Have you been hibernating?
Maybe it’s the spring air that woke people up to ask questions about topics I’ve been discussing all winter: paving, new businesses in town, housing, life sans Rick, Miller Avenue, Blithedale Avenue, safety, pensions, The Chamber, the General Plan work, and so on. I love it! Why? Because fortunately there don’t seem to be “new” issues being raised, which tells me that as a City we have some consensus on the issues we want addressed (even if we think about them at different points in time). I really want to thank those of you who ask the questions; they help crystallize our thinking around important initiatives like our new General Plan, pension reform, safety and morale.
We’re not the only animals becoming active last week: bees, a bear, Eagles, Panthers, coyotes, a fox and a very special bunny:
The early spring has also generated earlier-than-usual calls about our wild neighbors – deer everywhere, ducks crossing Miller, birds falling out of nests, a fox here and there, and yes, even coyotes congregating on Camino Alto! Your calls are appreciated – and numbers to call include:
- Public Works (at 388.4033) to have an animal “removed”
- Marin County Animal Control for an animal emergency or injury (at 883.4621). Animal Control also has a great website with information on wildlife issues, disaster preparedness for pets, licensing/permits, and lost pets.
A few of the tales we heard last week:
What’s that buzz? A thousand bees swarmed a city tree near Grilly’s on Tuesday. Corporal Ryan Smith – his first of two animal run-ins last week (see below) - verified the activity, immediately placing cones in the area with warning signs. Then he did what any smart person would do: call the fire department for help! After waiting for all the bees to arrive at the scene, we removed them using an environmentally friendly technique – a vacuum into a 5 gallon bucket with air holes, Queen and all, then donated them to beehive collectors to start a new colony.
Bears at City Hall: Corporal Smith’s second animal run-in was with a bear at City Hall. Coco Walravens, a third grade student at Bel Aire School, brought the school’s mascot with her to City Hall. Coco was doing a project on Mill Valley, and word on the street is that she got an A on the final report. Well done Coco!
Eagles on Ralston: Soon-to-be Eagle Scouts bestowed their civic responsibility on Ralston Avenue in a SLP rebuild over the weekend. To earn the rank of Eagle Scout, a Boy Scout must plan and execute a project with the help of fellow Scouts. This weekend local Troop One Scouts, spearheaded by Steve Peters, constructed a trail and sets of steps from Ralston Ave. through Blithedale Park. This project is the first of two Eagle projects that, together, will run about a quarter of a mile and connect with existing SLP #352 in Blithedale Canyon. All told the construction crew this weekend consisted of 22 Scouts. The second half of the trail is to be completed by Scouts later this spring, at which point the City will have another set of steps to add to the SLP inventory. Hooray!
Panthers eat their prey: Kudos to the MVMS 6th Grade girls Panthers for capturing the County basketball Championship in a crushing defeat over Fairfax.
Coyotes are our neighbors too: The Police Department received several calls about coyote sightings. Coyotes are usually wary of humans and will avoid people whenever possible. Loss of their habitat, however, makes them closer neighbors than we’d like. Aggressive behavior toward people is unusual and is most often a result of habituation due to feeding by humans, the presence of a dog, or the coyote defending a den and their young. If you encounter a coyote and feel unsafe, please call the police non-emergency number at 389.4100. For information on how to reduce conflicts and coexist safely with coyotes, go to Project Coyote.
Eggstravaganza! And finally, I had a sneak peek at the world’s most famous Bunny who will be hosting a very special breakfast and egg hunt next Saturday, March 23 at the Community Center. Yes indeed, you can breakfast with the Easter Bunny from 8:30-10am, then join him for a photo shoot (camera not included, so be sure to bring your own), followed by the egg hunt. Because of the close ties Mr. Bunny has with our new Director of Recreation, Jenny Rogers, the two have teamed up to prepare a great feast, to include French toast, sausages, orange juice and hot chocolate. Get your tickets early, and an adult should accompany all children. Tickets are available at the Community Center & Aquatics/Fitness Center (Adults: $6, Children: $4 (2 yrs. & under are free)). The egg hunt is free but is BYOB (to collect your eggs).
And speaking of animal species . . . the one we dread the most . . . . the IRS:
Alas, we are in the midst of tax season once again. The deadline for mailing out informational forms (1099s, investment statements, W-4s and other income/financial statements, etc.) was February 28, 2013, so a lot of financial information is in the mail system now. As a result, March tends to be a time of multiple mail thefts, which leads to identity theft. If you are expecting (but have not yet received) tax documents, please investigate and makes sure that’s not because they were victims of theft. Also, be smart and don’t leave outgoing mail with checks sitting in your non-secure mailbox -- use a closed, secure blue postal box to send your mail (stolen checks provide account information, which also leads to identity theft). If you have a non-locking mailbox, collect your mail as soon as possible after delivery. For more information, go to Identity Theft information.
