BCPUD Vehicle Habitation Committee
Recommendations for Action
December 13, 2017
The BCPUD Vehicle Habitation Committee respectfully submits this list of recommendations for action to the BCPUD Board of Directors (“Board”) to address vehicle habitation in downtown Bolinas. These recommendations necessarily are preliminary and the committee welcomes the comments and suggestions of the Board and public. The Committee urges the Board and community to provide direction and input as soon as possible so that we can begin a dialog with the County of Marin about the need for action to address the issues posed by the burgeoning population of persons living in and storing their vehicles on our downtown streets.
- Action: Request Regular Enforcement of Parking and Traffic laws in Downtown Bolinas (Brighton, Wharf, Park, and Terrace), particularly during the Summer Months, on Weekends and on Holidays.
Brief Description: The Committee members believe that many of the parking problems in our downtown area are directly attributable to the lack of any meaningful enforcement of existing parking and traffic laws in Bolinas. Illegally parking in clearly marked “no parking” zones, in areas where there are no available parking spaces (thereby impeding other vehicles, including emergency response), in such a way as to block driveways or fire hydrants, and head-in rather than parallel parking, all are examples of regularly occurring parking violations that should be ticketed. Bolinas has a reputation as a community where there is no law enforcement to worry about – the lack of deputy sheriffs or CHP regularly patrolling on weekends reaffirms that reputation. We urge the BCPUD Board to write to Supervisor Rodoni and/or Senator McGuire to request immediate enforcement of parking laws by the Marin County Sheriff’s Office and/or the California Highway Patrol, particularly during the summer months, as well as on the weekends and holidays.
- Action: Remove Vehicles (or Other Objects) Used as Storage Containers and Parked on Downtown Streets in Bolinas.
Brief Description: Residents of Brighton Avenue report (and the Committee confirms) the presence of numerous vehicles, trailers, boxes, and other “containers” parked/deposited virtually permanently on Brighton Avenue as long-term storage units. These “units” take up many of the available parking spots downtown, worsening the existing parking problem, impairing public access to the beach, and –- to many—presenting an unsightly display in our community. The Committee recommends that the BCPUD Board petition the County to remove these “units” ASAP. If it is necessary to enact some sort of enforceable provision to the County Traffic Code in order to remove these units, we urge the County to do so ASAP on ALL County roads so that this problem does not simply migrate to another area of Bolinas (or elsewhere in Marin).
- Action: Implement an Emergency Long-Term Overnight Parking Program.
Brief Description: As an emergency measure, with the goal of protecting working members of the Bolinas community who are living on the fringes, often in their vehicles, the committee proposes a program whereby a limited number of permits would be issued and registered by the Bolinas Community Land Trust (“BCLT”), for long-term overnight parking. These permits would be valid only in the downtown area where public facilities already are available. Permits would be issued on a first-come, first-served basis and would be subject to periodic review by the BCLT. In order to remain in the program and eligible for a permit, participants would be required to comply with a set of rules laid out by the BCLT. Permits would be issued only for vehicles in which a person(s) is living, which must be kept in good operational condition, and would not be issued for vehicles used as storage (which would be prohibited as described in Recommendation 2, above).
- Action: Implement the Downtown Parking & Traffic Plan.
Brief Description: In 2005, the Bolinas community approved a parking and traffic plan for downtown Bolinas in an advisory vote. The plan was crafted by a committee of local residents over the course of two years and carefully drafted to create timed parking zones in front of heavily patronaged businesses and public offices, and resident parking zones in areas near homes without off-street parking and/or near businesses (and not near the beach). The County of Marin supported the plan and was prepared to seek a coastal permit from the Coastal Commission to implement it. However, at that time, the staff of the Coastal Commission raised objections to the plan, arguing that it could impede public access to the coast in violation of the Coastal Act; local efforts to implement the plan then stalled. In 2014, the BCPUD Board appointed a new committee for Downtown Parking & Traffic; that committee conducted a parking survey and has made recommendations for minor changes to the approved plan. The Coastal Commission staff has confirmed a willingness to recommend approval of a parking plan for Bolinas on at least a three-year trial basis and we urge the BCPUD Board to work with the County and support the submittal of a coastal permit application to the Coastal Commission to implement the plan as soon as possible.
- Action: Amend the Marin County Traffic Code re: the 72-Hour Parking Rule.
Timeframe: As soon as the Downtown Parking & Traffic Plan is implemented.
Brief Description: A group of Brighton Avenue property owners have proposed that the County amend its traffic resolution applicable to downtown Bolinas to require cars move at least 0.2 of a mile (or 1,000 feet) after 72 hours in the same parking place. The Committee supports this proposal if its implementation is coordinated with the implementation of the Downtown Parking & Traffic Plan so that local residents (especially those without off-street parking) have a place to park their vehicles without risking a ticket. The 72-Hour Parking Rule should exempt local residents with official resident parking stickers. As with Recommendation 2, above, the committee urges the County to amend and enforce the 72-hour Parking Rule on all County roads so that the problem does not simply migrate to other areas of Bolinas.
- Action: Amend Applicable Marin County Traffic Code provisions to include “Tow Away” zones in Bolinas.
Timeframe: 1 – 2 years.
Brief Description: Based on informal discussions over many years with people coming to Bolinas and parking illegally, the Committee believes that the existing $99 parking fine (which we understand is the maximum fine allowed in the Coastal Zone) is an inadequate deterrent to illegal parking. The Committee therefore recommends that the BCPUD Board request the County to amend applicable Traffic Code provisions to establish “tow away” zones in critical areas downtown, i.e., Surfer’s Overlook, the “No parking” area in front of the Brighton Gate, the similar area in front of the Wharf Road beach entrance, the no parking areas along Wharf Road and enforce the tow-away zones by actually removing these vehicles to an impound lot. Note: it is possible that because people coming to Bolinas don’t really expect to get ticketed, given the reputation for no enforcement, they express a lack of concern about the $99 fine when asked. If enforcement does begin in earnest and $99 tickets are issued and illegal parking is demonstrably deterred, the Committee would reconsider this recommendation to establish “tow away” zones.
- Action: Request that the County and Coastal Commission Revise Applicable Zoning, Land Use and Other Laws/Regulations to Allow a Permanent Space for Homes on Wheels.
Timeframe: 1 -2 years
Brief Description: If there is a way to establish a permanent space for homes on wheels in Bolinas the BCLT would be interested in managing such a facility. The committee recognizes that current zoning and other land use laws do not allow for such a community resource; however, the committee believes this would be a beneficial way of addressing at least a part of the housing crisis. The committee believes the County and the Coastal Commission should consider how a permanent space for homes on wheels could be created in Bolinas in a limited and controlled way.
Respectfully Submitted by the following members of the Vehicle Habitation Committee:
Jennifer Blackman, Bolinas Community Public Utility District
Ananda Brady, Bolinas Book Exchange
Michael Cavette, Firehouse Community Park Agency (aka “Mesa Park”)
Lia Sabbatini, Bolinas Community Center
Anita Tyrrell-Brown, Bolinas Fire Protection District
Evie Wilhelm, Bolinas Community Land Trust
Nancy Zacher, St. Aiden’s Church