Marin IJ

Saturday Readers' Forum
Staff Report
Marin Independent Journal
Article Launched:08/10/2007 11:08:48 PM PDT


Wow: I agree with Fielding

As a resident of Marin since 1967 and a homeowner since 1994, I often have read and felt infuriated by many of the positions taken by Fielding Greaves. I have come to expect it.

In a world where disagreement is a requirement of the human condition, I have borne him no personal animosity but have found little common ground with him - until now. In his Aug. 7 Marin Voice, he gives voice to something with which I strongly agree - the sloppy, front-loaded, politically predetermined flood election in the Ross Valley.

The conflicts and political strong-arming he alludes to is obvious to anyone paying attention - except, perhaps, to those who have something to gain from it. The design and implementation of this freak ballot and the consequences of it are not intelligently arguable.

In my Oak Springs Drive neighborhood, we realized there was insufficient water pressure to fight more than one fire at a time should a tragic conflagration occur. As a neigborhood association, we met with political, fire and water officials and agreed to cover a part of the costs ourselves by assuming, voluntarily, a three-year property tax assessment to help pay for bigger lines and pool pumps. We took care of ourselves. The people in jeopardy in the defined flood zones should consider taking parallel action on their own behalf.

Whether or not those property owners at most risk are ready to assume this additional burden is only one aspect. The other is that the means and mechanisms that were employed to pass the measure was unfair, ill-conceived and fundamentally dishonest. And so, Fielding, you can be and are right. I guess I'll need to take a step back and away from old prejudices and take a more open look at your positions in the future.

We have agreed once; it could happen again.

David Reinstein, San Anselmo

Time to move forward

Perhaps too many words have been said and written over the flood fee election results in the Ross Valley.

Accusations have been made that the county "hid the ball" to ensure that the fee (averaging $125 per parcel) passed. Accusations have been made that many who returned their ballots unsigned only failed to follow the "simple" instructions that were clearly printed on the ballot.

The fact is the election was carried out as required by state law.The requirements are strict and sometimes arcane. As with every election, not everyone is pleased with the outcome. Rather than try the matter in the courts of public opinion, the entire matter could better be presented to the Superior Court for proper determination.

Meanwhile, in San Anselmo, we are continuing to prepare for winter, with all its uncertainities. At the same time, we are completing repairs totaling more than $1 million to our Town Hall and Fire Department, while assisting residents who are still digging out and rebuilding. Many more dollars and lots of sense still will be spent to protect our town. It seems to me that the wisest use of our scarce resources is to move ahead with the flood prevention work that was approved by the hundreds of citizens who attended the three meetings sponsored by Supervisor Hal Brown over the past 18 months.

Many valuable lessons have been learned. The entire experience, from the terrifying early morning flood to the highly visible election result, has been difficult for us all in at least one way or another. Now is the time, while we are under clear skies, to move forward and all work together to prepare for what might lie ahead.

Peter Breen, member,

San Anselmo Town Council

Supporter of Greene's lawsuit

Unless the proposed Ross Valley flood control measure also includes landslide and erosion protection for hillside homes, I think the "fee" is a bail-out (pun intended) for the owners of the 1,200 homes and 200 businesses who chose to live/work in a known flood zone.

I already have school bonds, school assessments, library, mosquito, fire, paramedic, sanitary, fire-flow, etc., etc. tacked on to my basic property tax bill. I do not want another 20-year "fee" added.

Another point: This proposed flood control measure wouldn't have anything to do with the project to include restoration of steel-head trout and coho salmon would it? If so, you can add another digit to the $40 million price tag. And as much as I love trout and salmon, I'm not willing to pay to restore nature - at least not by myself.

I will support attorney Ford Greene's lawsuit against this flood control fee.

Bert Dare, Greenbrae

Another flood fee solution

I have enjoyed reading the many letters concerning the Ross Valley flood fee. It appears that those writers who have property that needs the measure passed want the vote to stand, while those writers who own property that don't need the measure passed feel that the voters truly voted it down. I have an idea that could solve this debate without having it go to court or having another vote.

