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Bruce Corcoran

Update on Corruption of Process on the Bently Holdings Application for Medical Office Use

The Board of Supervisors will meet on Tuesday, February 9th, at 11:00 AM at the Civic Center Room 328 to decide whether or not to continue the Bently Holdings hearing for the third time since last December because of an “unforeseen scheduling conflict.” The Board can’t even figure out an appropriate date for the hearing. This would be the seventh continuance overall.

Frankly, the citizens of Strawberry are getting yanked around. Each continuance creates additional hardships for us because we must prepare for and attend each hearing.

Although the Supervisors hope that Tuesday’s hearing will be a brief, perfunctory matter of continuing the hearing to March 22, 2016, it doesn’t have to be. Members of the public may attend the hearing to express their views, and I encourage all of you to do so. Each speaker is allowed 3 minutes to comment.

The Bently Holdings application is a case study of malfeasance. Despite our opposition, the Supervisors are determined to overturn our existing laws that prohibit medical offices, even though none of them lives in Strawberry, understands our traffic issues, or has to cope daily with the negative impacts of the Board’s decisions.

County Staff is not supporting us either. Now Staff is engaged in a traffic study of the Board’s bidding using taxpayer funds.

We are all alone to fend for ourselves.

The past two weeks have been busy ones for me. I’m posting below for your review my speech about “failure to disclose” at January 26th Board meeting and my speech about “gift of public funds” at the February 2nd Board meeting. Each speech is about 3 minutes long.

This is the type of extra effort we are being forced to make. The Bently Holdings application would have been denied by now if Strawberry were a well-managed city or town such as Mill Valley or Tiburon with their own elected town councils and dedicated planning departments. Unfortunately, Strawberry is an unincorporated area of Marin County, so we have to deal with the Supervisors’ biased politics.

If we want to block medical office use and prevent gridlock, then we have to mount a campaign against medical office use with the same enthusiasm and determination as the recent “No Branson” movement.

We need your support. If you want to make a difference and protect our way of life, then you have to speak up now!

For those of you who have been following this issue closely, I want to thank you for your involvement and for your comments about my previous postings.

[For those of you who are just becoming aware of this issue, may I offer this summary:

Bently Holdings owns the 100,000 square foot office complex above In-N-Out Burger in Strawberry. Bently Holdings and Marin General Hospital want to convert about half of the space to medical office use. Medical office use will generate an additional 1,200 vehicular trips per day on our already heavily congested roadways during peak hours.

We are not opposed to medical offices per se, but we are opposed to the additional traffic that medical offices generate. We already have numerous medical offices nearby, and we just opened an Urgent Care facility in the Strawberry Village Shopping Center. We don’t need more medical offices.

In addition, we are opposed to the conversion because our Master Plan and Precise Development Plan specifically prohibit medical office use stemming from our concerns about traffic congestion years ago.]

1/26/2016. My Remarks at BOS Hearing about Bently Holdings Application

Good Morning. Bruce Corcoran from Strawberry.

Staff failed to disclose a significant letter from Caltrans at the Board hearing on December 15, 2015. The letter stated that Caltrans concurred with the Peer Reviewer’s analysis and recommendations, and it also requested additional analysis as specified in the Peer Review and in a previous letter from Caltrans dated July 14, 2015.

This information was critically important for your Board, the Applicant, and the general public to know because it would have impacted your decisions and instructions to Staff, the Applicant’s decision to continue or withdraw, and the general public’s capacity for framing its arguments.

According to Caltrans, the letter was sent via e-mail at 4:15 on December 14th, the day before the hearing, to Jeremy Tejirian and Berenice Davidson. The Staff Report, which was written by Mr. Tejirian, states that “planning staff did not become aware” of the letter until after the hearing had ended. I accept Mr. Tejirian at his word.

However, his statement is misleading because Ms. Davidson did see the letter prior to the hearing, and she forwarded a copy to Bob Goralka and two others. Ms. Davidson attended the hearing, but she did not disclose the letter, and Mr. Goralka presented Staff’s recommendations to your Board, but he didn’t disclose the letter either. I know for a fact that Mr. Goralka had the letter in his possession at the hearing because I asked for a copy after the hearing had ended, and he handed me the letter from his folder.

