Mid-week links: Marin Transit

Marin County

by jay d, on Flickr

The latest Marin Transit board meeting was one full of change and surprise. Amid increasing ridership (though it fell in June), MT posted a $1.5 million surplus, which will go into a rainy day fund. To keep ridership on the up and up, the agency hired a new communications and advertising consultant, who will manage MT’s branding, website, social media, and communications strategy. IJ reporter Nels Johnson, however, seemed to think the $300,000 consultant was taking the agency “for a spin.” And, in the name of efficiency, the MT board cut Route 222, which got less than 3 riders per hour in June. Elsewhere:

  • There was so much public comment about Marin’s new housing element that the Board of Supervisors had to postpone its debate until next week. (Patch) On a side note, whoever’s idea it was to bring in a saxophonist to lead the potentially rancorous crowd in singing, “There’s still a lot of love in Marin!” is brilliant. (IJ)
  • The Civic Center Drive upgrades look fabulous, but now that they aren’t in a PDA TAM may need to rescind its funding. (Patch)
  • A driver hit a bicyclist in Fairfax yesterday by turning left through a bike lane, sending the bicyclist to the hospital with a broken collar bone. Though the circumstances seem like they warranted an investigation or a failure-to-yield citation, the driver was not cited by police. (IJ)
  • The costs of demand-responsive bus service, promoted by Bob Silvestri as the ideal transit, make it an ineffective replacement for traditional bus service. (Listen Marin)
  • The lack of BART in Marin is apparently because we’re classist and racist and always have been. (The Grid) Except, y’know, that’s not at all why we don’t have BART.
  • TAM should take on all the causes of congestion on Highway 101, not just cars, according to Corte Madera Mayor Diane Furst. She sat on a working group to draft an alternative plan to flyovers on the freeway. (Marin Voice)
  • The Golden Gate Bridge will close for a full weekend next year for the installation of a new movable barrier. This will be the first time in the bridge’s history it will be closed for more than a few hours. (IJ)
  • Parking minimums can severely constrain construction, either driving up rents in the building or preventing new construction altogether and contributing to a housing shortage. Affordable housing advocates take note. (Sightline)

Politics

  • San Rafael council candidate Randy Warren hits rival Maribeth Bushey-Lang hard, saying her need to recuse herself over issues like SMART make her unfit for service. (IJ)
  • The move to recall Supervisor Susan Adams failed to attract enough signatures, and Save Marinwood is not happy. Interestingly, no signatures were submitted to the county, so we’ll never know how far short the recall came. (IJ, Save Marinwood)
  • Paul Mamalakis examines the race for Novato City Council. (Advance)

End-Week Links: Hills

Sunset on a Masterpiece, by C. M. Keiner, on flickr

Sunset on a Masterpiece, by C. M. Keiner, on flickr

Marin Lesser and Greater

  • Peter robbed; Paul under investigation: Sonoma granted SMART $6.6 million of $9 million in bike/ped funding. The funds, from a federal congestion mitigation grant, will be used to purchase an additional train for the extended IOS. Sonoma bike activists are angry, to say the least unhappy, understanding, and moving forward. (Systemic Failure, SCBC)
  • Tilting at windmills: Wind turbines could be allowed in West Marin under the latest revisions to the Local Coastal Plan. Environmentalists oppose the measure, saying it would industrialize the rural region. (Pt. Reyes Light)
  • Tackling homelessness in San Rafael: Through mental health services and jobs, San Rafael is doing more to fight homelessness than just crack down on nuisance behavior. Here’s hoping it does good. (IJ)
  • Another study coming down the track: Transit feasibility in the Fairfax-San Rafael corridor is on its way yet again. TAM and MTC will examine whether BRT, rapid bus, or a full-fledged streetcar line would be best to serve the 5-mile strip. (Pacific Sun)
  • RHNA is almost as fickle as thought: Despite 43 years of affordable housing mandates, California remains woefully short on affordable housing. ABAG has tried to adjust to the demands of cities, but such a scattershot approach doesn’t make up for the state process’s shortcomings. (Bohemian via Scott Alonso)
  • Get your son on a bike: Research from the UK shows that it’s far safer for young men to ride a bike than to drive. Given that driving is the number one cause of death among teenagers, perhaps those Every 11 Minutes campaigns could be supplemented by some good old-fashioned bike lessons. (Red Orbit, CDC)
  • Hybrids really aren’t so green: Hybrids, at least if you look at their entire life-cycle, really aren’t as green as their reputation. The batteries are difficult to dispose of; the mileage really isn’t so great; and their battery will only last about 80,000 miles, meaning one will need to buy a new vehicle far sooner than otherwise. Perhaps Marin needs a new family car, like a bike. (Streetsblog)
  • Do the council shuffle: San Anselmo picks Kay Coleman for mayor. (Patch) … There’s still time to apply for San Rafael City Council. (IJ)
  • And…: Despite the threat of financial receivership, Detroit’s downtown is positively booming. (NY Times) … Local transit has published their holiday schedule. (GGT) … San Rafael Airport developer compares their sports complex project to Grady Ranch. (IJ) … The libertarian take on land use planning. (United Liberty)

