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Measure E Support Erodes with Novato’s Voters

Posted by on 4:42 pm in Featured, Forum Discussion, Opinion | 0 comments

Measure E Support Erodes with Novato’s Voters

Support for Measure E has significantly decreased with voters who are becoming aware that it is essentially a duplicate of Measure AA passed last year. Novato is being asked to pay twice for the same project according to the ballot language – see below.

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This public comparison has forced Measure E proponents into “what we really mean” mode thereby damaging their credibility even further. Such “explanations” and interpretations historically have been used to justify diversion of funds taxpayers thought were going to one purpose but intended to be spent on another. It’s the time tested “bait and switch” political game.

There is no flood control crisis in Novato. The Novato Flood Control District’s own reports confirm this is a manufactured “crisis”. The District is proposing to tear down levees that successfully met the challenge of last January’s record rainfall. There is no inability-to-control-flooding issue. However, the District is using flood control imagery to drive unnecessary taxation of Novato residents to fund regional level projects.

The applicable criteria for action should be necessary improvement. That criteria is especially critical when it involves “other peoples’ money” such as taxpayers being hit yet again with another increase in parcel taxes on already economically stretched homeowners and renters. Yes, renters will pay the parcel tax when landlords raise monthly rents to reflect the increased tax burden.

Additionally, the “low income exemption” for seniors is not what it appears to be. It is very likely, if not probable, that a voter will be classified as low income but will still be required to pay the tax.

The ballot language does not define “low income”, which the County Staff has reserved the right to define and recommend to the County Board of Supervisors after the election. In Marin there are three Federal categories of “low income”. Common sense dictates that if the purpose of Measure E is to maximize the raising of tax funds, the necessary consequence is to restrict exemptions to the very minimum. This means only the lowest category of “low income” residents will be eligible for the exemption.

Incredibly, Measure E’s proponents would have Novato voters believe that If Novatoans don’t tax themselves the city will suffer significant flooding. Not true according to the District’s own staff reports.

Yes, Measure AA funds are already defined and scheduled to be used to address future flooding issues as listed below.

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The San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority has made it very clear with its Examples of Projects List that it will be involved in the design and funding of flood control as well as habitat restorations projects in the North Bay, including Marin. If Novato enacts Measure E funding, the Authority will likely take funds currently designated for Novato and transfer them to another area. We’ve seen this before.

The Novato Flood Control District is desperately attempting to “spin” Measure E as being for projects not part of the SF Bay Restoration Authority’s agenda. However, the Authority’s portfolio of responsibility and sphere of influence includes projects “…along its shoreline, and associated flood management and public access infrastructure” and any adjacent projects that potentially impact shoreline projects. This includes the Novato Flood Control District.

Measure AA already has funding allocated for projects to improve Hwy 37 and restoration of natural habitat for Novato wetlands. Double taxation is not fair to Novato property owners or to renters.

There are valid reasons why support for Measure continues to erode. Very disturbing are the unnecessary destruction of existing levees for flood control, the duplication of projects that the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority has in place, and recent proponents’ self-serving interpretations and explanations of what the ballot language “actually means” alone justify voting NO.

Only 20% of any Measure E funds would go to reducing ”…community and roadway flooding in the City of Novato” according to the County’s own fact sheet in support of Measure E. This fact alone creates reasonable and serious doubt as to whether Novato would get what it paid for in new Measure E taxes.

Novato must vote NO on Measure E. Novato has already done what is reasonable by supporting the passage of Measure AA in 2016 for flood control and habitat restoration projects. Enough is enough.

 

 

For additional information go to the No on Measure E website: www.nonovatoflood.org

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How to Fool Novato’s Voters into Paying for Flood Control Twice

Posted by on 3:58 pm in Featured, Forum Discussion | 1 comment

How to Fool Novato’s Voters into Paying for Flood Control Twice

In June 2016 Novato voters approved a special parcel tax called Measure AA. According to the official Ballot Measure Summary it is for “…restoring habitat for fish, birds and wildlife, protecting communities from floods….” The program is being administered by a regional agency, the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority (the “Authority”).

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You would think that a regional measure passed in June 2016 would be allowed sufficient time to develop a regional plan for Bay Area flood control and habitat restoration. Incredibly, the Marin County Flood Control District has carefully crafted another plan to once again tax voters in the Novato Flood Control District (AKA Zone 1) to do the same thing that the recently passed Measure AA is programmed to do.

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A very suspect series of events transpired after December 2016. According to a Staff Report on the Flood Control Zone 1 Advisory Board meeting of Dec 2016,­­­­ all District standard pump maintenance had been completed, all scheduled sediment removal completed, all 11 creeks within the Novato Flood control zone were inspected and found to have been properly maintained, etc. The Staff noted no problems were anticipated during the coming rainy season. In short, everything was in good working order.

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A month later, in January 2017, the Novato watershed received twice as much rainfall as in January 2016, at 13 inches versus 6 inches. Highway 37 flooded twice causing inconvenience by those using the road and also by residents concerned with detoured traffic congestion in Novato neighborhoods and downtown.

Overall, it was determined that Novato’s Zone 1 flood plain drainage system functioned satisfactorily under the higher rainfall circumstances. Somehow this was conveniently overlooked. What didn’t work were the Caltrans levees. It turned out the Hwy 37 flooding problem was caused by inadequate Caltrans levees that were overtopped.

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Apparently, Novato’s Flood Control District Advisory Board (Advisory Board) recognized an opportunity to leverage the frustration caused by the Hwy 37 flooding and is now using it to push for approval of another tax for optional future projects. Pumps that were in good shape in December 2016 now “need” to have major repairs or be “replaced” despite the fact they performed well during the January 2017 record rainfall. Replacing a motor is understandable. Completely replacing a pump that was in good working order after 30 days of use is very questionable.

By August 2017, the Marin County Flood Control District had applied to FEMA for $1.7 million for levee and pump repairs attributed to “storm damage”.

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The Advisory Board, against the advice of their hired gun political strategy consultants, Godbe Research, requested the County Board of Supervisors quickly place a tax measure on the November 2017 ballot. Meanwhile, the California State government was and is being heavily criticized for a new burdensome 20 cents per gallon tax increase starting soon and a new yearly “transportation fee” that will cost an additional $100 if your car is worth $25,000, and more if your car is valued higher. Both “transportation” taxes will be adjusted upward annually to reflect inflation. Proposed new taxes in the State tax pipeline are becoming increasingly suspect and unpopular.

Nevertheless, the Flood Control District, despite last year’s voter approval of regional tax Measure AA for flood control and habitat restoration, decided to go for yet another tax before the public wised up and rebelled against the plethora of imminent new taxes being proposed by many levels of government and regional agencies.

The tried and true strategy of fear mongering (we are going to be flooded so we need the money now), impending submersion (by sea level rise due to climate change), and self-serving purpose-driven publications for public consumption were initiated in March 2017. Their campaign is being augmented by a vaguely worded “fact sheet” funded with your taxpayer money. Whether the circumstances are true, not true, or partially true apparently is not important to them. But, do whatever it takes to get the tax passed before voters wake up is.

A “false narrative” has been created by the Novato Flood Control District to drive quick passage of Measure E. Voters are in danger of being misled. We don’t need the unnecessary taxation proposed by Measure E. The Flood Control District Advisory Board has already applied to FEMA for levee and pump repair funding (see the list above), a fact receiving minimal disclosure to voters.

