Fairfax Council Gives Green Light to “Streets for People” Event, Bolinas Road Closure

Some Fairfax council members expressed concern at the June 20 council meeting about closing Bolinas Road for the "Streets for People" half-day event in August, while others talked about the need for more bike parking in downtown Fairfax on most weekends.


The Fairfax Town Council has unanimously approved a “Streets for People” event that will close part of Bolinas Road for half of a Sunday in August.

The family-friendly “Streets for People,” somewhat modeled off San Francisco’s “Sunday Streets,” will celebrate local businesses, citizens, art and non-motorized transportation. Following , “Streets for People” will be alcohol free.

The council unanimously approved the event at its June 20 meeting. 

The event, set for Sunday, August 26, from noon to 4 p.m., will close Bolinas Road between Broadway and Elsie, the Mono parking lot and a portion of Mono Avenue West of Bolinas Road for bicycle parking. 

that closing Bolinas Road between Broadway and Elsie Lane is a contentious idea, but they have said closing the road would be an experiment to see if the town could realistically move toward the general plan vision of making that stretch of road a permanent vehicle-free greenway.

“We close the street for the Fairfax Parade. So far we’ve survived that for about 30 years,” said Councilman Larry Bragman after some of his colleagues spoke about possible traffic impacts at the June 20 council meeting. “I don’t want to make light of your concerns, because they are legitimate, but I do think if we have a traffic control plan in effect before the event we should be OK. One of the reasons we are moving forward with this is because it’s a longtime concept.” 

Fairfax Police Chief Chris Morin said police officers will have backup plans ready for implementation in case traffic gets especially unbearable. “I know what we can do to mitigate the backup in certain places. We aren’t just going to close the road for you and sit here and watch it be a mess. If there is a mess we will do everything we can do to fix it. I will be there to help mitigate any problems," Morin said. 

Organizers, and the event resolution, said closing the road would appeal to Fairfax's several young families who use bicycles and strollers on the narrow Bolinas Road sidewalks. 

“Streets for People” will include:

  • Street painting
  • Information on local businesses
  • A parklet demo
  • Bike demos
  • Acoustic musicians
  • Café tables in the street
  • Free “back to school” haircuts for kids.


Officials say more bike parking is needed on most weekends

The council’s June 20 discussion also addressed the general need for additional bike parking in downtown Fairfax, not only for “Streets for People” but on most weekends. 

“We’ve talked about bringing in bike parking for the weekends. We’re looking at a couple of places where it could be put, like that loading zone where the [Fairfax Coffee Roastery] is, which isn’t used on the weekend,” said David Smadbeck, co-president of the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce.

Fairfax resident Renee Goddard, the “Streets for People” project coordinator, said the event will provide an “excellent opportunity” to use the ’s bike valet. “They have an incredibly professional and efficient system, and we may be able to plant the seed for the use of the [bike coalition] on our normal weekend days.”

During the council’s discussion, Councilman Ryan O'Neil asked that organizers try to ensure all downtown businesses get included in the event, even if they aren’t directly on Bolinas, via a “Passport” program or something similar. “I love the vision but we want to make this something that businesses want to support. We have to find way to make sure they are all participating,” O’Neil said.

Smadbeck said efforts are in the works to reach out to include all the shops. (The Fairfax Chamber and Sustainable Fairfax are among the local organizations in support of “Streets for People” and have each pledged $1,000 for the event.)

“At this point a passport is an awesome idea, I’m not sure if we can pull it off very professionally but I’d love to look more into it,” Goddard told the council.

The event will require two additional officers on duty for traffic control, a cost estimated to be $720. Other costs for Department of Public Works staff overtime are yet to be determined. 