Being “green” for St. Patrick’s Day:
Turn off your lights: Saturday March 23 at 830 PM is “Earth Hour” - a worldwide event organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) encouraging households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour to raise awareness about the need to take action on climate change. See Earth Hour. The City will participate in the event, and we invite residents to participate too.
Zero Waste Week: This coming week is “Zero Waste Week” – a program of the Northern California Recycling Association. This week-long event aims to foster support for, create events in alignment with, and/or encourage the adoption of policies supporting Zero Waste in communities worldwide. A highlight of the week-long event is the Zero Waste Update, in Berkeley, CA on Tuesday, March 19 and Wednesday, March 20. The Zero Waste Update will provide innovative and practical solutions to reduce waste and move to “Zero Waste.” International case studies will be highlighted, as well as the work of North American communities and agencies on the cutting edge of sustainable materials management. For more information, please go to Northern California Recycling.
Green Commuting: The City encourages all employees to use green commute options to get to and from work. Biking, walking, carpools, vanpools and public transit are all encouraged. In fact, Mill Valley is now registered with the Transportation of Authority of Marin’s “Emergency Ride Home Program” – a free program that will reimburse employees who have taken an alternative form of transportation to get to work to get home in an emergency. Any Marin-based employer can participate (even if corporate offices are elsewhere) - to learn more, go to Emergency Ride Home.
Miller Avenue: There have been lots of questions, interviews and meetings lately about “the future of” Miller Avenue. I encourage all interested parties to come to Monday’s City Council Meeting (starting at 7:30 PM, at City Hall), or watch us on the web. On the Agenda this week is the authorization of a contract for design and program management services for the Miller Avenue Streetscape project.
Annual Board & Commission Dinner: The only dinner the Council hosts each year is for the many volunteers who faithfully serve on our multiple boards and commissions. We held our annual event last week, and as I said that night: Mill Valley doesn't work without your help, leadership and advice. Thank you all so much!
Ready to race? The 103rd Annual Dipsea Race is on June 9! Race forms are out for this fantastic event. I look forward to seeing everyone pass me in the race as I slog my aching body over the course, eventually to the finish line. Don’t forget that the Dipsea Foundation dinner will be on Friday night, June 7 – this year at the Golf Course Clubhouse.
Lock your bikes: Spring brings out all the novice bike riders like me – and it’s also bike theft season. The police department just made our first “seasonal” donation of 16 bicycles to Trips for Kids, a wonderful charity that we are glad to help (and has a “stellar” board of directors, including local celebrities Peter Coyote and Bob Weir). The donation represents about 6 months of abandoned bicycles, but truth be told: we would prefer getting the bicycles back to their original owners. With little information to go on, however, we are only able to return a few bicycles a year based on two criteria: first, the owner reports the bicycle as stolen, and second, the owner can prove ownership (i.e., has the a serial number and a physical description of the bicycle). As such, we strongly advise that you record your bike’s serial number – taking a picture of the bike and its serial number is a pretty easy way to do this. Then if your bicycle is lost or stolen you have all the information necessary so that it may be found and returned. (Of course, being proactive, and locking up your property is even better.)
Call for Artists -- The Senior Art Show: The Mill Valley Community Center lobby & hallway walls will proudly display art work done by Mill Valley & Southern Marin Seniors from May 7th - May 30th. The application deadline is Friday April 25 at 5 PM.
The Water is Clear: This March 24 performance from Liss Fain Dance weaves Fain's choreography with the spoken text of Jamaica Kincaid's short stories. The audience sees the performance at close range and from multiple perspectives, surrounded by a surreal set and in an immersive sound environment. This event is free and open to the public. Register here.
Friends of the Library Book Group: Come and join this free discussion of the book Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi (March 20, from 3:30 - 4:30 PM, at the Library).
Dueling Meeting on March 21 – do you want to talk sewage or emergency preparedness? The SASM Board of Commissioners Meeting (I’ll be there!) is March 21 at 7:00 PM . . . at “The Plant.” The Emergency Preparedness Commission Meeting is on March 21 at 7:00 PM at City Hall
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OK – it’s 5 PM on Sunday the 17th. I’m off to drink Guinness.