The Toll

At least five people, and possibly a sixth, were injured this week.

  • Yes, a hit and run is indeed a felony: Jared Whisman-Pryor, who prosecutors say hit and seriously injured bicyclist William Schilling, has turned himself in to Rohnert Park Police. As it turns out, he will be charged for felony hit-and-run. (PD)
  • Obituary for mother killed last week: Barbara Rothwell accidentally killed herself in a car crash last week near Bolinas. The Point Reyes Light paints a portrait of her life cut short. She was 48.
  • Marin Injuries: A driver hit a woman while she was crossing the street in Novato, sending her to the hospital. (IJ) … A driver seriously injured himself by crashing into a power pole in Terra Linda. (Patch)
  • Sonoma Injuries: Ben Rhoades seriously injured himself and another driver by driving under the influence and colliding head-on with the other driver near Cotati. (Patch) … A driver rolled their minivan in Santa Rosa on Tuesday, though whether they injured themselves wasn’t immediately reported. (PD) … An 87-year-old driver seriously injured Wilfred Lewis, who was crossing the street in Santa Rosa. The driver said he never saw Lewis. (PD)

Got a tip? Want to write an article? Email us at theGreaterMarin [at] gmail.com or send a tweet to @theGreaterMarin.

End-Week Links: Closure

Drake's Bay Oyster Company

Drake’s Bay Oyster Company by Neil Hunt, on Flickr

Marin Lesser and Greater

  • Shut down the farm: The Drake’s Bay Oyster Company has been ordered to close by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. The heated debate (video) over whether the West Marin oyster farm could continue to operate in a designated wilderness area has not yet come quite to the end, as the company has already filed suit. (Marinscope, KQED, Pt. Reyes Light)
  • Marin keeps getting older: Marin is indeed getting older, households are getting smaller, and homes keep getting more expensive, at least according to the latest numbers from the US Census Bureau. (IJ)
  • Toward a sub-par Transbay: The downtown railway extension for Caltrain and California HSR is poorly designed and inadequate for the needs of the two systems. Unfortunately, the needed changes are European best practices, something American planners generally aren’t comfortable with. (Caltrain-HSR)
  • Affordable housing through luxury housing: Housing becomes unaffordable when luxury buyers start looking for deals in poorer neighborhoods. In downtown Brooklyn, opposition to luxury development has meant more gentrification in surrounding neighborhoods, driving up prices for everyone else. (Bloomberg)
  • There are some new mayors in town: Towns and cities in Marin got around to choosing their mayors this week: Diane Furst in Corte Madera; Andrew Berman in Mill Valley; Pat Eklund in Novato; Dan Hillmer in Larkspur; and John Reed in Fairfax. (IJ, Patch)
  • Don’t walk in LA either: Half of all crashes in Los Angeles are hit-and-runs, and the LAPD isn’t doing much about it, saying their more concerned with “crimes against a person”. Try telling the family of someone killed by a driver they don’t count as a “person”. (Atlantic) Relatedly, Atherton police aren’t filing charges against a speeding driver who struck and injured two women in a crosswalk despite the fact that he was found to be at fault. (Almanac)
  • Travel back in time, today!: Remember how broke Bakersfield is? Yeah, Caltrans still wants to demolish a neighborhood for a new freeway right next to an existing one. It’s like the 1960s never stopped. (Stop and Move)
  • Bikers buy less more often: As it turns out, bicyclists spend more than drivers, just not all at once. In general, drivers tend to be purpose-oriented, but riding a bike lends itself to more frequent shopping stops while going someplace. In other words, to build a better retail base, build a better biking culture. (Atlantic)
  • And…: Larkspur’s Draft Station Area Plan is out, and it looks pretty good at first glance. (City of Larkspur) … A few kinks and minimal confusion welcomes the newer, hopefully better, Napa VINE system. (NVR) … BART will survey riders about whether to charge for parking based on demand. (SFist) … It might not be such a bad thing to keep the 2/3 requirement for transit taxes. (Systemic Failure) … More luxury apartments are coming to Corte Madera, resurrecting the Madera Vista development. (TCT)

