Neighbors Renew Bid to Halt Evergreen Ave. Sidewalk After Judges Rejects It

Members of a Homestead Valley neighbor group say they intend to file an amended complaint to get the court to stop the ongoing sidewalk installation.

After a last-ditch effort to halt the construction of a was rejected by a judge, Homestead Valley neighbors are vowing to file an amended complaint in the hopes of forcing the county to stop the work and address alleged environmental problems with it.

“We believe the judge was mistaken to dismiss our complaint,” said Arne Frager, one of the founders of the HEARUS (Homestead & Evergreen Avenue Residents United for Safety and Sustainability). “Our neighborhood group is determined to pursue this until all remedies have been exhausted. We are confident that our effort to save Evergreen and our neighborhood is not in vain.”

Marin County Superior Court Judge Roy O. Chernus rejected the complaint filed by San Rafael attorney John Sharp on behalf of HEARUS Thursday, calling the ex-parte motion to immediately stop the project “untimely.” Chernus backed the argument of Marin Deputy County Counsel David Zaltsman that any attempt to stop the project through the courts should have been filed before the work began. After the to inform neighbors of the impact and timeline of the summer-long sidewalk installation, work began on Monday. Protesters greeted workers Monday morning but their efforts quickly turned to legal action.

"The project has been debated by everyone for years and they waited until after the work started to do this,” Zaltsman said. “They’re seeking to enjoin something that’s already started and the money spent and the people are out there working. They could have done this before we had to demobilize a whole construction crew.”

Sharp, counsel for HEARUS founders Frager and Mari Tamburo, said he “can and will go back to the judge with additional evidence” “as soon as reasonably possible.”

The sidewalk would extend from Mill Valley city limits (250 feet east of Ethel Avenue) to the intersection with Melrose, where Marin Horizon School is located. It includes curbs and gutters, six new crosswalks, 11 accessible curb ramps, 29 new driveway aprons and myriad drainage improvements. A $900,000 Safe Routes to Schools grant will pay for the bulk of the project, which is set to begin Monday, with crews saw-cutting into the roadway through the week, forcing those who park on the street to do so elsewhere for a few days next week.

The HEARUS complaint (attached at right) boils down to the allegation that the county did not perform adequate environmental review given the sidewalk’s proximity to Reed Creek, which feeds into the Arroyo Corte Madera del Presidio Creek system and contains endangered steelhead trout.

With the help of a declaration from Laura Chariton from Mill Valley Streamkeepers, the neighbors allege the addition of the sidewalk would increase stormwater runoff into the creek.

The neighbors also based their complaint on the fact that project was different from the one exempted from environmental review in December 2011. In an attempt to appease critics of the project’s aesthetic impact on the street, county officials from 6 feet to 4.5 feet.

But the county also increased the width of the buffer between homeowner’ properties and the sidewalk, citing the need to integrate the sidewalk with driveways without reducing disabled access. At the at , neighbors asked county officials to explore the possibility of narrowing the buffer to increase the width of the roadway. That effort proved unsuccessful.

“Moving the sidewalk closer to the fences would create extreme difficulties in meeting ADA requirements, in conforming the driveway approaches to the existing driveway elevations, and would result in additional removal of existing landscaping,” project manager Scott Schneider wrote in an email to neighbors.

Other neighborhood concerns include changing the rural character of the area, traffic, safety and removal of mature vegetation. County officials agreed to use using light gray for the concrete sidewalk and charcoal-colored curb ramps to address neighbors’ concerns about the aesthetic impact on the neighborhood.

Vocal opponents and supporters of the project both claim that a majority of Evergreen residents support their efforts, and county officials said an informal survey determined that a clear majority favored the sidewalk.

County and Safe Routes to Schools program officials say the project is a safety improvement for the community, including children walking and biking to Marin Horizon School at the end of Evergreen and from Homestead Valley to Mill Valley public schools.

Stephanie Moulton-Peters, the chair of the Mill Valley Safe Routes to School Task Force and a Mill Valley City Councilmember, said that nearly 150 students who attend Mill Valley public schools live in Homestead Valley. She cited data from the annual International Walk to School Day and the Walk to School Days at Old Mill, Park, Edna Maguire, Mill Valley Middle and Tam High School.

“We know from those events that students from Homestead do walk and bicycle to school,” Moulton-Peters said. “The sidewalk, combined with the school crossing guard at Evergreen and Miller Ave., will provide a safe route for students going to Mill Valley schools this fall."