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Ironically, Measure E’s wetlands are property of the County and not Novato. The San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority using Measure AA funds has already targeted the wetlands under discussion for restoration, and Hwy 37 for upgrading to protect against flooding and sea level rise. Novato taxpayers have already designated their hard-earned money for these repairs by passing Measure AA.

Novato voters should be very careful not “jump the gun” before FEMA and Measure AA funds are awarded. If Novato pre-emptively pays for repairs and projects by passing Measure E, then FEMA and Measure AA funds may dry up leaving Novato residents to foot the entire bill. If this new tax becomes necessary, then a vote for additional funding can be taken after alternate sources of funds such as FEMA have been exhaustively pursued. There is no immediate crisis here.

It’s time to stop the misleading “information” and corralling of voters into paying for redundant “new projects”. The sea level is not rising so quickly that we haven’t time for prudent review of spending. Stop the fear mongering and start the discussion. Don’t be misled and taxed unnecessarily. Vote no on Measure E.

 

For additional information go to the No on Measure E website: www.nonovatoflood.org

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State Legislature is Demolishing Local Control of Residential Zoning

Posted by on 12:18 pm in Featured, Forum Discussion | 0 comments

State Legislature is Demolishing Local Control of Residential Zoning

Any lingering doubts about the State Legislature and the Metropolitan Transit Commission’s (MTC) intention to eliminate every Marin city’s ability to manage its own residential zoning have been eliminated. Governor Jerry Brown is leading the charge to emasculate local control.

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There are eight legislative proposals in the final stages of being presented to the sympathetic Governor Brown that gut a local community’s control over residential housing. In 2011 Governor Brown eliminated Redevelopment Agencies. Now, he appears ready to eliminate local control of who builds what housing in their community.

Local cities’ elected representatives have been derelict in their duty to publicly report and disseminate information to their constituents of pending legislation at the state level that would potentially have a significant impact upon their citizens’ quality of life and economic well-being. Where is the uproar over the taking away of residents’ historical power to control what is built within their city limits?  Where is the outrage?

The silence of individual City Departments of Development is deafening. Novato’s Community Development Director Bob Brown knows what the implications of proposed legislative changes in State law mean to Novato. Yet, there has been no public discussion or debate that enables the community to become aware of what may happen to it, nor has community opinion been solicited. Mr. Brown is not alone among Marin’s Community Development Directors in their neglect.

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Where is the leadership of Novato Mayor Denise Athas? Does the City of Novato not object to losing control over its residential zoning? Should not each Marin County city council take a formal position for or against these proposed changes? Are Marin’s city councils too timid to confront their State representatives over this huge loss in say over their local areas? Apparently so. It is time to make changes and put in place local representation by those with enough backbone to stand up for their city’s interests early in the legislative process and be counted.

A pontific outburst by MTC Executive Director Steve Heminger at a recent meeting of the MTC’s Committee to House the Bay Area (CASA) removed any doubt regarding the MTC’s preference declaring that “…people who don’t want housing built, especially in their neighborhoods, have too many tools at their disposal to do something about it.”  Heminger has publicly stated that “one way to win the argument is not to convince them, but to take away some of the tools”. These statements reflect the ministerial arrogance of a rogue agency’s unelected Executive Director.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DG9W5_FAjls&feature=youtu.be

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Simply put, it is the MTC’s and California State Legislature’s intent to strip every California city of its ability to control residential housing built within their city limits. The false premise used by Governor Brown and his coterie of Regional “Transportation” Agencies to justify this power grab is that it is a State “obligation” in the name of “social justice” to meet affordable housing needs as defined by the State of California. Existing local control over zoning laws is viewed as a problem to be obliterated.

This noble “social justice” aspiration is a two-edged sword. One edge may be taxpayer subsidized “affordable housing” becoming more available. The painful other side is that “subsidized” housing to a large extent is paid for by California’s shrinking middle class. This may sound good in church on Sunday, but not so good on Monday when the postal service delivers a larger tax bill. California’s tax weary middle class is beginning to vote with its feet and leave rather than financially struggle to exist as part of a growing lower middle class. Leavers will probably have the advantage of living closer to their children.

Unrestrained multi-unit subsidized housing increases the tax pressure on existing single-family home owners facing the probability of declining property values driven by intrusive increased housing density burdened by insufficient parking requirements, and by the inevitable greater demand for additional costly social services such as police, fire, schools, etc. that new housing brings with it. Public transportation, bike riding and walking is the current urban planners’ uncreative and misguided solution to making this work. Convenient use of a personal auto is many city planners’ arch enemy and to them is to be eliminated, or at least its usage financially punished.

High density developers are typically not required to pay “full freight” for standard construction permits and other infrastructure driven fees. These costs are frequently off-loaded onto existing single-family home owner’s tax bills. High density projects are relieved of sufficient-parking requirements, height restrictions, and are even given several forms of a financially rewarding “density bonus” driving ever greater population density, building heights and traffic congestion.

The California State Legislature is hard at work dismantling any city’s control over its residential zoning and transferring it to the California Department of Housing and Community Development office in Sacramento that is part of the office of the Governor. The new zoning buzzword in Sacramento is “streamlining” – bureaucratic argot for do not let local city zoning and building codes get in the way of what big time developers, regional trade unions and big business wants. The WinCup high density project in Corte Madera is a poster child for Governor Brown’s “affordable housing” aspirations.

Senate Bill 167 by Oakland’s Senator Nancy Skinner dramatically alters the little used Housing Accountability Act (HAA) changing it into a law preventing cities from denying zoning and general-plan-compliant proposed housing development projects, or at least setting conditions tied to their approval based on lower density, unless cities make findings that the proposed housing development would have specific adverse impacts on human health or safety.

Who determines what must be in a city’s General Plan? The Governor’s Office of Planning & Research (OPR) will. Senator Skinner’s SB 167, combined with OPR mandated oppressive affordable housing requirements, places a chokehold on a city’s residential planning efforts to manage growth.

Senate Bill 35 is in the final stages of being approved by the Legislature. Proposed by San Francisco Senator Scott Weiner, it “streamlines” multi-family housing- project approvals by eliminating public input, prohibiting the requirement for compliance with California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and removing local discretion.

Yes, you read that correctly. State Senator Weiner advocates throwing CEQA under the bus in the name of affordable taxpayer subsidized housing, and incredibly, eliminating public input which is the foundation of relevant local government.

You can bid farewell to your local control of residential zoning. Who allowed this to happen? With a few notable exceptions such as Novato’s citizen-friendly Pat Eklund, your City Councilmembers representatives on regional agencies boards did by doing nothing. They sat silent as their city’s “elected representative” on regional agency Boards like grade school children waiting to be served dessert. They quietly witnessed, without a whimper of resistance, local control over what would be built in their community being eliminated by the Legislature and transferred to a single office of bureaucrats in Sacramento. Like a feudal lord’s fiefdom, the Governor in Sacramento and his “ministers” in the OPR will dictate local residential zoning codes.

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Incumbent local politicians will run for cover by hiding behind the weak excuse “it was handled at the State level”. The local City Council and County representatives put up no public resistance. They make surrender monkeys look noble.

How to right this disaster? The only effective way is at the ballot box in the next election. If an incumbent did not publicly resist this State power grab, you can throw the bum out of office. They threw you and your neighborhood under the bus. Now it’s your turn to stand up and be counted by throwing them out of office.

