Mid-Week Links: City Papers

Lots of news from lots of cities this week, with retirements, delays, debates and bad ideas.  WordPress ate my homework, but I’ve culled what I can from local papers for this week’s Mid-Week Links.

Marin

  • If you’re a senior citizen, there’s a new way to get around town: Marin Village, which provides rides for subscribers.  I can’t help but think that better bus service could go a long way to helping Marin’s elderly get around, too.
  • Joan Lundstrom, 28 year veteran of the Larkspur City Council, is stepping down to get married and do “a great deal of traveling.”  Lundstrom was most recently on our radar for being the deciding vote on TAM’s $8 million SMART bailout.  The IJ editorial board wrote a fitting farewell piece for this local fixture.
  • Larkspur’s Doherty Drive reconstruction had no acceptable bids made, so the City Council rejected them all, delaying the project even further.
  • San Rafael’s mayoral candidates went to bat at a Marin Coalition lunch for their first debate.  Neither is shaping up to be a terribly urbanist candidate, with Greg Brockman decrying red light cameras and Gary Phillips pushing for the new Target store.  The Greater Marin is trying to obtain a full recording of the debate.
  • Further north, the San Rafael Airport may end up being converted into a large sports center, complete with 270 parking spaces.  Neighbors oppose the project.
  • Even further north, Novato’s City Council candidates debated at a breakfast sponsored by the Novato Chamber of Commerce.  Incumbents defended their records, while challengers argued that less housing, fewer downtown offices and more parking would boost commerce.  We’re also trying to get a recording of this debate, which will be televised towards the end of September.
  • After receiving endorsement from the Citizen Finance Committee, Novato is pressing ahead with its plans to move city offices downtown.  Opponents had complained that it would deaden the street, although office space can often be a boon to local merchants.  Somehow, the architect created a building so awful that, if built, it would make the opponents’ worst fears come true.  The building turns away from the street and places the main entrance in the middle of the complex, deadening it not just at night but also during the day.  Hopefully, Novato’s Design Review Board will tell the architect to start over.
  • To touch on yet another hot Novato topic, construction began on Eden Housing, a senior affordable housing development.
  • The transit center at Marin City is undergoing rehabilitation, with new lighting, pavement, and other amenities.  Total cost: $506,000.
  • A developer trying for the past decade to get a small building built in Mill Valley has been delayed again, this time by environmentalists who convinced the City Council that demolition would disturb lead in the soil and get it into the creek.  They’re demanding a full and detailed soil analysis, nevermind that the developer wants to restore the creek bank.
  • Golden Gate Transit’s popular 101 express bus to San Francisco is running on Sundays now, giving Sunday commuters and daytrippers another way to get into the city without using a car.

The Greater Marin

  • Ryan Avent, Economics correspondent for the Economist, writes in the New York Times: “The idea of it may chill a homeowner’s heart, but the wealth supported by urban density is what gives urban homes their great value in the first place. And when it comes to economic growth and the creation of jobs, the denser the city the better.”
  • Those foreclosed houses will soon be a boon to those that try to limit affordable housing development: Governor Brown just signed Assemblyman Huffman’s bill allowing cities to count foreclosed homes against their affordable housing quotas.
  • AB 42, another Huffman bill, has reached the Governor’s desk.  It would authorize qualified nonprofits to help operate and maintain state parks in danger of closing.  This isn’t a new idea: New York’s Central Park is operated by a nonprofit, and the National Mall is partly maintained by a nonprofit as well.
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About David Edmondson
A native Marinite working in Washington, DC, I am fascinated by how one might apply smart-growth and urbanist thinking to the low-density towns of my home.

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