My name is Louis Nuyens and I am running for the position of Fourth District Supervisor.
I am running because, as I see it, Marin is rushing headlong towards maximum build-out with very little foresight regarding the long-term effects on quality of life, and very little attention to the reasonable alternatives desired by most residents. And also because I believe the current 4th district Supervisor, Steve Kinsey, is part of the problem and therefore an obstacle to any potential solutions.
We are at a point where traffic congestion is taking too much time from our lives, yet we are facing large-scale developments with no effective transportation solution in sight. Although many transportation projects are being proposed, most do more to increase congestion, in the long run, than to relieve it.
We also have the challenge of resisting pressure from Sonoma to dramatically increase the numbers of trips by Sonoma residents into and through Marin. Greater access for Sonoma traffic into Marin would, in addition to flooding our main roadways, stimulate the growth already booming in Sonoma, thereby increasing Marin traffic even further.
We are constantly being asked to conserve water. To accommodate their own growth, Sonoma's leaders are reducing Marin's allotment of Sonoma water; what if this trend continues? If we are at risk of running out of water, why do we have a Hamilton Field re-use plan that could rapidly increase the population of Novato by 15%-20%? Why would we consider allowing the sudden development of an similar number of units on the St. Vincent and Silveira properties? Is more development, that will put still more cars on our roads, our most significant 'reward' for good water conservation? How is this desirable to Marin's existing residents?
Marin faces tough decisions about growth. Yet the questions are usually framed by asking how we can accommodate more growth, rather than by seeking what is best for Marin's existing residents.
Meanwhile, local government could be more responsive to public needs. Essential services such as Whistlestop Wheels, which provide transportation and meal delivery to the homebound, are faltering. While the county government does not have direct responsibility for many of these programs, there are ways in which it could take leadership roles.
In the face of all this, Steve Kinsey has spoken charmingly and sympathetically on many issues, in many venues, but environmental safety and quality of life concerns have taken a back-seat during his term.
In writing this column, I am aware that words can sound the same regardless of who is saying them.
Steve Kinsey has said, persuasively, that he is a consensus-builder and an environmentalist. Yet his work promoting French Ranch and a pact between the French Ranch development and Lagunitas School, has bitterly divided the community where it is being built.
The French Ranch development also sets precedents in terms of environmental insensitivity in West Marin: it is too large to be in keeping with the character of the community and the environmental sensitivity of the site, and it uses a large-flow 'community' septic system without ownership by a legal entity. Some experts are also concerned that the particular technology selected for the Lagunitas school septic system is inappropriate for the application. Due to design flaws and installation errors, the school system failed after nine days of operation, then operated for months under a "cease and desist" order. Mr. Kinsey also introduced and promoted the pact that tied the financial well-being of the school to the success of this controversial project. He also managed to set another precedent--a new form of open-ended fiscal irresponsibility--by maneuvering the County into the position of being the "responsible public entity" and "oversight agency," making Marin taxpayers potentially responsible for all upkeep for and damage caused by the French Ranch development septic system should the French Ranch homeowners' association default on its responsibility in these regards.
Mr. Kinsey has employed, and is employing, similar methodologies on other projects. One example is an affordable housing proposal in Point Reyes Station, which I am concerned may leave long-standing division within the community.
In December, we also heard the compelling testimony of Ed Stewart, head of the County's Environmental Health Services Department and a county employee of 28 years, in which he detailed behind-the-scenes pressure on his department, by Steve Kinsey in particular, to ignore health and safety regulations and ordinances to "streamline the permitting process." Mr. Stewart filed for Whistleblower status after septic system expert Dave Mesagno, a 16 year county employee under his leadership, was forced, for no clear reason, to trade positions with a person who had inadequate technical knowledge of septic systems to perform the job.
Marin does not need doubts about whether its local officials are involved clandestine power-plays.
For my own part, I am deeply dedicated to the proposition that elected representatives should view themselves as public servants. Honesty and openness are essential in local government. The needs, desires and well-being of existing residents should be the foremost concern, rather than the interests of developers or real estate speculators. I would like a chance to show that the job can be done better than it is being done now.
To learn more about my positions on specific issues, or to help out in my campaign, please feel free to contact me by phone (415/ 488-1734), mail (P.O. Box 822, Forest Knolls, CA 94933), or e-mail ([email protected]).
I look forward to hearing from you.
The 4th Supervisorial District encompasses Corte Madera, Larkspur, much of San Rafael's Canal area, parts of western Novato, and all of West Marin.
Louis Nuyens, 35, holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and performed graduate studies in Physics at San Francisco State University and the University of Colorado at Boulder. He served on the board of the Environmental Forum of Marin, and worked for over five years to preserve the Black Point forest and seasonal wetlands after co-founding the Black Point Forest Rescue Project. He is currently Manager of Information Systems / Consumer Information Coordinator for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, in San Francisco, a nonprofit organization that provides information on nursing homes and consumer advocacy throughout the state.