 

 

At Last! A Positive Change for Novato’s Business Community

Posted by on 5:15 pm in Featured, Forum Discussion | 0 comments

At Last! A Positive Change for Novato’s Business Community

An internal economic development group within the City of Novato Staff is making significant progress with a project to “showcase” downtown Novato as an enjoyable and rewarding place to shop and unwind. The project, led by Assistant City Manager Peggy Flynn, has picked up speed during the last six months and is beginning to show results.

Flynn and her group have proven that given sufficient time and room to make changes, the right group of staffers within City Hall can make positive change happen. Merchants appear increasingly encouraged by the group’s pro-active approach towards their welfare and welcome the increased support.

The interim results of the City Staffer’s efforts during the last six months were presented last week to the Economic Development Advisory Commission that serves as the liaison between City Hall and representatives of Novato’s business community. The near-term outlook is increasingly optimistic.

A key participant has been Jessica Deakyne – Senior Management Analyst for Economic Development and Lead on the City of Novato’s Business Outreach Pilot Program. Deakyne has invigorated the collection of data critical to accurately defining “the Novato business community”.

When Chris Stewart, the recently departed Economic Development Manager left, Novato faced a choice. Either continue a path primarily focused on driving growth in the life science sector as part of the North Bay Life Science Alliance, or refocus the economic development efforts with primary emphasis on promoting existing City businesses. The life science business development effort continues, but existing programs such as the “Shop Novato Local” project now receive increased support and attention by City Staff.

City Manager Regan Candelario has attended Economic Development Advisory Commission meetings to listen and provide an occasional comment rather than manage Staff discussions with members of the Commission. His attendance is critical as is that of Assistant City Manager Peggy Flynn.

Hard working Councilmembers Pat Eklund and Pam Drew routinely attend these meetings. Effective economic development is critical to the financial and overall economic health of the City. The members of the Advisory Commission provide City Staff with real-time in-depth insight on the Novato business community’s health.

The “Shop Novato Local” project has been the beneficiary of a redesigned website https://shoplocalnovato.com/ developed by the full-service marketing agency Kiosk. The re-tooled and still under construction website has increasingly engaged businesses and residents. The website responds to inquiries regarding where to find specific goods and services in Novato.

Located on Grant Avenue, Kiosk is an international agency led by COO Claire Knoles who knows digital marketing strategy and how to use marketing data analysis to drive business forward. Kiosk’s efforts are beginning to provide a commercial data base enabling economic development to be directed and decisions to be made based upon hard data rather than instinct.

Understandably, much of the current business development effort has been focused on the City’s retail sector. Growth in retail sales generates much needed additional sales tax revenue for the City. An increase in local sales tax revenue is quickly felt by the City’s treasury.

The Novato Chamber of Commerce’s (NCoC) grassroots involvement with the local retail goods and services sector is a major resource. The Chamber’s professional management staff can be a significant player supporting the City’s Economic Development group’s efforts.

The NCoC produces the annual Novato Festival of Art, Wine, and Music along with Halloween’s Scream on the Green for children. These have a very positive influence on the City, but in the eyes of many it sometimes comes with a steep price.

For example, the Novato Chamber of Commerce’s pervasive political influence extends from its endorsement of individual City Council candidates to the individual Chamber members willing to place Chamber-friendly political and event signage in their shop windows. The NCoC is inevitably compared to a shadow City administration powerful enough to leverage its NCoC endorsed Councilmembers to vote a rushed approval of spending millions on a SMART station at which no trains are currently scheduled to stop. Nor, is there any commitment from SMART to provide service to this white elephant. To the everlasting despair of SMART train opponents, the City agreed to donate the multi-million-dollar Novato funded station to SMART. That is fundamental political power.

On more positive news, the City’s well-run Business Outreach Program intends to engage the industrial and professional services business sectors of the City. Historically, CoC’s have offered few unique benefits to non-retail businesses. Flynn’s team will work on this issue directly with these firms.

A challenge for the City’s Business Outreach Program will be how to form a nexus with Novato’s resident professional services and industrial firms, and how to effectively promote their well-being. The intellectual assets and skill sets these two sectors typically possess add depth to an outside observer’s perception of the local business community’s sophistication and creates a richer sense of community for its citizens.

The prototypical perception of industry and high level professional services is one of creating and adding value while making and designing goods and/or unique services to be marketed and sold to other businesses. The requisite academic achievement level necessary for locally successful firms implies a community dedicated to the importance of excellence in educational achievement. The City of Novato has substantial work to do in this regard. Fast food franchises easily come and go. A biotech/life sciences industry does not.

With the recent changes in attitude toward local businesses at City Hall, Novato’s prospects for local economic growth are better than at any time in recent memory. Flynn, Deakyne and Knoles have developed significant forward momentum. Much work remains to be done. It is one thing to develop data, but it’s the accurate, comprehensive collection, and successful use of that data toward mutually agreed upon economic goals that enhance the economic health of our community. This is the true metric of success.

These are challenging times for the City. It is refreshing and encouraging to see that a part of City Staff is up to the task. And, when they succeed they should be publicly recognized. Their success is everyone’s success.

Marin’s Middle Class Begins to Melt as Politicians Turn Up the Tax Heat

Posted by on 2:23 pm in Featured, Forum Discussion | 0 comments

Marin’s Middle Class Begins to Melt as Politicians Turn Up the Tax Heat

Hardly a day goes by without an announcement of another proposed tax increase by the State, Regional, County, or City governments and agencies. If you are against any tax or fee increase you are branded insensitive and labeled an uncaring person. If you publicly push back, you are quickly labeled as anti-planet, anti-sustainable, racist, anti- education, against “affordable” housing, being a cultural imperialist, and more. In Marin you are, God forbid, a closet Republican.

Many Marinites look forward to the ambiance of a daily swim in a sea of identity politics and politically correct self-righteousness. Differing personal opinions expressed over a latte is analogous to tiptoeing through a conversational minefield. The weather may be great but the political gestalt all to quickly becomes oppressive when one dares to stray from the politically correct catechism aka the Marin nous. The situation is particularly acute in southern Marin.

Why not pick up stakes and leave the horrible traffic and diminishing disposable income behind for greener pastures? For now, it’s the great weather and the easily accessible open space that makes staying worthwhile However, the “beauty” of Marin is becoming increasingly diminished.

Today’s ubiquitous internet has made geographical location less essential to maintaining an awareness of current issues and trends. Social interplay and intellectual stimulation are increasingly digital and distant. It is much easier to effectively express your opinion and enjoy open-minded discussions wearing pajamas.

Leave the West Coast cities and travel inward to other metropolitan areas where increasing numbers of Californians have fled. The diaspora’s demographics range from recent college graduates to retirees. Ask if they miss California and half will say yes. Ask if they are glad they moved to their new less taxing and less intellectually stifling abode, almost all will say yes and express great relief. Money goes so much further, parking is less stressful, and the daily traffic nightmare is a distant memory. The less contentious and less stressful surroundings have given them their life back.

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Gradually, the middle class in Marin is being pushed out of California in the name of social equality and environmental justice. For those contemplating a move it is just not happening in Sacramento, Fresno, or Bakersfield.

