Saturday, July 28, 2018

The fallacy of light rail, transit oriented development

Who needs Miwok history?

Who needs Miwok history?
Marinwood Park and Miller Creek School are the site of SEVENTEEN Miwok Settlements until the 1830s before they were driven off the land.  The village was known as Cotomko’tca .

The proposed maintenance compound site was home to one of these settlements according to maps by Joseph Slaymaker yet strangely this is not mentioned by Marinwood CSD's consultant for in their Environmental Impact Initial Study

If you think we need a fair and honest assessment by an independent expert, please sign the petition to “stop the white elephant” on

“Stop the White Elephant
In Marinwood Park”

Sign the petition at

Be Prepared. Paragliding accident in slow motion

Marinwood Maintenance Compound EIR public hearing 7/26/2018

Residents speak to the "Negative Declaration EIR" for the proposed 4400 Square Foot Maintenance Compound  (aka "The White Elephant") The massive compound is about the same size as a car wash  (40' x 150') The main building is 3200 sf  with a 15' x 80' wall.  It is proposed to be located on the current walk path.  The footprint is roughly from the edge of the Eastern storage yard to the horse shoe pit.  A new access road will be closer to the creek.  Despite the huge size of this facility, its narrow design makes it impractical for parking vehicles.  They will need to be parked outside the facility along with material storage.   Residents question the massive foot print for such a small 3 man team.  The project is designed by former CSD Director, Bill Hansell.  Written comments can be submitted to before 4pm on July 31, 2018

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Millennials Reinvent Localism in Their Search for Community

Millennials Reinvent Localism in Their Search for Community /by Anne Snyder

While millennials represent a diverse set of individuals, many of the young leaders influenced by grass-roots movements such as Black Lives Matter are turning their focus to improving their own neighborhoods.

It’s common knowledge that millennials long for “community.” What’s less understood is the concrete expression of that longing in cities and suburbs across America, especially now that the older tier of millennials between ages 28 and 34 are buying homes, starting companies, running for office, and throwing around their consumer weight.

The story is a hopeful but tentative one, threaded by a reviving localism at the very time this localism’s future rests on how, exactly, millennials choose to live out their commitments to a place – as much with one another as with the nation at large.

We millennials are an interesting bunch. Analyzed and scrutinized ad infinitum, we defy categorizations at the same time there arepatterns one can trace in the impulses and values that are now making themselves felt in the actions and organizations of those in a position to lead.

Starting with the Iraq War, compounded then by a sequence of federal disappointments and the digital revolution, electrified, finally, by the most polarizing election of their lifetime, millennials have stopped believing in large-scale change driven from the top. The most popular movements of the last decade have no figurehead: #MeToo, Black Lives Matter, and Occupy Wall Street. These movements are powered instead by a decentralized invitation to see one’s own life story as having all the criteria needed to belong.
The desire to impact a community

“Small is beautiful” again … the chance to impact one’s original or adopted community with tangible, visible results, is hugely appealing to a generation that feels denuded of both belonging and heroic opportunity.

First, some facts. For millennials with choice, the traditional coastal hotspots of Washington, D.C., New York City, and San Francisco still lure the strategic (or those who want a tableau in which to find themselves), but they are no longer the launching panacea they once were. Instead, college-educated millennials are going to where they perceive affordability, growing opportunity, and an invitation to create and contribute, not just consume.

Census data indicates that 10,430 young people moved to Washington, D.C. between 2010 and 2011. Just two years later, between 2013 and 2014, only 2,662 of that same age group moved to the capital.

What’s supplanted the appeal of dense networks and structured career tracks? The tangible dynamism of reviving yet smaller inland cities – places like Raleigh, Madison, San Antonio, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Nashville, and Orlando.

Particularly as millennials are marrying and having children, yet still desire the perks of urban living (e.g. social density, walkable and mixed-use neighborhoods, cultural variety), these second- and third-tier cities offer just the right blend of purpose and promise … at a price tag of $175,000 and $300,000, not the $500,000 to $1.5 million that only trust fund kids can consider.

As millennials have gone from a few concentrated bubbles to a more textured diaspora, a “back to the roots” movement has gained steam, with many young people choosing to return to their hometowns – or at least the metropolitan areas where family (and support for their children) is nearby.

It could be the natural progression of age and need, or it could be something more trendy, but the topline of millennial aspirations has changed, and in fairly rapid fashion.

