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District's Contractor Declines to Wash Dust From Edna Neighbors' Cars or Homes

After consulting with contractor Overaa Construction, the Mill Valley School District informed Edna Maguire School neighbors that there wouldn't be any additional efforts to clean dust on cars and homes at nearby residences.

Editor's note: At an Oct. 10 meeting, a few neighbors of Edna Maguire Elementary School requested a definitive answer as to whether or not Overaa Construction, the district's contractor for the rebuilding of the school, would be mitigating dust caused by the construction project. Neighbors had requested that Overaa either clean the dust on homes and cars or provide a third-party subcontractor to do so. After consulting with Overaa, the following is a letter from the Mill Valley School District. Tim Ryan, the district's director of maintenance and operations, said that the reasons for denying the request were two-fold:

  1. Overaaa didn't feel it was creating anything more than average normal construction dust.
  2. The slippery slope of determining when and how often to wash cars and homes, particularly given that the project will last for at least another 12 months.

Dear Edna Maguire School Community:

It was requested at our Construction Update meeting Wednesday, October 10, 2012 that a definitive response be made to community members who live adjacent to the Edna Maguire School and Lomita Avenue as to whether the Mill Valley School District or its developer, Overaa Construction will wash neighbors cars or homes to remove dust.

This summer there was construction in the Edna Maguire School neighborhood performed by the Marin Municipal Water District, Pacific Gas & Electric, roadwork by the City of Mill Valley, and several construction projects on private homes in the area. But the largest project continues to be the Edna Maguire New campus construction.

During construction this summer there were regular site visits from the Division of the State Architect Inspectors, County of Marin, and the City of Mill Valley.  And in direct response to calls from community members about dust controls, we had several unscheduled inspections from Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the City of Mill Valley.

None of these Agencies to date had any findings or issued any citations for violations of dust control measures at the Edna Maguire School construction site. 

After discussing the amount of impact and the nearness of adjacent homes with Overaa Construction, we can definitively answer this question. Overra Construction will not be offering to clean homes or cars that are adjacent to the construction projects.

The Mill Valley School District appreciates your understanding during this construction period, but we are unable at this time to spend public funds on private properties.

kbf October 20, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Good luck with that. Did you really think they cared? But be sure to vote for the parcel tax!
Rico October 20, 2012 at 05:11 PM
But it is perfectly fine for the MVSD to spend public funds on private contractors who dust-up private property while working on the public's dime. And, because this is a public school project, they are exempt from OSHA and BAAQMD air quality regulations, and the MVSD just does whatever they feel like doing ! And that would include using public funds to build classrooms for private schools (Bain Capital-New Horizons).
John Reed October 20, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Since when did the schools in Mill Valley become such a monster? I have lived in Mill Valley for 40 years and attended the public schools. The teachers and administrators care very much for the education and safety of our local children. "Edna" was built many years ago with inferior materials and for a district much smaller. As for the dust- it's dust. And it is annoying. But the district would rather put it's limited resources into things to help our children. Yes, the district has hired private contractors. How else could the school have been built? I wish the townspeople had the skills and time and we could have built it for free, but this is not the 1800's. The MVSD is trying to do its best to meet the needs of this very demanding community. Pleasing everyone is not possible but sometimes we must all hold our complaints and maybe see what ever is irritating you may be something for the greater good of the community. Next Patch headline: MVSD Wastes Money on Cleaning Private Homes and Cars! Dammed if you do, dammed if you don't
Jim Welte October 20, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Thanks for the above comments. Ricardo, the Edna project is not exempt from BAAQMD regulations. As we've reported, the district made multiple visits tot he Edna construction site and found no violations. John, your point about the headline is well taken. Cate didn't intend for it to have a negative connotation but I can see how it can be read that way for sure.
RJ October 20, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Well said, John Reed!!
Greg October 20, 2012 at 11:16 PM
We live very close to Edna McGuire on Lomita. Might it be possible to excited that Edna is being rebuilt and simultaneously be dismayed by the district's and general contractor's lack of attention to "dust" control? Dust is hardly the apt word here, trust me. There were days when there were appalling amounts of dirt in the air and to have a toddler be exposed to it gave us pause. It was much more than a little annoying. I don't know what the metrics were for those doing the "testing" but I assure you it has been pretty bad despite the official word. Our house, driveway and cars were literally covered for weeks with dirt so thick that you could write your name in. I think most reasonable people in a similar situation would agree. It's not about pleasing everyone, it's about taking reasonable steps to control the dirt in the air in the first place which clearly was not done. I can understand why the district or the GC doesn't want to spend money on cleanup and I'm not even necessarily advocating that approach. However, If they had taken those steps we wouldn't be having this discussion. They failed in this regard. To suggest otherwise is a denial of reality and more than a little disrespectful. Period, end of story!
Rico October 21, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Dust mitigation is always mandatory on construction projects, and why this problem was allowed to happen is suspicious. I know that no school districts and their contractors are not exempt from BAAQMD regulations, so why did their inspectors find no violations ? In this case, the contractors were somehow exempted. The dust from this project was especially harmful, it was not just dirt from excavation, it was largely the result of grinding up old asphaltic concrete (AC) and then blending it with more oil and rock to make new AC on site. Bituminous dust is a known carcinogen, it has other harmful chemicals in it also. If the MVSD does not want to pay the contractors to clean up their mess, I understand. BUT, the MVSD should force the contractors to clean up their mess by holding back on progress payments in the contract until everybody is satisfied with with the remediation. I am a licensed contractor, and I can't get away with leaving any kind of mess anywhere at any time. If the MVSD does not do anything, it's time for those affected to contact the CSLB and file a complaint against the contractor directly, and possibly file a lawsuit against the contractor for creating a health hazard and leaving a toxic dust on peoples lungs, houses and vehicles.
Rico October 22, 2012 at 02:39 AM
Oh, also toxic dust on private property on plants , trees, and any playground equipment and children's toys that were dosed the with carcinogenic dust. Would you want your organic garden dusted with petrochemicals ?, or your kids to play with and on contaminated equipment ?. And, that AC dust wreaks havoc on painted surfaces like vehicles and buildings. It must be removed ASAP. Right now, the property owners should remove it, and back charge the contractor for the labor and materials (in a lawsuit). And by all means, go online to the Contractors State Licensing Board (CSLB), enter OVREAA Construction. Look up their history of disciplinary actions, labor violations, address and phone number. And, you can report them to the Better Business Bureau. I know that these are "out of area" contractors. Those puppies don't give a hoot about people in Mill Valley, just "Gitter done-Post Haste", and then bail quickly !
Frank Lurz October 26, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Ricardo! Mi dispiace! Like so many of us, you don't understand the "sacred cow principle." Everything done "for the children" by "caring people" living outside the neighborhood is justified. Impacts on those living inside ground zero — that's where the caring stops.

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