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County Narrows Evergreen Ave. Sidewalk Plan, Moves Ahead

With latest iteration of much-debated project to make road safer, county officials hope to address concerns of opponents and begin construction next summer.

Nearly a year after the on Evergreen Ave. in an effort to quell a firestorm of criticism of the project, county officials have narrowed it further, hoping to get the much-debated sidewalk back on track and ready to begin construction next summer.

In a letter (attached at right) sent to 1,000 residents of Homestead Valley last week, Bob Beaumont, the county’s chief assistant director of public works, said the county has received approval from Caltrans to reduce the width of the sidewalk another six inches to 4.5 feet, down from the original proposal of 6 feet and a revised width of 5 feet proposed last November.

The $1.1 million project, the bulk of which would be paid for by a state Safe Routes to Schools grant, would create a sidewalk along a 2,000-foot stretch of Evergreen from Mill Valley city limits (250 feet east of Ethel Avenue) to the intersection with Melrose, where is located. It includes curbs and gutters, six new crosswalks, 11 accessible curb ramps, 29 new driveway aprons and myriad drainage improvements.

Ernest Klock, the county’s principal engineer, said the county lobbied Caltrans and Safe Routes officials to approve the less-than-standard width to accommodate the narrow roadway and residents’ concerns about safety, street parking and aesthetics.

“They determined that it is better to provide that safe route than having the standard get in the way of any project being completed,” Klock said.

County officials continue to work with Caltrans on approval to use a more neutral color for the disabled access ramps at intersections than the standard yellow normally used, Klock said. The bright yellow was an additional aesthetic concern expressed by some residents.

“We know that the project has the support of the majority of residents in that area, and that there are others who will be opposed to any sidewalk project,” Klock said.

The county’s latest change was enough to convince Evergreen Ave. Keith Garriott, a one-time critic of the project who said the additional width reduction was enough.

“It’s pretty much what I asked for and it took a year to come to that conclusion,” he said. “If anybody is against the sidewalk now, I don’t know what other reason there could be other than not wanting to have a sidewalk at all.”

Garriott said despite the lengthy delays, the project was better for the additional debate and consideration of residents’ concerns. He said county officials initially tried to rush through a project that wasn’t a good fit for Evergreen.

“We felt like it was a done deal before we even had a chance to look at it,” he said. “But I’m glad people spoke up about this.”

Homestead Valley resident Scott Greenstone, who lives on Laverne Ave. and is a parent of a student at Marin Horizon School, said the revisions still provide for a safe passageway for walkers and bicyclists.

“I think they made a mountain out of a molehill,” he said of the project’s opponents. “The effect of all of their complaining was to delay the project a year. But it’s my impression that a majority of the community still supports this.”

Klock said the county plans to work with individual property owners along the stretch of Evergreen to discuss specific impacts on their properties on things like drainage. Supervisor Steve Kinsey plans to host a public pre-construction meeting in the spring to outline a construction timeline “to give residents a specific sense of how the project's construction will impact them,” he said.

