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Fairfax Officials: ‘Town’ Flyer Circulating is Erroneous

A leaflet that mysteriously appeared in Fairfax mailboxes Wednesday morning is misleading and wasn’t produced by the town, Fairfax officials said.

 

A flyer left in several Fairfax mailboxes announcing the rerouting of Bolinas Road is misleading and erroneous, a Fairfax town official said Wednesday afternoon. 

The flyer, which is photographed at the right, focuses on the Fairfax general plan and incorrectly says town officials have “started implementing plans” to build a town center pedestrian mall on the first two blocks of Bolinas Road, which will involve permanently rerouting traffic from Bolinas Road to Elsie and Broadway.

“The town would purchase the contaminated gas station on Sir Francis Drake in order to connect Bank Street to Sir Francis Drake Blvd,” the flyer says. “Is this what the majority of Fairfax citizens want?”

The flyer doesn’t include any information about who produced or distributed it, but it does list contact information for Fairfax council members and Jim Moore, Fairfax’s director of planning and building services. With writing that resembles an election season hit piece, it encourages community members to look at the town's general plan and send feedback to council members.

Moore released a statement Wednesday afternoon explaining that the leaflet is spreading misinformation.   

“Please be advised that this is not a Town of Fairfax flyer and the permanent rerouting of Bolinas Road has not been approved, nor is it being implemented,” Moore said.

Moore said there has been discussion about exploring the idea of closing part of Bolinas Road down the road, but it’s far from happening. “ … we do look forward to a lively discussion in the future on this very topic,” he wrote. 

PDFs (attached at the right) from the Town of Fairfax 2010-2030 General Plan include details about the conceptual idea of closing the street. 

The general plan says “Bolinas Road could eventually become a pedestrian-only area from Broadway to Elsie Lane. Traffic would be routed along the approximate route of present Bank Street to Elsie Lane. This idea would actually result in more parking through a re-engineering of the Pavilion lot, and would immediately make the Pavilion more central to the flow of traffic through the town.”

The general plan also includes information about the steps the town would have to take to even pursue the concept:

“Such a change would be accomplished in stages, starting intermittently with community events such as farmers markets and festivals … Temporary road closure for both lanes or one lane could be used to test the pedestrian concept.”

Last year, the Fairfax Town Council unanimously approved the temporary closure of Bolinas Road on a Sunday afternoon in August for the Streets for People half-day event. 

While many were concerned Streets for People would cause a traffic headache, there were no traffic issues, Fairfax Police Chief Chris Morin told Patch last year, and the event appeared a success after it drew hundreds of people downtown.  

Local officials have acknowledged 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.

Streets for People organizers had been gathering feedback from local community members to determine if another event would be held this year. 

