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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

June, 2007



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LOCAL BRIEFS FOR JUNE 2007
By Coastal Post Staff

West Marin Moxie!
A couple of locals recently asked questions about "which restaurant" and "which shops" were scheduled to be part of the Grandi Building Redux, coming soon to a town on Tomales Bay. They were told by the powers that be that, since it was a private deal, the public would have no voice on the matter and didn't need info. Gosh, that can't be right! What if private WalMart wanted to set up shop in a town? What if a company that was known to treat its employees like slaves wanted to build a factory nearby? Those are extreme examples, but they prove the point that, of course, locals have the right to know and to voice their opinions and concerns on any matter. In advance, when there is a chance of changing plans.
So, if you paint your house bright purple with red pokka-dots and dye your grass a bright orange, you should expect some questions, neighborhood angst, and re-painting. The Grandi Building team would do well to let West Marin know what their plans are. This paper is happy to print the information!


Our Embattled Oyster Farm
On May 8, the Marin Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to ask Senator Dianne Feinstein for help in untangling "a web of federal permits and regulations" surrounding the operation of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, within the Point Reyes National Seashore. They did this because they obviously did not believe what they were being told by the Sierra Club's Gordon Bennett or the Park's Don Neubacher.

Bennett and Neubacher embarrassed themselves big time by claiming infractions and damage by the Lunny family (DBO's owners), claims that were countered by experts and seemed "dredged up" without serious studies. Bennett even went so far as to question whether agriculture, sustainable or not, should be permitted within our local national park. On this issue, the Bennett/Neubacher contingent needs to stop personally attacking the Lunnys, and stop making claims undeterred by the inconvenience of fact or logic.

A big "Thank You" to the Marin Supes for trying to untangle this issue with facts and historical precedent.


Hikers versus Bikers versus Horses
Melting ice caps? Rain forest devastation? Wars? E coli? Paris Hilton? None of these monumental debacles come close to the personal angst and horror felt by those on foot or on horseback when faced with racing mountain bikes on single-track trails all over Marin. Although the Point Reyes National Seashore's single-track trails are officially off-limit to bikes, other such trails within Marin Open Space or on water district lands, are open game for the dreaded "multi-use."

Multi-use is fine on fire roads or wide paths where various users can get out of the way of racing bikers or sometimes-scared horses. Single-track trails, however, should not be multi-use. People using their own feet to walk on a trail MUST come before a sports-machine, or even a horse. Let's all hear it for feet, which are usually clothed in restrained REI sock colors, unlike the bikers, who paint themselves from head to toe in colors the rainbow never heard of in Nature, with contrasting stripes and glaring advertisements!!


Sounds of Silence
Have you noticed that the number of cows still munching on the to-be-renewed Tomales Bay Wetlands keeps growing (actually, different cows come and go on their way to slaughter, unfortunately). Trying to find out why the nice cows were still there at all, when the official turnover of the property to the National Park Service already took place in March, took lots of perseverance, along with third-party help from a kindly, local environmental org. Getting the answer was like pulling King Kong's teeth! The simple answer is that the Giacomini Ranch has a grace period to continue to operate at a reduced level for several months. What was so tough about telling the public that, Superintendent Neubacher?

Still no answer, even through third parties, to questions concerning the status of the proposed "land swap" between the Park Service and the Giacomini Trust. Silence. The public, we feel, is entitled to know the status of this potential rip-off of the town of Point Reyes Station. The "land swap" will result in serious build out off C Street, over the edge of the sainted wetlands! No one is talking to the public on this issue. We all need to be worried about what is going on behind the silence.


The Trees Among Us
Look around West Marin at the beautiful trees and gardens, from Stinson to Tomales. Whole residential areas all over West Marin have become lush arbors of greenery over the years. Those years, however, have now butted up against what could become a prolonged drought and global warming at the same time. Along with the drought is the population increase, with everyone needing water.

We all need to take seriously the need to conserve water out here on the coast. It would be a good idea to pay attention to your water meter. Visit it once in a while and watch to see if the little arrow is going around, even very slowly, when all the water sources in the house and garden are turned off. If the arrow is slowly moving, it means you have a leak. You need to fix that leak! Even a small leak adds up to lots of water lost. And pay attention to proposed development (i.e. new houses and new people) because they will need water too! The 21st Century is not the century of oil, but of water. Wars over water? You bet.


