Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Letter delivered to Board of Supervisors

Yesterday, two representatives of our recently formed neighbors group delivered a letter to the Board of Supervisors:

August 24, 2010

TO: Marin County Board of Supervisors
FROM: Homestead and Evergreen Avenue Residents United for Safety
Re: Proposed sidewalk on Evergreen Avenue

We respectfully request that you rescind your support, effective immediately, for this project as currently proposed, and that you withdraw your approval to accept the grant funding for the sidewalk on Evergreen Avenue, effective immediately.

The current grant proposal for a sidewalk on Evergreen is not based on documented, factual evidence of said need and is backed by unverified and even false information.

1. The letters of support, written in favor of the project by members of the Homestead Valley Community Association Board - on Board letterhead, are a misrepresentation of community support. They appear to be included in the SR2S Grant Proposal to give the appearance that community support exists for this project. In fact, the OPPOSITE is true. A gathering on August 17, 2010 of 33 residents of Homestead Valley who were polled showed that 32 of them opposed the sidewalk project as planned. We have come to learn that some of those whose votes counted in favor of the Proposal at the DPW led meeting on July 14th, (which led to your subsequent vote in favor on July 20th ) were not residents of Homestead Valley, but employees, friends and/or representatives of MHS who do not reside in Mill Valley.

2. In fact, no credible outreach at all was made to involve residents of Homestead Valley, and specifically, residents of Evergreen Avenue. Most residents of Homestead Valley did not know of this plan, which was conceived in 2006, until July 14, 2010.

3. The safety data used to support the argument that a sidewalk is needed is dubious at best. The one ”incident” reported was in fact in Mill Valley, at the corner of Miller Ave. and Evergreen, near Whole Foods (where a sidewalk exists) and not in Homestead Valley.

The Homestead & Evergreen Avenue Residents United for Safety want the project stopped immediately because:
1. The 6 ft concrete sidewalk with bright yellow paint, along with the removal of well-established trees and landscaping, will irrevocably ruin the special and historic rural charm of Homestead Valley. Homestead is one of the oldest neighborhoods in all of Marin. Special care should be taken to preserve its unique character. Residents, when remodeling or building in this neighborhood, must work within special guidelines and gain specific approval in order to preserve the community character. The same should apply for any infrastructure or DPW project, regardless of the purpose.
2. It’s not at all clear, with a credible fact base, that there is a significant pedestrian safety problem that would warrant such a drastic measure as a large sidewalk on this historic street. And it is especially not clear that any issues that may exist (after full analysis) can’t be solved by other means, e.g., basic traffic calming measures, and better management of how Marin Horizon School children are transited through the neighborhood on the three streets that lead to the school, etc.
3. The sidewalk project as planned would actually produce serious negative safety consequences, including:
a. More danger for cyclists (the majority of which are children) due to narrowing of lanes (thereby making it impossible to pass outside of 3 ft which is CA law) and parked cars will be much closer to cyclists, thereby presenting greater danger from opening doors.
b. Cars actually increasing speed on the street since pedestrians would be using sidewalks, thereby increasing danger for cyclists and pedestrians who prefer to walk on the street (i.e., people with double strollers, multiple families walking together, groups of teens - all of which is commonplace on the street now)
c. Much narrower intersections and narrower lanes will likely increase the number of traffic accidents among motorists.

We, the residents of Homestead Valley, insist that DPW and Board of Supervisors immediately halt any further progress on the proposed sidewalk and no further development of the current sidewalk plan take place until and unless:
• Full outreach to HV residents and especially homeowners takes place to educate them on the situation and capture their views, including an effort to contact each owner and resident on Evergreen
• More analysis is done to assess the actual safety situation and history of safety issues, including history and location of actual reported incidents between motorists and pedestrians and cyclists on Evergreen in the past 3 years, traffic analysis (vehicle speed, frequency of traffic, etc) at different times a day (i.e., root cause analysis - is the traffic caused by MHS parents and employees, or residents or something else?)
• All viable options for addressing pedestrian and bicyclist safety given constraints on Evergreen (drainage, parking, need to retain rural charm of the street, etc.), including yet to be explored more innovative and possibly non-standard options, are investigated and residents of HV have been polled on their preferences and views on them, especially those residents on Evergreen Ave.

Representing HEAR US : Homestead and Evergreen Avenue Residents United for Safety

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