Boise, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Denver, Austin, and Bend are among the popular potential landing spots east of the coastal mountain ranges. Beware however, outside of the coastal cities the California diaspora is generally regarded with suspicion and subtle resentment. Comments to that effect are casually expressed by locals.

Arriving with a boat load of cash, having just sold their overpriced California homes, the diaspora seeking new residences dramatically pushes up local housing prices. The resultant price inflation has a knock-on effect for existing homeowners who get an unexpected property tax increase. Reasonably, the result is resentment.

Equally unwanted is the renowned “coastal California” political perspective that arrives with the newcomers. Coastal Californians are so different in their perception of the role of government in everyday life that local resentment towards “California’s politics” simmers beneath the surface of casual conversation, but easily surfaces.

Self-reliant locals understand that more government provided (i.e. taxpayer provided) social services drive taxes upward. The implied entitlements of social justice are typically rejected out of hand and whining is just not tolerated.

The locals are however, generally much more open minded than coastal Californians when it comes to the acceptance of diverse opinions and the right to freely express them. Typically, they recognize a détente, agree to disagree, and move on with little social collateral damage – seldom the result in Marin.

There are some things to like about newly arrived coastal Californians. Not among those likes are pompous assertions by the new residents regarding California’s impeccable social conscious and their thinly disguised sense of self-absorbed intellectual enlightenment.

For those of us who remain and love living in Marin, we are becoming increasingly concerned with the creeping economic bifurcation driven by incessant increasing tax rates and fees that are particularly hard on those with fixed or lower incomes such as younger people and their grandparents.

A diminishing middle class leads to a falling tax revenue base leaving as Marin’s growing demographic sectors the uber rich and the poor who serve the lifestyles of the wealthy. Daily, the middle

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class in Marin faces increased financial pressure driven by social justice related wealth redistribution demands. No current County politician sincerely has the interests of the middle class as the first consideration despite paying lip service to the concept. How to pay for unfunded special interest projects and unfunded State mandates is the primary concern.

The County political elite unendingly spout platitudes of social justice, environmental justice, cultural justice, income redistribution and “complete streets”, never mentioning that it’s the middle class who will disproportionately suffer the monetary pains of such policies. The deteriorated state of city streets and county roads is indicative of their lack of concern for all of us, particularly the working middle class.

In single-party Marin with local elections increasingly influenced by massive out-of-district campaign money and special interest Super PAC’s, it has become extraordinarily difficult to displace an incumbent in political office. City level elections are frequently influenced and heavily funded (i.e. bought) by out-of-area sources with their own self-serving agenda and glossy political mailings. Josh Fryday’s successful run for the Novato City Council is a good example of the determinative power of outside influence on a city level election.

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Judy Arnold’s Board of Supervisors hair-thin win over local challenger Toni Shroyer is another example of big-money outsiders gaining control over local politics. Residents are losing control of their communities as they are being emotionally manipulated by hidden persuaders disguised as campaign consultants and advisors.

All is not lost, however. Dennis Rodini and Damon Connolly are two examples of locals winning despite the concerted efforts of outside vested interests. They beat the odds.

The standard retort to those middle-class residents expressing concern with Marin’s declining economic diversity is ‘If you don’t like it, leave”, something the middle class in Marin has begun to do. In Novato, it began five years ago. From 2009 to 2015 the average household income in Novato sadly decreased as some of its hard-working middle class left for a better life elsewhere. The trend line is negative.

Unless some incumbents are tossed out of office, the outlook for the middle class will remain grim. The prospect of paying more taxes for a decreasing quality of life is becoming a very good reason to move. Boise is looking better and better every day.

 

 

 

YOUTH OF NOVATO SELL DOG FOOD IN ORDER TO PAY NUSD SO THEY CAN PLAY BASEBALL

Posted by on 12:10 pm in Featured, Forum Discussion, Opinion | 0 comments

YOUTH OF NOVATO SELL DOG FOOD IN ORDER TO PAY NUSD SO THEY CAN PLAY BASEBALL

Novato Babe Ruth has been a wonderful non-profit in Novato for decades.  Over 100 of Novato’s Youth between the ages of 13 through 15 play baseball each year through this organization.  Babe Ruth has to fund-raise $10,000 each year in order to pay the Novato Unified School District (NUSD) for the Field Use Fees which have averaged around $10,000 each year. Although NUSD provides Babe Ruth with a 25% discount on an already over inflated fee, Babe Ruth scrambles annually to fund-raise.  Babe Ruth Volunteers maintain the Sinaloa and San Jose Fields, keep them safe for our children and keep them in excellent condition.  San Marin High School Baseball enjoys the well maintained field at Sinaloa to play on.  Babe Ruth also maintains the San Jose Field where Novato High School Baseball Players also enjoy a safe field to play on courtesy of Babe Ruth.

Novato Homeowners pay four taxes to NUSD (Basic tax, two school bonds [which seniors are not exempt from] and a parcel tax).  Even with all of these taxes NUSD benefits from, NUSD still charges Babe Ruth to use the fields that Babe Ruth volunteers maintain and the taxpayer pays for.  As a result, the Babe Ruth Baseball Players are selling Dog Treats so they can pay NUSD for this “fifth tax.”

Why NUSD? Why?

Novato Babe Ruth is not able to provide as many scholarships as they would like to for high risk children, which include children of color, because of NUSD’s wants their money.  When our Novato kids are engaged in a healthy activity it keeps them focused and busy, verses an alternative activity that may not be so positive.

Please support the children of Novato (and Homeward Bound) by buying these Dog Treats. Homeward Bound and Babe Ruth will be splitting the profits.  With the money the children raise, the funds will be turned over to NUSD.

Please contact me at Toni@Bradleyrealestate.com or call/text 415-640-2754 if you would like to order some dog treats.

https://hbofm.org/wagster-dog-treats/

Wagster Dog Treats | Homeward Bound of Marin

hbofm.org

Wagster Treats are full of healthy dog treat ingredients.We use human-grade, vegan ingredients, selected for their healthful benefits for dogs.

 

Parking is not a detail that should be left for later

Posted by on 7:27 pm in Featured, Forum Discussion, Opinion | 0 comments

Parking is not a detail that should be left for later

Last week, the Marin IJ published an article on the approval of “form-based code” zoning by the Novato Planning Commission for the entire Northwest Quadrant of the Novato. In that article, commission chairwoman Susan Wernick said the zoning plan offers a good design.

According to the IJ story, while Wernick voiced concern about possible overdevelopment in the neighborhood and a lack of parking, she said residents may have to address those apart from the zoning code.

This assessment of course is absurd. The role of zoning is to decide land use, prevent overdevelopment and assure there is enough parking; not leave the issue of overdevelopment and parking to be solved by residents later.

Ms. Wernick is stating an obvious impact of form-based code. Why would she approve this new zoning code knowing of this threat?

The form-based code zoning the Planning Commission approved will allow Novato’s Northwest Quadrant to become a new San Rafael Canal area in Novato, with inadequate parking subsequently flooding parking overflow to the adjacent neighborhoods.

— Al Dugan, Novato

For three years (2012 to 2015), our group (representatives from 20 neighborhoods all across the city, backed by more than 600 supporters) worked tirelessly to educate the public, lobby the city council and work with the Department of Planning and Development to close the loopholes that a handful of developers were using to justify the construction of towering, three-story homes in the backyards and side yards of existing homes.

See an overview of the original loopholes.

