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Op-Ed: Why Residents Remain Concerned About Evergreen Ave. Sidewalk

One of the people involved in the contentious debate since its outset says there's a lot to learn from the sidewalk saga.

Fellow Evergreen Ave. and Homestead Valley residents: Whether you want it or not, !

As an Evergreen Ave. resident for the last 16 years, I have no problem with improvements being made here and there as time goes on - that's a part of things evolving in time. Funds are put aside for those kinds of improvements needed and dispersed accordingly to community projects through the state and federal levels. I also acknowledge the difficulties for cities and counties to secure those funds for improvements in the public access areas of their communities.

What makes "The Evergreen Avenue Saga" a unique story to keep up with is that there's so much to learn from it, from the secret plans to the desperate connection from the 1970's crooked green patch curb ending at Linden Lane, with a new sidewalk addition extending to Ethel Ave. and adjoining to the sidewalk at sidewalk on Evergreen and Miller avenues. The upper portion of Evergreen would get a new sidewalk extending to on Melrose Ave.

Environmental impact reports and traffic study surveys were considered not applicable for this project because Department of Public Works considered this project as simple sidewalk maintenance to an already existing sidewalk. I got more than 90 signatures on a petition about the original plans not being suitable for our neighborhood and asking for the necessary reports needed to protect the residents from unknown negative impacts.

I took the lead on this because DPW wasn't listening to residents' concerns, the 6-foot-wide design was about to be approved and put up for bid, and there was nothing else effectively being done at that time.

Homeowners continued to ask for input as the Safe Routes to Schools grant kept getting extensions. The and the latest version of the plans were approved June 3, a , and the work started June 11.

I asked for a preconstruction mock-up from DPW and the residents soon realized that the sidewalk (in hopes of making the road a bit wider for less road impacts). The residents’ concerns about the semi-rural aesthetics were supposedly addressed as well, with a choice of color added into the concrete so it's not so gray. Well, it looks about as gray as any other urban sidewalk!

I've recently been speaking to residents about their thoughts on all of this. There's a lot of concern about how high the sidewalk is compared to elevations of the front yards of the properties fronting the sidewalk.

Most agree that there's something very agenda first, community second in this whole "impervious plot."

