On vacation

I’ve been on vacation for the past week, including a fantastic cross-country train trip with fellow transit and urbanist nerds. I highly recommend my roomette bunkmate’s podcast, Transportini.

While there haven’t been any posts written as a result, you may find a glimpse at my latest mapping project of some interest:

Guess what I'm making...

Guess what I’m making…

Keep an eye out over the next few weeks for the end result.

Ever wanted to be a patron of the arts?

kaGh5_patreon_name_and_messageFor the past three years, I’ve written about affordable housing, transportation, zoning, and the harmful effects of a car-only transportation system. I’ve criticized allies for their mistakes, praised critics for the times they’ve made sense, and tried to start a conversation on issues that had too long been the domain of a few professional wonks.

This job is tough. Often, I need to dig through arcane reports, watch those marathon town council sessions, keeping up with the latest research, and more so I can understand the forces at work in Marin. It has been a labor of love for my home, but it is significantly tougher than I thought it would be when I first launched.

Today, I opened up a way for you to help make The Greater Marin even better. I’m inviting you to become a patron.

Patreon is a platform that allows you to set a monthly gift amount that entitles you to certain rewards, my way of saying thank you. Patrons will get access to patron-only happy hours, customized maps, and posters of the most popular transit diagrams to come out of The Greater Marin. And I’ll buy a drink for anyone who pledges at least $10/mo. If we got 20 people doing that, that would make for one awesomely free happy hour.

I hope you’ll consider becoming a patron of The Greater Marin. There is so much work to do in the county, so many cool issues to cover, and I can’t do it without your help.

Pledge today!

Post-Christmas Happy Hour

It’s time for another The Greater Marin Happy Hour!

Need a break from the holiday families? Want to talk transit with your fellow activists and advocates? I’ll be hosting a happy hour the weekend after Christmas, and you’ll finally get your chance.

Since our last few happy hours have been in San Rafael, and since Southern Marin doesn’t get much exposure, this time we’re meeting in beautiful, touristy Sausalito.

The details:

Wellington’s, 300 Turney Street, Sausalito. (Yes it’s called a “wine bar” but if you’re a beer person instead they have a wide selection of fine beers.)

6-9pm, Friday, December 27.

Access from The City is by Golden Gate Transit Routes 2, 10, and 92, as well as Golden Gate Ferry and Blue & Gold Fleet. Access from the rest of Marin is by GGT Routes 10 and 17.

I hope to see you next week!

Allow me to plan your Thursday night

Allow me to cut to the chase:

Come see me speak about transit-oriented development on Thursday, May 9, at 7pm! At Dominican University!

Okay, so my subject, “Marin Traditions and Models for Transit-Oriented Communities,” might not stir excitement in your heart, though it may if you’re a regular reader at TGM. Still, you should come. You’ll get to hear from experts from around Marin on what Plan Bay Area could mean for Marin, and how our county can approach that future without sacrificing our independence or character.

Still not interested? Then come for the Q&A panel discussion afterwards. We on the panel don’t agree on everything, so you’ll get a diversity of views on how Marin can approach the future in a positive way.

Still not interested? Then come to chat with me afterwards. I suspect that you may be able to sucker me into a post-panel beer.

Can’t come? The whole thing will be on MarinTV, Channel 26, though at a later date.

Hope to see you Thursday!


The vibrant Bay Area


Image from NASA.

The Bay Area is quite a tapestry. We have people from around the world trying to make a living here and even more pounding at our doors. We are a global economic force in industries both ancient (wine) and contemporary (tech). From a hilltop above rural Bolinas you can spy the western symbol of urbanism, San Francisco. And over it all, we have over a hundred governments and even more elected boards and semi-independent agencies shaping policy.

The Bay Area is a vibrant, fascinating, diverse, and interconnected place in ways we hardly ever stop to think about. And so, I’m starting a new blog today, in addition to this one, called Vibrant Bay Area.

For the past two years, I’ve written The Greater Marin, an exploration of these themes for a single county. Yet the deeper I dug into local concerns, like the SMART train and affordable housing, the more I understood that policies in Marin shape the region, and vice versa.

And so, a group of like-minded activists and writers gathered to create a new platform to explore the region’s urban affairs from the bottom up.

Vibrant Bay Area is a collaborative attempt to peel back the region’s layers to find the lines that connect our communities and the lessons we can learn from one another. Though each writer has his or her own perspective, we all approach the region from a decidedly urbanist perspective. We believe the future of the Bay Area lies in vibrant town centers accessible by biking, walking, and well-designed transit.

The challenges faced by the Bay are substantial and as diverse as our cityscape. While Vallejo struggles with the financial consequences of unsustainable sprawl, Windsor wonders whether its character can survive an apartment building boom. While VTA runs nearly empty, BART’s commuters crush through the Transbay Tunnel. From crime in Oakland to education in San Francisco, transit in Napa and development in Contra Costa, we want to explore this whole great, fascinating region of ours.

