September 14, 2016
TO: Marin County Planning Commission
RE: Public Hearing for the Marin County LCP Amendments
Recently I read “Down a Narrow Road” by anthropologist Jay Dautcher, PhD. In the book he talked about government actions to gain influence over communities in order to serve their own interests, especially in those communities where there are strong personal and community identities and where residents are very connected to their land.
Quoting Dautcher: “Personal and collective attachments to place are critical basis of identity in general, since claims to political entitlement are often understood and advanced through them. If a state can undermine the cognitive and material bases supporting this feeling of belonging, the ability of groups to advance political claims to political entitlement is weakened.”
It is also interesting that one of the techniques Dautcher cited that governments use to break a people’s connections to place are to convert sacred, important community sites to tourist destinations.
As I have been focused on the Local Coastal Program (LCP) and its influence on our community, I started seeing what is happening through Dautcher’s view. Our coastal towns are not just a place for commercial services. Main Street is the social nexus for the community, and on typical trip to the post office and shops, we will encounter and talk with many friends and visitors, sharing directly in the rich life of a small, rural town. In Point Reyes Station on Friday through Monday however, visitors greatly outnumber residents. Locals avoid coming to town because of the physical displacement and loss of normal town intimacy and sociability. Meanwhile, tourism is promoted in West Marin without managing its impacts. This is breaking our connections to place cognitively as well as physically. I am concerned that this disruption will erode the vitality of our town, leaving a physical setting that is without the spirit and care that locals provide and visitors seek.
While I do feel that the County and Coastal Commission are not consciously undermining the future our coastal communities, their policies and programs are likely to have the same impact. It is important that we look carefully at the language in the LCP, as the policies and programs in the LCP are critical and take precedent over our Community Plans.
I find that the language in the LCP that talks about preserving the character of our communities is comforting, as community character is inclusive with distinguishing physical, social, economic and quality of life aspects. Specific character for each community is not defined however, and is left for the communities to address. Which may be all right, however there is one place that gives an overall statement of what constitutes character in the mind of the LCP. This is located on Community Specific Policies, Background (LCP page 81)
“The Marin County Coastal Zone is home to distinctive towns and villages that have a strong sense of place (see Map 16 – Community Areas). The character of these communities depends in large part on their physical setting, the nature of land uses within them, and their visual appearance.”
There is no acknowledgment of the role of local populations, their values, quality of life, and their personal connections and contributions that have created and continue to nourish the character of these communities. In effect, to maintain character, the LCP implies that local community populations are without value, ignoring the fact that the local populations, not the County or the Coastal Commission, created and continue to protect life in these communities. I often think about our town as a coral reef, built on layers of local living tissue. Destroy the living coral, and you lose the reef.
To protect the character of each coastal village, I believe the LCP needs to broaden its overall character definition and create one that embodies and protects the true cultural and social nature of coastal community character. Attached is my wording for community character as an illustrative starting point for County planners:
“The Marin County Coastal Zone is home to distinctive towns and villages that have a strong sense of place (see Map 16 – Community Areas). The character and appearance of these communities has been shaped and nurtured by residents and property owners for over a century, and is enhanced by the physical setting and the nature of land uses within them.”
I believe the LCP needs to broaden its overall definition of character and create one that embodies and protects the social and cultural character of our coastal communities. We would appreciate your support of this goal.
Point Reyes Station Village Association Design Review Chair
Posted September 14, 2016 UPDATE!
The Marin County Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing to receive a report from the Community Development Agency staff regarding proposed amendments and modifications to the certified Marin County Local Coastal Program (LCPA). Because the Planning Commission has already conducted numerous hearings on the LCPA, the upcoming staff presentation and discussion will focus on substantive policy issues addressed by the Board of Supervisors since the Planning Commission’s last action. The hearing will also provide an opportunity for the Planning Commission to issue recommendations to the Board of Supervisors before the Board takes final action on the County’s proposed LCP amendments.
The public hearings will be held in the Planning Commission Chambers (Room #328 - Administration Building), Marin County Civic Center, San Rafael, California on Monday, September 26, 2016 at 10:00 a.m.
