Trees Come Down to Make Way for SMART

Workers remove trees between Los Robles Mobile Home Park and the Wells Fargo Bank branch at Hamilton.

Residents of a southern Novato community were a bit surprised Thursday to hear the sounds of chainsaws and watch some fairly large trees come crashing down.

Workers associated with the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit system, which is preparing Novato's railroad tracks for a commuter rail system, cut down eight trees over the course of Thursday and Friday. The trees bordered the Los Robles Mobile Home Park in an area just off Highway 101 between Hamilton and Bel Marin Keys.

SMART spokesman Matt Stevens said the trees were on SMART-owned right-of-way and needed to be cleared out as construction crews prepare to upgrade the tracks for the rail system. The trees were just behind a branch of Wells Fargo Bank

"We are studying ways to mitigate the loss of screening, and we hope next week to have an answer to that," Stevens said.

Stevens said there is a chance more trees might have to come down, but crews would study the situation before firing up the chainsaws again.

"Our construction people are pretty sensitive about only taking trees that need to be taken out," Stevens said. "We're trying to be good neighbors."

Los Robles residents put up a fight when SMART wanted to place a southern Novato station right next to the mobile home park's entrance a few years ago. SMART yielded and picked a different location about a half mile south. Construction has not started at that station or one scheduled to be built off North Redwood Boulevard near Atherton Avenue.

SMART says trains will run between San Rafael and Santa Rosa by 2016. The transit line is primarily funded by tax dollars from Marin and Sonoma county residents as well as government agency grants.