And we can’t do it alone. Have a tip? Want to write a post? Get in touch with us: info [at] vibrantbayarea.org. We’re also on Twitter at @vbayarea. And by all means, if you see that your community or issue isn’t receiving the attention it deserves, step up! Our all-volunteer corps can’t be everywhere at once, so lend your voice.

The Bay Area is vast, but it is not inscrutable. Join us in shedding a light on the dark corners of our fascinating, vibrant region.


Normal Mondays see a new post, but this is not a normal Monday. I was travelling all day Sunday and I plan to be on the road today and tomorrow as well. In that light, I am taking the next few days off.

Have a Happy New Year, and remember to take transit home after your party. You deserve it.

Mid-Week Links: Finish Line


Untitled by fabola, on Flickr

Endorsements are in! I don’t do endorsements myself, but that doesn’t stop me from linking to the endorsements of organizations and newspapers I respect. Greenbelt Alliance says Yes to Marin’s Measure A and Yes to Healdsburg’s Measure W. The North Bay Bohemian has its recommendations for state propositions, the Pacific Sun has its comprehensive endorsements for the entire ballot, and the IJ is working through its recommendations on the Editorial page.

Marin County and Beyond

  • SMART is under investigation for violating the terms of its environmental impact report and potentially disturbing endangered clapper rail and salt harvest mouse. The agency didn’t get the proper permits for its demolition work around Gallinas Creek and says its also investigating what happened. (IJ)
  • The Marin Housing Authority is being sued for questionable repair bills and fees housing advocates say were illegally used to balance the agency’s books and causing some tenants to be evicted. (IJ)
  • Marin Transit’s Catch-A-Ride program rolled out a couple of weeks ago, and the feedback is good so far. Catch-A-Ride gives registered seniors a $14 to $18 discount on up to eight cab rides per month. (News-Pointer)
  • Gerstle Park neighbors want a crosswalk removed because it’s supposedly dangerous despite there having never been an accident there. The crosswalk would continue to exist as an unmarked crosswalk anyway. (Patch)
  • It was a close call that saved Richardson Bay from becoming a kind of West Coast Coney Island and the site of a World’s Fair. Less close were dams in the Bay, a submarine base in Sausalito, and a canal from the Pacific to Richardson Bay along Tennessee Valley. (Marinscope)
  • Gas price spikes in California are thanks to a confluence of bad market factors that should begin easing soon. Marin’s car-centric lifestyle and character make it more vulnerable to such shocks than other counties. (IJ)
  • If you ride a bike in Marin, you may want to register it for free with the county sheriff’s office. (Patch)
  • And…: Napa’s Green Commute Challenge is going strong after six years. (Register) … SMART begins its move to a SMART-inaccessible office park. (PD) … Sometimes, transit systems have so much waste that, when restructured, they can become far, far better without a single dime more of operating costs. (Human Transit)

The Toll

Two men were killed and three people were injured.

  • Julio Villalobos was killed by a driver in San Rafael. Police are still trying to determine the circumstances of the incident, and charges have not yet been filed. After outcry over the safety of the intersection, San Rafael’s public works department is taking a fresh look at its safety. Villalobos was 84. (IJ)
  • Heath Kingsley Hunter injured two people and killed himself in Sonoma last Thursday. While on his motorcycle, Hunter rear ended and injured driver Fernando Castro. Hunter lost control of his motorcycle and drifted into oncoming freeway traffic where he collided head-on with driver Christine Luckin, seriously injuring her passenger and killing himself. Hunter was 43. (PD)
  • A driver hit a utility pole in San Anselmo, causing it to fall across Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and closing the road for 17 hours. The driver wasn’t injured. (IJ) … A man suffered diabetic shock and crashed his car in Glen Ellen on Monday. It’s unclear if he was injured in the crash. (PD) … A motorcyclist seriously injured a biker in Rohnert Park on Sunday. Police are looking for the motorcyclist, who did not stay on the scene. (PD)

The Third Happy Hour

Flatiron Saloon

photo from Flickr by Andrew Westman

We have our third happy hour coming up, and this time it’ll be somewhere with a real happy hour.

Join me and fellow transit & planning geeks/activists/enthusiasts/professionals at the Flatiron in downtown San Rafael on Wednesday at 6:00pm. Come late, come early; I’ll be there with signage. If you’re looking for a person, I’ll be the bearded 20-something wearing a brown shirt about time travel. In a sports bar like the Flatiron, I suspect I’ll stick out. See you out there!

Mid-Week Links will have to be delayed by a day due to some extenuating circumstances, but they’ll be back tomorrow.

A Short Break

I have been away from a computer for the past few days in Raleigh.  Today’s Monday Update will be on Tuesday.  So apparently that didn’t happen.  Back to our regularly scheduled program Wednesday.