Marie Porti October 26, 2011 at 03:23 PM
I think it will make the street more dangerous. Kids spread out when they walk so they will be closer to the middle of the street.
Scott October 26, 2011 at 05:07 PM
How does adding a sidewalk to a street where none exists now and where kids currently walk in the middle of the street make it MORE dangerous? It doesn't. It makes it safer. Kids will, much more often than not, use the sideWALK especially when accompanied by their parents as most are.
Lippy October 26, 2011 at 06:20 PM
“We know that the project has the support of the majority of residents in that area..." What is the factual proof behind this statement?
Scott October 26, 2011 at 10:24 PM
I bet they feel comfortable making that statement due to the volume of emails/telephone calls they got heavily favoring the sidewalk in conjunction with their direct communication with the residents. I know a ton of people who voiced their support directly to the county. Only 500 people needed to voice support for actual proof but statistically, far fewer would be needed to support the statement in a random sampling.
Marie Porti October 27, 2011 at 04:08 AM
Scott do you live on Evergreen? I think our street is so busy that a sidewalk will make it more difficult to negotiate with bike's, garbage trucks, construction trucks and dog walkers.
Vickie October 27, 2011 at 03:07 PM
If the Public Works Department were interested in doing their job properly, they would have done an initial street survey to see the impact a sidewalk addition would have on Evergreen Ave.
Scott October 27, 2011 at 04:42 PM
Come on, physically separating pedestrians from vehicles HAS to make the street safer. I really think people who make this type of argument are just doing so to protect their view of what the street should look like rather than protect the people traversing it. And really, how is it sidewalks are acceptable and obviously safer on Miller Ave, or any other busy street, but not on Evergreen?
Frank Lurz October 27, 2011 at 10:51 PM
This whole scam is founded on the assertion by a lickspittle for a private school for wealthy patrons who don't even live here that Evergreen Ave. is dangerous. It isn't. Evergreen is the widest street in Homestead Valley. No one has ever been grazed, bruised, injured or killed by a scooter, car, buggy or horse in the street's near century-long history. Early attempts by the school to rip off state and federal funds for the project fell flat. Only after artful massaging of facts used to justify the project did this hustle win approval. County officials have repeatedly been invited to come to Evergreen Ave. to see for themselves how empty the street is, particularly during school hours. None have bothered. This million-dollar fraud isn't about safety, it's about cosmetic improvements benefiting a private corporation at the expense of taxpayers already savaged by a collapsing economy and the residents of Evergreen Avenue for whom Supervisor Steve Kinsey couldn't care less!
Frank Lurz October 27, 2011 at 11:16 PM
Sorry Marie, you're only partly right. I know where you're coming from, but Evergreen isn't busy. It never has been. There is only a single garbage truck that comes but once a week, long before school kids from outside our valley arrive. I've walked Evergreen nearly every day for 25 years. Dog walkers don't constitute any serious "traffic," and neither do construction trucks. You ARE right, however, in pointing out that making the street more narrow will make it more dangerous. As for what Scott has to say, he hasn't anything to say. It's clear he doesn't live on Evergreen. He has no investment in living there and knows nothing about it. He's just another lickspittle for Marin Horizon, Inc.
Marie Porti October 27, 2011 at 11:59 PM
Frank, Hi! Yesterday morning 2 of the garbage trucks hadn't come yet by 9:30. I also find myself turning around to head back out of Homestead and this will make it harder. Many folks on my side of the street, who won't have to maintain the sidewalks in years to come, aren't aware of the widening that will take place which will encroach on parking. The older kids who walk up and down on Evergreen spread out as they walk. Can't see them walking 2 by 2 on a sidewalk, especially teenage boys. Folks tend to speed on my part of the street because it is a staight away. Maybe that will slow them down, and maybe not. I agree with you as a mother that there have been no incidents of injury due to lack of a sidewalk. I also feel that everyone who lives in Homestead knew what the street was like before they choose to move here.
Scott October 28, 2011 at 12:05 AM
Whether the school is independent or not is completely irrelevant. That you make it important to your argument only discredits the argument. Whether or not someone has been hurt on the street also makes no difference. We shouldn't wait until after someone does to remediate a safety hazard. And this is clearly a safety hazard. It doesn't take a super genius (though, apparently it takes a little intelligence) to see that kids walking in the street is more dangerous than on a sidewalk. I've found the county to be remarkably lazy, inflexible and inept at their jobs, but in this case you are simply wrong. The county has been here a lot on this project. I suppose you weren't at any of the meetings where they showed us pictures and drawings they made which could only have been done by actually being here. Where's your proof, or even evidence, that the county has not studied traffic? You call it a "million dollar fraud." You offer no proof. The point is without merit. You say it's not about safety but rather it's about cosmetic improvements driven by the school, where's your proof? You've got none I'm sure because it's not true. You're not credible. The anti-sidewalk crowd has repeatedly demonstrated it IS about cosmetics to them. How stupid is that? Let's have kids walk down a busy thoroughfare just so some selfish and petty people can maintain their aesthetics despite a tiny change for a huge increase in safety.