The Toll

Barbara Rothwell was killed and four people were injured this week.

  • Barbara Rothwell drove her car off the road in Bolinas, killing herself. Her seven-year-old son, a passenger at the time, was spared injury and walked a half-mile to find help. Barbara was 48. (Patch)
  • No charges will be filed against Adam Bigham, a driver who was involved in the July death of cyclist Ruben Hernandez, 37, in Santa Rosa. Prosecutors believe there isn’t enough evidence to convict Bigham of manslaughter. (PD)
  • Marin injuries: A driver on the Golden Gate Bridge swerved into oncoming traffic, causing a crash that sent two other drivers to the hospital with minor injuries. (IJ)
  • Sonoma injuries: A driver injured herself and a passenger by crashing her car into an oncoming driver in Petaluma. (PD)

Got a tip? Want to write an article? Email us at theGreaterMarin [at] gmail.com or send a tweet to @theGreaterMarin.

Mid-Week Links: Freedom

Freedom. Image by the author.

Marin Lesser and Greater

  • Freedom in the city: It’s difficult for someone to give up the keys, especially when living in a rural or suburban setting like Sebastapol. Doing it in the city makes everything easier. Walks are shorter, transit is better, taxis are available at all hours, and people keep active longer. (PD, SFGate)
  • A form of justice: Novato has settled out of court with the family of Melody Osheroff, a 9-year-old killed by a drunk motorcyclist in 2009. The Osheroffs sued the city for poor street design but the city settled for $675,000. A memorial will be built for Melody. (Advance)
  • Autism linked to car pollution: Prenatal exposure to highway pollution has been correlated with increased risk of autism. The research underscores how imperative it is for Marin to develop solid regulations on housing near Highway 101. (Streetsblog)
  • One for the money: BART has plans to double capacity in the next 30 years, from longer trains to express service, and it will need it. Now it just needs to find a few billion dollars somewhere. (SFist)
  • Engineered danger: Speed limits set to match how fast most people drive puts the safety of drivers above the safety of pedestrians or bicyclists that also need to use the road, a dangerous metric for cities trying to take back streets for other modes of transportation. (Copenhagenize)
  • Engineered failure: To really get trains and transit to take off in the United States, the next Secretary of Transportation should be as technically savvy as he or she is visionary. The Department of Transportation needs to stop simply distributing money and start reforming how it does business. (Bloomberg)
  • Minimal damage: Adding people to cities is good for the environment as a whole, but part of the point of density is to concentrate the damage rather than spread it all over a region. If we want to maintain our green Marin cities, we need to bring nature into new developments. (Switchboard)
  • And…: Marin’s median income is only middle of the pack in the Bay Area, falling even lower than Contra Costa. (IJ) … Tiny homes from Santa Rosa are making inroads in the District of Columbia. (WaPo) … San Francisco to be awarded for excellence in affordable housing, confusing urbanists. (SFGate) … San Rafael considers raising parking rates. (Patch)

The Toll

Two people were injured since Monday.

