The Action is Saturday, May 5th, 10am, Creekside Room
“Just the Facts, Ma’am, Just the Facts!”
Remember this line by Detective Friday on the TV series “Dragnet?” Well, getting you the facts on Wildfire Defense of your home and your life is the goal of your Dominican Black Canyon Neighborhood Assn. at our Wildfire Defense Forum at 10am on Saturday, May 5, Creekside Room at the cafeteria building on the Dominican U. campus: four authorities in their respective fields will present “the facts” that each of us must know to be prepared. We must learn now: when wildfire threatens, there will be no time for learning. Preparing for a wildfire is not someone else’s problem: it is our problem.
Richard Shortall is President of the Fire Safe Marin Council and President of the Sleepy Hollow Fire Protection District. A retired SFFD Assistant Deputy Fire Chief, Rich Shortall will address 1) personal preparedness and evacuation pre-planning; 2) what is entailed in creating your defensible space around your home; 3) actions you can take to reduce your home’s structural ignitability (roof, vents and openings, decks, etc.; and 4) possible gaps in your homeowner policy’s replacement coverage and/or building code upgrade coverage.
Fire Inspector Marshall Nau of the SR Fire Dept. is a Vegetation Management Coordinator tasked with protecting the City’s residents and open space from wildfire threats by regularly conducting hazard assessments and inspections for and with residents. His remarks will cover what he looks for in assessing property hazards plus he will explain the city ordinance requiring his assessment efforts.
Katherine Randolph served on the Mill Valley Emergency Preparedness Commission for four years, during which time she researched the risk of catastrophic fire in Marin, noting that few residents were taking action on fire departments’ advice, so she began teaching wildfire defense: over ten years, over 1,200 Marin residents have taken her free class. A Marin Master Gardener, Katherine will explain the why and the how of creating an attractive defensible space—what readily burns, what doesn’t, and where to plant it, and what residents must know about evacuation preparedness.
Diana Bishop, our SR Chief of Police and a 33-year veteran of law enforcement who holds multiple degrees in public administration, isresponsible for the evacuation of our area when a wildfire occurs. She will explain how her police force will direct a Dominican Black Canyon wildfire evacuation plus the routes andprocedures for evacuation which each resident should know. Chief Bishop will project the maps of Dominican Black Canyon for her explanation of the evacuation process.
Each speaker will use visuals and have a tight time schedule to follow.
Please schedule 10am, May 5, at the Creekside Room for the facts on wildfire defense in our Dominican neighborhood. Talks will end NLT 11:31am with a Q&A scheduled until noon.
Your Dominican Black Canyon Neighborhood Assn. Directors and FireSafe Committee.
Coffee, tea and pastries will be provided by the DBCNA.
Join first responder and other officials for an evening session March 6th from 6-8pm at the Civic Center, in the Marin County Board of Supervisors chamber, Suite 330.
With the destructive and fatal North Bay wildfires and Montecito mudslides in mind, Marin County is hosting a countywide conversation March 6th to take a hard look at lessons learned from those incidents, hear feedback and ideas from residents, and boost awareness of existing programs and emergency preparations. Stakeholders from an array of agencies and local government offices will convene in what’s being billed as a listening session to develop potential agenda items for the Board of Supervisors.
The conversation will be hosted by the Supervisors’ emergency preparedness subcommittee of Judy Arnold and Dennis Rodoni, the Marin County Sheriff’s Office and the Marin County Fire Department. All community input from the meeting will be considered while recommendations to the Board are developed. Key topics for the March 6th meeting, dubbed the Wildland Fire Preparedness Community Conversation, will be vegetation management on public lands and open space, evacuation procedures, emergency notification systems, and resources to help residents prepare for any sort of disaster.
The North Bay fires killed 43 people and burned more than 100,000 acres in October 2017. The County of Marin contributed to the relief effort by opening a temporary shelter at the Marin County Fairgrounds, and hundreds of people found respite there for almost a week. Another 21 people were killed in the Santa Barbara County community of Montecito in January when rain pelted areas previous scorched in the Thomas Fire and caused fast-moving mud flows through neighborhoods. Dozens of trained personnel from Marin agencies provided aid statewide during the fires, and a regional urban search-and-rescue strike team from Marin participated in the rescue efforts.