I’m not blaming any one particular Staff member for failing to disclose the letter, but I’m very critical of the process and procedures for handling important documents from State Agencies such as Caltrans.

I’m also critical of a Staff Report with a misleading statement after I had informed all of you in a letter dated December 22, 2015 about Staff’s failure to disclose the Caltrans letter. This kind of obfuscation of my public comments is improper.

You need to address these problems.

Supervisor Sears is my witness. Therefore, I’m asking you, Supervisor Sears, to take the lead in amending the Staff Report to say that “DPW Staff had received the Caltrans letter prior to the hearing, but failed to disclose it at the hearing” so that the historical record in the Staff Report preserves what actually happened.

And I call on you, President Kinsey, to assist Supervisor Sears with that amendment and to impress upon your Staff the importance of full disclosure.

As the self-professed primary promoter of medical office use, President Kinsey, which is project that is not even in your District, and the effects of which you will not have to cope with because you don’t in Strawberry, can we at least agree that Staff Reports should be accurate, rather than misleading, so that we can have fair hearings under your watch?

This incident may or may not rise to the level of a Brown Act violation, but it fits the same pattern. This kind of behavior has to stop.

February 2, 2016. My Remarks about Bently Holdings (Not on Agenda) during Open Time for Public Expression at Board of Supervisors Meeting.

Good Morning. Bruce Corcoran from Strawberry.

In my opinion, DPW’s ill-advised decision to fund with taxpayer money additional traffic studies for Bently Holdings and Marin General Hospital amounts to a gift of public funds, which is expressly prohibited by Article 16, Public Finance, Section 6 of the California Constitution.

Your Board never authorized DPW to spend $20,000 of public funds for additional traffic studies. On the contrary, your Board required the applicant to fund additional traffic studies and a peer review of those additional studies, but Bently Holdings and Marin General Hospital have spent all of their money and refuse to do what you require. Therefore, DPW is providing the applicant with a gift of public funds to pay for traffic studies that the applicant and Marin General Hospital should be paying for, and that is a violation.

There has been so much malfeasance in the review process of this Bently Holdings application, and the hearings have been continued so many times, that even some members of your Board have lost track of the convolutions.

For example, there is no continuing peer review. The Peer Review of the W-Trans Traffic Study ended when Traffic Works LLC fulfilled its contract in November. Marin General Hospital funded that Peer Review with taxpayer dollars. Any money left over in the account must be returned to Marin General Hospital. It cannot be used to fund additional studies.

DPW was supposed to retain Traffic Works LLC as the peer reviewer of the additional traffic studies that your Board required of the applicant, but in the latest twist of process, DPW hired Traffic Works to conduct the traffic studies that the applicant was supposed to pay an independent third party traffic consultant to conduct.

Even a cursory reading of the Scope of Services reveals that the purpose of the new contract between DPW and Traffic Works is not for the collection of raw data for general use, but to determine how many medical offices can be placed in the Belvedere Place office complex without significantly impacting Strawberry's roadways and intersections.

In fact, Traffic Works' principal, Grant Johnson, asserts in Item #7 of the contract, that his preliminary calculations show that traffic congestion may be mitigated by modifying signal timing. If Mr. Johnson is predisposed to this conclusion, then Traffic Works is no longer an independent and unbiased peer reviewer. Therefore, who is going to pay for the peer review of the additional traffic studies conducted by Traffic Works, as required by your Board?

Despite my protest at the January 12th hearing about using public funds for additional traffic studies, DPW ignored me and signed the contact the next day. [But Director Rojas stated at the hearing that new traffic counts had already begun. How can work be done before the contract was signed?]

DPW did not put the contract out for public bidding. Why?

Ironically, but alarmingly, none of this information would have been disclosed to the public prior to the hearing in March had it not been for your inability to set a date for continuing the hearing.

Again and again full disclosure is the victim, and this comes on the heels of a Brown Act judgment against you.

Your Board’s unbridled bias in favor of the applicant and Marin General is blinding you and digging you deeper and deeper into the abyss of malfeasance.