  • The 53-year-old man who died last week in Tiburon has been named. Kurt Sears, a resident of Washington State in town for work, died when he flipped his car. (IJ)
  • The teenage Novato driver responsible for injuring himself and five others in a crash last week has plead guilty to a DUI and driving beyond the limitations of his provisional license. His sentence has not yet been determined. (IJ)
  • Marin injury: A teen driver injured himself by hitting another car and sliding off the road in Novato. (Advance)
  • Sonoma injury: A pedestrian was injured by a driver in Santa Rosa. (PD)

Have a tip? Have an article idea? Email us at theGreaterMarin [at] gmail.com.

Monday Links: Long Weekend

Art on the Farm: "Historic L Ranch Beach"

Art on the Farm: “Historic L Ranch Beach” by cproppe, on Flickr

Marin Lesser and Greater

  • Hard winter: It’s harder to providehousing for the homeless this winter thanks in part to San Rafael’s crackdown on the homeless. The city has barred pick-up of the homeless in front of St. Vincent’s kitchen this year, and organizers have yet to find a church to house people on Thursday nights. (IJ)
  • The marriage continues: The final contract between MT and GGT has been approved, allowing GGT to continue on as MT’s local service contractor. The deal shaves costs by 3.7 percent and cuts the annual cost increase from 5 percent to 2.7 percent. (IJ)
  • MTC shifts priorities: MTC shifted $20 million earmarked for local rail station planning grants to Congestion Management Agencies like TAM. Normally not a problem, the motion was passed spur-of-the-moment without a staff report or motion text, so it’s unclear if CMA’s would be required to spend the money in any particular way. (Greenbelt Alliance)
  • Seminary delays development: A 117-unit redevelopment in Strawberry is on hold pending a review of the plans by Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. The seminary had faced opposition from the Board of Supervisors and is likely retooling the plan to address supervisors’ concerns. (IJ)
  • Faster trip to the Headlands: Muni’s 76-Marin Headlands got a makeover last weekend, with faster and more thorough service to sites in the famed recreation area. Marinites can catch the bus Saturday and Sunday at the Golden Gate Bridge. (Muni Diaries)
  • Aged out: Elderly drivers disproportionately cause car crashes, but it can be difficult for them to give up the keys when they’re no longer safe behind the wheel. In areas like Sonoma and Marin, where alternatives are few or expensive, it can be even more difficult. (PD)
  • And…: A special tax district that requires developers to actually pay for city services is under attack in Santa Rosa. (PD) … Just because a ridiculous proportion of California drivers are drunk or on drugs, legal or otherwise, while driving doesn’t make it any less of a bad idea. (SFist) … Dave Alden is only cautiously optimistic on community-funded real estate, saying it could open the door to exactly the kinds of abuses the SEC wants to avoid. (WDWGfH?)

The Toll

The roads killed two and left 16 injured since the 15th.

  • Emile Smith severely injured himself and killed his passenger, Selena Ross, after Smith crashed his car on Friday in Santa Rosa. Selena Ross was 33. (PD)
  • An unnamed man rolled his car and killed himself in Tiburon last Friday. Nobody else was injured. The driver was 53. (IJ)
  • Marin’s Injured: A driver caused one minor injury while trying to pull into the Drake High School parking lot in San Anselmo. (IJ) … A driver injured himself in South Marin by striking a rock in the 101 shoulder, causing his car to flip. (IJ) … A teen driver injured himself and five others while speeding through Novato last week. He has been arrested under suspicion of driving while drunk and high. (IJ) … A police officer on a motorcycle injured himself in Tiburon by crashing his bike into a driver in another car. The other driver was unhurt. (IJ) … A drunk driver stopped on Highway 101 and was swiftly struck by two others, one of which was injured in the pile-up. (Patch)
  • Sonoma’s Injured: A speeding and reckless driver crashed into two cars and flipped his own in Petaluma, injured himself and one of the other two drivers. (PD) … A driver injured himself by crashing his tanker truck in Salt Point State Park. His accident spilled oil and antifreeze into the sensitive area. (PD) … A driver crashed his car in Sonoma County last week, injuring himself and no others. (PD) … A driver struck and injured a pedestrian in West Sonoma. (PD)

Have a tip? Have an article idea? Email us at theGreaterMarin [at] gmail.com.