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Gayle R January 24, 2013 at 04:01 AM
I am quite horrified that I have 20 inch deep potholes on my street (which the town refuses to deal with) and yet obviously good money was spent on 'exploring' this appendix to the town General Plan by Crane Transportation Group. I'd like to have an answer about how much general fund money was spent with Crane Transportation to develop this so-called plan and I will calculate how many potholes could have been filled with this money. THANK YOU so much to whoever exposed this to us all. I truly appreciated receiving this flyer - and being better informed about the activities of my Town Council.
C Ross January 24, 2013 at 04:27 AM
Yep, Every time I've approached the Town about fixing potholes and broken sidewalks, I'm told there's no money. While this "plan" may not be "official" yet, it clearly is in the works. I'm not even saying that it would necessarily be a bad idea to close parts of Bolinas. But there are too many instances of the Town, especially certain Town Council members, trying to "slip" things in when they think nobody is paying attention. I don't know who circulated the flier (I haven't received one), but I say, "Good for them". We need more transparency AND citizen input before half-baked plans are implemented that many folks may not agree with.
Arvid P. Sloan January 24, 2013 at 06:53 AM
Such a small percentage of eligible voters vote. The Town Council should be careful not to awake the sleeping giant.
Ryan O'Neil January 24, 2013 at 07:15 PM
Gayle, I read your post. I wanted to encourage you to come to our monthly Town Council meetings to help have your questions answered directly in regard to the potholes on your street. Together we can also find out how much money from the Town General Fund paid to Crane. These are valid concerns and I would like to know the answers too. However instead of thanking an anonymous source with mis-leading erroneous facts and, I suggest you thank the Town Staff and the citizens who recently completed our Town General Plan. There is a lot of good FACTUAL reading in this document concerning the future direction of the town. Much of this plan will come with INTENDED COMMUNITY INPUT to steer it to what the citizens of Fairfax actually want. The Town Council meetings are held monthly at the Fairfax Women's Center, and are also televised so you can stay better informed with what we are doing. Believe it or not, we encourage input both positive and negative. However the only way to move forward as a community is to deal with FACTS, and WORK TOGETHER. Ryan O'Neil Fairfax Town Council
Ryan O'Neil January 24, 2013 at 07:23 PM
Hey Arvid, If the "sleeping giant" of eligible voters you are warning us about waking up are interested in participation in public process of making Fairfax better, let me know where to blow some horns. Ryan O'Neil Fairfax Town Council
John Ferguson January 24, 2013 at 08:58 PM
For those who are concerned about potholes, this will eventually help as without vehicle traffic the areas in question wouldn't have to be repaved nearly as frequently. I agree that there should be a 'repaving plan' available for public inspection so we know when to expect road surface maintenance to be done in our areas. Ryan, if such a plan exists can you point us to it? I'd say that Bolinas from Elsie to Broadway should definitely be turned into a parkade, as should Broadway from Bank to Pacheco. We could reroute all westbound traffic along a reconfigured Bank street and use the filling station property for parking if more is needed. Creating a parkade along the downtown section of Broadway would allow us to remove the ridiculous retaining wall on the south side of the old train station (now parking) and reconfigure that parking lot so that it actually works, allowing people to enter and exit it headed either east or west on Drake. Imagine that! Why does anyone think it's a good idea to be able to drive in downtown Fairfax? It's a pain, the three way intersection of Bolinas at Broadway is a clusterpluck. Allowing parking on Bolinas further constipates traffic flow. A full re-route of westbound traffic to Bank street makes almost too much sense to not consider.
Cathy Kane January 24, 2013 at 08:58 PM
I agree with Gayle R. Somehow it doesn't make me feel better that this isn't in the immediate works, we really do have other uses for whatever was spent on that plan. Also I would like to reality check the comment that "there were no traffic issues" during the Streets for People event. I live on Dominga and while I thought it was a fun event there was a big increase in traffic on our street. I don't mind that happening occasionally but the thought that all that traffic on our little street would be a permanent situation sounds very bad.
Gayle R January 24, 2013 at 10:34 PM
I'm on a quiet cul de sac, John ...
JR Morton January 25, 2013 at 04:55 AM
My big concern is that a pedestrian mall will attract more tourists to Fairfax and therefor make downtown less appealing for current residents. Our streets are already overflowing with rude bicyclists, who I already feel harassed by. I can't imagine we would want to attract more. What I think is currently so appealing about Fairfax is that our residents enjoy the town and use it all the time. I'm afraid that a plan like this would make Fairfax a more commercial destination and not as livable as it is now. I know the residents of Sausalito avoid bridgeway like the plague and hide out on Caledonia. I hope something similar doesn't happen in Fairfax.
Arvid P. Sloan January 25, 2013 at 06:02 AM
I think there should be a public vote before there is any change to Bolinas ave. there should be a %66.6 yes vote before any changes are made or before more then $50,000 is paid for any consultant/engineering firm.
Just Me January 25, 2013 at 03:33 PM