Frank Lurz October 28, 2011 at 02:14 AM
Scott asserts "Whether the school is independent or not is completely irrelevant." "Scott". We do, and resent being overrun by money and political influence. Scott pontificates, "Whether or not someone has been hurt on the street also makes no difference." The stupidity of that non-argument stands on its own. Consulting his Ouija Board, "Scott" divines, "I suppose you weren't at any of the meetings where they showed us pictures and drawings they made which could only have been done by actually being here. I attended every one of those meetings, saw the deceptive, not-to-scale, but very pretty pictures, and challenged them. My "stupid" neighbors can attest to that. Scott insults, "The anti-sidewalk crowd has repeatedly demonstrated it IS about cosmetics to them. How stupid is that?" I give up, "Scott." How stupid do you think we are? "Scott" concludes, "Let's have kids walk down a busy thoroughfare just so some selfish and petty people can maintain their aesthetics despite a tiny change for a huge increase in safety." A "huge" increase in safety??? Puh-lease! Evergreen is NOT a busy thoroughfare. I know because I live here. It is the widest street in Homestead Valley. In its near century-long history there has never — EVER — been anyone grazed, bruised, injured or killed by a scooter, car, buggy or horse. Tell us "Scott," how "huge" an increase in safety are you talking about?
Mari November 15, 2011 at 05:26 PM
Want to know WHY they got a new volume of emails and phone calls to support the sidewalk? Check out this post from my notes about last May's Joint Committee meeting : http://hv94941.blogspot.com/2011_05_22_archive.html "Update on Sidewalk : Roz read a letter from Mr. Kinsey which stated that he planned to send a mail in questionnaire to all residents in CSA-14 to decide whether to continue or abandon the sidewalk project. Mr. Kinsey's letter also suggested that MHS engage in community outreach to support the sidewalk project..." I was at that meeting in May. As soon as Roz got to that part, she lowered her voice, did not finish reading the letter, and brushed it aside. I didn't make a big deal out of it then, because we are still in the midst of the process. The DPW is still meeting with the homeowners - These things take TIME. CalTrans is willing to work around regulations. Marin Horizon School has a traffic management problem and reps have been led to believe that this sidewalk is a cure all for their ills - but so far, all it is causing is a lot of friction in the neighborhood and MORE bad feelings about the school. We all want kids to be safe. No one has been hurt on that street in 100 years, Safe Routes to Schools has information that can educate parents so their driving habits can make areas around schools safer in the meantime. btw - nice to finally "meet" you - congrats on your recent appointment to the HVCA Board .
Mari November 23, 2011 at 04:17 PM
Vickie - I agree with you on this one. And Scott - what is with the argument that "it's all about cosmetics" It is about ENVIRONMENT and SENSE of PLACE - for my MANY neighbors who live in Homestead and NOT on Evergreen, this issue is just as important to them. The proposal that garnered the funding was INCORRECT - it describes a street scenario that does NOT exist.
Mari November 29, 2011 at 07:17 PM
There is no proof. It's his impression.
Mari December 01, 2011 at 01:26 AM
1) I don't see how you can improve on a perfect safety record. 2) This sidewalk is a federally funded subsidy for a shortfall in the Marin County road repair budget. While I can empathize with the need to find funding, I don't appreciate the attitude of "If we went to the community first, we'd never get anything done," stated by the now Interim Director, Bob Beaumont, at the first community meeting we had about the project in July 2010 3) This sidewalk is a NOT about a "safer route to school" - it's a convenience for new members of the HVCA, who know how to manipulate local politics and assert their influence, whether or not they have the authority to do so. HVCA is not a HOA, and has NO RIGHT to endorse grant proposals on behalf of the community. The HVCA should be called the HVCCA - because they are not acting on behalf of the Homestead Valley Community, they are acting on behalf of the Homestead Valley Community Center - which receives more than $16,000 during the summer months from Marin Horizon School. If there was no FEDERAL FUNDING and we ASKED for a sidewalk - you can bet your A$$ that the DPW would survey the street and tell us THE LACK OF ACTIVITY and PERFECT SAFETY RECORD would indicate that THERE IS NO NEED FOR A SIDEWALK - all along Evergreen Avenue. Children deserve safe AND beautiful green places to walk - FIX YOUR PROCESS and give the money back to SRTS - so they can give it to a poor urban neighborhood that truly NEEDS a Safer Route to Schools