Jason Weber, Chief of the Marin County Fire Department, said a year- around wildfire season is “the new normal” because of recent weather patterns, climate change, and the proximity of so many homes to Marin’s beautiful open spaces. Defensible space around homes and disaster readiness is a daily concern in his business. “The only thing that separated Marin from the fire disasters in October was ignition – a burning ember in the wind touching down and starting a fire near us,” Weber said. “Since we know it could happen here, emergency preparedness should not be seen as optional. The prevalent procrastination needs to be replaced by real action.” The Marin County Sheriff’s Office, the Board of Supervisors, and Marin County Parks will have personnel at the event along with County Fire to answer questions and collect feedback.
A committee comprised of various officials – from fire and law enforcement, insurance experts, towns, cities, the County, the state and the federal government – will collaborate on final recommendations for the Supervisors to consider. “This community conversation is an opportunity to bring the public in, let residents hear what we’ve done, what we’ve discovered, and where we’re going with it,” said Chris Reilly, County Emergency Services Manager.
The Civic Center is at 3501 Civic Center Drive in San Rafael. Plenty of free parking is available in the County lots. Visitors are urged to enter through the south archway, closest to North San Pedro Drive, and proceed to the Board chamber on the third floor. In the meantime, register your contact information with AlertMarin.org so you’ll be notified in case of any significant local emergency.
By all accounts, the Dominican/Black Canyon Neighborhood Association Annual Cocktail Party on February 9th was a resounding success and a major accomplishment, demonstrating once again what it means to be a part of our caring community. Over 160 residents enjoyed the party—a great turnout. New and renewing membership dues were voluntarily offered and accepted, and we thank these members for their support. We were also glad to see our invited guests, San Rafael Mayor Gary Phillips and his wife Linda, and San Rafael City Manager Jim Schutz. We greatly appreciate their interest in our neighborhood’s well-being and the exchange of constructive ideas with us.
This year, with fire safety being a top priority for the DBCNA, we are starting a FireWise program with the help of FireSafe Marin. A FireWise Committee has been established to guide the Dominican Black Canyon community in preventing our homes from being overwhelmed by a wild fire. We are dedicated to educating and motivating our community to create a safe environment and, most important, to adopting practices to protect our homes and our neighbors’ homes from suffering the fate of homeowners to the North.
The DBCNA FireWise Committee has started the process and is actively seeking homeowners who understand the critical importance to them and their neighbors of participating in this endeavor to create FireWise defensible space around their homes. To assist the Dominican FireWise Committee, or for more information about the Committee and our Firewise Community application, please contact Jay Hubert, Chair of the Fire Preparedness Committee and Vice-President of the DBCNA at email@example.com.
The remarkable success of the Neighborhood Association party was due to an enthusiastic party team of your entire Board and member volunteers. A heartfelt “thank you” goes to Lindy Emerich who, for the fifteenth year, planned, organized, ordered, set up, and served the wonderful food—a huge part of the party’s success. Additionally, the folks who made this party the Association’s highlight event of the year included Board members Jay Hubert, Bonnie Marks, Marty Wickenheiser, Edie Dagley, Jeff and Joan Cardneau, Bob Levine and Monica McMillan, and Association members Norma Nixon, Jim Koger and Jackie Cormier with her marvelous team of “walkers” who distributed the flyers. Many did multiple jobs without being asked, so I just want to share how heartwarming it has been to have everyone so engaged. The same goes for anyone whom I have forgotten to name.
A big ‘thanks’ to the Marin Tennis Club, its Directors, and to Chris Horne, the club manager, who made it possible to have such a great venue for the party and to Chris’ staff whose untiring efforts during the party made it easy for the rest of us to do what we were supposed to do!
Lastly, a final word of gratefulness to both our new members and existing loyal neighbors who are renewing and who continue to support our Association and participate in our neighborhood events. We sustain our activities on annual dues of $20 per home and ask that everyone in Dominican Black Canyon join. The Board thanks you for readily adjusting to the Marin Tennis Club’s required ABC license policy this year. Just as MTC has supported the DBCNA for years by providing an amazing venue, we too can now help and support them in their business practices.
