This is a story about the street where I live : Evergreen Avenue.
Evergreen Avenue in Homestead Valley an area protected by the Tam plan as semi rural - is currently traveled by autos, bicycles, pedestrians, strollers, scooters, trucks, etc. - and it boasts a 100% safety record.
You would think that would be enough for some people. Well, seems a few folks thought that Evergreen Avenue would be better with a "sidewalk." So, they worked together to get some funding to build one - a raised, impervious concrete sidewalk all along the length of Evergreen Avenue - from Whole Foods to Marin Horizon School.
Many of my neighbors have an issue with this proposed concrete sidewalk, partially because it had progressed to "the point of no return" before we found out about it - and it is the antithesis of our current neighborhood aesthetic.
The proposed sidewalk design by the Marin County DPW goes against the TAM plan. ( The Tamalpais Area Community Plan states "we do not encourage sidewalks with curbs and gutters in the planning area." )
Who asked for a sidewalk?
It's a long story, but in short, Marin Horizon School is a private school down at the end of my street (with a 96% transient population.) They enjoy a very friendly relationship with the HVCA, a non-profit that manages and maintains the local Community Center.
A representative from Marin Horizon School worked with the DPW to apply for a Safe Routes to School grant for a sidewalk. In funding Cycle 8, the project was awarded $900,000.
If our community had been given the opportunity to engage in the design process earlier, (last communication to residents was in 2006) we would have designed something that FITS. What is currently proposed does NOT fit our neighborhood. (Please see gallery.)
Plus, we take issue with the process - because we've seen the application and found some misrepresentations in it re: community support and actual safety risk - (more)
Goal : to encourage more kids to walk and bike
Despite the name "Safe Routes to Schools" - the goal of the program is to encourage more kids to walk and bike. We share this goal. I have researched the driving and parking behavior around the school, and there is plenty of room for improvement.
Currently, the school has no active Safe Routes to Schools program.
Level 1 of a Safe Routes to School program is education and encouragement. The former head of the school refused to engage in the program without a sidewalk.
Click here for an example of "walking school bus" in another community.
Level 4 is engineering (construction of sidewalks.)
But, thanks to their well intentioned and helpful friends with political influence (the HVCA and Safe Routes to Schools) MHS is being allowed to skip "straight to the concrete."
How about we start by restoring the natural pedestrian path at the intersection nearest to the school? (Please see gallery for photos.) The proposed sidewalk project is going to eliminate that parking anyway.
Also, how about we ask all drivers to avoid Evergreen in the morning on "walk to school" days? We have volunteers willing to help get the word out and post "detour" signs.
Do we really need to spend a million dollars on a concrete sidewalk that most of us do not want - for a street with a 100% safety record? I see the kids who walk down the street - they are beautiful, confident happy kids! My stepdaughter grew up on this street - she is fearless and confident!
A 9,000 square foot sidewalk of concrete with curbs and gutters along the entire length of Evergreen Avenue - is not only a HUGE waste of taxpayer dollars, but it will increase storm water runoff and add pollutants to the Bay. (In Portland, citizens are ripping up asphalt and concrete to reclaim the earth and protect the watershed - check out the DEPAVE project.)
Does it make sense to trade one type of pollution for another?
Therefore, our neighborhood group would like to see the $900,000 acquired during Cycle 8 go back into the Safe Routes to Schools fund to help a neighborhood with fewer resources and a more legitimate need.
If enough members of our community want a path, demonstrated by a willingness to chip in for one - we can design and build it ourselves.
If we can't manage to provide a pedestrian path ourselves, we can get some help from an expert member of the Community Built Association (CBA.)
I volunteer to act as point person for the path project and have already contacted a fellow member of the CBA, who stated that he wouldn't even begin the process of designing a sidewalk or path unless it is requested by the community.
Please donate a dollar or more to help us engage in more community outreach - make a statement in support of honesty, integrity, respect for others, and fiscal responsibility!If you would like to make a tax deductible contribution, please see the "donate" link below. If you would like to donate by check, or have any other questions, please feel free to call me at : 415-779-4941
How the funds will be used:
The funds raised for "no sidewalk" in this campaign will be used to raise awareness about pedestrian and bicyclist safety.
The funds raised for "pedestrian path" will be combined with the next phase campaign - to raise funding for a pedestrian path that fits our semi rural environment.
One thing is for certain - If this sidewalk project is allowed to progress against the majority of Evergreen residents' wishes, it will have a negative impact on our "sense of place. " More disheartening is the sense that we, as a people, have no control over what happens on the street where we live.
Mari Mack (Tamburo)
A Vehicle for Change
founder, HEAR US
Homestead Evergreen Avenue Residents - United for Safety & Sustainability!
Keep Evergreen Avenue FOREVER GREEN!