The Coastal Post - July, 1996

San Anselmo Revival Is Booming!

BY KAREN NAKAMURA

Maybe it was the spectacular Grand Opening of Andronico's supermarket in the old Guasco's spot in San Anselmo that brought it all home. Thousands of people clammering to get in within minutes of opening. The traffic jams, the week-after rush. People do care.

It was more than the opening of a gourmet market to replace the old. Guasco's can never be replaced, or the generous taxes paid henceforth.

It was an affirmation that foreclosure-ravaged downtown America would not be defeated. It was the Phoenix rising. Anyone who's been in downtown San Anselmo over the past six months must agree that the joint is jumpin'.

In August of 1994, the Coastal Post reported on the contrast between the Village shopping mall in Corte Madera and the real village of San Anselmo which the shopping mall imitated. Along with other merchant vampires, such as Costco and Target, outside interests were stealing customers and leaving small businesses, and thus the local community, decimated.

Shortly after, a Downtown Revitalization Plan was initiated. More people than the Post were concerned about the problem. In fact, since those first meetings, an entire movement has taken place in America. Back to the microcosm: Local buying from local merchants who treat their employees and customers right, the community recycling onto itself.

Public meetings have been held since. If you wish to attend, call San Anselmo's Planning Director, Ann Chaney at 258-4636. She, councilmember Jeff Kroot and Mayor Peter Breen have been in on it since the beginning.

Mozart Kauffman, owner of several buildings, led the charge at the very first meeting when he declared he didn't want the place to look brand new and 21st century. The improvements should melt into the current ambiance. The entire audience applauded his suggestion. This sentiment has been carried through to the present. After discussions insightfully led by community planner and local resident Michael Freedman, on what could be achieved and what people wanted, the attendants divided into committees.

What's happening now is the Streetscape Plan being formulated. Michael's work finished, the committee hired George Girvin, life-long resident of San Anselmo and nationally renowned landscape architect with offices in Marin and Santa Barbara. Girvin has called several meetings and come up with a preliminary design incorporating residents' preferences and a few ideas of his own.

When this rough draft was read, an audience of committee members and concerned citizens cheered. This rough draft is displayed in a glass case in front of City Hall. According to Ann Chaney, it will be displayed at least until needed for the final revision. Comments are welcome.

Also, Jeff Krott says that there'll be a booth in September's Country Fairs Day for any questions and suggestions from the public. According to him, at this point an engineering survey team is taking exact measurements of San Anselmo Avenue so things can be put in place. When the drawings are complete, there'll be a review meeting, probably in the fall.