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John Ferguson June 22, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Great idea - for events or if it's ever implemented more broadly we will need good signage so that out of town folks know what's going on and can be directed appropriately. It's easy to get stuck on SFD or Center coming into town, see all the traffic and the police and not know what the heck is going on. We need good effective signage to inform drivers of the preferred route to get to Bolinas road if not through the center of town. Lots of folks drive up to the watershed on weekends for hikes, especially in the summertime
Gayle R June 23, 2012 at 02:51 PM
I just feel sorry for all the people and kids who use Park and expect not to be run over having to now contend with all the cars who can't use Bolinas. As for those who live on Frustuck and will have to pick up the pieces of all the Cascade folks who will be bumping into each other trying to get in and out of their neighbourhoods. This doesn't make cars go away - it just diverts them onto streets where they don't belong. Bike parking is a GREAT idea. How about a bike respite station - loos, showers, lockers etc in the old Good Earth ... plenty of parking (valets provided to maximise the use of the parking space) and appropriate access. Bicyclists are such an asset to Fairfax - it would be worth it to welcome them in meaningful ways. I'd rather spend the money in this way - than $1500 worth of cops to redirect traffic onto roads that shouldn't have any.
sanford miles June 23, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Marilena June 23, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Good points in the first two comments. I live on Frustuck just off of Park and watched many drivers heading up Frustuck's windy hill and I saw one backing down amid others trying to go up on Saturday morning of the Fairfax Festival. It would be important to have a sign saying Resident Parking Only Beyond This Point placed where drivers could see it and be able to turn around. I support the Streets for People event...sounds great!
C Ross June 23, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Wow, I have so many thoughts about this I don't even know where to start! Perhaps I should just say, for now anyway, that this appears to be an event for "some" people, but certainly not ALL the residents of Fairfax. Now, please don't get me wrong, I love community celebrations. I also love the town I live in. In the past I was on the Fairfax Festival Committee for 6 years, and I returned this year as a parade marshal. However, I have to say that this event does not appear to be a celebration for celebration sake, but a show of the condescending, "I ride bicycle, therefore I am holier than thou" kind of energy that seems to be pervading Fairfax these days. Sorry to sound so negative, but I'm really angry that the town doesn't pay attention to people like me and my (almost 92 year old) mother, who until rather recently believed we were valued members of this community. I'd like to know why the Town isn't considering the traffic and parking nightmare this is going to create in OUR neighborhood on the border of San Anselmo? I'd also like to know if there is going to be a plan to accommodate all the cars and traffic, on top of the already overflow parking nightmare create with poor planning for re-location of the Good Earth. (Perhaps we should close the Good Earth and all the parking lots in the vicinity for this festival for half a day and hold the party THERE?)...
C Ross June 23, 2012 at 08:06 PM
And, especially as someone who has almost been hit by cyclists while crossing the street -- my dog has been hit already by a cyclist on the sidewalk -- I'd like to know why there isn't any enforcement of bike safety and traffic laws in Fairfax? Or why the town has approved additional outdoor seating at Avatars -- despite our expressed concerns that it is difficult to walk or use a motorized scooter to navigate the streets as it is -- and told me WE would have to pay $500 for an appeal (!!!) if we don't like it. The Town has also done nothing to date to address the broken sidewalks, the poorly planned crosswalks, and the safety hazards for people trying to WALK around Town. Yes, admittedly, when I was younger and stronger I used to ride a bike. but I always followed traffic laws, and I WALKED my bike on the sidewalk or at crosswalks. I also stopped for pedestrians, unlike the LOCAL who told me recently to have a f-ing nice day, a**hold when he refused to stop in the crosswalk and almost hit me as I tried to cross the street to go to Java Hut. One last comment for now, but I just returned from picking up a prescription at Jack's Drug Store during the SA Art and Wine Festival. Let's see, a kid ran into the crosswalk though I had the right of way on the open street (I stopped, but who knows if the next car will stop for the next kids who doesn't realize that street was open to cars). There were cars everywhere and every which way scrambling to park, to get by, to turn around...
C Ross June 23, 2012 at 08:18 PM
...yes, fairs are fun. And temporary inconvenience to SOME can be expected even when the intent is for the majority to enjoy. But frankly I'm tired of half-baked plans in the name of Citta Slow (look it up folks!) and other so-called "sustainable" initiatives that really don't consider what the situation is, what ALL people in this town actually need, and the impact that some poorly planned events and actions have actually had on many of us. BTW, I do agree that streets SHOULD be for people, as should sideWALKS. But the next time someone turns around in my driveway and hits my house, or parks in my driveway smoking cigarettes, and blocks my gate or my car so we can't get in and out, the next time a cyclist knocks over my own kid on his bike, the next time my dog gets hit by a dog on the sidewalk, or someone flips me off or tries to run me over, the next time my mother can't get to the bank, or my friend falls (on her bike) trying to get to my house, or I trip and fall again on one of the numerous cracked, broken and potholed sidewalks/streets, or I can't have guests from out of town because all the Good Earth employees AND out of town cyclists are parking their cars in the few on the street spaces, and as another poster said, when the next emergency vehicle can't get by, perhaps I will consider taking action. (Sigh :()
