News and Updates


7/25/19

Information from a concerned San Marin neighbor:

I wanted to share my thoughts on the timeline of this project. Based on this update this project has at least a year to 18 months before they even start the CEQA process. Once they hire the PM there will be a lot of community engagement and negotiaitons with potential developers before they can decide on what the project actually is- by that i mean the design, mix of housing, number of units etc. Once they have that they would need to do an Environmental Impact Report- we need to make that loud and clear that that is the community's preference rahter than the preparation of an Inital Study which is a lesser level of CEQA review and can be done in 6 months. An EIR takes around a year to publish. There are two opportunities for public input- scoping which is about 2 months after the project is officially noticed. Then again once the EIR comes out. They then complete a Final EIR and the city would hten have to make a decision as to whether or not to approve the project and potential zoning change. At that point if there is enough support the community could legally challenge the project with the help of an attorney. A legal challenge would likely delay the project a year or more
Jules

7/24/19

In the San Marin High School revised stadium lights EIR, we found this paragraph (below) on page 35, describing the problems of putting a sports field on the San Andreas School site, and yet today they began the process of hiring a project manager to oversee development of the same site - doesn't seem to make sense!
a. San Andreas Site
 
NUSD owns the San Andreas site, which is approximately 20 acres located in northern Novato just off San Marin drive. The site is currently undeveloped and ungraded and is surrounded by residential uses. The site is not connected to the electrical grid or to any utilities such as water or wastewater. In order to support nighttime games, events, and practices, the site would need full development of a stadium and parking as well as infrastructure improvements and utility connections. Development of a stadium would result in construction-related impacts such as air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, noise, and construction traffic. Construction of a full stadium rather than the addition of lights to an existing stadium would result in a longer construction period with additional heavy construction equipment. Therefore, construction-related impacts would be worse than the proposed project. In addition, this site is adjacent to residential uses; therefore, similar crowd and public address (PA) system noise impacts as the proposed project would occur. This alternative likely would not eliminate the unavoidable noise impact during games and events. Further, development of this site would be cost-prohibitive.

7/16/19

We were walking several days ago at the former Texaco lot, and found what seems to be a new, large container of soil samples waiting to be picked up. Keep in mind this is where they said they did soil samples back from 1985 through 2,000, when they pronounced it clean.

Interesting to see when they finally put up this analysis.


4/30/19

Why Subsidizing Teacher Housing with Tax Credits is Bad Policy...


2/26/19

As per the feasibility study conducted by the City of Novato, the San Andreas School site is the probable breeding ground of the California Red Legged Frog, a protected species under  The Endangered Species Act of 1973.

Wetlands are also protected under California’s Coastal Act (CCA) of 1976, which defines wetlands as “lands within the coastal zone which may be covered periodically or permanently with shallow water and include saltwater marshes, freshwater marshes, open or closed brackish water marshes, swamps, mudflats, and fens.”


2/25/19

Today the feasibility study regarding the San Andreas School Housing Site was sent out via email, ahead of tomorrow's meeting, February 26, 2019 6:00PM at the School District's office at 1015 Seventh Street.

After going over the study and various documents, three things really stood out, and hopefully these will be presented properly to neighbors tomorrow, vs. more of the deception that NUSD has been showing us re: the SMHS lights.

 

"ARCHAEOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT

Summary of Findings: Even though the initial survey identified only a few archaeological materials onsite, the project area was determined to contain a high probability for potential archaeological resources.

After review of the site the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria have requested a formal consultation as to the eventual project design and possible alternatives to avoid cultural resources.

One historic-era archaeological site (SAN-01) and two isolated prehistoric flakes (ISO-SAN- 01 and ISO-SAN02) were observed during the survey. A variety of non-diagnostic late twentieth-century and modern items were also observed throughout the survey area.

A buried site sensitivity analysis determined that the Area of Direct Impact has a high probability for buried archaeological resources based on its proximity to other prominent prehistoric archaeological sites and the availability of fresh water within the Area of Direct Impact.

Key Take Away: The anticipated project area has a high probability for buried archaeological resources. Additional study will be required as the development proposal is further defined.

