Mid-Week Links: Coming to Earth

Paved paradise...

Good Earth and a parking lot

San Anselmo-Fairfax Patch reports that the Fairfax Council has approved Good Earth’s plans to move to the abandoned supermarket at the east end of town. It’s a great use of a dilapidated space, but couldn’t they have done something about that sea of parking? (Patch)

The IJ reports on the bizarre Transportation Authority of Marin meeting that first rejected, then accepted, the SMART fund bailout. Given that the public went home thinking the proposal failed, TAM will hold the meeting again and take a revote.  (Marin IJ)

The Washington, DC, Metrorail system is looking at expansion.  Local blog Greater Greater Washington argues that it should stay in the core.  BART, meanwhile, continues to push out into the suburbs. (Greater Greater Washington)

While Novato stews over its affordable housing mandates, the County is looking for affordable housing locations in its unincorporated areas.  A shame transit access and mixed-use development doesn’t play into much of the discussions. (Novato Advance, Marin IJ)

Be prepared: most of Marin’s first responders live hours from the County, meaning that, in the event of a major disaster, Marinites will be without aid for three to seven days.  Better be ready to hunker down for a while after the Big One. (Pacific Sun)

In a blast from the past, Fortune republished an article from 1958 detailing the politics and looming problems of the then-under-construction Interstate Highway System.  Most of the problems we deal with now were foreseen even then. (CNN/Forbes)

Housing in Marin Part 1: Transit

Not exactly consistent

Current Hub to San Rafael headways

While Novato is in the throes of a major debate on affordable housing brought on by the Association of Bay Area

Governments’ mandates, it is important to take a 30,000-foot look at Marin County’s urban character, which contributes so much to the appeal – and cost – of the county.  An excellent case is the Fairfax-San Rafael corridor.

Most of the cities in Marin advocate for improved density around transit centers.  There is a problem with this, however: the transit sucks.  In the Fairfax-San Rafael corridor, the lynchpin is San Anselmo’s Hub.  The Hub is served by six bus routes going east, west, and south, and about a third of town is within a half-mile radius. Read more of this post

Mid-Week Links: Theatrical Edition

Pressure is building for a theater in San Anselmo.  Do we have the density for it? (San Anselmo-Fairfax Patch)

The first real trains on the SMART tracks will be freight trains, as long as the Novato Council approves of the plan. (Marin IJ)

The anti-SMART rail lobby is getting restless thanks to the ongoing money issues on the trouble rail line. Although their open reason is one of fiscal responsibility, spokesman Clay Mitchell says on conservative blog NorCalCrush: “[Proponents of SMART] place a very low value on human quality of life, putting perceived value of “mother nature” above that of the human race.” (Marin IJ, NorCalCrush)

Another legislative recall is in motion, this one against San Rafael’s recently approved Target store. Organizing group Keep it Local San Rafael is forcing the city council to either rescind the store’s approval or put it to a general vote at the next election. (Pacific Sun)

Novato debates where they should put new affordable housing. New affordable housing units are required by the Association of Bay Area Governments under the Bay Area’s “fair share” laws. Of the proposed parcels for development, the Wood Hollow & Redwood Boulevard parcel is most promising, as it is adjacent to the North Novato SMART station, although far from downtown. Residents spoke passionately on the subject, with the issue of crime coming from low-income, high-density housing a frequent point of contention. Video of the meeting will be available at the city website. (Marin IJ)

Across the street from the Wood Hollow parcel, Fireman’s Insurance is aiming to green its campus through the use of fuel-cell generators. Their location at the very edge of town forces its employees to drive, spewing carbon into the air. Hopefully, they’ll aim to leverage their transit access once the SMART station is built. (Novato Patch)

On the issue of affordable housing, New York is looking to strengthen their already-tight rent control laws. Some people feel this will just make housing in the state even more expensive. (Reuters, Market Urbanism)

A Different Marin

I want a different Marin County.  Don’t get me wrong: I am utterly in love with the one that exists today.  I suppose a more precise phrase is, I want a better Marin County.  Often, Marinites point to the fair landscape and bucolic towns as evidence that we are forging a better way forward that the rest of the country.  In doing so, however, we ignore the problems right in front of us: car dependency, incoherent master plans, and the acres of parking that rob otherwise quaint downtowns of valuable space.

I write here to point out these flaws.

Vibrant Downtown San Anselmo

I want a Marin County where owning a car is optional, where the village character of our towns is maintained and not marred by traffic.  I dream of a Marin County where Novato’s downtown is vibrant and alive, where the Civic Center is a walkable destination, Fairfax isn’t anchored by a supermarket parking lot, and the Village really is a village center.  We are an example for the nation is conservation and growth boundaries; it’s time we became an example to the nation for land use and transportation, too.

My name is David Edmondson.  Three years ago I moved to Washington, DC and became enamored with urban living, transit, and the power it has to transform communities.  My interest returned to my hometown, San Anselmo, and the unique problems faced by the town and its neighbors as they begin to move towards a more sustainable future.  This blog is a place for me and my readers to explore the wide world of transit in Marin and, occasionally, further afield.

My goal is to update with a major article every Monday morning and link rundown every Wednesday, so as to better distract you at work.  Still, this is principally a work of advocacy: these are not idle musings.  I will always push for a healthier, safer, more livable Marin, no matter how far removed I am from her golden hills.  Welcome to The Greater Marin.