GWC sent questions to San Rafael Mayor and City Council candidates regarding important watershed issues.

We received the following reply from Greg Brockbank who is running for Mayor. We are very encouraged by Greg’s response on these issues.

We will post responses from other candidates as we receive them.

Mayoral Candidate Greg Brockbank

Mayoral Candidate Greg Brockbank


1. The Gallinas Watershed Council has pulled hundreds of pounds of trash out of our local creeks and marshes, a large component of which is comprised of plastic bags. Do you support the plastic bag ban currently being drafted by San Rafael staff, including a clause that would eventually extend the ban to retailers?

I not only strongly support the proposed plastic bag ban, but I attended most of the meetings the county held with various city, business, and other representative to discuss and craft it. Plus, when it was in front of the county board of supervisors, I spoke in favor of it, telling them that the cities, including San Rafael, would be right behind them, which received a mighty cheer from the audience. As a repeat graduate of the Environmental Forum of Marin, who recently completed all course work for Dominican’s Sustainable Practices certificate, and who has been active in numerous other environmental organizations in Marin for over 25 years, OF COURSE I’m a strong supporter of this ban!

2. The Gallinas Watershed Council sees the best opportunities for improvement to the myriad of problems afflicting our watershed is to develop a watershed-wide partnership to develop comprehensive solutions. As a future decision maker for the City of San Rafael, and steward of the watershed, would you support San Rafael’s participation in the watershed planning process being led by Marin County?

Yes, and I appreciate the GWC taking the time to educate me more fully on these issues with a tour of the area, as well as inviting me to an event at Judy Schriebman’s house, which I attended. It certainly makes sense to use natural physical boundaries around which to develop solutio s to various planning and other issues, so OF COURSE I would support using the watershed boundaries for such planning.

3. Do you share the vision for North San Rafael put forward by the North San Rafael Coalition of Residents ( http://94903community.org/Vision.html) , including protection of the wetlands and creeks, constructing safe pedestrian and bicycle routes to connect the community, and completing the Northgate Promenade?

As the founding Vice President of the North San Rafael Coalition of Residents 25 years ago, I have been delighted to see it continue since then, currently under the impressive leadership of Carolyn Lenert. After once again reviewing the most recent draft of the vision, OF COURSE I support all the things you list, as well as the others. The action items are particularly impressive, and one can’t help but realize that there is still a great deal of work to be done to bring the vision closer to reality.

4. Given the diked wetland area currently occupied by the existing San Rafael Airport is prime habitat for the endangered Clapper Rail and other marsh species, what is your reaction to the recently released FEIR for the Airport Soccer Complex?

I have been told that the original deal with the long-time landowner and developer Joe Shekou was that he could develop the rest of his considerable holdings in this area, right up to the freeway, but that he would leave the wetlands alone on which he now proposes to build a huge indoor soccer complex. If so, this proposal would seem to be in violation of that deal. More importantly, I understand that there have been clapper rails on those wetlands, and that it is sensitive habitat for other reasons as well, so I would have great concerns about supporting it, although our city attorney coaches us carefully not to take definitive positions on such issues so we aren’t later disqualified from voting because of pre-judgment bias. Finally, issues have also been raised about inappropriate traffic, lights, and noise in an area that would be severely impacted by such a proposal, and I also value the tour given to me by members of the Gallinas Watershed Council which greatly educated me and informed my initial impressions. We do need additional sports facilities, but as mentioned, I have grave doubts about this particular location.

5. San Rafael enjoys miles of bay shoreline, abutted by open space, commercial and residential areas. These areas are threatened to varying degrees by sea level rise, currently predicted to rise a foot by 2050 and several feet by 2100. The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) has released maps showing that the majority of downtown San Rafael and some portions of North San Rafael will be threatened by the sea level rise anticipated by 2050. What are your thoughts on how to prepare San Rafael for this eventuality?

I have had conversations on this topic with leaders from Sustainable San Rafael, and while I share their concern, I’m not so sure that raising the levies is likely to be considered exclusively the financial obligation of cities. I assume, and most people I have talked to agree, that the funding for such a massive project would be paid for primarily by some combination of the federal government, the state government, and the property owners themselves. Especially since cities themselves can’t afford to pay these exorbitant costs – especially alone, and especially in these tight financial times. The figures I’ve seen for the Bay Area indicate that $18 billion of real estate is at risk from rising sea levels, and it would cost about $2 billion to raise the levies to protect them. Certainly the property owners would be in the best position to be motivated to make that investment to save their properties from inundation, especially f they have help from the state and federal governments. San Rafael, like most cities, will certainly cooperate, but I can’t imagine we would be expected to pay much, if any, of that cost.