The Coastal Post - November, 1999

Supes Play Hanky Panky With Measure A & B Bikers

By Staff Writer

Start planning your gift giving now if you're voting for Measure A and B. Since the results of the Marin County Transportation and Land Use Advisory Measure (A) are merely a matter "of interest" to the County Board of Supervisors but are "not in any manner legally controlling," you may receive funding for your non-transit-related projects too.

Supervisors John Kress and Steve Kinsey, as well as County Transportation Planner Joe Kott, have demonstrated they are ready and willing to receive incentives from special interest groups by accepting a summer vacation to Holland and reciprocating with private parties in supervisors' homes. You only have to hope that their interests are aligned with yours or that your gifts are particularly difficult to refuse.

Pedestrian/bikeways projects are an essential component of good transportation planning; however, special interest groups have persuaded county officials to subvert planning guidelines with regard to such. Though important, bikeways projects definitely are not the first priority in solving Marin County's transit problems. The manner in which the Board of Supervisors is handling this category, however, is an interesting case study and a revelation of how the Board can work.

It is common knowledge in the bicycling community that County officials have met privately on numerous occasions with special interest factions to make decisions about cycling issues and use of public funds. County decisions made in recent years should cause concern among certain groups, in particular, (1) private property owners, (2) persons concerned about Marin County's environment, including its threatened and endangered species' habitats, (3) Taxpayers who expect public funding decisions to be open to public review and, (4)Taxpayers who expect transportation policy to be made with public input.

Recently, a scheme to spend public funds on a comprehensive mountain biking map was formulated wherein no public review would be allowed. If the map (currently in production but not yet released for public sale) is distributed, private property owners will experience an influx of traffic all over Marin as more mountain biking groups drive here and travel through our neighborhoods to access public lands. There are at least 53 unmarked private property access points to public Open Space which may or may not be on the final map.

County officials are aware of those access points, and historically have ignored pleas for assistance to discourage uninvited public trail users from accessing Open Space in this way. "Non-profit" mountain biking advocacy groups stand to make huge profits from an investment made with California State Transportation Development Act funds to produce a map the public has been forbidden to review.

While the County claims they have no money for enforcement to protect other trail users in Open Space preserves from lawless mountain bikers, restoration of eroded trails, maintenance of fire protection roads, etc., they are now spending $50,000 on a land management plan. This, in spite of years of appeals by neighborhood groups to enforce existing Open Space rules.

The Board of Supervisors' sense of priority is thus flawed and their concern for the average taxpayer and property owner is demonstrated to be deficient. They consider public monies to be their own. Passage of Measures A and B will provide a 20-year enticement for special interest groups who have reason to anticipate success, at least with some current member of the board.

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