See how our efforts closed many of those loopholes.

See a summary of all that transpired during our campaign.

To counter our efforts, the developers hired a full-time lobbyist and formed a lobbying group with the appealing name Smart Growth Seattle. That group, led by lobbyist Roger Valdez, proved especially effective at pressuring city council members and confusing the public (see a summary of the misleading arguments).

In the end, our efforts to close the most outrageous small-lot-development building-code loopholes was so successful that the development of backyard / side yard houses in the city of Seattle has slowed dramatically — an accomplishment that made the developers’ lobbyist furious (see his angry blog post).

The mayor’s new plans
In June of 2015, Mayor Murray called for the Department of Planning and Development to be “dismantled.” Its director retired, and an all-new department was created (the Office of Planning and Community Development) to better plan neighborhood development. That seemed like a good step in the right direction.

But then in July of 2015, Mayor Murray said he was supporting a list of recommendations that would TRIPLE the housing density in single-family neighborhoods. According to the Seattle Times, the mayor’s plan to rezone all the single-family neighborhoods would mean developers could replace one single-family home (on a standard size lot) with three new, potentially much larger homes.

However, after Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat wrote several very critical columns about the mayor’s idea, and neighborhoods all across the city complained vehemently to the mayor and city council members, the mayor backtracked on his plans to “upzone” the city, but continues to push for other ways to build more housing.

Our group has disbanded. Our work to eliminate the most egregious small-lot building-code loopholes is finished. And we leave it to Seattle Fair Growth to battle against the mayor’s new development plans.

Learn more
To see photos of side yard/backyard house projects, click here.

See all the news coverage this issue has generated.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to avoid living next to one of these projects.

 

Looming SMART Arrival Creates Increased Traffic Congestion in San Rafael?

Posted by on 2:14 pm in Featured, Forum Discussion, Opinion, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Looming SMART Arrival Creates Increased Traffic Congestion in San Rafael?

Looming SMART Arrival Creates Increased Traffic Congestion in San Rafael?

Reprinted from the Marin IJ

 

Drivers and transit center users in San Rafael are anticipating Sonoma-Marin Area Transit rail service to commence this spring. However, the subsequent extension of SMART to Larkspur puts in motion changes to roads, and the Bettini bus transit center is likely to snarl traffic in downtown San Rafael and potentially Highway 101.

Residents and bus passengers using the center might expect appropriate foresight and planning, but as reported by IJ columnist Dick Spotswood, San Rafael “officials are waiting for SMART’s first trips to determine on-the-ground traffic impacts and only then deal with the problem.”

The impact of SMART extending to Larkspur imposes significant changes to traffic in San Rafael:

  • Second and Third streets, with 50,000 daily vehicle trips, will experience delays from trains crossing four times an hour during peak hours.
  • The Bettini center, serving 9,000 daily bus riders, must be moved as SMART’s tracks to Larkspur bisect bus platforms. No place has yet been identified to park hundreds of buses entering and exiting the center. The “interim plan” is to park these buses on already congested streets for several years.
  • Traffic congestion caused by buses and crossing guards could prevent cars from exiting Highway 101, lengthening commute times for 217,000 daily car drivers.

Why? To make way for a train that SMART projects, in its environmental report, will serve just 231 daily riders, a number not attained until 2035.

A new grassroots organization has formed — Save Our San Rafael — to advocate more rational planning performed in advance of permitting SMART to be extended to Larkspur. This would include a full analysis of the traffic impacts.

Key questions include where to put the relocated transit center, how much it will cost and what to do in an interim period likely to persist for many years.

Exactly how many Golden Gate and Marin Transit buses will fit on city streets, how passengers will safely make connections and how this will impact traffic have not been disclosed.

The San Rafael City Council will consider alternatives at future public meetings.

How much traffic will be created?

According to city staff, the city has no plan to analyze whether trains crossing Second, Third and Fourth streets and Fifth and Mission avenues four times an hour will inhibit cars exiting the freeway. So far, nothing official has been disclosed or made available to the public.

If cars are backed into the gridlock that already exists on Highway 101, hundreds of thousands of commuters on the regional freeway will experience even longer commutes and emit more pollutants — including greenhouse gases — into the atmosphere.

San Rafael’s public works department has claimed an environmental impact analysis is not required. While it may not be legally required, it is morally required.

The City Council and the public ought to be provided the information as to whether SMART’s congestion increasing extension actually increases or decreases emissions.

The city’s wait-and-see approach comes with serious consequences. Once the train crosses Third, under federal law, there is nothing the city can do about the additional traffic.

We propose a logical alternative: Follow the successful quiet zone process implemented by Mayor Gary Phillips. The City Council held three public hearings to consider quiet zones. They were such a success that the method used by Mayor Phillips is being followed by Novato and Sonoma County.

The City Council needs to first conduct a thorough traffic analysis, then repeat this proven approach.

The current wait-and-see approach sets the city on an irreversible disaster course. Save Our San Rafael seeks to put planning on the right track to truly relieve traffic and fight climate change.

Richard Hall is a transportation and planning activist in Marin and one of the founders of Save Our San Rafael.

Richard-Hall

 

Comment:

I sent this letter to Mayor Phillips last Dec. 13th. Never got a response from him. I did forward it to the San Rafael City Council weeks later and got an optimistic response from Kate Colins. Here’s the letter:

Dear Mayor Phillips,

I am a 20 year resident in San Rafael. For the past 32 years I’ve been a licensed contractor in the State of California. I am a consultant with the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) and a board director for my 75 home town home association.

As a frequent commuter for my contracting business both here and in communities north and south, I have plenty of experience with our daily commute, a commute that has become more clogged and stressful as recent traffic studies have confirmed.

I am concerned with the forthcoming traffic impacts that the SMART rail service will have on the streets of San Rafael, and communities south, as the rail line is slated to extend towards Larkspur Landing. As a sitting member of the Board of Directors for SMART as well as the mayor of San Rafael, you have the unique position to have influence and impacts in both places. A recent back up of traffic from 101 south to the Heatherton Street on-ramp to Mission Street because of SMART train testing through San Rafael has caused concern, that this potentially dangerous backup may be multiplied many times once the trains begin operating at full service. The back ups and potential for delays will most likely echo onto the many rail crossings from San Rafael to Larkspur.

In light of this, doesn’t it seem wise to do a “real live” traffic study in San Rafael before fully committing to the Larkspur extension? Given that the rail service to San Rafael is a done deal, the city would serve as a great testing ground for real time traffic flow with the following innovative experiment- for a week long period, have the SMART rail-crossing-traffic-barriers programmed to function as if the trains were on a full service schedule. No trains would be needed, just the traffic crossing barriers programmed to function as if real trains were making their trips, at Mission Street, Fifth Street and Fourth Street. Traffic cams could store the results. There have been calculations by SMART that have attempted to simulate this condition, but they remain calculations and not real world scenarios. I think frequent commuters like myself and the citizens who use downtown San Rafael and the streets on the way to Larkspur, would appreciate the concern shown to them by such an experiment. If anything, the experiment would help engineers address any potential, “real” problems that may surface as a result.
Thanks for your attention.
Sincerely,

John ParulisJohn Parulis

 

 

 

 

Al DuganAl Dugan • 2 days ago

Wow, this was hard to find.

Thank you Richard for adding a voice of reason to this issue. It has been sorely lacking.

