Thursday, April 26, 2012

April 19 Report on County WPH Roundtable Meeting

Laurel has provided this description of the HEG's meeting with the County written by Stan Barbarich (Thanks Laurel!).

Hello, fellow WPH Project Team Members,
At the request of Harbor Equity Group (HEG) Board members Stan Barbarich, Ric Miller, Suki Sennett and Pam Bousquet (who are FHA board members and are on the WPH Project Team) met with Supervisor Kate Sears and key players in the WPH Re-Configuration project at Marin Civic Center on Match 12, 2012. In preparation and in advance of the meeting, Stan submitted a “Meeting Backgrounder” detailing the long time role of the HEG with the WPH Project and the project’s long and complex history. In addition, along with the Backgrounder a list of agenda topics and necessary actions and outcomes was sent to Sears, County staff and responsible parties in advance of the meeting.
Participating in the “Roundtable”, in addition to Supervisor Sears and Aide Leslie Alden, were:
  • County of Marin- Community Development Agency (CDA)
  • Brian Crawford, CDA Director
  • Curtis Havel, Principal Planner
  • Leelee Thomas, Principal Planner
  • County Department of Public Works (DPW)
  • Bob Beaumont, DPW Director
  • Eric Steger, Land Development
  • Michel Jeremias, Land Development
  • Waldo Point Harbor
  • Bill Ziegler, Attorney
  • Dan Hughes, Project Manager
  • Bob Hayes, Architect
  • Gates CoOp/ EAH
  • Lynn Berard, EAH
  • Michael Labate, Gates CoOp
  • Annette Rose, CoOp Consultant
Supervisor Sears generated her own very general agenda, which did not include historical issues and some other specific matters of immediate concern to us. She requested that those matters be set aside, to focus the meeting exclusively on what's needed immediately to move forward. But, throughout the discussion, we brought out many of our concerns and they were addressed. We were invited, along with the other parties, to forward to her office any issues which had not been addressed, and those concerns are to be directed to the responsible agencies/parties. We will meet again in one month for an update on the progress of these concerns.
It was a very fruitful meeting. It was very clear to us that several of the participants had not been communicating with each other, with each waiting for the other to take a next step, in some cases. Planning said that the biggest tie-up this year was the finalization of the affordable housing agreements,without which building permits cannot be issued, and WPH's attorney said that he had received the last agreement today. Planning agreed to issue permits to allow the CoOp to begin rehab of two of their houseboats that are set to move onto the existing docks, allowing that part of the whole project to begin. Brian Crawford, head of the Planning Department also invited us to submit a list of unresolved issues and meet with his responsible staff as necessary. An extremely helpful attitude was demonstrated by county officials and staff, who expressed their willingness and commitment to fast track disposition of matters that have yet to be the subject of needed permit applications by WPH, including things like the construction of the re-designed dock houses, as well as unforeseen problems that will likely arise going forward, in an effort to avoid delays during the upcoming years of active construction. 
We pointed out that some of the scheduled changes have not been carefully analyzed nor understood by the residents, having only drawings to look at in order to imagine things like a 3-4 foot rise in the walkways and parking areas, and that it is apparently not known exactly how these changes are going to be implemented, or how they will work when finished, and that then it will be too late to change anything. In fact, several drawings have not yet been provided to us, including the final version of the WPH office and the landscaping plan. WPH promised to provide those right away, as they have them in hand. 
We emphasized that we do not want to delay the project, only that we feel that county oversight is essential throughout the process and that it must start NOW. The current WPH construction strategy for the first year, which WPH plans to begin on July 1, 2012, with the driving of the sea wall sheet pilings and the reconstruction of the South 40 parking area (selected as that will generate fill that will be needed for the other areas of the project) Bottom line analysis: the last items that must be in place for the project construction to begin are:

  1. Finalization of the EAH/CoOp agreements
  2. Finalization of the project financing
  3. Secure final bids and selection of the General Contractor
  4. Provision of the definitive 5-year construction schedule
  5. Issuance of the building permits for the sea wall and parking lots
  6. Permit  application and approval of the new dock house for South 40 and Liberty and Main Docks

We now have a pretty good framework to move forward and see to it that the residents' concerns are addressed and transmitted to the responsible parties, and work to push the project forward as expeditiously as possible.

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