Where in 2008 we millennials were known for our “save the world” idealism, we now channel that desire for impact toward local causes we can see and touch. It’s a kind of primordial return to the fundamental meaning-makers of life: family, community, responsibility, even a kind of symbolic return to “the land,” however distant from agrarian lifestyle most of these millennials’ experiences are.

“Everyone’s searching for meaning and purpose,” says Thierry Tchenko, a 23-year old from Houston, currently finishing up a master’s degree at Georgetown, planning to return to serve his city in August. The son of Cameroonian immigrants who divorced when he was a kid, Tchenko spent his teenage years shuttling between his dad’s middle class neighborhood and his mom’s poorer apartment complex, the latter located just west of Sharpstown in one of the most ethnically diverse pockets of Texas as well as the country.

“Four years ago, I didn’t see much energy around going back home,” Tchenko says about his peers who also have had an opportunity to pursue education out of state. “Now, there’s an energy about social change, of us wanting to have an impact back toward the faces you grew up with. There’s dissatisfaction with the national political process, and with what west and east coasts are prescribing. Home may be the best place to have some sort of impact…being able to have those small wins on the local level with people you grew up with is deeply satisfying.”

As more millennials fulfill this leave-and-return motif, it’s not all hunky dory. For those coming back in a spirit of service, many of them carry a fill-the-void impulse – returning to one’s home to redeem the places of pain in their own lives so others don’t have to go through the same thing alone: divorce, abuse, poverty, lack of supportive authority figures, living in fear as an undocumented immigrant.

And, of course, one’s native status should and often does grant a leg up in establishing trust as the returner seeks to re-integrate and serve from an expanded worldview. But it can also open up chasms inside a particular community, contributing to feelings of personal alienation at the same time so many of these returning millennials are seeking to address this very problem on a macro level.
Reknitting the social fabric

The Commons Coffee Bar is a coin laundry and coffee shop in the midst of one of the roughest neighborhoods in Detroit. Its founder, Mack Avenue Community Church, wanted to create a space where the habits of two distinct demographic groups – the laptop latte routine of white millennials versus those who need to use public washing machines – would play off each other and intermingle.

This ode to care across difference, and to reknit a social fabric that millennials acutely feel has been torn for them and their progeny, motivates all sorts of localist initiatives.

The idea is a creative one, even if the reality isn’t yet gelling. Buy coffee at Commons, and you see well-heeled hipsters typing in isolation, their African-American peers cracking jokes while folding clothes.

There’s a space & design renaissance powered largely by millennials right now, but leadership still matters. How to people places, in a way that feels natural, yet sets a more definitive tone so people don’t just slip into their default habits and distrusts?

“Intentional is a big word with us,” says Tchenko. “I’m seeing lots of friends being super intentional about choosing the teaching profession, for instance. They want to get into the system and get in there early. Others are starting non-profits – helping kids. If we lacked a father, or if we experienced some sort of trauma, we want to begin our adult lives by connecting with those in similar circumstance.” A kind of immigrant echo of crafting better futures for your progeny, but in this case, the progeny is the next generation of wounded healers.

Sarah Hemminger is leading one of the most impressive social capital repair efforts in the country, called Thread. It serves the city of Baltimore by creating a reliable social network around students who score in the lowest quartile, re-defining “family” in the process.

Hemminger herself grew up in a thick religious community outside Indianapolis, and as a teenager experienced a dramatic church shunning when her family wouldn’t bend with the congregation’s acquiescence to an embezzling pastor. That excruciatingly isolating experience gave her a call that now propels Thread, and she wears a necklace whose pendant contours Baltimore’s city limits. Many other cities have asked her to bring Thread to them, but she’s thus far declined. She loves her adopted city, and wants to go all-in.

Millennial-led examples of this kind of social fabric repair and whole person concern are endless – mostly in the non-profit sector, but starting to percolate in the for-profit world, too. Trevor Hightower in Houston has founded WorkFlourish, an innovative residential and co-working experiment that seeks to foster a flourishing community of entrepreneurs committed to excellent work and neighboring.

Hightower has intentionally created an environment that not only encourages creativity and cross-pollination, but also provides cues for members to nourish their physical, mental, and spiritual health. Video monitors display inspiring quotes. TED Talks are featured on subjects like creating, thriving, leading, failing. There are daily practices available, one of which is a morning visioning session were members clarify the top three things that need to be done that day while focusing on their three reasons for gratitude.
Choosing the local

These are just a few examples among thousands, highlighting a generational spirit almost more than the infrastructure we can predict unfurling on a large scale. Insofar as millennials are a generation defined more by the institutions they’ve left than those they’ve shaped, there remains a subtle yet defiant institutional impulse showing up in their desire to serve and reconnect with the faces they grew up with, to address needs that will help future generations. And so much of this impulse is at once admirable and promising:

There’s a wisdom in localism, not only for a recovery of health in our democracy, but for the health of citizens.

