Saturday, January 14, 2017

Government Transparency in Marin

Marin Coalition Presents: Wednesday January 11, 2017

“The New Transparency: What Residents Should Demand of Local Government"

Speaker: Linda Pfeifer, former Sausalito City Councilmember

When Sausalito Councilmember Linda Pfeifer was first elected to the Sausalito City Council in 2008, she discovered that many residents were not aware of the policies that impacted them. Having just completed her second term and retired from her seat on the City Council of Sausalito in December 2016, she is now advocating a “New Transparency” mindset, describing actions that can be taken by residents to enhance open government in their own communities. Linda will share her perspective on 8 years in local government and share her insights into what steps officials and constituents can take to help create more responsive and accountable local administration. Join us to listen and ask questions as to what you can do in your community to raise public awareness and successfully make an impact with your local government regarding the many critical issues we all face.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Marin Voice: County puts development pressure on Silveira Ranch

Marin Voice: County puts development pressure on Silveira Ranch

The decision of the Marin Board of Supervisors to force the Silveira family to settle or sue over the rezoning of their San Rafael property is not a responsible action.

Right now, the property is being used productively and its impact on traffic and the environment is a known factor integrated in the current problems we face daily.

By forcing the family to take action, we will find a development which will increase traffic and pollution. The county might also spend a bundle of money on a fool’s errand of trying to manage in court what it has failed to achieve in negotiations. This all could have been avoided if the county had not initiated cancellation of the Silveira property’s tax reduction under the Williamson Act in 1986.

According to the Marin Conservation League, the state’s Williamson Act was passed in 1965 and the Silveira Ranch entered into a contract to reduce the property tax assessment on its ranchland. But after the county designated the property as one of its development “corridors,” the county initiated termination of the contract and the ranch is now taxed at market value based on its development potential.

It is obvious that the history of proposals from the Silveira family, the city of San Rafael, the county and various environmental and other groups have failed to reach consensus on either development, purchase to save the ranchland as open space or any other plan.

The status quo between the county and the family has been breached again by the Board of Supervisors, with no real plan in place.

See the full article HERE 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Bill McNicholas of the Cleanup Marinwood Plaza Now Committee: Reports on his meeting concerning Marinwood Plaza

 Report from Bill McNicholas on January 11, 2017
“Steve Grant (St. Vincent's), Rob Graham and I (Cleanup Marinwood Plaza Now Oversight Committee) just returned from the RWQCB meeting in Oakland today. First, I delivered a letter from Supv. Connolly to the directors. An update for you on what is happening at the Plaza. 

First, the District Staff is reviewing the comments on the cleanup on Siveira Ranch and St. Vincent's and staff will be presenting to the directors at the February 8, 2017 RWQCB meeting.. 

Second, and most important to us as Marinwood Community, is that the cleanup of the cleaners has started this week. That being removal of lead and asbestos. It should be noted that Hoytt is not going to be demolishing the Plaza sans the market, but doing the cleanup of only the cleaners without demolition--other words-less expensively. The contractor has placed an enclosed conex box at the big door behind the cleaners and he has sealed off the opening all around it to avoid atmospheric exposure. Tentatively, this will be accomplished by 1/16/2017 to allow the digging and removal of the contamination under the cleaners. Per staff at the RWQCD, Hoytt will be removing the contaminated soil and concrete and piling in in back of the cleaners until a waste site gives permission to deliver the contaminated material. This waste pile will be tarped at night, exposed during the day, until such action takes place. Based on the winds and rain that we have experienced over the past week,. there is a strong possibility of the tarp coming off. If that occurs, we could have contaminated material being blown into the surrounding area, including the market, and the runoff going into the storm drains, and even Miller Creek.

 In my opinion, this is not a great scenario for public health and safety. Hoytt has until February 1, 2017 to a completion report meeting the acceptable standards for cleanup submitted to the RWQCD. Cleanup Marinwood Plaza Now Oversight Committee, at the meeting today, voiced concerns that failure to comply in full with the executive order, that Hoyt be penalized per regulations since Hoytt has had since April 19, 2016 to comply with this date. 