John, not everyone who comes to Fairfax, lives in Fairfax. People come to use services and businesses from all over Marin and most notably, folks who live over Whites Hill in West Marin. These folks, many with kids, drive cars, and will not stop using there cars. There are also many elderly that live in and around Fairfax, their caregivers drive them to town to do their daily business. The businesses in town depend not only on the locals that walk and ride but also depend on the folks I mentioned before, West Marin and the elderly to patronize their businesses. I will tell you that I NEVER go or shop in San Anselmo b/c when I do go there I can never find parking and when you do find a parallel parking spot people honk and yell at you when you are trying to park. Cars are not going away whether they are fueled by gas, cooking oil or electricity. People who drive in cars and local business owners should also be considered when thinking about a General plan for Fairfax. Your idea about Pacheco and Bank street is LUDICROUS and you will never get the business owners to agree to idea.
DB January 25, 2013 at 07:21 PM
Why? Who? Should be the top questions. Like why does Fairfax Need to be changed? And who will profit from this? Is this really for the little business owners or is this fueled by larger businesses, whom are NOT concerned with our town. Let's not forget the political/business ties that bind.
John Ferguson January 25, 2013 at 08:41 PM
Who said anything about getting rid of parking? Not me - when you remove the roadway you actually create more space for parking. I'd advocate for increasing parking at the perimeters to downtown and monetizing it (yes, parking fees..). I understand that people need to drive - I'm not opposed to that at all. Driving is necessary as are parking spots. What's not necessary is the ability to drive one's car right through downtown Fairfax.
John Ferguson January 25, 2013 at 08:45 PM
Arvid, you should run for Congress with an attitude like that - that way you can involve yourself endlessly in a bureaucratic morass and campaign to keep anything from happening and any money from being spent. I'll be your campaign manager!
John Ferguson January 25, 2013 at 08:46 PM
I'd bet that most of the rude bicyclists already live here.
John Ferguson January 25, 2013 at 08:50 PM
It's called 'progress'. I'd like to go back to the days of top hats and rail connections (and no significant vehicle traffic) but it's not real likely. More people live here than when the town grid was designed. We need better ways of handing the traffic so things don't get blocked up as they frequently do now. We also have an opportunity to improve our town so that everyone who lives here doesn't have to cross endless streams of traffic at every corner to get from one shop to the next. Good for the businesses that are already here, good for the people who shop at them (predominantly locals) and good for visitors. What's the problem?
Gayle R January 25, 2013 at 09:26 PM
Honestly, I am not opposed to considering the re-routeing proposal and having a discussion about it. The current configuration evolved to serve a trolley stop (Parkade) and connect those arriving with the Cascades where their holiday homes were. There's no reason not to see if we can do it better now. My 'problem' is that the role of our government is to fix a problem. I'm not sure we have actually defined this problem yet - and I have a real one. I live in one of those turn of the century 'holiday houses' in the Cascades one of the first to be built in Fairfax. The access to our house is clearly within the purview of my Town Council and one that they are absolutely responsible for addressing. But because it is a difficult problem and somewhere in the mists of time former Town Council members and residents had some sort of conflict (based as far I as can tell on a Council very busy passing non nuclear resolutions and NOT enforcing code violations) each time current homeowners engage the current Council they immediately waste all of our time trying to figure out WHY it's not their problem instead of working with us to fix it. I feel a lot like Hilary Clinton here. And thus I am easily irked when I see ambitious new (or irrelevant to their job) projects get the Council's treasure and attention - while I can't drive up my road!!! SO I'm all for real progress - but excuse the scepticism from where I sit with ancient inherited problems I can't engage Council on.
Just Me January 26, 2013 at 03:32 AM
I bet all the folks that live up in the Cascades and up Bolinas and all of us that like to access the lakes and mt. tam would beg to differ with you on whether or not driving thru down town Fairfax was a necessity. I also think all the folks that live on all the roads thru which traffic would be diverted might beg to differ with you to John.
John Ferguson January 26, 2013 at 10:32 PM
JM - LOL, so many people live on Bank Street, I'm sure they can put together a nice little petition to keep things as dysfunctional as they've always been. NIMBY is of course and as always alive and well in Marin county..
John Reed January 27, 2013 at 12:06 AM
In the interest of a fuller conversation, perhaps a bit more background information is in order: The Downtown area section of the General Plan grew out of two major periods of outreach that the GPAC (General Plan Advisory Committee) made in roughly 2000 and 2005. GPAC is Fairfax’s all – volunteer committee that wrote the majority of the General Plan. During the process, a number of public outreach efforts, including public workshops, were held. In particular there were several workshops on the downtown area. The traffic light on Drake was one of the subjects on the agenda, as, while it does function for the traffic going through town on Drake, ever since it was changed from a 4 way stop 20 or so years ago, it’s made other intersections a mess. People in cars regularly run the stop signs on Bolinas, Broadway, and Bank so they can get through the light at Drake and Claus while it’s still green. Many pedestrians have learned to watch that light while crossing Bolinas or Broadway, because if it’s green, they cross at their peril. Extending Bank street to SFDrake is one of the options that could help this situation. Bank street used to be there before the gas station was built, and the Town has an easement, so there is no purchase involved.