At a fundamental human level, millennials are showing that they’ve had enough with abstract goods. They want a sense of wholeness in their lives, wholeness built from healthy relationships, responsibility, belonging, an identifiable role.

There’s an inherent personalism involved in choosing the local – it demands real conversations in real-time, real meals around real tables, and real problem-solving and sacrifice, less hash-tagging and virtue signaling.

But it remains to be seen how this localist enthusiasm will develop and mature. No one can ignore the internet, its alternate reality as tempting to our ideals as anything in our immediate environment. We millennials may get dangerously good at functioning with split personalities: embodying online everything we claim to hate, and finding relief only in one’s local realities. This won’t be sustainable, neither psychologically nor democratically.

“To be honest, going local may not be attractive to some people,” says Thierry Tchenko. Sometimes “localism” seems to obscure the fact that many young people simply feel stuck, unable to get out and unable to make their own place better. “White folks love giving money to improve a place,” one young African-American man in Detroit told me, “but most of them still have trouble sharing power.”

Millennials are more aware of this problem than their elders, but there’s still a moral battle ahead. No one can be spared the choices involved.

“The key question is,” says Tchenko, “how are we now training those younger than us to serve their peers? How do we train their desires to go beyond simply attaining success and a pleasant life, which are part of the American Dream but not its lifeblood. We must train those after us to serve and lead.”

Only time will tell, but it is worth noting that since the 2016 election, there’s an intriguing spirit rising up from millennials in cities and towns across the country. Some of it is angry – people are fed up with politics and government’s inability to address injustice effectively. Some of it is pained – both personally and historically – but in this pain there is a purifying clarity and empowered hope being born about the possibility – no, the necessity – of civic action. Each citizen is being called to his and her own renewing path. Some of it, subtly yet pervasively, is faith-driven.

There’s a new yet ancient vocabulary rooted in a theological imagination bubbling up as millennials talk about our yearnings for our lives and our society.

This vocabulary invokes mercy and justice, forgiveness and reconciliation, memory and truth, poetry and breaking bread together, all of which is more inclusive and pluralist than the churchy language of yesteryear, but is nonetheless rooted in a transcendent set of reference points. Much of it oriented toward how we might live together in common…of how we might bring both Old and New America together. And in this, there is something perennially American being activated and repurposed.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Who needs an accurate site plan?

click for full size image

Who needs an accurate site plan?

The Marinwood CSD  submitted a site plan for its “Negative Declaration of Environmental Impacts” for the new ‘4400 sf Maintenance Shed Compound that grossly under represents the affected areas of environmental impact.

They did not include a stream that runs parallel to the tennis court,  a 30’ vehicle turnaround in the  meadow
150 yards to the East,  vehicle parking and material storage and an  accurate map of the current Miller Creek Stream bank and setback.

Such misrepresentations subject the Marinwood CSD to liability.  It also grossly underestimates the amount of  park that will be sacrificed to build this compound.

Tell the Marinwood CSD to slow down .  We love our park and we don’t want you to take it from us.

Sign the Petition HERE

Yankee Ingenuity Garage built from Shipping containers

I am not recommending this for Marinwood Park but it is a cool use of shipping containers for an inexpensive garage that holds lots of tools, materials and a few vehicles. He estimates that he spent $4500 on the project. Wood slat siding could be installed and the building will look like a conventional structure. We can learn from the creative ingenuity of this design and apply some of the principles to our new maintenance garage workshop.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Graffiti hits Marinwood sign on Miller Creek Rd.

Saw this today.  Bob Kaufman, the creator of the sign was consulting with staff as I drove by. Hopefully this will be fixed shortly.

