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February, 2007


West Marin Briefs

The Marin Community Food Bank distributes food to seven locations in Marin, two of which are in West Marin: Point Reyes Station and the San Geronimo Valley. The community center in the Valley, however, seems to be the much-preferred destination for those in need of human services, with almost 35% of requests for food assistance coming from people who define themselves as "from Bolinas."
Bolinas itself doesn't have their own community food distribution facility, so some of those "from Bolinas" are really from the hidden hamlet. Others defining themselves as "from Bolinas," are often from PRS! Why would Tomales Bay people in need go to the Valley instead of access help via the Community Resource Center in PRS? And why doesn't the biggest town in West Marin (Bolinas) distribute food from the Food Bank? The Valley center is stretched trying to help everyone from everywhere, pressuring funds and volunteers.

EAC (aka Environmental Action Committee of West Marin) has a new director. He's Frederick M. R. Smith, Jr., now Executive Director of the 35 year old environmental organization, based in West Marin. He was last in Jackson Hole, Wyoming,

EAC, formerly under the direction of Catherine Caufield of Inverness for 8 years, has a storied past, with definite ups and downs of effectiveness according to the local communities. Once embodying the word "action" in its name, it rallied residents without fear of losing funding or members on controversial stands. Over the last decade, however, the organization has been accused of becoming more and more conservative, more interested in fundraising and personal vendettas rather than doing ol' time West Marin environmentalism. We shall see how Mr. Smith takes to West Marin, and vice versa. Welcome, Mr. Smith!!

The Marin Independent Journal ( has been stepping up to the plate to offer West Marin residents more and more news and articles on the area. It may seem strange to thank another newspaper, but the Coastal Post believes good words should be given to whoever provides worthwhile articles on the local community. Count on the Coastal Post to go into more depth on issues, as we are a monthly and have the luxury of time on our side to "investigate." Obviously, the IJ saw a need in West Marin and is filling it in their style. The Coastal Post is doing the same, in our own style. The more the merrier in West Marin Media!

The size and potential placement of the proposed 189-foot windmill at the McAvoy ranch off the Point Reyes-Petaluma Rd has raised a red flag to those who are wary of opening the door to wide-spread use of windmills in West Marin. The McAvoy ranch has been a ag trendsetter since its beginnings in 1991, but it seems unlikely that windmills will proliferate to any degree around here, since the county is already working on new codes and regulations to avoid future problems.

Tom Willard of Sustainenergy of Inverness has been a long-time proponent of sustainability in West Marin, on a number of levels. The Coastal Post thinks West Marin should support wind energy where applicable, especially where excess energy can be sold back to the "grid." Unfortunately, one must be within 5 miles of the present grid to have a crack at that idea, which seems impractical around here if we also want to keep windmills out of sight. If we are serious about "doing energy" differently, then it makes sense to try new things. Go for it, McAvoy ranch!

Walnut Place, a low-income seniors' residence, built via EAH, recently took down a number of old eucalyptus trees on their west side. The Board of Directors, however, has said that they intend to replant with native trees. That's important because the town is made up of many small sub-divisions of buildings, hidden from each other by trees. Without the trees, PRS would be just a bunch of mis-matched buildings, and much bigger than we imagine.

EAH's "other" development in town, the so-called affordable housing on Mesa Road, is still sticking out like a sore thumb, with very few trees planted and little landscaping. There was a promise made originally by EAH that the development would be surrounded by vegetation to make it less pronounced on the small town. But then other promises about that development were never made real, so why not the trees too?

The fire that destroyed Manka's restaurant on 12/27/06 put an end to a gorgeous enclave circa 1917, built of ancient redwoods, offering extraordinary 9-course meals to those who could afford it.

An agreement was made at time of sale, that the restaurant, in case of fire, would not be rebuilt. Now, however, owners Margaret Grade and Daniel DeLong are asking locals and everyone else to sign a petition to override that particular promise.

At first blush, one would sign, but quite a number of locals are refusing to sign, saying the original promise not to rebuild should stand. Neighbors seem wary of the noise and congestion of the restaurant and cabins nearby.

Foodies and friends, of course, are willing to overturn whatever legalities apply to reinvent Manka's. Further, Manka's owners have a terrific sense of public relations, so I would put my bets on them. Unfortunately, even with a successful negation of the clause against rebuilding, they will need beaucoup bucks and they oddly took out little insurance. We shall see how it goes, as we wish them well.

The regular winter loss of electricity in West Marin, sometimes for several days or more, highlight a number of issues not discussed much: 1) Caltrans, a state agency, has taken away its 3 trucks and 3 drivers from West Marin. Caltrans says it cannot afford to support the coverage here, which means help in an emergency competes with over-the-hill emergencies and usually places last. 2) Too many homeowners are not proactive in maintaining their trees and not allowing them to become a problem for their neighbors. 3) Residents seem in denial of what "being out here" will mean in a real emergency. We need to be self-sufficient for at least 10 days in an emergency. Food, water, etc.? If the local store wasn't available, where would you get food with roads cut off?

Just after 9/11, the skies over West Marin became quieter, as commercial flights were somewhat curtailed. Lately, however, the flights are back, this time accompanied by small, private aircraft flying illegally low, actually buzzing our villages. Please take down the plane's id. number, if you can, so that you can email it to us at this paper ([email protected]). Obviously, binoculars are a real help, thus making birders prime candidates for getting the needed info on these scofflaws.

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