Stinson Beach News
The Stinson Beach County Water District was formed in 1962, and provides water services for residents. Included are a treatment plant and system maintenance, garbage pickup and on-site wastewater management services to 700 customers in charming Stinson Beach on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. The new general manager is Edward Schmidt, who was named to the $120,000-a-year post in May.

Here's a warm "thank you" to Richard Dinges, who filled this job for the last ten years and resigned last summer. Mr. Dinges is credited with overseeing the upgrading and rebuilding of many of the district's facilities (Stinson Beach uses water storage tanks, which had deteriorated before finally being repaired under Mr. Dinges.)


Gerrymandering District #4
Back when Gary Giacomini was the District 4 Supervisor, before Steve Kinsey, gerrymandering became an art. The result can be seen today in the cut-up, odd-looking District 4 of Marin County, CA. Even though most people would think that District 4 is West Marin and Kinsey our Supervisor, the truth is that the population of West Marin is easily overtaken by the population in the various bits and pieces of the district along the East Marin urban corridor. Elections are carried by the non-contiguous urban corridor, not by West Marin.

Gerrymandering is and was done to ensure the longevity of the incumbent. It certainly doesn't work for West Marin, which should be a district by itself, without the bits and pieces of East Marin tagged on. Let's think about it. Doesn't West Marin deserve its own Supervisor?


A Parallel Line to the Truth
The latest environmental report presented to the public by the Park Service, concerning the renewal of Tomales Bay Wetlands (also called the Giacomini Wetlands by the same Park Service), is big and fat. Lots of pages! Most people just listen to the verbal explanation given by the Neubacher team at the Park. A few, however, take the time to actually read it all. Those few also looked closely at the included maps.

It now turns out that the big, fat environmental report on the wetlands includes a map and explanation that shows the boundary of the Park to run through the middle of the Giacomini loafing barn off C Street in Point Reyes Station, with the Giacomini Trust owning the other half of the barn contiguous with where Waldo's house stands.

Actually, the Park is supposed, at this moment, to own the whole barn and that whole area, which we the public paid for. What this map shows is that the Park Service, within this report, jumped ahead and assumed the successful conclusion of their "land swap," providing the Giacomini Trust with sufficient land to "do" a development over the wetlands. This may be why the Neubacher team doesn't want to talk about the "land swap." Obviously, they are assuming it a done deal. Tsk-Tsk, gentlemen!


The Best of the North Bay
The North Bay Bohemian newspaper of March 21-27 did a retrospective of 2006 to judge the "Best-Of" in Marin and Sonoma. End result: Vikki Leeds's Cabaline Saddle Shop and Country Emporium won as Best Clothing Store for Women in Marin; Adrienne Pffeifer of KWMR (www.kwmr.org) won for Best Media Personality, Marin; and Point Reyes Printing won for Best Copy/Biz Services in Marin. Way to go, West Marin businesses!!


A West Marin Original
Frank Cerda, 94 years old on July 15 this year, is a definite West Marin original. He reminds us of who we are out here on the coast of northern California, or at least who we should be. Please see page 15 for an explanation of the loss West Marin is going to suffer one day soon, and the joy and community spirit we have received from this wonderful man for so long. Now, in the twilight of his years, folks, he needs us to help him. He's one of a kind! It does indeed often "take a village." Are we still that village that has defined West Marin for so long?


Update on West Marin Spraying
The Vedanta Society of Northern California's War on 'Weeds' continued this year, with the spraying of over 10 gallons of 2,4-D at their Retreat in the Olema watershed at the heart of West Marin. As spring arrived, a Vedantin nun went out several times with a sprayer full of poison and sprayed thistles and cow parsnip, a California native plant and beneficial insect attractor. This use of deadly force, which has been going on for years, creates the appearance of a tranquil setting for those visiting the Retreat. Vedanta apparently does not inform visitors, residents downstream and downwind about poisoning the soil, air and water in West Marin. The spray campaign seems at odds with Vedanta's tenets, as quoted from their website: "The basic teaching of Vedanta is that the essence of all beings and all things - from the blade of grass to the personal God - is Spirit, infinite and eternal, unchanging and indivisible."



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