 

The TAM TAX Steamroller – San Rafael Resists – Novato Folds

Posted by on 11:17 am in Featured, Forum Discussion, Opinion, Uncategorized | 1 comment

The TAM TAX Steamroller – San Rafael Resists – Novato Folds

The Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM) is in the process of applying a full court press on all Marin city councils to obtain their support to pressure the State of California legislature to authorize a ½% increase in Marin’s sales tax rate by passing California Senator McGuire’s proposed state transportation bill SB-1 that would modified to include allowing TAM to seek approval to raise Marin’s sales tax by ½%.

To that end, TAM has created an artificial deadline of “mid-February” to apply pressure on each City Council in Marin for an all-too-hasty carte blanche approval. TAM in turn wants to spend the new tax-created funds on whatever TAM wants. TAM’s spending priorities do not address local traffic congestion and disintegrating roads.

What is not mentioned by TAM spokespersons is Marin’s Senator Mike McGuire’s proposed SB-1 currently in the legislative in-box includes sizeable additional new transportation taxes on Marin drivers.

The deadline for formal submittal of new Senate Bills is February 17th. A city council voting to take a “position” of support (TAM’S arcane terminology) before TAM’s “mid-February” deadline clearly links it to McGuire’s February 17th deadline. If all eleven Marin cities vote to support lifting the existing local sales tax “cap” the McGuire could easily insert it without controversy into McGuire’s SB-1 before the senate bill deadline

The reality is that TAM already gets under Measure A ½ percent of Marin’s sales taxes very little of which is spent on improving local roads. The existing TAM tax does not expire until 2025. Therefore, there is no immediate TAM funding crisis.

Transportation Authority of Marin - AM logoTAM has not denied it would attempt to pass a new ½% transportation tax while the existing ½% Measure A transportation tax remains in effect. If that happens, TAM would double its budget and still be free to ignore the condition of deteriorated local roads.

Use of high-pressure sales tactics by TAM must be stopped! By TAM artificially applying pressure for carte blanche approval for a blank check, TAM exposes its lack of real respect for the importance of local City Councils and the citizens they are tasked to represent.

If TAM had regard for Marin’s local governments, who know their residents’ preferences best, TAM would offer local governments time to provide early input reflecting local preferences and priorities. These priorities would be incorporated into TAM’s proposed programs before they are funded with a new tax. This is clearly not the case today.

An expression of support by Marin’s city councils for a carve-out of a County sales tax cap exemption for TAM implies/indicates support for Marin Senator McGuire’s Senate Bill SB-1.

Mike_McGuireIn addition to the TAM 1/2% sales tax increase for Marin, Senator McGuire’s Senate Bill SB-1 enacts state wide auto fee and fuel tax increases:

1) Increases all automobile licensing fees by $38, with inflation adjustments

2) Adds a new $100 annual vehicle registration fee with built-in inflation adjustments on zero-emission motor vehicles

3) Adds a 12¢ per gallon increase to our current State gasoline tax that at 58.3 cents per gallon is already the highest in the nation

4) In addition to the Item 3 tax increase, it reinstitutes a higher gasoline excise tax rate that was in effect on July 1, 2010 that further increases gasoline taxes

Out of the public’s view and before fuel reaches a pump, the fuel’s distributor pays an excise tax. The excise tax is not evident to customers at the pump – out of sight, out of mind. In other words, a hidden tax we all bear.

5) Increases the tax rate on diesel fuel by 4¢ per gallon

The five items above are a kneejerk reaction to less than anticipated state fuel tax revenues. Car owners paid more for fuel efficient and zero emission vehicles to improve air quality and fuel efficiency driven by air quality regulations. The state is now turning on those with a social conscious and punishing them with higher taxes for specifically for doing as asked.

The standard initial presentation spiel (spin) given by TAM representatives to city councils consists of some verbal sleight of hand. The linguistic gymnastics begin with a beguiling statement that TAM is not asking a City Council to “approve or endorse” a sales tax increase, but rather to take a position of “support” for legislation to raise the sales tax and current sales tax “cap” for TAM’s transportation projects. Support? Endorse? Approve? What’s the difference?

To the average person there is little difference between support, endorse or approve. Yet TAM expects councilmembers to suspend belief and take a “position” that would “support” legislation to encourage TAM to increase the sales tax for transportation projects. What kind of misleading semantic charade is this?

TAM is attempting to stampede all Marin cities to immediately (mid-February) support TAM’s intent to go to the State legislature to increase sales taxes in Marin. TAM wants to be able to argue that they received full support of all of Marin city councils.

City-of-San-RafaelFortunately, San Rafael did not fall for TAM’s linguistic form of 3-card-Monty. By a 4-1 vote they put TAM’s request on the shelf until TAM could return to the Council with a decent description of how San Rafael resident’s tax money would be spent.

TAM was unprepared, unwilling, and refused to provide to the San Rafael City Council any detailed description of how the increased tax funds would be used. Astonishingly, TAM was only willing to offer a blank piece of paper to be filled in later by TAM.

Despite the devious parsing of words, TAM is conducting a high pressure “pass rush” for an approval “position” on Marin’s City Councils. The implications of what TAM is asking, and what the arm-twist-my-arm-clipart_293-188local city would be able to do with any increase in funds, is anyone’s guess.

San Rafael and Novato have streets that have been sorely and dangerously neglected. In some areas, their condition borders on blight, and is irritating and embarrassing to residents. Two recently elected San Rafael Councilmembers and two Councilmembers up for election this November have felt the anger of voters frustrated with Councilmembers surrendering to TAM priorities on how local transportations funds are spent. They are the f our who ;shelved TAM’s astonishing request.

TAM’s priorities are “social needs”, carbon footprint, greenhouse gas reduction, global warming, etc. 80% of TAM’s funds go to “social needs”. The remainder is “bike or walk” transit, ADA compliance, street repair, slowing traffic aka “calming”, and corner “squaring”. There is little left for repaving streets and making road improvements that provide safe, smooth flowing, and speed-efficient traffic.

Drivers are angry with the large mal-appropriation of fuel taxes for “social needs” instead of local traffic and road maintenance needs. In San Rafael drivers vented their anger through the ballot box.

Recognizing the cavernous disconnect between TAM’s concept of a good area wide transportation system and the needs of individuals traveling to and from work or raising a family, San Rafael said no. Not good enough. You, TAM, do not recognize the severity of the local car owners anger caused by your calculated, deliberate neglect of local roads.

When the small amount of annual funding becomes available to spend on local roads, TAM implements design restrictions to promote expensive and little-used bike lanes and intersection designs that leave little or no money available to repave (rather than just reseal) our crumbling roads.

Politically appointed agency or commission members are not “elected” representatives of the people. They are appointed, subject to back-office political negotiations and power – a far different process from a public election by voters. Rather than competence, venal motives dominate the political appointment process of regional representatives.

Regrettably, local officials appointed as representatives to regional agencies too frequently succumb to a political version of the “Stockholm syndrome” returning to their elected level as advocatesPatty Hearst for the agencies’ position, rather than as advocates for the preferences of the citizens who elected them. At the very least, those local officials should recuse themselves from decisions involving the agency to which they were appointed.

Local governments have their greatest leverage against regional agencies when decisions are made at the local level. Once that local leverage is surrendered, a regional agency is enabled to couple a locally controversial project with other remotely related but popular regional projects. The agency ultimately presents a pre-packaged “lesser of two evils” choice to voters.