Thanks, and we’ll see you at the next event in May—which will focus on our community’s response to fire prevention.
Jack Nixon, President
The Dominican/Black Canyon Neighborhood Association
To all the folks who helped with the Neighborhood Association ice cream social,
Here’s a big thank you and a “Well Done” to each of you who volunteered to contribute to the success of our “social.”. Special thanks go to the folks who worked the entire time: Noemie von Kaenel and Lauren Ferrell, 2nd year students at DU, who helped with the setup and then assisted Jeff Cardneau at the serving table until the closing time; and Sara Sonnet and daughter Isabel for once again being the tried and true mainstays at our face-painting table, creating marvelous art on the children’s faces. And Doug Lee for always looking for things that needed doing.
Our best count is approximately 125 attendees with some 40+ being students and staff of Dominican University plus parents of arriving students. Thanks to San Rafael Police Chief Bishop and Fire Chief Gray, the police were in attendance until called away on patrol as was the fire engine and crew until called away.
So, to everyone who helped on our “social,” we want you to know how much we, the Board, appreciate your support.
Board members Jay Hubert, Marty Wickenheiser, Robert Levine, Jeff Cardneau, Bonnie Marks and Edie Dagley
And I would like to again express my great appreciation to the Ice Cream Social Committee—Board members Jay, Jeff, Joan, Bob, and Marty– who made all this happen so well and who always stepped up to do far more than what was required. We have a wonderful team of folks on our Board.
Jack Nixon, Pres. DBCNA
The Dominican Neighborhood Summer Scoop was a resounding success with over 10 gallons and about 186 scoops of ice cream served. While mint chip was the most popular ice cream, the root beer floats proved to be a big hit. The event was chaired by Dominican Black Canyon Neighborhood Association Board member Arline Van Gessel. Lots of details, well managed, led to a successful afternoon for all. A selection of photos below, but there are more on our Facebook page!
The ice cream, supplied by Silbermanns in Northgate arrived at Meadlowlands lawn at -10 degrees, which provided a challenge early on for our master scoopers, Gina and Paul Podwojksi and Zohraa Rehman. Kudos to the team for their two hours of scooping! And congratulations to the six raffle winners of $10 gift certificates to Silbermanns.
Face painting specialists Debbie Ward, Sara Sonnet and her two daughters, Penelope and Isabelle all contributed to one of the most popular events at the Scoop.
Dennis deMille, Vice President of the Board managed the amazing Hurricane bubble machines and the fantastic 50s music! Jack Nixon, Board President and fellow Board member John Matulich manned the membership table to welcome and encourage neighbors to join the neighborhood association.
We had the pleasure of a visit from San Rafael Police Department Corporal Ronda Reese and our newest SRPD Officer, Sandra Felix. Officer Christian Diaz, of the K9 unit brought Faro with him, who was a big hit with both neighbors and the kids.
Also attending were Vice Mayor Kate Colin, City Council members Andrew McCullough and Maribeth Bushey. Supervisor Damon Connolly rode his bike from Terra Linda to get something cold to drink! Hanna Rodriguez-Farrar (far left in photo below) from Dominican University joined us and we thank her and the University for their generous offering of this fantastic venue.
Neighbors just had a good time talking and eating!
Thank you all for coming!
In response to a neighbor request, the Downtown Streets Team came over and cleaned the overpass/bike path students walk every day.
And a shout out to the Department of Public Works, who cleared the fenced area across from Coleman Elementary School. The homeless used to break into this fenced area and camp. After repairing the fence about three times, Kate Colin, Vice Mayor of San Rafael, got Cal Trans (their property) and DPW on board to erect a taller, stronger fence and clear the area of shrubs and weeds to make it less desirable. That worked! Now it is all cleared!
Thank you Downtown Streets Team!!
Whether it is for emergency communication or crime alerts, we need a way to communicate to the Dominican neighborhood. What better way than a private Dominican area social media site? That is NextDoor.com!
NextDoor.com is a social media site designed for neighborhood communications. Based in SF, this site provides a Facebook-like interface to post comments, events, crime alerts, and even classified ads to be viewed by our neighbors. Not anyone can get access to our site–to join you have to verify your address is within the boundaries established for the neighborhood. You can do this by giving them your cell phone number. Verification takes seconds.