Pam Hartwell June 23, 2012 at 09:43 PM
The majority of traffic/emergency vehicles will be routed along Elsie and Bank. Would love to get more services to get cyclists to stay in Fairfax.
Elvis June 24, 2012 at 06:39 PM
In most other cities I have visited in other countries, there is always a great space where cars are not allowed and people can congregate and sit in out door cafes and shop. This space is generally a former "street" where cars had once been allowed to pass. The space or plaza has become for the most part the main focal point of the city. (Of course in large cities like Vienna there are many focal points, but certainly st. stephens platz is a major pedestrian destination). I think that over time if 2 blocks of bolinas become sans vehicles, it will greatly enhance the culture and quality of life in fairfax. maybe not in the 1st few months, but over time as people get used to it they will definitely appreciate the value of areas that do not allow cars. As Cindy has stated above, it is very important to be able to walk around on foot without encumbrances. The idea of a fair or celebration occasionally blocking off the street does not accomplish the essence of having a car free plaza . hopefully the increased visitors from out of town coming to a festival and creating more traffic flow and over crowded parking will not discourage Fairfax from trying to implement this noble idea as a permanent fixture in fairfax, even though there may be many saying "I told you so." san rafeal closes off 4th st. EVERY THURSDAY. Why can't fairfax close off bolinas every wed.? or once and for all.
Carol R June 28, 2012 at 04:05 AM
Bolinas Rd is a main thoroughfare. To close this road off is an absurd idea. Where will traffic go? It will be speeding through the narrow neighborhood streets that are NOT designed for through traffic.
C Ross June 28, 2012 at 05:10 AM
@Elvis, Yes, European cities have plazas that are ONLY for pedestrians (like the entire 1st District of Vienna). They also have areas such as the Naschmarkt which are closed to car traffic on Saturdays so that people can shop, dine, walk, etc., without competing with cars or bicycle traffic. Cities like Stockholm not only have plazas with cafes and shops in the "old" city, but modern outdoor shopping districts. They also have well designed bike paths that essentially don't interfere with either automobile or foot traffic. (You won't see -- or at least I haven't seen when I've visited -- cyclists riding on sidewalks or in the same areas as pedestrians like you do here in Fairfax. Unlike here in Marin, many European cities also have very convenient public transit systems, so many more people use public transportation as opposed to their own cars, unless they're traveling from one city to another. @Carol, You have a good point, as to Bolinas being the main thoroughfare. I think you're right that if Bolinas is closed, it will cause traffic problems on other streets. I personally don't feel that the mix of cyclists and pedestrians is an especially good one, either. But, perhaps it would make sense to do this event in Fairfax Plaza, including all the parking lots on both sides of the street. Traffic could still get through on Drake that way. Conversely, Drake could be closed (including the Parkade and Broadway, west of Bolinas), and traffic routed down Center. :)
John Ferguson June 28, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Just my 2c on bikes in Fairfax - we're really talking about two distinct groups with differing needs re: parking, etc. One group is/are locals getting around, including kids, teens, etc. This group will typically use any parking and not be too concerned about how their bikes are handled. The other group is destination cyclists who pass through Fairfax on the way to/from the watershed or west Marin and they typically won't use even monitored parking as they're not staying very long and probably have concerns about theft/damage to bikes that cost as much as most people's cars. These are the bikes you see leaned up against the Roastery window on Bolinas. These bikes won't be locked and unless you provide white glove service they won't be parked. White glove service provided by the MCBC or one of the local bike shops for a nominal fee isn't such a bad idea, but in its absence these bikes will not be parked.
John Ferguson June 28, 2012 at 05:00 PM
I agree that closing Bolinas between Broadway and Elsie is an inconvenience, but let's not lose sight of who we're trying to help with this. This is an initiative to try to make downtown Fairfax more attractive to shoppers. This benefits local business and helps us bolster our local tax rolls, making it more likely that we'll be able to do all the other things that people want like improve road surfaces and crosswalks. To Cindy's point, cyclists need to be aware of pedestrian traffic. As a cyclist who rides frequently on Broadway, I find it hard to see pedestrians entering the crosswalks by the post office and movie theater and wish the crosswalk signals worked. The one at the PO has broken and there never was one at the theater. Mostly people are cautious and look before crossing, but I would love a more predictable system. Some people just rush across without looking which can be quite dangerous. We need bright flashing lights that are durable and long lasting - can it be made so?
Larry Bostagger June 29, 2012 at 06:02 AM
While I agree that dogs sometimes get in the way, I think a plan to safely route them down SFD could be accomplished. That way, the owners can spend more time talking about the few things that is keeping this town alive (cyclists & good earth).
Larry Bostagger June 29, 2012 at 06:13 AM
It's not that you don't know where to start, it's that you don't know where to end. I half expected you to be rallying against Lucas!s now-defunct movie studio plans by the end of your 4th post.
Larry Bostagger June 29, 2012 at 06:17 AM
Agreed... Fairfax residents need to realize preservation of the quaint nature of the town doesn't mean "no experimentation with new ideas". Let us not fall victim to the mentality of "let's close the door behind us"


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