Coastal Post Online


July, 2003

"Coalition For Change" Group Launches In San Anselmo

Group Aims to Make Town Fiscally Responsible, to Reform Planning Commission, to Eliminate Anti-Homeowner Ordinances, And to Run Candidates For Town Council

   San Anselmo, June 10, 2003: Growing and widespread dissatisfaction with the San Anselmo Town Council has led to the creation of a new political force in Marin County-The San Anselmo Coalition for Change, a group representing a broad cross-section of concerned business owners, property owners and renters. The main goals of the group are: to make the Town of San Anselmo fiscally responsible; to reform the Planning Commission; to eliminate costly, anti-homeowner ordinances; and to run candidates for Town Council in the upcoming November election.
   "It's time for new blood on the Town Council," said Lisa Orlowski, one of the founding members and a long-time San Anselmo resident. "The present Council has done a very poor job of running the town for several years, but a great job of wasting our money on expensive consultants and very high staff salaries. We need council members who will be accountable to all of us-including the elderly, the handicapped, and those who work here but cannot afford to live here. We need Council members who will preserve the character of our town and deal sensitively with growth."
   "Clearly, San Anselmo politics is in dire need of change," said founding member Herman Mehling, publisher of The San Anselmo Observer, a newsletter about San Anselmo politics. "The present Council has frittered away millions of dollars over the past few years," he said. 
   "This is not surprising because the Council suspends critical thinking, ignores the Town's General Plan as well as protective environmental laws, and, instead, practices favoritism for a chosen few. The Council's appalling record speaks for itself."
   The Council's handling of the garbage contract last year was awful, said Suzanne Lindelli, another founding member and a long-time resident.
   "I was and am really shocked that the Council unanimously refused to listen to more than 1200 voters who wanted the Council to rescind the ill-conceived garbage contact it awarded to Marin Sanitary," said Lindelli.
   "Instead, the Council opted for the costly, time-wasting alternative of having a referendum on the issue in November, 2003."
   "We need people on the Council who will put a premium on doing what's best for the community," said founding member Steve Pennington, who is alarmed by the town's "monster home" trend. "The current Council is sadly out of touch with voters. They don't fairly represent everybody's interests, as they should. For example, given a choice, the Council tends to favor builders who speculate for profit instead of doing what is best for the town as a whole."

More About the Goals of the Group
   1. To make the Town of San Anselmo fiscally responsible. The Town has been grossly negligent on a number of occasions, including but not limited to: the garbage contract mess of last year that forced homeowners and business owners to pay the highest rates for garbage service; the Oak Springs mudslide fiasco that has cost taxpayers more than $2 million to date, without any tangible benefit; and the Town Council's unwise decision this year to award a 50 percent increase in fees to the Town Attorney, Hadden Roth, giving Mr. Roth (an hourly consultant) a minimum of $150,000 per year from the Town. At that same meeting (in February), the Council approved mid-year budget cuts to many Town services, froze staff salary increases and delayed capital projects.
   2. To reform the Planning Commission, which is controlled by real estate insiders appointed by the Town Council. Currently, five real estate insiders (out of seven Commissioners) sit on the Planning Commission. Clearly, the Commission needs to represent all the people in the town. The Group believes that "Enron-insiders" should always form a majority on the Commission. The insiders are: Mr. Harris, a real estate attorney; Mr. Jochum, an architect; Mr. Sisich, a development consultant; Mr. Wittenkeller, a landscape architect; and Mr. Zwick, an architect.
   3. To eliminate anti-homeowner ordinances that shift the town's legal and financial responsibilities away from the Town to homeowners.  Such ordinances include the tree ordinance and the sidewalk ordinance, which make homeowners financially liable for trees and sidewalks adjacent to their properties.
   4. To run candidates for Town Council in the upcoming November elections. These candidates will pursue the goals of the Coalition for Change group, uphold the town's General Plan, and step down from office after a reasonable period of service.



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