minutes from 2016 annual meeting

GPNA Annual Meeting
Elks Club, Mission St.
San Rafael
January 25, 2016
GPNA Board President Amy Likover welcomed the neighbors and thanked Judy Gallegos,
Valerie Silvestri and Rosalind Borba for preparing food for the event. She reminded everyone
that there was a suggestion box available in the room and encouraged people to participate as
the Board uses the neighbors’ suggestions to set agenda.
Amy introduced meeting speakers, San Rafael City Manager, Jim Schutz, Police Chief, Diana
Bishop and DPW Director Dean Allison. She welcomed candidates for County Supervisor
including current Supervisor Katie Rice, Frank Eggers and Kevin Haroff.
A welcome was offered by the Elks Club’s Exalted Ruler Stewart Munson. He provided an
overview of the Elks Club mission and operations and invited neighbors join as members.
Amy introduced Cynthia Landecker, Chair of San Rafael’s new Heritage Preservation
Association. Amy reminded the neighbors that the GPNA has diversity in its membership; in
addition to homeowners, GPNA constituents include landlords, individual renters, etc.
Amy introduced current GPNA Board members: Amy Likover, Gina Silvestri, Joss Robertson,
Nadia Silvershine, Ross Parmenter, Hugo Landecker, and Ralph Holt. Amy shared that GPNA
Membership includes 192 paid members, an email distribution of 484 individuals, and regular
newsletter distribution of 1500. Volunteers who distributed hard copy newsletters were thanked
for their service. Neighbors are encouraged to visit the GPNA website for more information.
2015 Annual Meeting Minutes were distributed and Amy requested a motion for approval. Joe
Likover motioned to approve, Ralph Holt seconded and the minutes were unanimously
approved by voting members.
Treasurer’s Report – Prior balance as of Jan 1, 2015 was $3,347. In 2015, total income was
$5,991 and total expenses $3,318. Balance as of $6,020. Last year due to the efforts of Amy
Likover, GPNA received a grant from County of Marin Community Services for Emergency
Preparedness/Get Ready. GPNA has emergency supplies researched and purchased by Dave
Lammel. Kearsley Higgins moved to approve the Treasurers’ report, Cynthia Landecker
seconded and the budget was approved unanimously.
“Get Ready Gerstle Park” The GPNA hosted emergency preparedness training in 2015 that
included Readiness Drills, GetReady Classes and Radio Check Drills.
GPNA’s Crime and Safety Transparency Initiative was created to address issues of crime in the
neighborhood. This subcommittee has a mission to analyze public safety, crime statistics,
quality of reporting, timely response, policing strategies. The GPNA has a liaison with the San
Rafael Police Department Corporal Scott Ingels.
GPNA Schools Liaison – GNPA Schools Liaison, Kearsley Higgins, shared information
regarding San Rafael’s neighborhood schools and specifically reported on Short School
developments. She reminded neighbors that two school bond measures passed this year for
facilities upgrades in the district’s middle and high schools. Short School, which started as
Kindergarten-1st grade has expanded to incorporate K-4th grades. Because there is a limited
area for expansion on the existing less than an acre plot, the District plans to rebuilt the entire
school beginning in 2017 to hold 240 students. Kearsley is working with the District to address
planning issues.
Kearsley reported that Laurel Dell School is also slated to be rebuilt and Davidson Middle
School will get an upgrade with work beginning this summer. San Rafael and Terra Linda High
Schools will be upgraded in phases.
In response to a question regarding the district’s plans for Short School (neighborhood or
Charter school) Kearsley said the plans were unclear at this point, but expected existing
boundaries to remain unchanged until after the building project is completed. Amy thanked
Kearsley for her support.
Planning – Hugo Landecker reported that plans were under review for three new homes in the
neighborhood. Hugo shared information about Whistlestop’s plans to build a 5 story building on
its existing site.
