Coastal Post Online


November, 2002

St. Vincent's-Silveira The Issue In 1st District Race
By Karen Nakamura

The St. Vincent's/Silveira ranch, situated on US-101 between Smith Ranch and Hamilton, teems with wildlife that over the years has been pushed into the sanctuary. But even that small refuge is under threat of development. In contrast, affordable housing barely exists in Marin despite current rent decreases. A proposal has been made to build 856 residential units and 124,000 square feet of commercial space. It's one of two hot issues in the November 5 election for the Marin County Supervisor/District One.

What is the position, then, of the two candidates, Paul Cohen and Susan Adams, on the proposed development of St. Vincent's/Silveira ranch? The issue affects almost every sector of Marin society in one-way or another. For this reason, the Coastal Post asked Adams and Cohen only one, three-part question. Their answers reflect how the candidates would make decisions effecting all of Marin throughout their tenure.

"What is your vision of the perfect solution to the St. Vincent's/Silveira properties debate, how would you work to achieve that vision as a supervisor and, if developed, what should be done with the number of deer, raccoons and other non-marshland creatures living in the area?

Susan Adams has worked in the health profession for 25 years. She's known as an activist for and champion of health, environment and quality of life issues in Marin. With her background in health, she's concerned about Marin's high cancer rates and promises work with the county and other agencies to get to the bottom of the problem. She sees this race as between "business as usual" and the public interest.

Campaigning as the environmental candidate, she views the St. Vincent's/Silveira Ranch development as "the major issue in the campaign" and opposes all commercial or residential building on both sites. She notes this sets her apart from her opponent who, she claims, "has never spoken out against development of the St. Vincent property."

Adams is working towards purchase of both sites to preserve them as open space. She cites "the massiveness of the current proposal and its negative effect on an already congested freeway." On this point, she promises to work for transit options that work, yet don't raise taxes that hurt low income and seniors. She is quoted in the San Rafael News Pointer (Oct. 1) saying "People moved to Marinwood because of the ranches and the open space. It's part of what's special about that particular area."

Paul Cohen has been Vice Mayor of San Rafael three times and a member of the City Council for 11 years. President of the Carpenter's Union Local 35, he's on the administrative staff of the Northern California Carpenter's Regional Council. Cohen's approach to governing is to work with all interested parties from the beginning. He emphasizes that traffic is the real problem. "There is no quick fix, only a multi-modal approach will do." That includes better public transportation, widening 101, HOV lanes, bike paths and maybe light rail.

Cohen feels the Silveira Ranch can be open space by working with the Silveira family. "We should try to purchase development rights to the ranch through a combination of public and private funding. This win-win solution will treat the Silveira family fairly and preserve the beautiful views of the bay."

Concerning development on St. Vincent's, he states "It must go through many public hearings, environmental and traffic impact studies and is probably subject to a vote by the people." Cohen feels developing St. Vincent's offers an opportunity for low-cost housing for teachers, firefighters, police and service workers. "The Supervisor of District One will play a small role as the process unfolds for St. Vincent's because it's under the jurisdiction of the City of San Rafael, but as "Supervisor" can play a significant part in bringing people together to preserve the ranch. As for the deer, raccoons and other non-marshland creatures living in the area, their homes can well be preserved if my plan is carried out."


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