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Did You Want a Say in SMART Station Design?

Governor allows local jurisdictions to skip regular design review process. You OK with that?

To streamline the construction of a new commuter train system, SMART has been given the freedom to design its stations in Marin and Sonoma counties without going through the design review process in each municipality along the route, according to a report in the .

With a bill signed Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown, the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit authority can call the shots, likely resulting in speeding up the construction process by months, the IJ reported.

Were you itching to participate in the discussion? You still can at upcoming SMART meetings, but the Novato Design Review Commission won't have a say in how the Hamilton station looks when the system opens in a few years. Same goes for a planned station just off North Redwood Boulevard near the campus that's slated to be added in SMART's second phase of expansion.

Do you like this new bill signed by the governor? Do you trust SMART to make sure the station, or stations, look good and fit in well with the rest of the community? Share a comment below.

janna nikkola July 15, 2012 at 12:39 AM
And which people would that be? I certainly did not vote for it and I know of no one who did.
LP July 15, 2012 at 01:59 AM
I'm all for just getting everything done and up and running. My concern is that GGT won't have buses that actually coincide with train times. They no longer have the bus that goes to the ferry and back to downtown SR. If you check some of the schedules buses traveling the same direction are hitting stops witin the same time every hour, instead if stagering them every thirty minutes.
JML July 15, 2012 at 02:09 AM
This is another example of the erosion of local control. If you like or don't like the SMART train, this issue of dictatorship. Both Judy Arnold and Steve Kinsey voted to bypass local input to streamline AH projects---so residents wouldn't have a say in what was happening in their community. So here it is again with the SMART train. Bypassing local control. Novato needs to wake up and stand up for their neighborly rights, which is pushing back against The Establishment. When only 33% of Novato voters even care to vote, the apathy is overwhelming (which is what our goverment is counting on) and Novato and Marin is going to get steamrolled (no pun intended).
Eileen Plunkett July 15, 2012 at 02:29 AM
To my knowledge there never was a plan for GGT to have buses coninciding with train times. The SMART Board told us there would be nine shuttle buses run by them and they would be at all stations at the right time, LOL......what a joke. In 2006 a lot of retired seniors here in Los Robles banded together and fought the train like heck and by a very thin margin, SMART was defeated. In 2008 most of us had no energy to fight again and now how we wish we had. This train is as Janna stated beneficial only to Sonoma residents. My thought is why not let THEM pay for it and since we won't be using it anyway, give us back our tax money. And speaking to the actual issue here of design review...the moment we, the citizens of this city, county, state and country, give away our rights, we are done. We cannot, even for something so minor, say it's ok to forget about it. As said by others, let this one go and then many more will follow. And yes, Judy Arnold is a traitor. When she was on the Novato CC, she swore she would never, ever, support SMART....well, well, well, she is now showing us what she is, a born politician, a born liar as is Jared Huffman who also stated at a meeting of the Sierra Club, that he would never support SMART. Huh, that got him our votes and he kicked us in the gut as a thank you. Stand up and fight for our rights people. I'm 76 and fightin mad that this country has been torn apart, our DC reps won't talk to one another. We need to take back this country...
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr July 15, 2012 at 03:03 AM
71% of Novato registered voters stayed away from the last council election. Blame all of autocracy from the council on those who were not informed and did not vote. Freedom and suffrage are rights that evaporate when not used and defended.
Al Dugan July 15, 2012 at 03:18 AM
Mr.Ghigliotti, you have framed the $64,000 question.....for those that don't understand the reference it was a very old TV show....how do we get those 71% of the public to the voting booth? So who has the best idea to get the general public involved and voting in Novato?
Trish Boorstein July 15, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Bob, where did you hear or read about MCF recommending streamlining for AH? I know at the County level the Supervisors have passed this or are in the process of passing it.
Trish Boorstein July 15, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Start talking to your neighbors, friends, and family. Tell them to join Novato Patch and read all the unbiased current articles you don't find in the IJ. Join Novato Community Alliance www.NCA4U.org to volunteer in helping get the word out. This is a pivotal time to affect change of our City Housing Element before it is finalized.