Mari July 09, 2012 at 05:48 PM
This concrete sidewalk is a bad idea. Keith - I know we have had our differences in agreeing on whether or not Evergreen needs a sidewalk, but I hope we can put our differences behind us and come together for the sake of everyone who uses Evergreen. http://www.change.org/petitions/no-million-dollar-slab-for-evergreen-ave
Tracey Pharis July 10, 2012 at 09:36 AM
i have seen 3 very close calls in 1 day on the corners of scott,hawthorne and linden where car's almost got nailed. The side walk is problematic already! There goes our our perfect safety record! :( very sad!
Scott July 10, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Well written Keith. As you seem to represent the largest group of those concerned, I like hearing your views and I appreciate your civility and reasonableness on the issue. I am supportive of the sidewalk, neighborhoods always change and we're not living in the 70's. The obvious safety issue had to be addressed. Kids should not be forced to walk in traffic because neighbors park their cars on a public pathway or make the pathway un-passable for lack of maintenance. I was disappointed it was delayed for a year. But given your petition's strong showing, I'm glad the county listened and compromised with you by incorporating significant parts of your suggestions into the final product. I don't understand why they didn't choose a better color but at least they downsized it by 25% in response to your concerns. Regardless of the color, I think it will be hard to argue (excepting mostly those trying to save face) the street doesn't look a lot better after the sidewalk and paving are done. However, I have to disagree with you on your implications of "secret plans,"agenda first," and etc. This is often the refrain of a few, very vocal people but it's not credible. Just because one doesn't understand why something has occurred with which they disagree doesn't mean there is some sort of conspiracy. We're dealing with government bureaucrats. I've learned long ago that when dealing with them one should not imply malfeasance when incompetence equally serves the facts.
Mari July 10, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Scott - they did not downsize it according to Keith's concerns - they reduced the amount of concrete to appease what they thought was the main concern - aesthetics - and that is NOT our only concern. The sidewalk will still narrow the road and reduce the amount of shared road space for bicyclists and wide strollers. County is not building what is best for this community - they are restricted by funding requirements tied to the Safe Routes to Schools funding. I dare anyone to look at what County is dealing with right now - and look at that slab - and say this is an improvement. Whether or not you think it is an improvement is irrelevant - our neighbors bought property on a street with no sidewalks - and that street has had a 100% safety record for many years. I SAW the County file - the evidence is there that proves this project was initiated to help MHS adhere to its Use Permit. Maybe it IS the best thing to happen to Homestead ever - because it will finally help us get rid of MHS. http://www.hv94941.com/2012/07/keiths-corner.html
Scott July 10, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Mari, aesthetics absolutely was your ONLY concern. Only after you realized a) the aesthetics vs. safety wasn't playing well to rational thinking people and b) that the resolution of that concern didn't mean the elimination of the sidewalk did you seek out other issues to justify your position. Read your own emails to Kinsey early on - that was all you talked about. Buying a property and expecting the street and community to remain frozen in time is ridiculous, Mari. You keep throwing up nonsensical arguments hoping one will stick. So far none have. And MHS is not going away. There are too many people in the neighborhood who like having it here and it serves far too much of the community (way more than you think - for all your 'research' not knowing how many HV kids attend is a serious fault of yours) for that to happen.
Scott July 10, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Honestly now Mari, you expect anyone to take you seriously when you claim your petition has more support than Keith's when right there, right now, 50% of the signers don't live in Mill Valley much less Homestead. I don't need to help Evergreen residents get what they want. They're getting it. You can keep ignoring the fact the DPW's (who you seem to think are so competent) survey shows a strong majority support the sidewalk, but that doesn't change the fact. And let's not forget, this is a Homestead street and we know the vast majority of Homestead residents support it, or are you going to ignore the meeting held at the MVCC where the show of hands in support far outweighed the few hands of opposition.
Mari July 10, 2012 at 10:11 PM
There was no show of hands at the MVCC. The show of hands was at the first meeting at MHS in July 2010. If you are going to go back in history, at least get the facts straight.
Mari July 10, 2012 at 10:12 PM
btw- I haven't seen Keith's petition, so there is no way of knowing who signed it.
Frank Lurz July 10, 2012 at 11:24 PM
> . . . neighborhoods always change . . . Neighborhoods rarely change within the life spans of their residents unless unwanted, slick-talking outsiders intrude themselves. Trouble with you, sonny, is you have no soul, no respect for others, no conscience. For you, it's all about YOU, and nobody else! > we're not living in the 70's. This cynical excuse for butting into other peoples' lives is as tiresome as it is self-serving. It's the same excuse used by developers who would raze the Forum Romanum, the Sistine Chapel, Mount Vernon and the Jefferson Memorial to make way for a shopping mall, an apartment building, a football stadium and a pizza parlor. You need to move back to the city where there are sidewalks enough to eliminate your need for Viagra!
Mari July 11, 2012 at 02:25 AM
The DPW's survey was from MARCH. Scott Schneider was likely ordered by a superior and/or County Counsel to present the numbers in that way. He has a family to support. I don't blame him for doing what he was told. I feel sorry for people that have to work in an environment where they cannot be as honest and open in their communication as they would like to be.
Mari July 11, 2012 at 02:25 AM
No one ever said we were adverse to ANY change - just UNFAIR change and DESTRUCTIVE change.
Mari July 11, 2012 at 02:42 AM
btw - here are the minutes of the residents meeting on August 17, 2010 : http://www.hv94941.com/2010/08/homestead-residents-meeting-8172010.html
Keith Garriott July 11, 2012 at 08:47 AM
Mari, I commented on the open letter that you wrote about me on your blog: http://www.hv94941.com/2012/07/keiths-corner.html My response wasn't posted because YOU need to approve it first? Do you think that you might have a problem with wanting everything to go YOUR WAY? Maybe a bit ONE SIDED? This is a great example of the friction you have caused me being able to work with Marin County DPW and getting residents input and support on this project. I tried to work with you when I started SaveEvergreenAve and you started HearUs. I thought the both of us blogging about the first plans for a sidewalk on Evergreen would help get the concerns of the residents heard by the County. I thought we would work together and represent the best interest of the MAJORITY of the residents on Evergreen & in Homestead who use this street. I shared my email list and ideas with you in the beginning and you proceeded to make it difficult to work with you! You're not a very democratic person! Thanks a lot!
Mari July 11, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Sorry, Keith. I thought we had a good conversation yesterday. Please don't take it personally. The blog is a work in progress. I've been experimenting with moderated and un-moderated, because there were too many anonymous comments going on. It's a lot of work. I changed it. But feel free to comment here on the Patch if you want to say something. If you want to work together, I'm all ears.
Keith Garriott July 12, 2012 at 09:55 AM
It's only a matter of time as it passes when the passive people of our community realize the effects of the impacts the impervious plot leaves for our future on the beloved Evergreen Avenue's surrounding residences, it's main thoroughfare functionality, landscapes, aesthetics and ecosystem.
Mari July 12, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Keith - I agree it's just a matter of time, and that most people are passive. But you are right - there should have been more transparency. I'm not trying to vilify anyone - but people should at least be able to admit when they make a mistake. At least we tried to warn people ahead of time. Have you seen how the cars just keep whipping around the curve?
Anne Tique August 25, 2012 at 08:40 PM
The sidewalk has improved my daily walking commute, but been a detriment to the times I drive. By the way, each time I walk the route I pick up stray screws, nails, and wire, not cleaned up by the construction crew. The sidewalk should have been narrower; wide enough to accommodate a wheel chair would have been sufficient. Pedestrians do not need to walk two abreast while passing each other. We/they could go single file in order to accommodate more roadway for safe passage of cars where street parking and curves dominate. Was there any effort at compromise on this? An unequivocal improvement, in my opinion, however, are the two new stop signs. Our whole family is relieved that FINALLY the leaving-Marin-Horizon traffic will have to wait a turn at the Melrose/Evergreen intersection, and that traffic from the other direction on Melrose is now controlled which benefits those trying to see around the obscured corner of Evergreen at Melrose.
Mari October 01, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Scott - Sidewalk issues aside, thanks for starting Nextdoor Homestead Valley. I honestly think it will be a key factor in rebuilding the damage done by past lack of communication. How about we all do our best to move forward, with a friendly competition to see who can recruit the most neighbors to our private social network? That way, we open the lines of communication between neighbors, and take some pressure/responsibility off the HVCA Board. "When you forgive, you in no way change the past - but you sure do change the future." Bernard Meltzer
Mari October 01, 2012 at 09:11 PM
here's the link, Keith : https://nextdoor.com/invite/c69e1498c43ff4051c8b

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