You can also get access to the Dominican NextDoor site by being invited. So once you get in, invite your neighbors!
When you are in the site, you will see in the left hand column an option to view and post in Dominican and in Nearby Neighborhoods. If you want to ONLY communicate to our neighborhood, just click Dominican and all your posts will go there. It is easy.
I Don’t Want Any More Emails
So you don’t want more email notifications when people comment on your posts?
1. There is a drop down menu under your name in the top right corner. Choose Settings.
2.In Settings, click on the email tab.
3. There is a chart (see below) that includes the option of Dominican or Nearby Neighborhoods and all the categories such Crime & Safety, Lost and Found, etc. You can choose to receive immediate notifications, a daily digest email, or no notifications.
4. We suggest that you leave the alert ON for Crime & Safety.
Additionally in Settings is a Mobile Alerts tab. This is where you can put your mobile phone in for immediate urgent alerts which would be about crime & safety issues. We suggest you do this as well.
Go Check it Out
You should be receiving your Traffic newsletter over the next week. If you did not receive a newsletter by Sunday October 5, send us an email and we’ll get one to you. You can also download a pdf of the newsletter here.
When a speeding car killed a resident’s cat on Dominican Drive, it led a group of concerned neighbors to form a Traffic Committee to discuss the issues. Our goal is to raise awareness about our driving habits, consciously slow down and stop at stop signs. This is something that we, as a community, can change if we want. Please participate by putting a sticker on your car window and a lawn sign in your yard. If you need a sticker for a second car or are willing to put up a sign, send an email to DBCNA.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Traffic Committee Issues
Here is an overview of the issues identified by the traffic committee:
- Excessive speeding on Dominican Dr., Mountain View Ave, Grand Ave, Belle Ave., Villa Ave., Rafael Dr. and Locust Ave.
- People run stop signs at Sienna at Mt. View, Mt. View at Grand, Grand at Villa, Irwin and Belle.
- It is dangerous walking down Mountain View because there are no sidewalks on the last few blocks near Grand Avenue. This is a big and dangerous problem for children walking or biking to school, and for famlies with children in strollers.
- Speeding on Belle Ave near Coleman after dropping kids off in morning or before picking them up.
- Parking in neighborhood without respect for blocking driveways while picking up kids at Coleman.
- Driving around pedestrians in crosswalks.
- Service vehicles speeding (FedEx, gardeners, etc.)
The committee also brainstormed some solutions/requests for change. An abbreviated list is below:
- Extend the red curb on Dominican Drive at the first curve above Sienna, to prevent cars from parking where they block views of oncoming traffic
- Install speed bumps on Mt. View
- Add signage on road to reduce speeding
- Add painted “ladders” to crosswalks
- Install stop sign at Linden Lane/Mt. View
- Make Grand Ave/Villa Ave a three-way stop sign
- Develop a community outreach plan to get neighbors to comply with traffic code
- Communicate to Coleman parents via the school’s weekly email to remind them of safety issues and neighborhood parking/speeding etiquette
- Remind people of 25 mph speed limit
- Ask Dominican University to participate in our program and communicate traffic laws to students
Traffic Meeting #2
Nader Mansourian, Director of Public Works for the City of San Rafael, attended our second traffic meeting and talked about the process for new signage, and the extensive rules and regulations required to governing the approval of new signs. Nader explained that he comes out to Dominican every few years to respond to the same series of complaints. He researched the accident reports for our area and our neighborhood has few vehicle impacts on record.
The City of San Rafael has monitored speeds on Mt. View a number of times since 2000. The average speed has risen from 32 mph to 34 mph, in a 24 mph zone.
Signage: Many traffic studies have shown that adding more frequent 25 mph speed limit signs is not effective in slowing traffic or changing people’s behavior. People simply stop seeing them.
Speed Humps: The City of San Rafael no longer installs speed bumps as they significantly slow down response time for emergency vehicles (ambulances have to come nearly to a complete stop at each hump), but they also do not slow traffic. Traffic studies show that once over a bump, people tend to accelerate even more due to the annoyance.