Tina McMillan July 15, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Trish http://opr.ca.gov/s_sb226.php CEQA Streamlining for Infill Projects (SB 226) On June 25, 2012...transmitted its final draft of proposed additions to the Guidelines for Implementation of the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA Guidelines”). This proposal reflects the direction in SB 226 (Simitian, 2011) to prepare additions to the CEQA Guidelines setting forth a streamlined review process for infill projects. ...performance standards that will be used to determine an infill project’s eligibility for that streamlined review. This final proposal reflects input OPR received during extensive public outreach since Governor Brown signed SB 226 in October 2011. That outreach effort included hundreds of individual meetings and conversations with stakeholders, presentations at numerous conferences, three public workshops, and two rounds of public review on OPR’s preliminary proposals. Now that OPR has completed its draft of the proposal package, the Natural Resources Agency will begin the formal rulemaking process. If you would like to receive electronic notice of the Natural Resources Agency’s rulemaking activities, please sign up for the SB 226 listserv at http://ceres.ca.gov/ceqa/guidelines-sb226. The Resources section below contains links to OPR’s final proposal and related proposal materials.
Tina McMillan July 15, 2012 at 09:01 PM
http://www.94903community.org/BEST_BETS_and_Newslets_6-5-12.pdf "Please write to our Supervisors and urge them to oppose expediting or streamlining CEQA, permit reviews, infill development projects, and development consistent with the Countywide Plan as suggested in the Staff Report prepared for the Marin County Board of Supervisor's Meeting on May 22, 2012 regarding "Regulatory Improvements to Development Review Process"." Supervisor Kathrin Sears: ksears@marincounty.org Supervisor Steve Kinsey: skinsey@marincounty.org Supervisor Susan Adam: sadams@marincounty.org Supervisor Katie Rice: krice@marincounty.org Supervisor Judy Arnold: jarnold@marincounty.org
John Parnell July 15, 2012 at 11:39 PM
SMART already did not have to comply with any local design review requirements. They didn't need this law. For those like Jerome who say they support this exemption from local design review, you might not be aware that SMART's local design review before was purely advisory. They didnt need to comply with any local requirements - they just had to tell us what they were going to do. Now it is nothing. All the "station area planning" meetings that have been paid for by MTC were for naught. The only " planning" this seems to entail is re-zoning around the stations to allow for the high-density development. They want 4 or 5 stories, but can't build that high without re-zoning. The funniest thing about this law is that it was a "gut and amend" bill, which started out very different. It originally said the opposite: that SMART needed to comply with all local design review requirements. That was two sentences. Even though the bill was titled something like "SMART and local design review", most of actually pertained to changing the election law for SMART, raising the signature requirements for any future petitions. When I found out about that, I talked to Michael Allen. I asked him why the election law stuff was taken out before it left his committee, and why design review did a 180. I told him how lame I thought it was, and that is was sneaky and unnecessary. Assemblyman Allen told me that he honestly didn't know what I was talking about, and to talk to his aide.
John Parnell July 15, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Mr. Allen also promised the audience that night that he would enact legislation to make the SMART board directly electable (as did Marc Levine).  Just like his promised pension reform, Michael Allen has the opportunity to do it before November though, so we will know before the election if he will keep his word and is worthy of our vote.
Tina McMillan July 16, 2012 at 12:04 AM
John Marc Levine looks like the more promising candidate. Any thoughts?
Bob Ratto July 16, 2012 at 02:48 AM
Janna It doesn't go to Larkspur, it ends in San Rafael. You take a bus from San Rafael to Larkspur. SMART is not about transit at all, but I think you already know that.
M. Calwald July 16, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Judy Arnold and Steve Kinsey talk about having local control YET they vote against it and want to streamline affordable housing projects. Arnold and Kinsey haven't met a developer they didn't like.
M. Calwald July 16, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Both Allen and Levine are Democrats. Levine is by far the best choice. Allen (D) is the "golden child" for the developers and the political machine that is driving high density development, the erosion of local control etc. etc. Allen is an outsider who has been placed in Marin to mandate "how we should live." John Parnell's comments above are right on about Allen. Allen also VOTED FOR THE CASINOS in Rohnert Park and then when the fix was in, he voted against it in the last vote. Levine is not perfect, but he is our best bet. Thank you Tina for all of your fact-based posts and curbing the misinformation that is being spread out there.
Jeff Rhoads July 16, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Design review of what? A station platform, a couple of shade structures? I suspect this has nothing to do with "design review" and much to do with the minority side of an issue doing what they can to subvert the will of the majority. The voters on Marin and Sonoma counties have spoken. An initiative drive to overturn this decision failed miserably. So lets get on with it so we can use SMART service while construction disrupts the commute through the Narrows. Somewhere along the line we have lost our community spirit and our can-do attitude. We use to celebrate the building and completion of great things. Now we do what we can to prevent these endeavors and deny people their dreams. Whatever happened to making small personal sacrifices for the benefit of the whole? Since when have people who have vision and take great personal financial risk to build our homes, business and shops become evil developers? If someone attempted to build the Golden Gate Bridge today they would have died a death of one thousand cuts. Each slash inflicted by people who don't want to see people in other counties benefit, who are afraid of change, who want to see things stay just the way they and don't give a dam about where our kids and grand kids(or our parents) are going to live and work.
