Novato is the news coverage winner this week, with the city inspiring a number of stories on its behavior and future.
- There's a study afoot to improve buses through Novato. Marinscope's Rachel Dovey took the 51 to Northgate Mall to see what it was like and found woefully inadequate service, including an inaccessible stop along the freeway and very long travel times. The study was received happily, but Larry Rosen wonders what might be done to improve ridership. If only there were a way to develop housing oriented to transit usage.
- CalTrans has approved $70 million in highway construction around the Novato Narrows and the Redwood Landfill, including a bike path to the Petaluma River. CalTrans also approved the contract for widening Highway 101 in the same area, worth another $50 million. If you're counting, that's worth 13 miles of SMART rail, enough to hit all but the northernmost two stations.
- Meanwhile, the IJ's Rob Rogers wonders if Novato's contentious debates on affordable housing, relocating city hall and other issues "are simply a symptom of a national malaise, a poisonous political atmosphere in which compromise — even over the most basic areas of national interest — seems impossible."
- Speaking of City Hall, Novato's city manager, under criticism for recommending that city offices move to Old Town Novato, felt compelled to outline his rationale. He could have added that centralizing administration in Old Town helps make the neighborhood the city's practical heart as well as emotional.
Elsewhere in Marin:
- Marin City's Transit Center is getting a half-million dollar facelift, including new lighting and safety improvements.
- Larkspur is having trouble maintaining its infrastructure, so it's turning to private companies to fill the gap.
- Mill Valley is forgoing its election this year, as only incumbents had filed to run. Instead, the incumbents were reappointed, and the city saved $19,000.
- Although not quite in Marin, close-enough Rohnert Park wants to build a downtown with a SMART station at the center.
The Greater Marin
- California's SB 791 would allow certain tax hikes earmarked for transit to have a 50% threshold to pass. The idea is to make it easier for transit projects to go forward despite reticence on the part of more conservative elements in a community.
- California High Speed Rail is extending its environmental report's public review period by 45 days.
- While California debates all kinds of rail projects, it's easy to lose track of the simplest thing: roadways. Strong Towns argues that public highways should narrow to neighborhood streets once they enter towns and speed up again upon leaving. Streetsblog thinks a good way to do this in California would be for CalTrans to relinquish control of state highways to local communities where appropriate.
- The Tea Party has a target, and its name is smart growth.
- On the other side of the globe, the Marin suburb of Istanbul is grappling with massive population increase coupled with auto-oriented planning. A new documentary, Ecumenopolis, argues this is a bad way forward.