Mid-Week Links: Novato Moving

Looking at Novato and Beyond

Looking at Novato and Beyond by udpslp, on Flickr

Things are starting to move in Novato, six weeks after the tragic crash that killed Hailey Ratliff. A memorial walk two weeks ago saw hundreds turn out, with city officials and residents expressing support for safer streets. Elisabeth Thomas-Matej joined my call for protected bike lanes in the city while a neighborhood group is investigating ways to lobby for safer streets. And, now that the driver who killed Hailey was cleared of wrongdoing, the Ratliff family has decided to sue Novato for negligence. The suit argues that poor road design, high speeds, and untrimmed vegetation all contributed to the tragedy.

Only time will tell if this movement is permanent. For the sake of the city and its people, I hope it is.

Marin Greater and Lesser

  • Marin County has the second-lowest number of people commuting alone to work in the Bay Area, bested only by San Francisco itself. Though it’s still somewhat high at 65.2 percent, fully 19 percent don’t drive, take transit, or carpool at all, and that probably means a lot of walking and bicycling. (CoCo Times)
  • Santa Rosa faces a tough decision with its Coddingtown SMART rail crossing. It can spend $1.7 million for a pedestrian overpass, or close one at-grade crossing so state regulators would allow the city to open a new at-grade crossing here. (PD)
  • Parklets could come to Fairfax, that is if the concept passes through all the governmental hoops alterations to parking usually have to jump through. (Patch)
  • The Italian Street Painting Festival is back! After a hiatus and concerns it wouldn’t return, organizers received enough seed money to revive San Rafael’s biggest street festival of the year for next summer. (Patch)
  • Sprawl in Tiburon is being subsidized by Marin and the costs are skyrocketing. A court ordered the county to pay half the cost of a housing development’s EIR, and the cost has now reached $468,000. (IJ)
  • Larkspur has the worst roads in the Bay Area. While not much of a problem for drivers, bicyclists have a tough time navigating the cracked and buckled pavement. (Bay Citizen)
  • Marin’s mountain biking history and culture is on display at the SFO gallery, so stop by next time you pass through. If you really want your fix, don’t forget that we have an express bus; for a $40 round-trip, it’s actually not much more than a high-class theater. (Pacific Sun)
  • A fighter pilot is trained to keep watch for any movement and to use his or her eyes to maximum effect. Drivers and cyclists, who aren’t trained in the fine art of attention, should be. An RAF pilot has some tips for how to detect cyclists if you’re a driver, and how to avoid getting missed if you’re a cyclist. (London Cyclist)
  • And…: Caltrans hit with record fine for breaking water quality rules in 101 construction. (PD) … A new Boston rail station is being funded by New Balance. (Archpaper) Could Fireman’s Fund do the same for SMART in Novato? … Fare hikes and service cuts are coming to Santa Rosa’s CityBus. (PD) … Marin Transit’s Muir Woods Shuttle awarded for excellence. (NBBJ) … Corte Madera’s long-awaited park cafe has finally opened. (IJ)

The Toll

One person died and two others were injured this week.

  • Richard Giacomini drowned after crashing his truck into a West Marin reservoir this week. The well-known rancher was 71. (IJ)
  • Joe Kwai Lee, the driver accused of killing Alvine Heese with his car last week, has plead not guilty in Santa Rosa court. He was driving to a doctor’s appointment on a suspended license. (PD)
  • A woman was injured by a driver backing out of their driveway in Santa Rosa. (PD) … A motorcyclist injured himself by crashing his bike in Sonoma County. He suffered only minor injuries. (PD)

Two-Week Links: Busy Busy

Farmer's Market, San Rafael

Farmer’s Market, San Rafael by ftchris, on Flickr

Quite a bit has happened in the past two weeks, so I won’t bore with an introduction. From SMART to the economy to a rash of deaths, it’s been eventful. Oh, and that whole election thing. Here are the highlights.