Ground visibility during the survey was poor due to thick vegetation and additional artifacts and features may be present within the Area of Direct Impact. Additional field work must be conducted once areas of disturbance are defined, and a tentative project layout is developed.

Native American consultation is recommended prior to future development or ground disturbing activities.

NUSD/City of Novato Employee Housing Project February 2019

Subsurface shovel testing is also recommended prior to any future ground disturbing activities to determine the presence or absence of buried archaeological resources within the Area of Direct Impact."

 

"BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES ASSESSMENT

Summary of Findings: Based on the results of the site visit, the Study Area contains potentially jurisdictional Section 404/401 Waters of the U.S./State, Section 1602 CDFW habitat, sensitive CDFW communities, as well as Trees and Heritage Trees as defined by the City of Novato, which require specific permitting and mitigation when impacted.

The Study Area also contains habitat that has a moderate potential to support 16 special-status plant species and seven special-status wildlife species, including species of mammals, birds, amphibians, and insects. In addition, native nesting birds and roosting bats with baseline legal protections may be present in the Study Area. The attached report discusses biological constraints associated with the Study Area.

Key Take Away: The project design should to the greatest extent feasible avoid existing onsite areas identified as significant biological communities, and potential habitat for special status plants and animals. Mitigation areas will be required.

 

The general area contains six sensitive biological communities.

The site contains approximately 20 to 30 heritage trees.

The site contains two intermittent streams, one ephemeral stream, coastal and valley

freshwater marsh, and a rabbits-foot grass seasonal wetland.

The vicinity of the site contains sixty-four special-status plant species, and fifteen special

status plants."

 

RESTORATION OF THE OLD TEXACO GAS STATION / TOXIC CLEAN-UP

Even though the site had been adequately investigated, there WAS INDEED A GROUNDWATER FLUME, which has decreased over time but is still present.

 

To sum things up, not only is there the presence of a past oil plume from the Texaco station, there are numerous sensitive species present on the San Andreas site, as well as Native American artifacts and even more important, the high probability of a burial ground on the site. This is just NOT the place for a housing development, and hopefully NUSD will report this accurately and recognize this as well. This is far beyond a NIMBY issue.

Here is a link to the study: https://novato.agendaonline.net/public/Meeting.aspx?AgencyID=96&MeetingID=70721&AgencyTypeID=1&IsArchived=False

 


12/8/18


12/3/18


11/27/18

As of 11/27/18, NUSD still has an open complaint on the San Marin High School site from a toxic leak from 1995, as exhibited below. This complaint comes from the California State Water Resources Control Board, as well as the California EPA. 


11/21/18

One of the SMIA folks with knowledge of the annual assessment on our property tax bill for landscape maintenance for the San Marin area medians, responded to my questions as stated below, doing a great job of explaining it all. We wanted to share this information with our San Marin Neighbors:

 

There is a $39 +/- annual assessment on your property tax bill for the assessment district, and this fee increases by the SF Bay Area CPI each year by action of the Novato City Council. Collected funds are for the median maintenance, landscape and irrigation system improvements, power, water, and city/county admin. I believe the annual funding is about $60K.

 

The City in cooperation with the SMIA Board is looking to increase the annual fee to provide for a new range of improvements, as the irrigation infrastructure is from the early 1980’s. Ultimately, a fee increase notice with an explanation for the increase and its uses will be sent to each property in the San Marin area. If 50% +1 of the returned ballots are in favor of the increase, it passes.

 

Cagwin and Dorward is the contractor that was selected in 2003 to perform the maintenance work. At that time, Cagwin was the lowest bidder and much less than the 2nd low bidder. I believe they provide a good service for the monthly fee of $2,200.

 

We contacted the SMIA President about the results of the recent meeting of 11/15, and she told us that information will be posted shortly on the SMIA website. We’ll also post that information here when we get it.


11/20/18

Feedback from our neighbors

Thanks for all your hard work. Please add me to your email list. - J.B.

As a resident of  San Marin I have major concerns about this project. We'd like to be part of your group and assist in any way we can as we learn more about what this project could be. P.S. I agree with your note about SMIA not representing us - their lead person is clearly in favor of this project - J.W and C.F.