Utilizing the “packaging” technique, the agency’s “preferred option” success rate soars despite requiring a 2/3rds majority. A clever, but deceptive, action. Subjected to an expensive relentless pro-passage publicity campaign funded by the agency and orchestrated by pricey professional advocative consultants, skeptical voters opt to do something rather than nothing and by default are corralled into voting in favor of whatever that outside agency wants. The outcome is pre-determined.

Novato’s Councilmembers Lucan, Fryday and Athas rammed through passage of TAM’s proposal in a disappointing display of abrogation of their responsibility to their community to closely examine and enable broad community discussion of tax proposals before providing Novato’s official support.

Eric-Lucan Denise Josh-Fryday-NewNovato’s City Council had an opportunity to remind Marin County that as its second largest city it has a comparable level of city administration and legislative sophistication as San Rafael. Fryday, Athas and Lucan once again proved they do not function at that higher level. Instead, they compulsively rubberstamped TAM provided verbiage provided by the complicit City Manager Regan Candelario.

Novato desperately needs full time Councilmembers, not part time patsies who lack the time or inclination to do a good and thorough job for Novato citizens. And, a City Manager who can do more than merely being a mouthpiece for regional agency proposals.

All three “yes” votes were by Councilmembers endorsed and supported during their election campaigns by the Novato Chamber of Commerce. Eklund and Athas are up for re-election in November.

Full time Councilmembers Pam Drew and Pat Eklund acted in the best interests of Novato citizens by refusing to be steamrollered by TAM. Neither was endorsed during their election campaigns Pam-Drew-2 Pat Ek White bckgrndby the Novato Chamber of Commerce. Both are full-time Councilmembers.

 

 

 

 

 

penguin detective

 

 

TAM tax plan gets off to a rough start

Posted by on 3:37 pm in Featured, Forum Discussion, Opinion, Uncategorized | 1 comment

TAM tax plan gets off to a rough start

Marin IJ Editorial

POSTED: 01/28/17, 2:18 PM PST |

24 COMMENTS

The Transportation Authority of Marin’s bid for a new sales tax is off to a rocky start, basically due to its own political approach — and maybe a changing political climate in our county.

TAM has been talking for months about its interest in possibly increasing the local sales tax, possibly by a half-cent.

Little has been done, however, to expand that important political discussion beyond TAM staff and the agency’s 15 commissioners.

On its first ride outside of a TAM meeting, where commissioners unanimously backed the proposal, the idea hit a large political pothole — the San Rafael City Council’s 4-1 vote that dumped cold water on the idea.

TAM needs state legislation and local voter approval to lift the state’s cap on total sales tax — 10 percent. State law has set a 2 percent cap on local sales taxes.

Marin taxpayers are already paying a half-cent sales tax for TAM’s work on transportation and transit improvements. That tax expires in 2025. TAM could seek a renewal without needing to lift the cap.

But it wants the option of increasing its tax and asked Marin’s state senator, Mike McGuire, to sponsor legislation to lift Marin’s cap. The lawmaker wants to make sure the cities support the move. In the first three votes of councils, the idea barely mustered a majority of support.

The county Board of Supervisors endorsed the idea, with little public outreach or discussion.

Similar legislation has been approved in Los Angeles, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Monterey counties — all tied to transportation measures.

Unfortunately, its endorsement by county supervisors was buried in a large array of varied legislative goals and issues and was approved without any effective outreach for public comment on that issue.

The political environment was different for the San Rafael City Council, with council members questioning the political wisdom of raising the cap and raising questions about TAM’s plans for the money and, in one council member’s case, challenging TAM’s recent expenditures.

Only Mayor Gary Phillips, the city’s TAM commissioner, voted in support of the idea.

Having the largest city in Marin balking at the proposal is not a vote of confidence.

The Novato City Council endorsed the proposal, but on a 3-2 vote.

In San Rafael, there’s no question the money the tax would generate would help the city with its plans to build a new transit center and a new Highway 101-Interstate 580 interchange, but council members stressed there’s a cap for a reason — to protect taxpayers from being over-taxed.

They also just witnessed voters’ rejection of Measure A on November’s ballot — a proposed quarter-cent increase that would have been dedicated to preschool, day care and health care for low-income families. Despite pre-election polls that predicted it would pass, it fell short of the two-thirds majority it needed.

As well, officials are aware of the defeat of Sonoma County’s 2015 transportation tax proposal, also a second bite at the sales-tax apple. Nearly 62 percent of the vote was cast against that measure.

The TAM proposal is also being considered by other city councils in Marin.

The Fairfax Town Council voted 4-1 to endorse the TAM proposal and next week, it will be on the agendas in Larkspur, Mill Valley and Corte Madera.

And it would behoove TAM to have county supervisors take up the proposal in a more focused format.

The state legislation would enable voters to decide whether to lift the cap. But given the reaction in San Rafael — where city revenue greatly depends on sales by local businesses — TAM needs to do a better job of informing the public of what improvements taxpayers could expect to see before lifting the cap that was established by the state to safeguard them from being over-taxed.

 

 

 

24 Comments

Michelle Derviss

Michelle Derviss • 15 hours ago

If TAM could clearly and honestly articulate what the additional tax money would be spent on they would have a much easier time gaining support from the community. Instead they provide evasive answers and ambiguous language. This does not elicit good will or support for their projects. Senator McGuire http://sd02.senate.ca.govshould be embarrassed for his support on this tax hike.
Councilman Fryday from Novato should be equally shamed for trying to mask the truth when saying to the public that this is not a tax hike when it is exactly that.
He must be taking classes at Trump University in Gaslighting 101.

John Parulis

John Parulis  Michelle Derviss • 13 hours ago

Let’s also not forget that Fryday made it this far with the support of Tom Steyer, whose been eyeing a run for governor. Tom’s allied with Bill Gates’ new energy company/think tank- Breakthrough Energy. This group wants to promote among other things, the start up of new design nuclear power plants. I’d be wary of these guys. Can we trust the 1% and their minions?

Al Dugan

Al Dugan  Michelle Derviss • 15 hours ago

Fryday was certainly deeply invested to make such a statement; especially to the city attorney. As a lawyer to state voting to support and endorse on behalf of the city of Novato to increase the sales tax cap to facilitate TAM to be able to obtain a half cent Marin sales tax is not voting on a tax increase? Wow.

 

samismesamisme • 17 hours ago

I must apologize to the ‘NIMBY’ Novato folks when I questioned their intent and Brown Act clamor over those solar panels out by the pool as It seemed overblown. I did see their beef in the end, yet I thought the Novato Council would have straightened up their act after the suit was filed and I didn’t realize how bad they really are. Over and over.

This just reeks, and they need to be taught a lesson. How about a Grand Jury look ?

Plus it’s a concerted effort of collusion around the State to raise the cap ” for transportation”. It just reeks. Most counties aren’t even close to the existing cap, many are at the State level. This is for the very few counties/cities that have squandered or voted for increased tax rates to the max. maximum should mean something, and TAM will already get some of the impending gas tax raise.

Jody Morales

Jody Morales • 18 hours ago

Transparency is evidently dead in Marin governments. No agenda so far has clearly stated what TAM is trying to do, with the Supervisors’ blessings.

