The Mayor’s Week in Review: Feb. 18-24

Andy Berman, Mill Valley's Mayor, writes his weekly review, with some inside news, reminders and reflections, and whatever else comes to mind.

When does opportunity knock for you?

It’s funny how and when opportunity knocks, isn’t it? Or is it knocking all the time, and we just need to recognize that and seize the moment? I had the great opportunity to take a yoga class with Barbara Fabbri last week – Barbara is a very gifted Iyengar instructor. A class theme was that opportunity leads to movement, and movement leads to action – for example: turning your foot out in Trikonasana is a movement that allows your calf and thigh to become active.  Regardless of its birth we have to embrace any opportunity when it’s here, because it can lead to movement, then action. And so it is with city life – opportunity, movement, action:

  • The national debate over gun control has given us an opportunity to redouble our focus on safety at home. I have already written about the moves we’ve taken in response to better protect our town: lock-down drills at schools, active shooter training, explosion training, all in addition to our ever vigilant patrols. Now we must sustain the efforts.
  • The dissatisfaction some have about the planning process in town gives us an opportunity to reevaluate what we’ve done, and where we’re going. The City Council moved quickly to investigate the issues, and held a public hearing on them last week. Now our City Manager, Jim McCann, must act on 13-plus immediate and near term recommendations.   
  • The intersection of traditional local fire prevention methodology with federal best practices gives us an opportunity to work closer with County Open Space on collaborative approaches. Jim and I met last week with Supervisor Kate Sears (and her team from County Open Space). We met to assess how fuel breaks and defensible space interrelate, and the differences in approach to how each is maintained. Now we must act on an amicable solution, and in doing so foster stronger ties within the county. 
  • Ever increasing traffic gave us an opportunity to create holistic approaches to the problem. One solution was Streets Smart, a traffic safety program that educates drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists about safety issues in order to encourage positive behavior. Ten law enforcement agencies, including Mill Valley PD, are partners in this public education campaign. The program hinges on residents taking the “Safe Driving Pledge Campaign” where drivers pledge to drive safely. Take the pledge here.

I will continue to look for opportunity, so we can move and act together. 

Where does small town character begin? 

What makes small town character any more elusive than other characteristics? Nothing. Like all important characteristics – the positive ones, the ones you want to see in your children, and their friends – the small town characteristic comes from within each of us. From there it spreads to our home, then out to our neighbors, and we can carry it to school, and into our library, or our favorite store. Complaints about small town character without solutions echo in emptiness. We must all take some responsibility for creating, nurturing, and retaining it. At the end of the day, we are blessed if we can retain our true character here in Mill Valley (nor are we hurt by the fact we dead-end into one of the most beautiful mountains and water sheds in the universe :)). Let’s not lose it. 

Do you listen? If so, what do you hear? One of the benefits of being very involved in the city is the contact it gives you with the rest of Marin.  We sit on boards with other Council members, we attend meetings with other residents, we participate in County initiatives ... and in the process make new friends. When I am outside Mill Valley, I listen carefully to those around me. I was upset in 2008 for hearing about a moniker that was being used in some parts of the county ("Me Valley"). Well it’s back – or maybe it never left – or maybe those from outside Mill Valley have simply been honest in their feelings to me of late: “We avoid shopping in Mill Valley;”  “There’s entitlement in the air;" “It’s lost some soul.” 

Is there any validity to such comments?  Let’s face it – we have a great deal to be proud of in Mill Valley. In addition to all the things worthy of a “Hooray!” we can also be proud of:

  • Our library,
  • The Redwoods (which celebrated its 40th Anniversary here in Mill Valley this weekend),
  • The fact we have 50 people who want to volunteer for the few open spots on the city’s boards and commissions,
  • The fact we can pack the Community Center for two nights with the Dave Nelson Band,
  • A new EV charging station powered by a city-owned PV array behind our public safety building,
  • The fact we typically have a less-than-6-minute ambulance response time, and
  • The fact someone like Rick Misuraca blessed us with his career. 

But pride in all its glory can lead to taking ourselves too seriously, which can lead to an air of entitlement. I’m not agreeing with anyone – but our colleagues from around the county have no axe to grind either. All Marin towns have “something about them.”  Let’s keep Mill Valley as a friendly place that’s nice to live in, where folks are cordial and is fun to visit too.  

About town:

  • FREE (dueling) meetings – are you feeling artistic or in a planning mood?
    • Planning Commission Meeting:  Monday Feb. 25 at 7 pm in the City Council Chambers at City Hall
    • Art Lecture – “Picturing Rural California” also Feb. 25 at 7 p.m.  - in the Library’s Creekside Room
  • More FREE (dueling) meetings – are you feeling civic or literary?
    • Special City Council Meeting: Feb. 26 at 6 pm to begin Board & Commission Committee Interviews
    • World Literature Book Club presents A Very Long Engagement by Sebastien Japrisot, also Feb. 26 at 7 pm. Sign-up required here.
  • First Friday – Slam Poetry Competition: This Friday, March 1, at the Library Main Reading Room. Wine reception at 6:30pm for pre-registered guests with the Program starting at 7pm. Register here.
  • 2013 Spring - Summer Community Center Program Registration: www.mvprGoplay.org
  • City Council Table on the Plaza: Saturday March 2 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m
  • And for those who asked: Yes, we do have an 11 p.m. curfew for minors (under 18) in town (Municipal Code Sec. 8.12.010). 

* * * * *

We are in this together (proudly so).  Take care.


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Thrasy Bulus February 25, 2013 at 11:04 PM
Sorry to disillusion, but It's widely known as "Me Valley" and with ample justification.
RD March 02, 2013 at 01:54 AM
There is a lot to be proud of in MV, no doubt. I have been told by 3 different people the reason they now avoid shopping in MV is the traffic. Swinging by MV on the way home to Corte Madera from SF is what one person told me she did once or twice a month. No more. Though I did try to tell her it's not that bad and the shops are still great. I think the Richardson Project at corner of Blithedale & Camino Alto might be the nail in the coffin though is that 20 townhouse monstrosity goes in. We do have a great deal to be proud of, and I am sure that we all (Andy too!) will insure it stays that way. MV is a great place and great people.
Andy Berman March 03, 2013 at 09:55 PM
RD: Many thanks for this thoughtful comment and perspective. I agree: let's not "give up" on Mill Valley and what it has to offer, and also be sensitive to how we impact what we have at this tender time. I am committed to doing my part to keep the place great. Best regards, Andy


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