We thank you for your well documented presentation of a situation that should be of concern to all San Marin residents - S.E.


11/19/18


11/16/18

On November 13th 2018, there was a joint meeting between the Novato Unified School District and the City of Novato and one of the items for discussion was the development project on the San Andreas School site.  Below is the video of just that agenda item including public comments and city council questions. We urge all San Marin residents to view this as many important issues were raised.


11/13/18

Sylvia Barry posted on San Marin Nextdoor an SMIA notice that a joint meeting was being held tonight between the NUSD and City of Novato including Update on the Feasibility Study on the San Andreas Site with the agenda posted at  http://cms6ftp.visioninternet.com/novato/agendas/cc111318.html and a link to the staff report at https://tinyurl.com/y8qu4x2l.

She also noted:

NUSD has asked SMIA to let neighbors know that the full study will take much longer and the meeting with San Marin neighbors will be in March. We have tentatively scheduled March 7, 2019 for NUSD to come and give us update on their plan for the site after they complete their study. Please save the date. We will keep you updated with any relevant information before then.

We at San Marin Neighbors, homeowners Don and Chris Scioli,  offer concern that we are vigilant of any staff reports on and/or the formal Feasibility study that might be released, so that all San Marin residences can have the opportunity to have a timely review before the meeting.

Don Scioli was able to attend the meeting and speak during the public comment time, regarding our concerns about toxicity due to five gas leaks above the San Andreas site and the status of their cleanup. He asked that all interested should watch the video that we researched and produced. Two other citizens offered comments. We will upload the broadcast of the meeting here once it is on the City website.


11/5/18

We don't want traffic lights in San Marin!

Dear Neighbors,

There are traffic lights being proposed at the intersection of San Marin/Sutro/Novato Blvd - we don’t want to turn San Marin into a mini-city - once traffic lights go in, then there will be other areas proposed, and then more housing proposed because the intersections can handle more cars, etc - PLEASE take a minute today and email the Planning Commissioners (in red below) to tell them NO TRAFFIC SIGNALS at that intersection. They are also proposing a round-about, which I am in favor of (there are plenty in Petaluma that work so well).  The full report is below. (Or you can attend the meeting tonight!) - thank you! alice

-----------------------------------------------------------------

** Planning Commission's Agenda at 7pm, Tonight, Monday, 11/05.  This is the first item on the agenda. **

The staff recommends a long-range capital project enhancements including a traffic signal or roundabout at the Novato Boulevard and San Marin.  

Here is the link to the staff report https://novato.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=27667   

If you have thoughts on what should happen at the intersection, please either 

  1. a)Attend the meeting and present your thoughtsto the Planning Commission during public comment time and/or 
  2. b)Email Planning Commissioners and Deputy PW Director Chris Blunk before the meeting with your thoughts.  

email for Planning Commissioners is pc@CityofNovato.org  for Chris Blunk is pw@novato.org  415-899-8246 

Sincerely, 

Alice Dow


11/5/18

Regarding the Planning Committee Meeting discussing the intersection of San Marin and Novato Blvd

Dear Mr. Blunk and Commissioners Derby, Dawson, Gabriel, Rao, Teirnan, Wernick and Weldon,

While the efforts of Ms. Leonard for her Girl Scout Gold Aware project re: the intersection of Novato Blvd. and San Marin Dr. for mitigation should be appreciated, your own analysis shows no need to adopt such a resolution, since there have been no pedestrian accidents in 10 years, only 7 vehicular accidents, and a much safer intersection than comparable intersections throughout the state.

Also, you state she wants to initiate a long-range capital project to design and construct her recommended improvements. As she is a high school student, isn’t that a bit overreaching for her age and talents?

Also, I was wondering if you could comment on why this report was just issued today, 11/5/18, the day of the Planning Commission meeting and not earlier, so San Marin residents could review this information ahead of time?  You state you’ve been working with Ms. Leonard, her mother and her advisor since early in the year?

Finally, could you comment as to why notice of the meeting this evening was not sent out before this date so folks could prepare their schedules to attend?