In addition, I brought up the Eastern Hot Spot behind the cleaners where the cleaning solvent was dumped, still no plans to clean that up and the monitoring well reading is 34 ug/l which is 7 times acceptable level for drinking water. RWQCD staff said that the soil met the standard, but the reading in the ground water wasn't a concern. In addition, Rob Graham spoke to the contaminated waste pile. The Oversight Committee will be attending the February 8, 2017 RWQCB meeting along with representatives from Silveira Ranch and St. Vincent's. 

I anticipate that Supv. Connolly will also be in attendance. We would appreciate additional members of the community attending with us. The more the more effective is our concerns. I will be providing additional information on the meeting time. I will continue to post updates on what is happening at the Plaza. 

You may also present your concerns and comments to Mr. Bruce Wolfe, Executive Officer, RWQCD,”

"MisInformation" about the Prosperity Cleaners Toxic Waste site from the Marin IJ, Marin County and the RWQCB from January 27, 2015

The people of Marin are regularly subjected to heavily biased reporting like this one in the IJ on January 27, 2015..

Although the online version was toned down a bit,  this printed edition is well literally, a bold faced LIE.  The toxic waste was a problem then as it is now.

I wrote an angry letter to the Marin IJ asking them to correct the many errors but they ignored the truth and did not issue a retraction.  

This is very troubling for our community.  Currently, 300 residents are at risk for toxic contamination as proven in the state testing data of Prosperity Cleaner.  To give the public a false sense of safety is criminal neglect of journalistic ethics.  

If the writer independently verified the facts found at Geotracker  he would have found out that the waste had not been remediated since 2011 and all testing shows toxic levels as far out as 4/10 mile.  We have not even touched the edge of the plume yet.

But especially maddening was the comments by the Community Development Department's Tom Lai who is quoted:

"Tom Lai, assistant community development director, said, “This is the property owner’s consultant reporting to the regional water board. I am certainly not qualified to review the adequacy of the report.
“But just reading the conclusion,” Lai said, “I’m relieved they did not find significant off-site migration of the chemicals to warrant additional groundwater sampling.”
Lai added, however, “This report summarizes the results of the sampling on Silveira. It doesn’t speak to what is on the Marinwood Plaza property.”

This was provably false from the test results at the time of this article.  The writer took the political spin "lock, stock and barrel".
Furthermore, the writer makes no mention of the Toxic Soil Vapors that were found at the eastern edge of the property that indicates a possible problem within Casa Marinwood.
It is damned irresponsible!  People's lives are at stake. Pregnant women and small children are especially vulnerable.  Who ARE these people to treat the environment and public health with such callous disregard!?
The Marin IJ has been covering the issue more responsibly recently but we must trust the data not the political spin.
Pregnant women and children are especially vulnerable to toxins in the environment.

Marin’s population continues to grow at slow pace

Marin’s population continues to grow at slow pace

Youth groups walk to the midway at the Marin County Fair. People are having fewer children in California.
Youth groups walk to the midway at the Marin County Fair. People are having fewer children in California.Robert Tong — Marin Independent Journal