Homeless - Hugo Landecker invited neighbors to join his email list on homelessness, The San
Rafael Group. He reminded the neighbors to pay attention to Senate Bill 876 which allows
Homeless to sleep anywhere: sidewalks, open space, etc. The Bill is scheduled for approval in
the coming year. Amy mentioned that Hugo’s San Rafael Group is not a committee of the
Sidewalks – Gina Silvestri gave an overview of the Gerstle Park sidewalks project and GPNA
Committee participation, which included Civil Engineer Drew Norton, Attorney George Silvestri,
and owner of Urban Forestry Associates, Forester Ray Moritz. Following research by the
Committee, the GPNA used a model from the sidewalk projects in the Dominican neighborhood:
the GPNA negotiated with a local contractor to facilitate upgrades of the sidewalks with
neighbors paying the contactor to replace the sidewalks in front of their homes. Before work
could begin, the City asked the GPNA to hold off on the project until they had an opportunity to
study the issue.
2015 GPNA Events – Gina offered a slide show overview of the GPNA’s annual events,
including the Spring Fling Egg Hunt, Garage Sale, National Night Out, Annual Picnic, Halloween
Decorating contest, Winter Social at the Panama Hotel, etc. Gina introduced and thanked Jon
Mitguard who provided music for the slideshow and during the Annual Picnic.
San Rafael’s City Manager Report – City Manager Jim Schutz shared a little about his
professional background and that he has worked with City for 9 years in total, and in his current
role as City Manager for 6 months. Jim’s background includes attending UC Santa Barbara
where he received an undergraduate degree in Urban Planning, a stint in the Peace Corps, and
a Masters degree in Planning from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Jim shared that the City’s largest source of income is sales tax, and its largest expense is
people (staff). He said the City is experiencing an increase in revenues as well as an increase in
expenditures. He noted that pension funding for the City of San Rafael is paid over 17 years,
while the standard pension funding for most other cities is a 30 years.
Jim reported that the City is seeing some business growth including BioMarin and Kaiser. He
said Downtown currently has its lowest historic rate of empty space and he reviewed the newest
businesses Downtown.
The City has increased Downtown foot beat police, the SMART train is coming, and thanks to
Measure E, Public Safety facilities will be upgraded beginning in 2017 with the Firehouse across
from City Hall, Station 52 near Whole Foods and Station 57 near the County building. Jim said
the City will be sharing the plans with the community in the coming months.
San Rafael’s Public Library is seeing greatest usage ever; this includes use of both its venues
and digital offerings. He noted that the parcel tax is scheduled to end soon which will impact
funds available for the Library.
The City’s Climate Change Action Plan has reduced emissions by 5% (?). City is also working
on a Sea Level study and is exploring a possible “Resilient Neighborhood” initiative.
Jim shared statistics about increasing numbers of homeless across the country and said that
the City of San Rafael is reflective of this increase. He said homelessness is the City’s greatest
challenge and requires the most work from its staff. This issue requires the attention of staff in
all departments including Police, Public Works, Fire, etc. There is a need for the City to partner
with the County of Marin, which has resources to make a difference by supporting the City’s
efforts to address concerns around homelessness. Jim reported that the City continues to fund
the Downtown Streets Team and, at the request of neighbors in the Davidson School area,
created an ordinance to restrict overnight parking. The City and its Homeless Sub-Committee
are also recruiting a new director-level position to act as the point person on the topic of
Jim shared that through the Community Engagement Action Plan, the City is participating
through NextDoor to respond to community concerns. Jim said his “Snapshot” e-newsletter has
a mailing list of 10,000 and he encouraged GPNA neighbors to sign up for his bi-weekly
Chief of Police Report – Chief Diana Bishop thanked GPNA neighbors. She reported that the
City’s Crime and Safety Transparency Initiative has taken off and that she has assigned
Corporal Scott Ingels as liaison with the Committee. In addition, she has a Corporal Alex Holm
reworking the website to facilitate ease of use. For people interested in statistics Chief Bishop
recommended neighbors sign up for “NIXLE,” a free electronic platform where police and fire
service members post critical, urgent information that could impact residents. Chief Bishop said
the San Rafael Police are judicious in their use of these alerts. Neighbors can sign up for these
alerts online or by texting your ZIP CODE to 888777 for mobile alerts.