Mari June 20, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Tracey - many people in Homestead agree with you - we aren't missing the concept - the people missing the concept are at the County level - we've been telling them we don't need a sidewalk. But the people who think we need a sidewalk (SR2S) are backing it up with $900,000. And the County wants the money. Please talk to the Supervisor. Or join our lawsuit.
Mari June 20, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Keith - it is NOT too late to halt the entire destruction - and Paul and Nancy (at he curve) haven't slept in days, because County is trying to do a reverse pitch with a concrete driveway - they have some serious storm water run off issues. County said they "wouldn't make things worse," but now they ARE. So they are going to give our neighbors a sump pump that they never needed before. This is a fiasco. NO consideration has been given to what will happen downstream. County can change this project right now - create natural paths where they dug up on the side of the road from Whole Foods to the curve - they already changed their minds about putting in a storm drain because of the lateral pipes!
Mill Valley Neighbor June 20, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Mr. Cogswell, Just for reference, I do live in Homestead Valley according to my property tax bill.
Mari June 20, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Why do Homestead property owners pay property taxes, if not for County services, such as road maintenance? Mr. Kinsey stated publicly, in the IJ article, "there is no loss of roadway." But what he fails to mention (or understand) is that a stretch of roadway which has been used as "shared space" for many years WITHOUT INCIDENT, will soon be taken up by parked cars. That change takes 5 - 7 feet of road space away from wide strollers, bicyclists, skateboarders and pedestrians who have TOLD me - they will NOT use the concrete slab sidewalk located on ONE SIDE of the street. How is that SAFER? Since first learning of this proposed sidewalk, there has been opposition for a multitude of reasons. But they aren't listening - they just want to grab onto this funding - and this whole project is based upon a THEORY - that the street needs a sidewalk - when it just needs some repair and maintenance!
Tracey Pharis June 20, 2012 at 08:50 PM
I would have loved to have had been able to speak my mind a year or so ago, but since I am pretty new here at MillValleypatch honestly I had never heard of any of this! Was never in The paper (IJ) nor were there any commentar shows on tv regarding the matter. Sorry! But the point is, I am here now! Its never to late!
Tracey Pharis June 20, 2012 at 08:57 PM
This construction is a BIG EYE SORE! It's also very wasteful! Our roads may be eroding, but that doesnt mean to put CONCRETE in, This whole sidewalk project is a waste of time and money...Like everybody agrees, all we need is road maintenence, NOT A SIDEWALK! We'll Fight Till It Stops!! Oh and By the way, when we get the project stopped, we have jump all over the SRFK's and the construction people to replace what they destroyed & To pave our Street along with Miller Ave!! No patch work! Tiburon is part of mill valley area, they had their roads paved, so yah ! just sayin!
Paul Walker June 20, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Mari and Tracy...geez enough already....it's kind of scary how the two of you have dominated this comments section. The project is moving forward....typing away with comments will do nothing and has done nothing...
Mari June 20, 2012 at 11:53 PM
Gee, "Paul Walker" thanks for your advice. Let me guess - you live on the hill. Only one comment on the Patch. Not TOO transparent.
Scott June 21, 2012 at 03:41 AM
This is nothing, Paul. These people think shouting down anyone who disagrees with them (the majority in HV) actually makes them credible. Any, and every, forum where people dare talk about this subject quickly gets polluted by this very vocal minority opinion. It's as if they actually believe if they shout louder people will be convinced they speak for the majority. They don't but most find it a waste of time to engage with them, especially since the sidewalk is now a done deal and they cannot stop it. Of course the reason they lost is due to a mythical conspiracy theory having to do with power, money and politics - the kind worthy of a TV miniseries. (Admittedly I occasionally find it an amusing sport to engage, but alas, friends tend to remind me of the effects of arguing with, well, you know.)
Tracey Pharis June 21, 2012 at 07:03 AM
Paul, do us all a favor ok! Oh but before I continue, are you a HV resident? If so how long have you resided here? I have been here in HV all my life, in the same house! I think I have a right to say what I want and when I want. Therefore if you don't live here in HV we'd appreciate it very much, if you'd keep your comment's to yourself, and let the HV community have our say! Just sayin'
Scott June 21, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Tracey, do you live on Evergreen?
Frank Lurz June 21, 2012 at 05:44 PM
"Scott" says he finds it "an amusing sport to engage . . ." An amusing sport, indeed! Given the arrogant, deprecating, mocking and taunting character of his engagements, we see the true measure of our "sportsman." Mean-spirited, vituperative and sadistic, he isn't motivated out of concern for the issue at hand — he just abuses these people because he likes it!
Oscar Rivers June 21, 2012 at 09:40 PM
Easy there, "Frank." Aren't you just lending further credence to Scott & Paul's claim that any dissenting viewpoint is met with a torrent of ad hominem attacks?
Tracey Pharis June 21, 2012 at 10:07 PM
PAUL...........So nice of you to ask> Actually, I Live On LaVerne Ave. The Cross St is Scott st. I Walk & Drive Evergreen Every Day!!! Do you Live On Evergreen??
Paul Walker June 21, 2012 at 11:00 PM
Tracey I didnt ask you where you lived. Re-read the post.
Paul Walker June 21, 2012 at 11:03 PM
...and why is the Petition to Save Evergreen accepting signatures from people all over Marin County, when I live in HV and am being to told to keep my comments to myself?...
