Marin IJ

Promising signs in the Ross Valley

Staff Report
Marin Independent Journal
Article Launched:08/20/2007 11:04:16 PM PDT

THE TOWN HALLS in San Anselmo and Fairfax are reminders of how long it can take to recover from a major flood in the Ross Valley.

On Aug. 14, the San Anselmo Town Council met in its chambers for the first time since the New Year's Eve flood of 2005.

On Monday, the Fairfax Town Hall reopened and welcomed back town staff following the first part of a $200,000 reconstruction project.

It has been nearly 20 months since flooding did more than $100 million damage in Marin, with most of that damage in the Ross Valley. Employees - and residents - in both towns have been struggling to cope since that early morning disaster. And much work remains to be done in both towns - and at both town halls.

In San Anselmo, council members and officials are thrilled with the work, which included some much-needed upgrades, including access for the disabled and sound and lighting improvements.

The fact the Town Council can meet in its chambers on San Anselmo Avenue instead of at the Ross Valley School District is an important symbolic step.

An even more important milestone will be when the town's Police Department can move out of smaller, temporary quarters at 400 Red Hill Ave. and back to Town Hall. Officials hope that will happen in a few months.

The Town Council can meet in many places. But San Anselmo's police force must be able to respond quickly to keep the town safe and secure. Most of the $480,000 in work being done at Town Hall is about making sure the building is ready to accommodate the Police Department. Officials hope to start transferring the 911 system soon.

Police in Fairfax were fortunate in that the department didn't have to move out. Town staff were squeezed into temporary quarters on Park Road that even lacked bathrooms and sinks; employees had to use facilities in another building. But Fairfax officers and other police employees had to do their jobs while coping with major construction work, including the removal of walls and insulation.

All those town employees in Fairfax and San Anselmo deserve credit for showing patience and doing what it took to keep their towns running during the past 18 months. Of course, they had plenty of company. Some Ross Valley residents and businesses are still recovering from the 2005 flood.

The fact the San Anselmo Police Department and other emergency workers in Fairfax will have been in temporary quarters for so long also illustrates the urgency of finding solutions to the threat of flooding in the Ross Valley.

The courts will decide the fate of the recent Ross Valley flood control fee, which will raise at least $40 million over 20 years. We can debate how the election was conducted (one reason for Ford Greene's lawsuit), but we should be able to agree on the need for real steps to prevent what happened to the town halls in San Anselmo and Fairfax and the hundreds of homes and businesses when the Ross Valley flooded for the 14th time in the past 50 years.

Residents and businesses need to be able to rely on police and other emergency services during a time of crisis, whether it be a flood, fire or earthquake.

San Anselmo and Fairfax should take pride in their restored and improved Town Halls. And residents and officials can breath a sign of relief when all the work is finally done - hopefully before for this year's rainy season arrives.


Hub Law Offices 711 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, San Anselmo, California 94960-1949 415-258-0360