The Coastal Post - September, 1998

Blackberry Intimidation In West Marin?

By Jim Scanlon

The answering machine clicked and beeped, "This is Supervisor Kinsey's office calling. Would the Belskys please call back as soon as possible?"

Hmmm? What could this be? Elena Belsky has been an activist in various environmental causes in the San Geronimo Valley for years, most recently opposing the joint sewage proposals of the French Ranch Development and the Lagunitas School, but had never before gotten a call from a county supervisor.

When she called back she learned from a Kinsey aide, that the Supervisor had received complaints about blackberry bushes growing on the her property encroaching on to Meadow Way, and that the Supervisor's Office "...recommendation is to trim them...especially since Meadow Way is not a county maintained road."

This led to a "is-isn't" exchange with the aide maintaining Meadow Way was a private road and "...was not maintained by the county!." The aide explained that the person who had complained had first called Marin County Public Works which allegedly said the blackberries were not their problem. Then the person called the Sheriff who insisted blackberries were not their problem. The person then called Kinsey's Office as a last resort.

Elena asked the aide to send a letter with the substance of the complaint and that was where the matter ended.

Although no letter arrived, a Public Works road clearing crew, which had been on strike, showed up a few days later to trim the brush as they always do on County Maintained roads. "A nice bunch of hard working guys and gals" according to Elena.

Some people laugh when told this story and some people get upset and angry, "....this is intimidation...we know where you live...you are on the outs and we can get you, so watch out!"

These responses may sound exaggerated, but think for a second of the multi- year long harassment suffered by Jerry and Susan Knight of Forest Knolls at the hands of the the Marin Open Space District, the Marin County Council's Office, Public Works and the Sheriff's Office-over their road not maintained by the county!

It seems stranger yet that a Supervisors Aide would call an individual homeowner about something so trivial, without checking the facts and, being unaware that dissatisfied county workers were on strike at the time.

The Supervisors Aide can obviously use training on evaluating complaints and complainants.

Kinsey recently wrote Lagunitas residents concerned about the blocking of a large portion Spring Road used by neighbors for decades now incorporated into the Haas estate. He wrote that he was not interested in getting involved in neighborhood issues.

One wonders also if Kinsey's aides will be contacting developer Bruce Berman, a Kinsey backer, now beginning construction of the French Ranch Development which Kinsey promoted and continues to promote. Many people have complained about the dust and noise and the hours of operation and the lack of permits from Public Works.

And even after Public Works granted retroactive permits there is incomplete compliance! But, or course there are no blackberries growing on the construction site.

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