Since the names already are on the ballots, why not let the voters who voted "yes" pay, and the voters who voted "no" not pay. That way, those who need this measure to pass will be the ones paying for it while those who own property far away from the flooding would not have to feel like they are subsidizing the flood insurance of those who chose to live along the creeks. And for all those who didn't sign their ballots, they could volunteer to pay the fee or not. This way the measure could still move forward with those wanting and needing this measure to pass paying for the fee.

Frank Matteucci, San Anselmo

'Stand by the vote'

Thank you for the Aug. 1 editorial concluding that the Ross Valley storm drainage fee vote should stand. I read today (Aug. 6) that Ross citizens support the storm drainage vote. I'm from Kent Woodlands. We have been on record for a program of creek reconstruction and flood protection, such as the storm drainage fee provides, for many years.

The election was conducted according to Proposition 218 and the measure won. No unvoted ballots were counted; no voted ballots were uncounted. A simple majority is a simple majority.

Where were Ford Greene and his tax protesters in the years Corte Madera Creek flooded?

Where were they when the Army Corps "flood control project" of 1970 failed again and again to protect Ross Valley residents and businesses?

Where were they when a fine steelhead creek lost its fish because of passage failure, silt and creek obstructions?

Where were they when citizens sought watershed wide flood protection along the creek's length?

The storm drainage fee program was developed by county staff with consultants who had guided other successful flood control and environmental restoration projects. It took 40 years to produce this program, and now, with a local cost share, federal and state support can be expected to help fund the major needs of the creek while protecting citizens in the flood plain.

Please, supervisors, stand by the vote. It was conducted according to the rules. In 20 years, voters will be renewing it as a matter of self interest.

Lindsay Merryman, Kentfield

Count the ballots

We believe that the unsigned Ross Valley flood ballots should be counted. This whole process makes us feel like someone pulled a fast one on us.

John and Ellen Weingart, Kentfield

Flood protection is vital

I live in an area of San Anselmo that does not flood. I voted in favor of the flood fee because I want to protect property values and because it is the right thing to do. I don't think our downtown merchants will be able to financially survive the next flood. Without a vibrant downtown, all of our property values will decrease. Voting for this fee was the right thing to do because I care about the entire Ross Valley.

My support of this fee began to waver as I read the concerns about the signature on the ballot. Once the IJ printed a copy of the ballot, those concerns vanished. The directions to sign the ballot are clearly stated on one side of the ballot; the actual signature line is very clear on the other side of the ballot.

Many public hearings on the flood were held. Much was written about it in the IJ. Information was mailed to property owners prior to the ballot being mailed. The process used for the vote for the flood fee was legal.

The Ross Valley should now turn its attention to applying for grants for the flood work. Let us not waste this opportunity to mitigate the potential damage from the next flood.

Judy House, member,

San Anselmo Town Council

'Get rid of Hal Brown'

Let's have another election and get rid of Supervisor Hal Brown.

If Brown and his so called co-workers had been doing their jobs, they would have funded flood mitigation projects years ago. If this is really to benefit the entire county, the entire county should get to vote on it and chip in for the cost. Heckuva job, Brown. You cherry-picked and gerrymandered and sent out a half-baked ballot. The best solution would be to get rid of Brown.

David Weinstock, retired FEMA flood planning specialist, Fairfax

Is SMART paying attention?

I have to admit, the whole flood tax/fee thing has been very interesting.

I wonder if the folks at SMART (Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit) have been paying attention. If they called their tax a fee, SMART would be able to skip the whole annoying super-majority vote issue, and be able to pass their tax, oops, I mean fee, with a simple majority. I also hope the Franchise Tax Board isn't paying attention; I wouldn't want them to get any bright ideas.

Also, since the county Department of Public Works is doing the job of the Registrar of Voters, does this mean we can eliminate the registrar's department from the county budget? Or perhaps, the registrar is going to start maintaining Marin's infrastructure?

I'm surprised that the Registrar of Voters isn't furious with Hal Brown and the Public Works' trespass into their (the registrar's) territory.

E. Anderson, Woodacre
Hub Law Offices 711 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, San Anselmo, California 94960-1949 415-258-0360 ford@fordgreene.com