Sincerely,

Christine Scioli


11/1/18 

Response to City of Novato's viewing of the "What Lies Beneath" video

At the suggestion of a neighbor, we forwarded the video on the potential hazardous waste that we researched and produced, to the Assistant City Manager. She was kind enough to review it and responded that “the site was released and the case was closed on October 2, 2000,” forwarding a document from the State Water Resources Control Board, which we already had in our files.

 

I responded that: “while we are aware of the EPA’s role in this toxic cleanup, we have done extensive research on the history of this leak. In the attached letter of October, 1989, you can see where Texaco mentions toxic material still being in the soil from the earlier leaks.

Also, as you can see in the 2000 and final report on the site, (see 2 diagrams attached) the area they cleaned up and excavated was only the gas station lot and two of the condos.  They never dug up parts of the field where the contaminants seeped into the ground on the downward slope from 10 feet above. In addition, 9 of the contaminated wells were not properly filled due to “access issues”.

How far reaching , no one knows, and this is what’s so alarming  to current residents of San Marin and whoever might move into any further development.”


10/31/18

Response to the 10/29/2018 post on the San Marin Improvement Association website smiablog.blogspot.com/

Regarding the statement below written by SMIA’s Sylvia Barry regarding development of the site: “The sites being considered include the San Andreas school site and the adjacent smaller city site, which is currently used as a park (collectively called San Andreas Site).”

Chris and Don Scioli have lived on San Marin Drive, adjacent to the school/city site for 31-years. At NO time has any of the site been used as a park.

Ms. Barry continues: “The San Marin Improvement Association feels strongly that San Marin neighbors should learn facts from the source.”

SanMarinNeighbors.com feels all pertinent information should be revealed by any and all organizations or individuals that have researched the facts.


10/30/18

Toxic chemicals that may be lying dormant in the San Andreas School Site

According to the Environmental Protection Agency over 150 chemicals are present with all gas leaks. They say the common life expectancy of buried oil tanks are 10-15 years. At about 20 years, the risks of leaks become significant. In the case of the San Marin Texaco station, the five leaks occurred between 1980-1990, so that’s 28-38 years of gas leaking from the station site and going down the slope into the field 10 feet below. Some of those chemicals are:

 

BENZENE
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Benzene causes harmful effects on the bone marrow and can cause a decrease in red blood cells, leading to anemia. It can also cause excessive bleeding and can affect the immune system, increasing the chance for infection.

Benzene is a major component of gasoline and used in many manufacturing processes. Increased levels of benzene can be found at fueling stations, and in air emissions from manufacturing plants and hazardous waste sites. Living near gasoline fueling stations or hazardous waste sites may increase exposure to benzene. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is part of the World Health Organization (WHO). One of its goals is to identify causes of cancer. IARC classifies benzene as “carcinogenic to humans,” based on sufficient evidence that benzene causes acute myeloid leukemia (AML)Jan 5, 2016 .

 

MTBE
According to the American Cancer Society, MTBE (methyl tertiary-butyl ether) is a flammable, colorless liquid that dissolves easily in water. It is part of a group of chemicals known as fuel oxygenates. Oxygenates do not occur naturally in gasoline; they are added to increase gasoline’s oxygen content.

MTBE was first used in gasoline at low levels in the United States in 1979 to replace lead as an octane enhancer. The use of MTBE in gasoline has been phased out in the United States, so water contamination is the most likely source of exposure for most people. MTBE can enter water sources through leaking underground or above-ground gas storage tanks and pipelines, as well as from gasoline spills.

 

TOLUENE
According to the environmental and hazardous waste experts site MSDS, Toluene is a highly flammable liquid and it can cause mild damage to the skin and the eyes. However, the most-common hazard associated with this chemical is inhalation. Products containing toluene can produce dangerous fumes which can cause nausea, headaches, unconsciousness, and even death if inhaled. Oct 8, 2014

Toluene can enter surface waters and groundwater (wells) from solvent and petroleum products spills. Toluene can also leak from underground storage tanks at gasoline stations and other facilities. When toluene-containing products are placed in landfills or waste disposal sites, toluene can enter the soil and water near the waste site.