaply, and homes that young couples would want to raise families in. 

Otherwise, we only need to look abroad to see what the future might be. “A place like San Francisco will end up what H.G. Wells called ‘an appliance of luxurious extinction,’ home mostly to the rich and childless, plus a few of the poorest people, who qualify for public benefits,” Kotkin says. “Wells was talking about the future of London. And he was right.”

Provocative stuff. But like I said, it would explain a thing or two. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

"Why ethics? Because it is central to my DNA"

Community Venture Partners wins for the People!

Community Venture Partners, Inc. Granted Declaratory Relief on its Petition Against the Marin County Board of Supervisors for Violations of the Ralph M. Brown Act

Marin County Superior Court Judge Rules that Marin County Supervisors Violated California’s Open Meetings Laws Established to Ensure Government Transparency


Mill Valley, California – Jan 11, 2016:   Community Venture Partners, Inc. (“CVP”), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to social justice, environmental sustainability, and the importance of community participation in government decision-making, has been successful in its Petition charging the Marin County Board of Supervisors with violating California’s Open Meetings Law.

On January 4th, Marin Superior Court Judge, Roy O. Chernus, issued his final decision in the case of Community Venture Partners vs. the County of Marin, ruling in favor of CVP, and finding that the Marin Board of Supervisors knowingly failed to provide public notice for a planned hearing on the Marin County Housing Element, in the summer of 2014.  The ruling granted CVP Declaratory Relief and contained numerous citations of case law and relevant facts substantiating the cause of action.

California’s Ralph M. Brown Act is intended to ensure the public’s right to attend meetings of public agencies. Its purpose is that public commissions, boards and councils and the other public agencies in this State, exist to aid in the conduct of the people's business. It is the intent of the law that their actions and deliberations be conducted openly.  

The Court stated that it “rejects the County’s suggestion that the statute was not violated,” and that “the agenda rule of the statute is unambiguous” in its requirement to notify the public. Judge Chernus went on to say, “In light of County Counsel’s refusal to admit a violation, the court is justified in presuming Respondent [the County] will continue similar practices” and thus was compelled to grant Declaratory Relief.

Petitioner's counsel, Edward Yates, noted, "CVP is very pleased with Judge Chernus' decision holding that the Marin County Board of Supervisors violated the state Open Meetings Act's requirements that local agencies provide public notice for all discussion items. CVP did not go into this case looking for a legal battle but instead only made the request that the County abide by the Brown Act and not hold discussions without public notice.” Mr. Yates went on to say, “The County not only refused to agree to this simple request but also disparaged CVP's case in the press, and in its pleadings.”

Bob Silvestri, founder and president of CVP added, “The Ralph M. Brown Act is the cornerstone of participatory government in California. It ensures the public’s right to be involved in government decision making. What was so disturbing in this case was that the County’s decision to not provide public notice of a hearing, on a topic of intense public interest, was not an oversight, and throughout the proceedings, the County continued to try to defend their right to not provide notice. One can only hope the County will be more circumspect in the future.”

About Community Venture Partners

Community Venture Partners, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) non-profit focused on social justice, environmental sustainability and committed to promoting a transparent, "bottom up" public process that incorporates under-served community voices into government decision-making.

For more information visit: http://www.communityventurepartners.org



Free Speech under threat in Novato



Gary Butler, former candidate of Novato City Council and Susan Wernick, Novato Planning commissioner, express outrage that a City Council member encouraged Novato citizens to come to city hall on December 15, 2015. Citizens were encouraged to express their thoughts about the Redwood Bus Stop renovation.

Martin Luther King tells us a few things about freedom of speech in America.  We hope that the Novato city council is listening.

The Marin IJ Editorial Board Agrees  HERE

Sunday, January 10, 2016

My Plea to the Marinwood CSD to revisit the SolEd Benefit Corporation contract goes unpublished and unanswered.




Here is the letter I sent to Eric Dreikosen and the Marinwood CSD board and it was ignored and unpublished.  What does this say about Marinwood CSD board's commitment to an open democratic process?:

Mr. Dreikosen/Marinwood CSD Board:

Solar Energy is a good idea for Marinwood CSD and it is "good politics" for our Marinwood CSD directors.  With the right equipment, favorable terms and a solid vendor, we can expect to save money and do good for the environment.  
The Marinwood CSD has only evaluated one project with one vendor, the SolEd Benefit Corporation and has no idea of competitive offerings from well established firms in the Solar Business.  Even after two years,  the CSD does not know who their "long term managing partner"  (see video https://youtu.be/RgUhDCkeI0w) is due to the transferable contract, shifting contractors and unknown financing sources.

This is a Red Flag.

On November 10, 2015, just a few weeks prior to the Marinwood CSD meeting that approved the SolEd Corp (C2 Beta Holdings, LLC) the City of St Helena UNANIMOUSLY voted to cancel their contract with SolEd Benefit Corporation due to "non performance"

It is not surprising that Mr. David Kunhardt, did not inform the Marinwood CSD about this embarrassing development and it is understandable that no one knew about it before voting.

The criticism by the City of St. Helena is damning.  The city manager states that virtual ALL PERFORMANCE MILESTONES of their contract with SolEd had not been meet.  

The St. Helena meeting is worth watching for relevant detail HERE

See the staff report HERE


Despite David Kunhardt's impassioned plea for forgiveness, the St Helena board wisely let their good business sense guide their decision to dismiss SolEd Benefit Corp and C2 Beta Holdings, LLC.

This is an EXPLICIT WARNING. 

We can do business with hundreds of solar companies.  Why not do business with the best available vendor, equipment and terms?

This is a time for the Marinwood CSD prove to the community that they are responsible stewards of the environment and the Marinwood CSD purse.  It is time to revisit the solar contract and to look at the project from a fresh perspective.

Respectfully,

Stephen Nestel

Larkspur Corte Madera receives $350,000 grant for Solar, Marinwood receive ZERO!



Marin school district to save nearly $2 million in energy deal



Wolf Gutscher, director of operations and sustainability with the Larkspur-Corte Madera School District, stands on top of the roof at Neil Cummins Elementary with the district’s new solar panels on Friday.Robert Tong — Marin Independent Journal




New solar panels were installed over the summer at the gym at Neil Cummins Elementary in Corte Madera. Robert Tong — Marin Independent Journal
A Marin school district has completed a first-of-its-kind solar energy deal projected to save the district nearly $2 million over 20 years.
The Larkspur-Corte Madera School District snagged $350,000 from the state via the California Clean Energy Jobs Act as a “buy-down” on a 20-year agreement to buy energy from Cenergy Power. Solar panels at Neil Cummins, Hall Middle School and the Cove School should save the district $1.7 million over 20 years, officials said.
See the full story at the Marin IJ HERE

Here is another argument to revisit the troubled contract with the Sol Ed Benefit Corporation Solar project with Marinwood CSD.   We get ZERO grants from the California Clean Energy Jobs Act while Larkspur Corte Madera receives $350k!!!    Editor update 1/11/2015:  After inquiry, we discovered that the funds can only be used for schools. This does not mean that there are not other programs that Marinwood CSD can use. We never had more than one solar company bid on our business.  It is interesting that none of the local school districts have elected to go with SolEd but selected another local concern.

Will the Marinwood CSD have the integrity to revisit the SolEd contract?