When it comes to population growth, Marin continues to be among the slowest-growing counties in the state while participating in a statewide trend toward lower birth rates.
Marin’s population increased by 1,152 people, or 0.4 percent, between July 1, 2015, and July 1, 2016, according to state Department of Finance statistics released last week. Thirty-three of California’s 58 counties grew at a faster rate. Yolo County led the field with a 1.97 percent growth rate, and the state as a whole grew at a 0.75 percent rate, to more than 39 million people.
The report also showed that California’s birth rate dipped to an historic low in 2015-16, a trend demographers say is driven largely by millennials putting off parenthood to finish college and launch careers.
The state’s birth rate declined to 12.42 births per 1,000 population in 2016 — the lowest in California history, according to the report. In 2010, the last time figures were compiled, the birth rate was 13.69 per 1,000 population.
“There are a lot of people who could be having children but are choosing to do something else,” said Walter Schwarm, a demographer with the Department of Finance. “People want to establish careers. They’re looking to pursue degrees, they’re getting out there and finding their place in employment.”
But as young people opt to start families between ages 30 to 34, they find it’s “harder and harder to conceive,” according to Schwarm.
The fact that people are having fewer children may also be an indication that “the economy is not as strong as we hoped it would be,” said Professor Josh Goldstein, chairman of the University of California at Berkeley’s Department of Demography.
“It’s clear that fertility rates went down when the economy got worse,” Goldstein said. “Demographers are still noticing that birth rates have not picked up as the economic measures have improved.”
The number of births in Marin has declined since the onset of the Great Recession in 2009; births at Marin General Hospital declined from 1,627 in 2008 to 1,322 in 2015.
The state’s death rate also increased slightly in 2015-16 to 6.71 deaths per 1,000 population, compared with 6.26 in 2010 as members of the baby-boom generation grow older.
There were 2,286 births in Marin in 2015-16 compared with 2,016 deaths for a net increase of 270 residents. The bulk of the county’s population increase came from 726 foreign immigrants, while 156 people migrated to Marin from other states.
Marin’s 0.4 percent growth rate, the same as in 2014-15, is its slowest in the past six years. Marin population grew by 0.5 percent in 2011-12, 0.9 percent in 2010-11, 1 percent in 2013-14 and 1.1 percent in 2012-13.
Population growth projections became a hotly debated subject in 2013 when Plan Bay Area — a long-range transportation and land-use/housing blueprint for the nine-county Bay Area — was adopted. Critics of the plan challenged the plan’s projection that Marin would gain some 33,000 new residents by 2040. They pointed to a Department of Finance projection that Marin’s population would grow by just 6,818 residents by 2040.
If Marin were to add the same number of new residents as it did in 2015-16 over the next 24 years, by 2040 it would have added 27,648 new residents.
The new population data doesn’t break out population by municipality. But previously released numbers covering population growth from Jan. 1, 2015, to Jan. 1, 2016, showed Novato leading the way in Marin with 458 new residents, a 0.8 percent growth rate, for a total population of 54,749.
Marin’s most populous city, San Rafael, grew at a 0.1 percent rate, adding 75 residents for a total population of 60,582. Larkspur had Marin’s second-fastest growth rate, 0.6 percent, adding 74 residents for a total population of 12,445. Fairfax, the only Marin municipality to contract, lost seven residents during the period.
The Bay Area News Group contributed to this report.
Births at Marin General Hospital, 2002 to 2015
2002: 1,737
2003: 1,910
2004: 1,792
2005: 1,767
2006: 1,656
2007: 1,781
2008: 1,627
2009: 1,541
2010: 1,414
2011: 1,368
2012: 1,400
2013: 1,345
2014: 1,416
2015: 1,322
Source: Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Is Pod Sharing in Your Future?

Interesting affordable living model.  Looks like fun for a while,  especially when you are young and new to a city.    I preferred having room mates when I was single.  There was never a dull moment.  

Boarding houses of the warehouse variety are nothing new however.  It has a long history in America especially among immigrants in every town in America.  

Sunday, January 8, 2017

How the "Magic Formula" for housing growth projections for Marin was achieved by ABAG.

This emergency meeting of ABAG was held on April 2, 2013 to discuss the differences in the demographic forecasts by the California Department of Finance (DOF), California  Housing and Community Development (HCD) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG).

The California Department of  Finance(DOF) has long been considered the gold standard for business and government economic forecasters since it is based upon detailed analysis of census statistics and does not pretend to know the future business trends, political developments and tax policy that can affect future growth.  It is a fact based methodology.  It is the core statistic for California.

The Calfornia Housing and Community Development  (HCD) projects housing growth in part using DOF forecasts but also include political policy initiatives into account.

The Asssociation of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) guided by chief forecaster, Stephen Levy using the data from DOF, HCD plus a "special sauce" of projections of US economic growth,  estimates of the Bay Area growth, etc and projects forty years into the future.  His forecasts are the basis for the Regional Needs Analysis (RHNA) that projects the need for affordable housing.

His results are highly controversial since they deviate from all other responsible forecasts of the above agencies and private business forecasts.  For example, Marin population has been decreasing for the last decade but ABAG is projecting wild growth not seen in decades.