Mari January 11, 2012 at 07:22 PM
by the way, Scott - if this project has SO much support, why are YOU the only one commenting??
Frank Lurz January 12, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Hate to say it, but the likely reason "Scott" is the only one commenting is that he's not a member of the elite, not one of the privileged. His betters haven't seen it worth the bother to inform him that defending the despoiling of the Evergreen neighborhood is a fait accompli guaranteed by Marin Horizon School's toady in residence, Steve Kinsey.
Mari January 12, 2012 at 03:54 AM
aw - come on Frank - please do us ALL a favor and stop referring to the MHS people as the "elite" and "priveleged." They are just parents trying to give their kids an education. Homestead residents are not exactly poor - we do share the same zip code as Mill Valley! Mr. Kinsey's only problem is he's been misinformed and is trying to please everyone. The folks in the HVCA actually BELIEVE that they are the official "voice" of Homestead. Again, since Mr. Kinsey also believes that - if you really want to stop this sidewalk from obliterating our beloved funky , 100% safe Evergreen Avenue - canvass the neighborhood, tell them what you know - and ask them to call 415-77-94941 - and say one thing : YOU CAN'T GET ANY SAFER THAN 100% - NO SIDEWALK for EVERGREEN AVENUE. LET THE FUNDING REVERT TO SAFE ROUTES TO SCHOOLS - for a neighborhood that actually NEEDS A SAFER ROUTE ! http://www.indiegogo.com/forevergreen
Frank Lurz January 12, 2012 at 07:36 AM
Wasn't referring to everyone connected with MHS. (Some of those people's kids have been my students.) Was referring mainly to their ruling class. You know the type. Same breed as those who imagine themselves in a position to speak for you and me. Kinsey misinformed? Don't you believe it! He's been in league with the MHS ruling class since the day they forced their way in here. Was seen walking arm in arm with the architect who dropped that three-story monstrosity on Montford. As to Homestead residents' wealth, believe it or not, some of us have been here a lot longer than the newcomers, took out our mortgages long before this place became the land of the rich and the home of the supercilious.
Mari January 12, 2012 at 07:46 AM
OK - thanks for clarifying. See you on Evergreen!
Rebecca March 06, 2012 at 01:16 AM
You GO Mari! :)
Rebecca March 06, 2012 at 01:16 AM
Scott's an idiot
Rebecca March 06, 2012 at 01:20 AM
I hear you Frank. These people have no care/respect for maintaining the integrity or culture in the communities to which they move -or- in this case send their kids to school in.
Rebecca March 12, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Lets also be honest- this is not a sidewalk that is being built to keep all kids safe. If that is true then why is it only being built on the route that MHS children would take to school? (from whole foods where they get dropped off to their school) Scott Street isn't getting a sidewalk! Theres no room. What about the local kids in the community, they will only be safe to walk to a school they do NOT go to. Because NO kids in Homestead go to MHS.
Frank Lurz June 03, 2012 at 11:47 PM
As the will of Evergreen residents is about to be stamped permanently into the dust by Marin Horizon School, Inc.'s board of trustees, and by its hired menial, Supervisor Steve "Red Tag" Kinsey, I once again register my principal justification for opposing the sidewalk: the street isn't dangerous! On numerous occasions I have invited the Board of Supervisors to simply come here and look for themselves; it was too much to ask. While this development juggernaut cannot be stopped, I encourage any home owner with an open mind to look at the photo at the top of this page. The empty ("dangerous") street you see is Evergreen. I didn't take that photo, but I've taken many others that look just like it — because the street virtually always looks that way. You can see those photos at http://www.fencing.franklurz.com/Pages/evergreen.html. Look at them, consider what is being done to our defenseless home owners, learn from this example, and then prepare yourselves for a mean, dirty fight should business interests with servile politicians in their pockets decide to invade your neighborhood to benefit themselves at your expense!
HV Majority June 04, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Oh yes! Please do check out those pics and then look at Frank's blog! http://franklurz.blogspot.com/ Sure you can see pictures taken and labeled selectively to show a desired image, but you can also read the lunatic rantings of the leaders of the anti-sidewalk crowd. Then you can determine where the problems really exist.
Mari June 04, 2012 at 04:49 PM
The problems exist in the minds of people who think that money and power are more important than our natural resources and civil rights.
Mari July 12, 2012 at 04:56 PM
oh - and HV Majority - I happen to think Frank is a good writer - and if you had any sense - you would wake up and realize we were not only trying to preserve our community aesthetic and Evergreen's perfect safety record - we were trying to do MHS a favor by stopping the slab. Has it ever occurred to you that by forcing this project- that whether or not it is the school's fault - that they will bear the brunt of the negative PR long term?

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