The following letter has been sent to the City Council in anticipation of the public hearing tomorrow evening at City Hall.
To Members of the Mill Valley City Council:
I have read Former Mayor Kenneth Wachtel's letter of July 24, 2017, CVP's Robert Silvestri Letter Letter of August 6, 2017,petition comments and email commentary by Community Leader John Palmer. I am in full support of their collective commentary supporting 2-lanes each direction - the Approved Plan.
I offer the following corroborating perspective:
Honor the Community-Based Plan - Authentic Plan not Capricious Plan
The Miller Avenue Public Process was unprecedented in its community outreach, education, inclusiveness, organizational structure, carefully crafted decision-making framework, and its commitment to the achievement of a comprehensive consensus plan - a model process with broad public support and trust - trust that the community-based plan would be honored, engineered and built. The Plan was perfected through the efforts of multiple task forces, advisory committees, Planning Commissions and City Councils. All held votes that reflected the will of the community as expressed at each hearing. That process was authentic and produced an authentic plan. That plan has been approved, engineered, bid and is under construction.
Days before its completion, the City Council arbitrarily voted 3-2 to betray the community-based plan to reduce Miller Avenue traffic capacity from 2-lanes in each direction to 1-lane in each direction between Millwood and Willow - based on anecdote, speculation and opinion - a capricious action at best.
I call on the City Council to honor the plan, to complete the plan as approved, engineered and under construction, and to allow the plan to operate, mature and find its equilibrium for a year before considering an alternative configuration.
Almonte Boulevard and The Parkway - "How are they different?"
Almonte and The Parkway are actually the same public outcry, provided one listens to the right voices. The community objected to restricting traffic at Almonte by eliminating the turn lane. The community objects to the 1-lane each direction in the Parkway on Miller for precisely the same reason - objecting to restricting traffic capacity on Miller by eliminating lanes of traffic. The community does not want traffic carrying-capacity reduced.
"New Information" and "Continuation of the Public Process"
Some Council Members justified reversal of the public process as "progressive" and an act in response to "new information". The "information was in fact old information, just new to Council Members new to the issue. It had all been discussed at length, over and over, in the public process. As noted in Mr. Silvestri's letter, the real new information is the rezoning which seeks to encourage multi-family residential and mixed-use commercial development which will only contribute traffic. That hasn't been considered.
Miller is an arterial, truck route and transit route - the primary route in and out of town.
Petitions - Division in the Final Hour
In the prior hearing, the petitions were hailed as illustrative of public engagement and were then summarily ignored. A carefully vetted petition will be presented at the hearing - close to 1,000 bona fide Mill Valley voters. I've been told that in politics "it's all numbers." That appears to be a sad fact. The last Staff Report reported 35 letters, with no mention of over 600 signatures on the petitions submitted at that time.
Proper Course – Solution
We have heard the concerns of the Parkway neighbors and can only speculate which are real and which are perceptions.
We propose the following safety improvements to the approved 2-lane each direction plan to help alleviate and/or remedy those concerns:
- Consider reducing drive-aisle width from 10'-6" to 10'-0" to increase bike lane width by 1 '-0" each direction.
- Consider cross walk improvements such as flashing-lights.
- Remove and replace the single redwood tree that pinches the street cross-section and bike lane.
- Provide three to four short-term parking spaces at retail shops (cleaners, printers, record shop) by modifying that area.
After the Approved Plan has run, matured, and found its equilibrium, a community process could be considered to re-evaluate the overall Miller Avenue Plan.
This should be a time of celebration - a celebration of the realization of a true community-based plan - the Miller Avenue Streetscape Plan, and not a time of divisiveness - an eleventh hour bid to pit neighbor against neighbor over a capricious change.
Burton Miller FAIA