Stop sign at Villa: California Vehicle Code would not allow a southbound stop sign on Grand Avenue at Villa for several reasons. Among them, the traffic on the two streets is not nearly equal, a requirement for a three-way or four-way stop. For another, the hill just north of that intersection would hide any sign from traffic driving south, until the cars are suddenly upon it and unable to stop fast enough. Additionally, having the sign would give cars entering from Villa an inappropriate sense of security, when they expect southbound cars to stop.
We are pursuing discussions with him about other possible signage that might slow traffic. We will keep you updated on the process.
In an effort to increase awareness, we have distributed 1000 traffic newsletters and window stickers to the neighborhood. We have lawn signs that will be placed in yards and moved from house to house every few weeks to increase visibility. Dominican University is distributing over 425 window stickers to students with parking permits and employees., in addition to University-specific lawn signs that will be posted on campus.
The vote on SMART quiet zone horns will be held in December. Read more at www.WeAreSanRafael.com.
At the end of 2016, SMART will be rolling down the tracks. Trains will be passing all grade crossings in San Rafael from 5:30am to 8pm weekdays and also on a weekend schedule. This four times an hour for 14 hours a day. The HORNS MUST SOUND at 96-110 decibels (very loud) approximately ¼ mile before every grade crossing. Hundreds of homes and apartments will experience significant noise impact. Quality of life for many residents living close to the SMART train corridor will be diminished. The City of Richmond has the largest network of quiet zones in the state for 10 years with no problems. We can do this too.
The City of San Rafael is in the process of considering a Quiet Zone for San Rafael. If a Quiet Zone is introduced with adequate safe guards and safety measures (SSMs), residents will not be subjected to train horns at grade crossings. This will make a huge difference. Please note that design and construction is already planned and budgeted to make ALL crossings Quiet Zone-compliant. All that needs to happen is for the City Council to vote their intention to have quiet zones.
Public Comment Meetings
The City of San Rafael will conduct the last of three meetings on September 29, 2014 – 7-9pm, Terra Linda Community Center. Please attend and voice your opinion on this subject.
What happens if there is no Quiet Zone?
Train operators are required by law to begin sounding their horn 15–20 seconds before entering a public road or pedestrian‐rail grade crossings and no more than one‐quarter of a mile in advance.
- They are required to sound Two Long Blasts, One Short Blast and One Long Blast
- Because of the close proximity of crossings in San Rafael it will result in the train horn sounding continuously.
- Experts estimate that 90 percent of train noise comes from blowing the train horn at the mandated 96 to 110 decibels.
- SMART, in their 2006 EIR, reported that at least 280 homes and apartment buildings in San Rafael would experience severe noise impact and 540 homes and apartments would experience significant noise impact. Many residents believe their reporting number is low.
- A railroad engineer always retains the right to use the horn if there is any potential danger on the track (a car or pedestrian encroaching on the track, for example).
Map of Train Crossings in San Rafael
To see all planned Quiet Zone-compliant crossings on the SMART train line, download the Quiet Zone Safety Measures pdf published by SMART.
Overview of Quiet Zones
SMART released this document in 2012 which includes information about what Quiet Zones are, what types of crossings are compliant. Bottom line is that if there are no train horns, it needs to be apparent that a train is coming through closed gates that are not passable. Click to view the Establishing Quiet Zones in the SMART corridor pdf from SMART.
Source: SMART Quiet Zones Whitepaper #15, July 2008
Only local public authorities with control over streets and roads (such as cities or counties) may establish quiet zones. The establishment of a quiet zone does not require the submission of an application to the FRA and thus there is no need for a local jurisdiction to wait to see if its quiet zone has been “accepted.
The process begins when a local jurisdiction, such as the City of San Rafael, files a Notice of Intent to establish a quiet zone to the California Public Utilities Commission, Caltrans and applicable railroads (in this case SMART and the NCRA). While the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is not required to be part of the notice of intent process, it is prudent to keep them involved in the process.