John Reed January 27, 2013 at 12:07 AM
GPAC did not come up with the idea of changes to Bolinas. The public did, at the workshops held to explore all ideas in downtown, and once the idea of a pedestrian friendly area was suggested (by three of the six different groups of the public in one workshop), an enthusiastic majority developed within these workshop participants. Enthusiasm was not unanimous, there were a few that felt strongly against it at that time (this is Fairfax). Nevertheless, as the “public had spoken”, this led the GPAC to include this idea in the general plan as something that should be considered. Crane Consulting was already hired to do traffic counts as a part of the Circulation Element (as required by CA law), and since a lot of the information already gathered for that would be needed to even see if the various Bolinas options were do-able, their scope of work was increased to include an evaluation, which you see in part of the appendix of the General Plan.
John Reed January 27, 2013 at 12:08 AM
When the Council went to approve the General Plan, we recognized that much more discussion was needed on this, especially since it had been 5 years since the last public input. So we redacted the “Bolinas options” section of the plan, and recommended future public conversations about it instead. It’s a big deal, and anything like that needs a lot of weigh-in by the community. That is why the info on what has happened to date is in the appendix. I would like to encourage everyone to participate in upcoming conversations and workshops about this. This is our community’s shared space. There are all sorts of uses that it needs to function for. If we explore together, perhaps we can come up with a plan that lets it work for everybody.
Jessica Mullins (Editor) January 27, 2013 at 12:39 AM
Thank you, John, for sharing all this information. It's always helpful to get more details from the Fairfax mayor. : )
John Reed January 27, 2013 at 01:55 AM
Hi Gayle Why don't you contact me off-line and we can talk about your problem... jreed@townoffairfax.org Thanks
Just Me January 27, 2013 at 03:41 PM
LOL John, I am talking about Pacheco, which is where everyone would turn as it is at the beginning of town. As far as NIMBYism, I don't even live in Fairfax at this time, but i have been here for almost 40 years = born and raised, and have worked at a several different businesses in Fairfax over the years, so I feel pretty qualified to have an opinion in all of this. I don't see things as being dysfunctional, especially if you are a bike rider, the car traffic shouldn't present a problem for you. If Fairfax is soooo dysfunctional for you WHY ARE YOU LIVING HERE ??
Gayle R January 27, 2013 at 05:22 PM
Thank you, John. Your posts are very helpful and I am sure I'm not alone in appreciating your laying out the evolution of this particular proposal. I shall be in touch on Monday ... offline... about the potholes!
tony masi January 28, 2013 at 07:21 PM
For a pedestrian downtown mall to be advantageous, I think it would need either regular crowd-drawing weekend activities, some kind of popular anchor business, or plenty of outdoor seating for restaurants, cafes, and bars. We have wonderful businesses downtown, but I fear that unless there is some additional attraction on that section of Bolinas Road besides the freedom of an auto-free street, the re-directed traffic could create a possible "out of sight, out of mind" phenomenon for drive-by residents and visitors that don't regularly walk or bike downtown.
Rowan Fennell January 29, 2013 at 06:43 PM
It's really good to have these conversations. As somebody who grew up here, moved away for 25 years and then returned and remodeled my childhood home so that I could instill some of the same sense of community I had as a child, with my children, I feel responsible to weigh in on this. I have actually thought about changes to downtown long before ever seeing the flyer or knowing about the general plan, but now I feel compelled to illustrate my thoughts. I have emailed the town and the mayor and I look forward to further discussion. I live on Merwin ave, and walk to town and drive through town regularly. I also have two young daughters and the downtown traffic pattern is mesmerizing, dangerous, and Ill conceived, particularly the claus-broadway intersection. I would propose removal of this intersection, and the conversion of broadway, from bolinas to bank, into a town plaza. This would provide space for safe enjoyment to gather, eat ice cream, coffee, chess, bike racks, a fountain or sculpture, and provide a true town center. I support the creation of an intersection at the defunct gas station and using it to provide additional traffic thoroughfare from cascade canyon, but I think it should supplement, not replace, the traffic on bolinas.
John Ferguson January 30, 2013 at 01:51 AM
I think it all depends on how much change people can handle and identifying funding sources to make it happen. It all starts with planning and model building so people can see how the space will change and how traffic will be affected. That will cost a little money - better to spend the little rather than a lot without reasonably full community support.
John Ferguson January 30, 2013 at 01:51 AM
I think it all depends on how much change people can handle and identifying funding sources to make it happen. It all starts with planning and model building so people can see how the space will change and how traffic will be affected. That will cost a little money - better to spend the little rather than a lot without reasonably full community support.

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