Neighbors can also find neighborhood crime activity statistics by signing up on-line for the SR
Police “RAIDS”. Detailed information regarding sex offenders can be accessed through Megan’s
Chief Bishop said homelessness is the number one challenge for her department, with 30-40%
of all calls having something to do with homelessness. Police sign up for their jobs to help
people and Chief Bishop noted that there doesn’t seem to be a solution to the issue of
homelessness. She reported that City and County officials, staff, service providers, business
owners, etc., are collaborating to find best practices being used by other cities. While San
Rafael has implemented a number of initiatives, Chief Bishop noted that a point person to
coordinate and direct efforts would be welcome and helpful.
Chief Bishop reminded GPNA members that “Nextdoor” is not a tool for reporting incidents to
the Police. She encouraged neighbors always to call the police first if there are incidents - and
then post on Nextdoor. Chief Bishop said the Police are collaborating with Safeway and 7-11
managers to address issues of homelessness near those stores on A Street. Albert Park is
great concern for the Police, and Chief Bishop said the impact in the Park requires a concerted
Department of Public Works Report - Dean Allison, Director of the Department of Public Works,
shared his professional background in Public Works. He said he has been out in the community
and is interested in knowing what is going on in the neighborhoods. He noted that El Niño
weather has been consistent, but not overwhelming. The neighbors appreciated the DPW’s
efforts to gather leaves in Gerstle Park. Dean reminded everyone that the DPW also paves
roadways in the summer.
The SMART train is a huge project for the DPW and Dean reported that he has 2.5 staff
members working on issues like traffic signals. He noted they will realign Francisco Blvd by 40
feet in some areas to accommodate the train and his team is finding ways to do this work while
minimizing impact for the community. Dean said the railroad trestle over Mahon Creek will be
torn down when the SMART train links through to Larkspur.
Regarding Mahon Creek, he encouraged neighbors in San Rafael to “own” Mahon Creek by
creating a “Friends of Mahon Creek” effort, and that he has been meeting with Hugo, Amy and
others to learn more about the creek.
Because there is no clear existing policy around sidewalk improvements, the DPW is looking at
other models and, once this research is completed, will make recommendations to the City
Council. The City and DPW will bring their recommendation to the community for additional
Community Q&A:
What is being done to create Downtown development? Jim responded that the City has a
designated Economic Development position and who continues to work on this topic. He said
the City is seeking new tenant retailers constantly. Jim offered to take suggestions, and said
Stephanie Lovett can also be contacted with ideas.
What is the City doing to relocate Whistlestop to a more appropriate venue?
Jim said that Whistlestop is completing an environmental study and will most likely remain in
their current location. He added that they are open to other venue options.
With 58,000 inhabitants, how many police officers do you need to properly police the
Chief Bishop said the Police Department is authorized for 66 officers, including her. She said for
a city the size of San Rafael and with their level of activity, the Department does not have
enough officers. In response to a recent request for 10 additional officers, the Department
received approval for 2 new 3-year positions. In addition, the Police Department has 4
Is it true that homeless in other communities in the Bay Area are given bus/ferry money to get to
San Rafael?
Chief Bishop responded that the services are available in San Rafael, and the City has
experienced an increased number of homeless.
How can we take back the baseball parks, Albert Park, bocce courts? Why is lighting so bright
at the tennis courts in Albert Park?
Chief Bishop said she has assigned 3 Downtown beat police plus Lynn Murphy to the Albert
Park area. The Police are trying to be tough about loitering, but the police are in a tough
position. Loitering comes down to a question of citizen’s rights.
Can we get Neighborhood Watch signage in Gerstle Park?
The Police will support putting up signs, but the police cannot pay for them.
How many homeless are there in San Rafael?
Chief Bishop said that according to the Point in Time survey, there are 1,200 homeless
Countywide. She added that the number went up 40% from 2014 to 2015 because the counting
process was changed to be more accurate. Of the 1,200, the City of San Rafael has
approximately half of the homeless population. Chief Bishop added that the homeless people
who are truly mentally ill need a place to be. She said there are approximately 30 of these folks
and if it were possible to get those 30 off the streets, it would solve a lot of problems.
Adjourned: 8:58 PM