The issuance of this notice is typically preceded by a formal diagnostic review of crossings in the proposed quiet zone. The PUC, railroads and Caltrans must be invited to the diagnostic review. This diagnostic review is necessary to determine treatments for pedestrian crossings and private crossings that involve public access, industrial activity or commercial activity. The review is also intended to assist the local public authority in devising the best plan for quiet zone implementation. (Note: According to Ken Chiang at the CPUC this had been conducted but SMART has not yet submitted its official requests).
Once any necessary supplemental safety measures have been installed, and the CPUC has verified Quiet Zone Calculator data, the local public authority issues a Notice of Establishment. The Notice of Establishment is sent to the FRA, all applicable railroads, Caltrans, any local governments affected and any private property owners affected by private crossings. Railroads must cease blowing the train horns after the 21-day waiting period. (Note: Ken Chiang at the CPUC is of the opinion that local jurisdictions should consider waiting 6 months to one year after SMART service initiates to consider implementing quiet zones.
In the case of the SMART corridor, quiet zones could be established and improvements incorporated into SMART’s construction prior to service startup.
Public Utilities Commission Recommendation
The PUC has the right to make a recommendation on quiet zone implementation in San Rafael. The word is that they are going to suggest a 6 month-1 year use of horns to ensure people KNOW a train is in town…before implementing a quiet zone. This approach is counter-productive. If people get used to hearing horns, and then the horns are gone, people who relied on the horns will be at increased risk.
Liability and Insurance
Some cities have wondered if quiet zones will increase their liability:
- According to the FRA’s Staff Director of the Highway Rail Crossing and Trespasser Division, the failure of a train to sound its horn should not be a cause of action against a local jurisdiction that implemented the quiet zone.
- The same official has publicly stated that if a suit is ever brought against a local jurisdiction for preventing horns at a crossing, the FRA would likely file an amicus brief on behalf of the locality.
- The FRA does not want local jurisdictions to be punished for creating quiet zones, since adherence to FRA requirements should translate to an overall reduction in safety risks.
- Unlike some older quiet zones established with whistle bans before the 2005 Train Horn Rule, new quiet zones can only have been implemented if overall safety risks were reduced to the a level at or below that with trains sounding their horns; or if risk were negligible with or without the horn.
- Ultimately courts determine liability and culpability based on the particular circumstances of individual cases.
- At present, however, no local jurisdiction has been sued for removing train horns in the three years since the 2005 Train Horn Rule was established. (as of 2008) Source: SMART Quiet Zones Whitepaper #15, July 2008
- Some cities believed their insurance provider covered quiet zones and discovered that they were in fact excluded meaning the city would not be insured if someone sued over injury or death at one of the crossings. Source: City of San Juan Capistrano
The Mayor is concerned about indemnification. What have other cities done and what is SMART’s position?
- Some cities indemnified the Railway authority for liability arising from the design, construction and maintenance of the crossings and discovered that their insurance did not cover this liability without a substantial additional payment for indemnity obligation insurance. Source: City of San Juan Capistrano
- SMART has gone on record to state that jurisdictions that desire to establish a Quiet Zone will need to enter into a construction and maintenance agreement with SMART to address responsibilities for the improvements within the Quiet Zone and includes SMART’s standard indemnification provision. Source: SMART Establishing Quiet Zones in the SMART Corridor August 2012
- SMART in an email exchange with Ken Dickinson August 4, 2014 has gone on record as saying that “SMART’s standard indemnification regarding quiet zones will be developed and tailored for each of the jurisdictions as required.” But no actual standard has been forthcoming from them at this time.
- The FRA has noted that states have the power to exempt local communities from lawsuits through the application of sovereign immunity (and some states have chosen to do that). Source: CRS Report for Congress – The Federal Railroad Administration’s Train Horn Rule, April 20, 2007.
- In an agreement between the Wyoming Department of Transportation and the City of Gillette for the construction of a Quiet Zone they dealt with the issues of Sovereign Immunity and Indemnity as follows: The State of Wyoming and the WYDOT did not waive sovereign immunity by entering into their agreement and the City did not waive governmental immunity. They retained all immunities and defenses available to them as sovereigns or governmental entities. In addition each party to the agreement assumed the risk of any liability arising from its own conduct. Neither party agreed to insure, defend or indemnify the other. Source: Cooperative Agreement Between the Wyoming Department of Transportation and the City of Gillette, June 30, 2014