Marin and Beyond

  • The driver who killed Hailey Ratliff was cleared of wrongdoing by Novato PD, who said the driver was going the speed limit and that Hailey was at fault for failing to yield to traffic. (Patch) While the Ratliff family has moved back to New Mexico, their former neighbors are investigating ways to make Novato streets safer. (IJ)
  • It won’t be viable to raise SMART tracks at Jennings Road in Santa Rosa. The planning process was begun too late for that option, but the other contenders – an at-grade crossing and an elevated pedestrian crossing – aren’t so great, either. (PD)
  • California is hiring new staff so water quality permits for SMART and Marin County can be approved more quickly, and SMART and Marin are picking up the tab. (IJ)
  • San Rafael is waging a crackdown on homelessness in its downtown and is looking to move homeless services out of the neighborhood. City manager Nancy Mackle calls it a quality of life concern; homeless advocates call it unjust and capricious. (IJ)
  • The economy is going strong in Marin, and it’s going to get better. So says the Marin Economic Forum, which projected continued job and income growth for at least the next two years. (IJ)
  • With a second term secured, the Obama Administration has a fantastic opportunity to reform how the US funds infrastructure, builds railroads, and stop some of the principal drivers of sprawl. (Atlantic)
  • Not every coffee shop needs to sell tea, and not every building needs to look the same. David Alpert makes a cogent argument for form-based zoning and for abolishing parking minimums. (GGW)
  • Yeas and nays: Sausalito City Council gets a much-needed shake-up. (IJ) … Ross gets to keep its police department. (IJ) … Marin parks and open space get a boost. (Patch) … Levine vs. Allen still unclear, except to Levine. (PD, KSRO) … And the rest of the initiatives, state propositions, and offices. (Pacific Sun
  • And…: A major mixed-use office building opens in Novato. (IJ) … Larkspur’s Doherty Drive is looking good with new bike lanes. (James Bikes) … The Larkspur Ferry set a ridership record by transporting people to the Giants victory parade. (Patch) … George Lucas is pressing on with developing Grady Ranch despite Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm. (Patch)

The Toll

Three dead, 19 wounded in just two weeks of travel in Marin and Sonoma.

  • Alvin Hesse was killed by a driver on Wednesday while crossing the street in Sonoma. Police arrested a suspect, 80-year-old Joe Kwai Lee, on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter. Hesse was 93. (PD)
  • Two other drivers were killed in two separate, single-driver crashes in Sonoma County. (PD)
  • 92-year-old Leo Arkelian hit two teens crossing the road in Sonoma with his car, seriously injuring one and moderately injuring the other, but he denies that he hit anyone and is fine to drive. His denial raises the question: when is someone too old to drive? (PD)
  • Toraj Soltani, testifying at trial, detailed his harrowing experience nearly getting run over by Harry Smith: how Smith yelled at Soltani and tried to run him off the road, Soltani’s retailiation, and the apoplectic rage that nearly turned Smith into a murderer. Smith is on trial for attempted murder and assault. (PD)
  • Remembering John Von Merta, a homeless man who was killed by a driver while crossing the street last month. (PD)
  • A bicyclist injured himself by falling off a trail in West Marin. While a friend was retrieving his bike, a driver careened off the road nearby and got stuck in a tree; the friend helped the driver escape. (Patch)
  • Santa Rosa: Two drivers injured themselves by colliding head-on.  (PD) … A pedestrian crossing the road was seriously injured by a hit-and-run driver, who was later found and arrested. (PD) … A driver hit and injured two trick-or-treaters on Halloween, while another child was hit by another driver in a separate crash that night. (PD)
  • Everywhere Else: A driver injured herself and her passenger on Highway 101 in Greenbrae. (PD) … Three people were injured in a three-car crash on Highway 12 in Glen Ellen. (PD) … A driver injured himself and two others in Healdsburg by crashing into a pole. (PD) … A driver and bicyclist collided in Sonoma; the biker was injured. (PD) … Four people were injured in three separate crashes caused by drunk drivers in Marin last month. (IJ)
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,039 other followers