The Stream Conservation Ordinance in 2013 prohibits Marinwood CSD from building its Maintenance Compound in current location

Regulations over property near streams in Marin's unincorporated neighborhoods were approved by county planners Monday following debate from a disparate crowd.
The county Planning Commission acted on a 6-0 vote in late afternoon after making minor changes to a staff proposal that earlier drew criticism from both critics and advocates when a parade of speakers split along familiar lines. Commissioner Ericka Erickson was absent.
The controversial program passes to county supervisors for review on June 18.
The proposal aimed at protecting creekside habitat, wildlife and fisheries involves "stream conservation area" regulations applying to more than 3,000 parcels near streams. It spells out rules for building, or altering the landscape, near creek banks and establishes exemption, site review and special permit procedures.
The commission, after hearing almost two dozen speakers debate the plan pro and con during a morning session, returned in the afternoon to tweak a variety of details.
"It is so complicated," Commissioner Wade Holland observed of various setback requirements and rules. "Is there a way to simplify this some way?" There appeared no easy answer amid restrictions involving issues including creek banks, vegetation growth and city or rural locale.
The ordinance establishes development setbacks in "city-centered" urban areas that vary from 20 feet to 100 feet from the creek bank, with larger lots requiring bigger setbacks. [Editor's Note:Marnwood Park has 120' setback according to county data]. But in rural areas, setbacks of 100 feet are required regardless of lot size. Other issues involve setbacks near what staffers said was a limited number of "ephemeral streams" or wet weather drainages lined by stretches of riparian growth.
Commissioner Don Dickenson noted that setback requirements do not forbid activity, but rather establish the area in which special site review or permits are required in conventional district zones. In some areas, including Kent Woodlands, creekside development already is strictly regulated through design review procedures that are part of planned district zones.
The Salmon Protection and Watershed Network, San Geronimo Valley Planning Group and Marin Audubon Society indicated the latest version of the program was too weak, but the Marin Association of Realtors, San Geronimo Valley Stewards and Sleepy Hollow Homeowners Association called it too tough.
All things considered, "the ordinance doesn't do much for the creek," said Gordon Bennett of the salmon network, citing loopholes in the measure. Legislation intended to benefit stream habitat has generated "lots of angst in the public" but efforts to preserve endangered coho are not intended to target property owners, he added.
But Bob Figari of Woodacre said homeowners face a "fantasy" program based on imagined "ephemeral streams" that exist only after it rains, or streams that appear on maps but don't exist at all. "It's kind of like walking into a loony bin and trying to convince a guy who says he is Napoleon that he is not," Figari said of the county program. "Take our street out of the stream conservation plan."
Barbara Salzman, head of Marin Audubon, had a different vision. "We really support this ordinance and urge you to move ahead," she said. "We all have restrictions on our property," she said. "Nobody has free range to do what they want on their property."
Dan Stein, president of the Sleepy Hollow Homeowners Association, noted the program affects what people can do in their backyards. With the Sleepy Hollow neighborhood flanked by streams, site inspections would mean "there would be a biologist running up and down Butterfield Road daily," even though the streams there do not host spawning fish.
Stein urged a delay allowing more public reflection, and joined the salmon network in calling for a neighborhood by neighborhood "roll out" of the program, starting with San Geronimo where endangered salmon are at issue.
Jack Wilkinson, president of the Marin Association of Realtors, called the plan "deeply flawed," saying it is ambiguous, arbitrary and subject to interpretation. "The measure will have a negative impact on property values, property rights, underwriting, the marketability of properties and the local economy," he warned.
"You've taken a huge wide net and cast it over the county," said Curtis Kruger of Novato. "It's way too large and you're handling it way too fast."
Requirements for improvements in conservation areas include obtaining a county site review report from a consultant, and either an exemption or a "tier one" ministerial permit for minor work — or a more rigorous "tier two" permit that might involve a public hearing for projects deemed intrusive. In situations involving public safety, no review is necessary.
Permit fees, while still under review, could cost from $300 to $1,500, depending on what is at issue.
The ordinance is the result of years of effort focused in San Geronimo Valley, home of one of the state's most important runs of endangered coho salmon, and a region where building bans have blocked creekside development amid legal moves by the salmon protection network.
Despite months of work by planning staff and a series of public hearings on a tough creekside tree and brush ordinance that won the blessing of the Planning Commission, county supervisors balked and asked for revisions to accommodate creekside homeowners.
The salmon network filed suit, prompting Superior Court Judge Lynn Duryee last year to prohibit building outside existing structure footprints until new creekside habitat rules are in place. County officials have pledged to adopt a countywide program by June.

Monday, July 23, 2018

How this Drawing is lying to you about the size of the White Elephant

Who needs accurate drawings?

The architectural rendering is meant to trick your eye. The maintenance compound is actually an imposing mass that is 150 feet long. The main building stands in the current roadway and has an 15’ front wall that runs 80 feet long.  The total building volume is FOUR TIMES our current shed.

Tell the CSD to slow down and show us exactly what you want to build.