The staff report is available on the Marin County Website.
Agenda September 8th
1. Call to order
2 .Approval of minutes from August 11th meeting
3. Treasurers report
4. Old Business
1. Announcement from Karen Gray, change in leadership
2. Point Reyes Light-A brief update on the Point Reyes Light: Who we are now- Tess Elliott
3.September 22nd Meeting Update- Community Forum on 'Tourism and our Communities' postponed until Feb 2017 -Pamela, Laura
4. Report from Stinson Beach Village Association- Pamela, Laura
5.Update from Walnut Place- Lyn Berard, Peggy Day
6." Litter Bugs Me-" October 1st Community roadside cleanup. PRSVA Co-sponsoring BBQ following cleanup , need volunteers- please see Karen
7. Letter to Commons update -Mark
August 11, 2016
1.Call to order @ 6:35- Laura Arndt
2. Approval of minutes July 14, 2016 – Ken Levin, Chuck Eckart
3. Treasurers report - Pamela Bridges
4. Zero Waste Marin – Madeline- Report from Madeline re: future plans of waste management in town.
5. Commons and Garbage overflow – Pamela Bridges & Laura Arndt
Request for leaseholders and commons to address the consistently overflowing garbage on site. Request to remove picnic tables and replace with benches. Discussion with members re: the impacts of picnic tables compared to benches in a town park atmosphere. Tables encourage visitors to stay for hours, creating traffic flow problems, trash problems, as well as impact on bathrooms. National Seashore is a picnic site, however Point Reyes Station downtown has more picnic tables than Bear Valley Visitors Center.
6. ADA Public Restrooms Update – Randall Fleming
Mesa Road Bathrooms: The Design Review Committee met with the County Public Works department at the bathroom site. The County is just beginning to consider how to have an accessible path of travel from the downtown to the bathrooms, and will need to survey existing site conditions before proceeding. We discussed scenarios with them, stressing the need to have a proper stairway from Mesa Rd to the bathrooms, as well as an ADA compliant handicapped ramp, and suggested they consider adding a separate ADA toilet on the same grade as Mesa Rd.
7. Report on AECOM Study-Randall Fleming
AECOM: Karen Gray and I met with the County Park’s project manager, and discussed our concerns with him, from the lack of data to do sound projections and the need to explore other options, such as shuttles to reduce parking and congestion, composting toilets to reduce waste water, management approaches that respond to existing community carrying capacity, mitigate tourism impacts on coastal community quality of life, and when addressing the economic benefits to the county, include true cost impacts, such as garbage collection, toilet maintenance, policing, traffic congestion and impacts to housing availability and costs. While it was a cordial and positive meeting, we did not see any commitments in changing or amending the scope of work.
8. LCP update:Randall Fleming
The Coastal Commission meeting to consider extending the Hearing date for the Marin County LCP occurred today (date of the PRSVA meeting) The draft language prepared by the Marin Planners protects existing residential housing in the mixed use residential/commercial zone. Also, the revised commercial core area boundary (not yet a final adopted map) has been re-drawn to not include any single family residences.
9. Permitting crowd events Point Reyes- Pamela Bridges Laura Arndt
Community members came to the meeting to address concerns re : interpretation of letter to editor and social media response re: permits and crowd events in Point Reyes. Recent music festival raised questions from community (a) permitting process, need to clarify from county (b) need for future collaboration of village and festival marketers going forward and (c) need to consider impact on neighbors, traffic, and local services.
10. Update Community Forum- Laura
A meeting on Sept. 22 will now be a planning meeting for representatives of our Coastal Villages.
The General Community Forum (tourisms and our community) will be rescheduled for February 2107 *
11. “Litter Bugs Me” October 1st
co–sponsored by: NPS, PRSVA, EAC, and Tomales Bay State Park. A BBQ at the Bear Valley Picnic Area. Volunteers from PRSVA needed to help with BBQ, please contact Karen Gray
12. PRSVA table at farmers market- Laura & Pamela
13. Candidates Night- Mark Switzer
October 12, sponsored by KWMR, and ????
Minutes submitted by