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Eileen Plunkett February 02, 2013 at 05:16 PM
The main thing here is that SMART failed to notice anyone about this and they must do do. We know they have the right of emminent domain but they are abusing those rights. Other info was given such as: the track between Hamilton Marketplace and Los Robles will now be a double track along with the bicycle path. This will put everything practically touching our fence and removing the trees has taken away light and noise barriers for two streets in Los Robles. We already are suffering from the lack of traffic planning when the marketplace was in the planning stages. Getting in or out of LR has become dangerous AND now fire station employees are rushing out of their parking lot to go home and our residents, totally unused to traffic on their right have been informed by the fire station that WE must be more careful. Why must the firemen rush out of there is my question. They did note in their flyer that they will be more careful as well. The bottom line here is that what was once a quiet and unseen lovely community is now suffering from what SMART calls progress and we call unnecessary beginning with the train itself which is a terrible waste of money for the well known "train to nowhere" coupled with a true traffic. Hazard created by the marketplace and now more infringement on the lives of many of us herein Los Robles, a beautiful community for seniors.
Eileen Plunkett February 02, 2013 at 05:28 PM
To continue, resident Steve Bevis called Mayor Eklund who came over immediately to assess the situation and I was told, was able to stop the downing of trees. Further I was told that only three trees were downed....they will continue because they can and we, seniors, will have one more problem with which to contend. Add to the mix, the soon to be presented Marin Sports Complex which will also impact our residents and what do we have? An untenable situation. More traffic and more danger. Hamilton residents, Marin Valley residents and we here in Los Robles must join forces to stop this money making developer scheme. I have lived here 16 years and have nothing but headaches since 2006 when we first fought SMART.....will it ever end, will we eventually be forced out of a lovely and price right community? The future is now folks. Help us help ourselves, write letters, make calls, stop the money waste and money grabbers.
Stephen Bevis February 02, 2013 at 07:06 PM
Truth be known, 12 trees were decimated
Eileen Plunkett February 02, 2013 at 08:54 PM
Good Grief.....were they all the very tall ones? Hard to beleive that they didn't have the grace to let us all know what was in the offing......but SMART has always been this way, underhanded....totally and forever......
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr February 03, 2013 at 02:49 AM
No, eminent domain is when a public entity takes private property for public use (Kehoe be damned). Clearing one's own property is called maintenance. If you want to stop the developers then vote in the city council elections. Did you and 100% of your neighbors vote in the last election?
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr February 03, 2013 at 02:51 AM
"Decimated" means that one out of every ten was killed. You mean felled.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr February 03, 2013 at 02:52 AM
The video gives the impression that the trees were 20-25' high and not 2' in diameter, therefore not protected heritage trees.
Mark H February 03, 2013 at 04:27 AM
Dear Ms. Plunkett, I am a Battalion Chief with the Novato Fire District. While I cannot address your concerns about the tree removal I am greatly concerned about your concerns with regards to our fire station there. We take the safety of our neighbors very seriously. I have taken steps to improve the traffic safety surrounding your home and the fire station and will address it further based upon the concerns you share in your posting. We work hard to be good neighbors and to work in partnership with you to keep our community safe. Please feel free to call us directly with any further concerns you have. Thank you for sharing your concerns here. Mark Heine Battalion Chief Novato Fire District
Eileen Plunkett February 03, 2013 at 05:16 AM
Jerome, Steve knows the difference between decimated and felled...in his mind "decimated" is the correct word.....healthy, beautiful trees were killed, aka, decimated.....
Eileen Plunkett February 03, 2013 at 05:38 AM
Decimate.....to destroy a large part of a group....
Eileen Plunkett February 03, 2013 at 05:53 AM
As I understand the situation, SMART paid the NCRA for thr Ignacio portion in question via eminent domain. Further, I cannot speak for anyone but myself concerning voting and I always vote, no matter how minor the election.
Eileen Plunkett February 03, 2013 at 05:59 AM
Mark, thank you for your response. A flyer was given to me, co editor of our park magazine, outlining what we must do. We are all delighted to have the fire station right outside our gates BUT we were assured that we, the residents, would always have the right of way concerning your equipment, nothing was mentioned about employees hurrying out of the parking lot on the right of our gates. We have not had a road there in well over 20 years. I have lived here for 16 and rarely look to my right coming out. I am happy that you will make clear to our firefighters that when leaving to go home, they must take care, many of us are elderly but still driving and not used to traffic on our right. Again, my thanks and appreciation for all firefighters.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr February 03, 2013 at 06:18 AM
@Ms Plunkett, you make it too easy.
Craig Belfor February 03, 2013 at 03:33 PM
The Roman commander would issue an order of decimation to the soldiers if he felt that they did not fight well enough in a battle. Nine long an one short straws were pulled out by the soldiers, and the soldier with the short straw was then killed by the other nine.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr February 03, 2013 at 03:40 PM
You have to be kidding. You do NOT have the right of way over fire fighting equipment. Just how selfish are you? Do you really think that your trip to buy a quart of milk is more important that fire and rescue response? You are your own worst enemy for expressing such opinions. Yes, even fire fighters driving home after work should share the road, but there are traffic controls that regulate sharing the road.
Craig Belfor February 03, 2013 at 03:53 PM
I knew if I lived long enough I'd hear someone complain about a fire station being too close to their home, with the resulting lowered insurance bill (insurance rates are based on proximity to a fire station, amount other things). I just never thought it would be a senior citizen mobile home park, the complex that needs paramedics constantly. Looking right to see your 24/7 backup crew should give you a secure feeling, not one of terror. Learn to live with it, grandma. They're making sure you do.
Eileen Plunkett February 03, 2013 at 06:14 PM
Jerome and Craig, , you have no knowledge whatsoever concerning the fire station outside our gates. All of us LOVE having it here for however long it takes to get the other one rebuilt. What you don't know is that it was the Fire Dept which told US, without our asking, that they would always give residents the right of way if they are responding as one of us. Is leaving or entering the park. That is NOT the problem, the problem is that they have a concealed parking area, concealed to make it look nicer, and when going off duty, tend to forget the speed limit. There have been three incidents thus far where a fireman almost hit one of our residents so action is being taken by the fire dept to end this hazard. We appreciate what they do. My son and husband were both firemen in New Jersey so I do know what it's like and appreciate all of our brave firefighters. I wish that you could be as understanding as they are concerning this hazard. Perhaps were it your parents or grandparents living here you might be more knowledgable about the situation and not be so condescending to seniors. My name to you Craig, is Eileen, I am NOT your Grandma!!!
Craig Belfor February 03, 2013 at 07:05 PM
The problem with kittens is that they grow up to be cats. Every time you tell pops to climb aboard you're voting for development, as those little tykes will grow up to want their own, crib. Bitching the shopping center, the fire department, and the railroad are common gripes if you're an Indian, but really, Grandma(fortunately, not mine) is something old geezers do a lot. Get used to it, like you did with the wheel and fire.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr February 03, 2013 at 07:32 PM
Eileen Plunkett February 03, 2013 at 07:40 PM
Craig and Jerome, you both can have the last words on these topics even though they make you look like the foolls you apparently are...........I have said all I needed to say. Now on to some other project......
David Randolph February 22, 2013 at 10:23 PM
Stevens said. "We're trying to be good neighbors." Ha, that's a laugh.


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