Stop the "White Elephant" in Marinwood Park.  

Let's build a "right size" shed instead.

Sign the petition HERE

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Radical Urbanists/ Developer says Marin should have built Marincello

Example of the "Urbanist PR" being promoted by local housing developers. Marincello's defeat saved Marin County from overdevelopment. It could have had highways crisscrossing it and developed like the East Bay. Fortunately Marin County chose a different path and is a testament to "human scale" development and environmentalism.

Marincello: The Failed City

Updated: 3 days ago

Adil Modan| NextGen Marin

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Highway 17 was proposed to be lengthened all the way to Point Reyes National Seashore. With this would come plans to build 5 impressive developments along the Highway that would house almost 250,000 people.

Marincello was one of these projects. In the early 1960’s, a developer by the name of Thomas Frouge proposed Marincello as a suburban bedroom community of San Francisco, with financial support from the Gulf Oil Corporation. The project would have included high-rise apartment buildings, townhomes, retail stores, and even a resort between the Golden Gate and Fort Cronkhite Beach. There was even another project planned alongside Marincello, which would have been an entire city with a population of 150,000 being placed in Tomales Bay.

While this may seem grandiose by today’s standards, it was at the time a very popular and well-supported proposition, so much so that it was approved by the County of Marin in 1965 when the project's density was cut from 5.9 homes per acre to 3.5. It wasn’t proposed to be a massive urban city, but rather a reflection of the nature-focused character of Marin County by using open-space architecture, clustering buildings and amenities while maintaining the scenic landscape. The Pacific Sun wrote that the metropolis "will be a showcase, which will point the way to preservation of the clear and open areas essential and unique in Marin.”

Construction began almost immediately, and the large-scale project began to take shape as the gates of the city were erected. Peter Arrigoni, a stockbroker who would later become head of the Marin Builders Exchange, ran and won as a Republican against Ernest Kettenhofen in the Marin County Supervisor race of 1968. Arrigoni would go on to be the decisive third vote to withdrew support of Marincello in 1970 and would play a large part in repealing the West Marin General Plan that included plans for the city in Tomales Bay.

In an interview with the Marin Independent Journal, Arrigoni mentioned that "there was a distinct change in the Marin County political climate at that time." Prior to this shift, Marin County was booming. It had established a reputation for being the epitome of good growth. It maintained a healthy openness to development without compromising the quality of its environment. However, a small grassroots movement led by a few men began to single-handedly transform the mindset in Marin County. The leaders of this movement formed a new group: the Nature Conservancy.
This sudden emergence of a conservationist movement began to cause problems for the city. Homeowners were urged to complain of trespassing, lawsuits were filed against Gulf Oil, and Marin County’s General Plan was accused of having zoning irregularities and were accused of trespassing. The cost of project began to balloon. In 1972, the Gulf Oil Corporation sold the 2100 acre parcel to the Nature Conservancy at $6.5 million. The area would become a keystone in the Golden Gate Recreation Area, effectively eliminating the housing development project. The Marincello project’s cancellation set the precedent for Marin County’s harsh anti-development ideology and desire to sacrifice affordable housing for open space

A year later, Arrigoni, along with two other supervisors, voted to create a Countywide Plan, which divided the county into three corridors — coastal/recreational, inland/rural, and city-centered — and restricted development to only the city-centered corridor. Owners of agricultural land were allowed just 1 home for every 60 acres of property.

In the following few years, Supervisor Gary Giacomini worked with Congressman Philip Burton to purchase thousands of acres of Marin’s coastal land, leading to the expansion of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the Point Reyes National Seashore. Today, 84% of Marin County has been reserved as permanent open space. On the little land that can be developed upon, there are an absurd number of regulations, fees and other hindrances that discourage any sensible developer from addressing the housing crisis in the County.

Marincello is a perfect example of something that could have been. Its downfall symbolizes the birth of a stubbornly anti-growth mindset that has become the Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY) movement, a major contributor to Marin’s housing shortage and growing unaffordability. However, as California State Senator Peter H. Behr, one of the leaders of the conservation movement, put it “when enough people care enough, work hard enough, long enough, the right thing will in time happen despite what would appear to be permanent setbacks.” While we don't believe in such a large project, we can see that the pendulum can be swung the other way, through local and community action. If the numerically tiny Nature Conservancy could make a permanent impact in the political culture of an entire region, a group of people today most definitely have the power to inspire community and governmental action despite the overwhelming obstacles we face.

Stop the White Elephant in Marinwood Park!

Sign the petition HERE