Eileen Plunkett July 16, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Only Sonomas County MAY benefit from SMART...we Marinites will never use it...it's a joke on tax payers who were convincied by lying politicians, esp those who were against it til voted into office, that it would be manna from heaven. Well, to me it's fire from hell.
Al Dugan July 16, 2012 at 08:35 PM
People still do applaude buildings and projects that make logistical sense and are fiscally sensible and or for the greater good of all and not a select few.. I fear with the Smart Train we are leaving a white elephant for our grandchildren that will not be built at the estimated cost and will not have the ridership to be a proper investment in these very difficult times. Rest assured people respect builders but not builders and developers that are over building affordable housing in Novato, overloading the public services of the city, while making millions of dollars and paying no taxes.
Eileen Plunkett July 16, 2012 at 11:10 PM
JL, I sure was there when it was time to vote on SMART but all the liars aka politicians, convinced enough Marinites, those located in Southern Marin no less, that it would be a boon for commuters. Well, if it went to the city of SF, then it might be a boon and I think it would have many riders but with all the transfers one has to make to get from Novato alone to SF, it's stupid. It was a stupid idea when it began except for all the builders and developers who saw all the dollar signs and it will be stupid, at least to those of us in Marin who voted against it, forever. It will never make money because it will never have the riders and as time goes by the cost will increase it ride the "train to nowhere."
Eileen Plunkett July 16, 2012 at 11:13 PM
This is in reply to Bob Ratto...Bob, I thought I read that Larkspur had agreed in a meeting with the SMART Board that it would go to Larkspur, am I right or wrong?
Bob Ratto July 16, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Eileen I am quite sure that the train is going to end in downtown San Rafael at the outset, but there are plans for a future Larkspur station, which will require redoing all of Anderson, etc. If one were ever contemplating riding it into SF from Novato, one would not be thought of as a fool, but would definitively be branded a fool.
Susan Wernick July 17, 2012 at 06:49 AM
All you have to do is look at who is endorsing Allen and who is endorsing Levine. Allen has a political machine behind him and I find it disgusting. Levine, a San Rafael city council member, is supported by many of his peers in other Marin cities. Levine is by far the more reasonable candidate to represent Marin.
M. Calwald July 17, 2012 at 06:57 AM
I heard sensitive habitat and wetlands will be destroyed in San Rafael for the SMART train tracks. Think of all of the pollutions that will be created because of SMART....not very environmentally sustainable. We won't have to boycott SMART because we will all be dead by the time the 1/2 train goes anywhere.
M. Calwald July 17, 2012 at 06:59 AM
Judy Arnold endorses Allen. That says it all. How sad that Judy would endorse an outsider from Marin instead of our "Local Levine." But then again, Judy is "build baby build"---very similar to Sara Palin. Palin is a younger version of Judy Arnold.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr July 21, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Why not restore the Novato Depot, right where it is, and use the Whole Foods parking and the old Pini Feed parking right where it is; a big empty lot? I like the Coke machine idea.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr July 21, 2012 at 03:07 AM
To my knowledge, the tracks have been right where they are since before 1900. After more than 100 years they have become the habitat. I stop and watch the water fowl across the road from Costco, right where the tracks are now. The trains selected are the highest quality is rail transport. Don't you listed to the CSX commercials of TV? Rail can transport a ton of freight (or passengers) 400 miles on one gallon of fuel. Automobiles and trucks are the polluters. "The facts, M'am, just the facts."
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr July 21, 2012 at 03:12 AM
Again, if Marin voters had not gone all NIMBY in 1969 and withdrew from BART, we would have been using it to go to SFO, OAK, and now San Jose since 1989, TWENTY THREE YEARS AGO, and the daily commute from Novato to downtown San Francisco would be 30 minutes, while reading the newspaper. SMART is just a late start on that objective.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr July 21, 2012 at 03:15 AM
SMART will get people who live in Petaluma and north but work in San Rafael off the road, and that WILL be a benefit to Marinites.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr July 21, 2012 at 06:10 AM
Let's hear it for a one party political system, thanks to "open" primaries. (Euphemism) One party countries have always been such nice places to live, just like the old USSR. Oh, wait! Russia's credit rating was not just lower to A-, as California's has been.

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