 

samisme50 Year Resident  Jody Morales • 18 hours ago

;
Copy and send the three blogs about these meetings to McGuire — it should end it.
samismeStephen Nestel • 19 hours ago

The TAM tax passed quickly in Novato by Lucan, Athas and Fryday with Drew and Eklund opposed. Good thing they worked at 10 times normal speed. 🙂

 

 

86753094agt86753094agt . • 20 hours ago

TAM’s motto is “There’s a sucker born every minute – and my watch is running fast”.

 

 

Al DuganAl Dugan • 21 hours ago

What a joke in Novato. TAM calls raising a sales tax cap an obstacle? You can’t make this stuff up. Here was the title of the agenda item TAM present to the Novato city council:

CONSIDERATION OF SUPPORT FOR THE TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY OF MARIN IN THEIR EFFORT TO REMOVE A STATE PROCEDURAL OBSTACLE ALLOW A COMMUNITY CONVERSATION AND MAXIMUM FLEXIBILITY FOR LOCAL JURISDICTIONS.

Novato City Council voted yes. This item was approved by a yes vote by Council Members Athas, Lucan and Fryday who voted on behalf of all the citizens of Novato to support and endorse a sales tax cap increase to facilitate a 1/2 cent sales tax for TAM. Did you know about this tax cap increase issue before last Tuesday’s city council meeting? Did they ask you if you wanted your sales tax cap raised?

 

samismeStephen Nestel  Al Dugan • 20 hours ago

Ha. Ha. Can you imagine a sign that says “No on CONSIDERATION OF SUPPORT FOR THE TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY OF MARIN IN THEIR EFFORT TO REMOVE A STATE PROCEDURAL OBSTACLE ALLOW A COMMUNITY CONVERSATION AND MAXIMUM FLEXIBILITY FOR LOCAL JURISDICTIONS.

 

samismesamisme  Stephen Nestel • 19 hours ago

Maximum flexibility ?
Is that for the Yoga vote ?

 

Al DuganAl Dugan  Stephen Nestel • 19 hours ago

We are going to need a bigger sign…

 

samisme50 Year Resident  Al Dugan • 20 hours ago

.
Contact Bob Silvestri about Brown Act attorney.
Tina McMillanTina G McMillan • 21 hours ago

TAM’s presentation to the Novato City Council was scheduled to begin at 9pm but began later in an already packed evening of issues. Instead of calling it a TAX CAP the city with help from TAM, called it a PROCEDURAL OBSTACLE. The evening was filled with verbal semantics thanks to Attorney/Councilmember Fryday repeatedly asking the city attorney to reiterate THIS IS NOT A TAX.

It was exhausting, frustrating and embarrassing to watch Novato City Council members Lucan, Athas and Fryday cater to TAM and ignore residents.

The only two council members to question the need to lift the Cap prior to having a dialogue with voters were Drew and Eklund. Drew was aware of the San Rafael City Council meeting on the same issue, the different use of language and the lack of support on Novato’s Council to actually screen TAM’s actions given their lackadaisical attitude toward updating their website, updating their annual reports and updating the public with accurate and timely transparency.

Here is information from TAM that Fryday, Athas and Lucan might want to familiarize themselves with:

Using the annual reports by the Citizens Oversight Committee you can find all the data you need to understand TAMs spending priorities.

Remember TAM has two primary sources of revenue, Measure A half cent transit sales tax and Measure B a $10 yearly registration fee. And 55% of Measure A’s annual revenue goes directly to Marin Transit Projects

Measure A is exceeding the estimates provided when the tax was first implemented in 2004/5. The original annual estimate for Measure A was $16.5 million a year.

In 2014/15 Measure A generated over $25 Million. In its lowest year 2009/10, Measure A collected $18,816,292. Every year exceeded original estimates. Here is the annual revenue generated from Measure A beginning in 2005 and through 2014:

$19,963,513
$22,296,485
$22,336,086
$20,095,696
$18,816,292
$20,259,801
$21,265,464
$23,619,507
$24,086,678
$25,265,790

When you read the COC annual report they tell you how much TAM has spent in your city since the inception of Measure A and Measure B.

In TAMs 2014/15 report they say that since Measure A began in 2005 they have spent cumulatively in Novato $4,075,989.

In one year Novato generated $4.6 million using a half cent sales tax increase called Measure F.

That suggests that Novato would have far more money to meet its road and transit needs if it were to manage its own half a cent sales tax measure.

 

samismeStephen Nestel • 21 hours ago

If raising the sales tax cap is a good idea, why must the elected representatives hide it in obscure language and late night meetings? Follow the developments here:

 

John ParulisJohn Parulis • a day ago

In Novato, TAM admitted to changing the agenda title to “CONSIDERATION OF SUPPORT FOR THE TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY OF MARIN IN THEIR EFFORT TO REMOVE A STATE PROCEDURAL OBSTACLE TO ALLOW A COMMUNITY CONVERSATION AND MAXIMUM FLEXIBILITY FOR LOCAL JURISDICTIONS”. For the San Rafael City Council, the agenda item was titled: ” Resolution Supporting Legislation to Exempt the Existing Sales Tax Cap to Accommodate Up To 0.5% for the Transportation Authority of Marin (PW) “. When asked why the title was changed, TAM executive director, Dianne Steinhauser, answered with a confusing bureaucratic mumbo jumbo non-answer. This is a possible Brown Act violation and speaks to fears in TAM of the unpopularity of raising taxes on a county boiling over with unpaid debt. It is also a form of deception unworthy of officials who are charged with acting responsibly.

Full meeting videos of the San Rafael and Novato Councils here: http://www.costmarin.org/take-…

 

 

John ParulisJohn Parulis  John Parulis • 21 hours ago

Has anyone asked TAM what was the background thinking that went into this request? Whose idea was it and how was it coordinated with State Senator Mike McGuire?

 

Al DuganAl Dugan  John Parulis • 19 hours ago

I have emailed Senator McGuire on this issue and I am waiting for a response.

 

samisme50 Year Resident  Al Dugan • 19 hours ago


Copy and send him this blog string so he knows this is toxic.
Send him the San Rafael and Novato blogs.
.

 

Tina McMillanTina G McMillan  John Parulis • 21 hours ago

According to C.O.S.T. members it was not McGuire that initiated the request but McGuire said without support of every community, especially the two largest he wouldn’t go forward. This may be due to SB1 a state Transit Tax that McGuire coauthored and that he hopes to pass to fund transit needs throughout cities, counties and the state.

 

samismeStephen Nestel  Tina G McMillan • 20 hours ago

He most certainly doesn’t want label “McGuire Tax Bill”

 

 

samisme50 Year Resident • a day ago

.
The TAM tax is dead on arrival because SMART is a fiasco, Millions are being pissed away on bike projects, WinCups and other TOD fiascos have and are being approved, and the Supes, Novato and other Boards are tone deaf arrogant toward voters.
Tina McMillanTina G McMillan  50 Year Resident • 21 hours ago

I hope you are correct but given the behavior of southern marin, I believe when you say Transit, residents actually think their money will result in changes. TAM’s projects did not lessen freeway congestion but that is what they take credit for.

 

 

samisme50 Year Resident  Tina G McMillan • 21 hours ago

.
Southern Marin is so pissed at Sears sucking up to traffic-generating developers (Branson and Bently) and Rice’s bicycle extravaganzas that they ain’t drinking any more Kool-aid.