Tracey Pharis June 21, 2012 at 11:07 PM
Paul.. You didn't answer my question either,, so now what?
Mari June 21, 2012 at 11:31 PM
OK, "Paul" - the reason the petition is accepting signatures from everywhere is this: MONEY - NOT a need for safety is driving this project. The people who made the decision to award $900,000 of FEDERAL taxpayer money, to the Safe Routes to School grant that contained FALSE and MISLEADING information - DO NOT LIVE ON EVERGREEN. The $900,000 of taxpayer funding that is being MISUSED - is FEDERAL money - distributed by the STATE. The majority of the people in this country DO NOT LIVE ON EVERGREEN. The people who authored the application - DO NOT LIVE ON EVERGREEN. The people who wrote letters of SUPPORT for the project, DO NOT LIVE ON EVERGREEN. 95% of the people who pay over $20,000 per year to send their kids to MHS - DO NOT LIVE ON EVERGREEN or within walking or biking distance - but about 50 of then felt compelled to write letters to the DPW to state they supported a sidewalk on the street - for the HOUR they MIGHT walk on it, 5 days per week - during a school year. If the only people who view this million dollar plus, impervious slab of environmentally damaging concrete lived on Evergreen - it would prove the FALSE theory that this is a NIMBY issue. Does that answer your question?
Mari June 21, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Tracey - Paul is right about ONE THING. Complaining on the Patch or amongst ourselves does NOTHING. It is obvious that Evergreen and Homestead residents are NOT going to get a fair shake in Marin. If you want to help stop this project - you need to speak up to Kinsey and all the Board of Supervisors - please go to our local blog - http://www.HV94941.com - and sent me an email or your contact information. Regardless of everyone's difference of opinion - on the process - I respect anyone who wants to keep their kids safe and want to help create a win/win - and we have an alternative plan - that will create a path to satisfy the needs of everyone who has asked for a "sidewalk" - without causing our neighbors' homes to flood.
MV Resident June 22, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Wow. I'm trying to catch up on this high drama - can anyone point me to a succinct argument or explanation of the case against the sidewalk? I'm struggling to find it on this site or the other links. I'm not trying to excite any more emotion - just curious what it is about a sidewalk that is so upsetting to everyone? (and please - the real reasons - not the facade of the environmental impact or the use of taxpayer money). I'm legitimately curious. Is it just asthetics? (which by the way, I don't discount as a reason to be upset about it - everyone is entitled to their opinion).
Chief Marin June 22, 2012 at 05:16 AM
The sidewalk is no big deal. Please return the valley that you stole from my people. We are against your homesteading practices. Thank you, Chief Marin
Tracey Pharis June 22, 2012 at 09:10 AM
Hello, You Aren't talking to me that way, are you? You best not be! I have not stole anything from nobody! "HOMESTEADING PRACTICE'S" What are you referring to? The side walk will not be used as everybody thinks it will! But dont take my word for it, just wait and see. All I know after all is said and done, Our Streets better get paved after being totally mutilated! Just' Sayin'!!!
Tracey Pharis June 22, 2012 at 09:12 AM
if everybody is entitled to their opinion, than why should there be real reasons for how each and every one of us feel?
MV Resident June 22, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Tracey - you won't provide a "real reason" for why you don't want the sidewalk? Instead you just yell and scream insults at anyone who posts on here? Good grief. Not the greatest strategy for building support to your cause - whatever that may actually be....
Mari June 22, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Tracey - If you want to stop the slab - get off the computer and meet me at Whole Foods - for coffee asap. They are pouring the first concrete curb today.
Samuel R Throckmorton June 22, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Sidewalks? This valley went to heck when they paved the roads. I lived in this valley for 30 years, and I never needed paved roads, so why would anyone need them now?
Magoo June 22, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Most of those parents just drive up in their gas gussling assault vehicles, the kids gets in, and they drive off. They don't have to live there. I don't live in the neighborhood, but I sympathize with those who do.
Chief Marin June 22, 2012 at 07:44 PM
While distributing much land to white farmers, "HOMESTEADING" took place on lands that had recently been cleared of Native Americans. The program was a large scale redistribution of land from autonomous tribes (i.e. my Miwok Tribe) to taxpaying farmers, a process carried out directly when Indian reservations were broken up into holdings by individual families.
Mari July 12, 2012 at 04:34 PM
I just visited here to grab the link to this story. No wonder everyone thinks we are nuts. Has anyone visited the street yet? I saw a few people walking on the slab and gloating. The houses on the curve toward Ethel look as if they are in a hole.
Mari September 28, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Strange that Homestead Valley is trending on the Patch now. The above comments were made in the midst of the construction mess, before the asphalt was ground down to meet the pavement. Some of the houses are still lower that the sidewalk. Thanks to the new, smooth road, traffic and the speed of the traffic seems to have increased. The impervious concrete slab has been built - forced upon the frontage of Evergreen property owners - against their will. A perfectly charming and green street, which worked for this historic neighborhood for many years - without a concrete sidewalk - now has a concrete sidewalk on one side of the street. It was built at the request of a commuter school. Bureaucracy at its worst. Hey - some of us tried to arrive at a win/win. http://www.indiegogo.com/FOREVERGREEN


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