Happy New Year from the BHCA
On behalf of the Bret Harte Community Association, we would like to say thank you for being a part of our wonderful Bret Harte neighborhood. We hope you and yours had a happy holiday season, and look forward to seeing you again this year.
A special thanks to all those who joined or renewed their BHCA membership in 2021. (To learn more about becoming a member, visit Membership.)
Complete the survey through Monday, May 24
Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM) has assembled a Stakeholder Working Group (SWG) to study and provide feedback on different design alternatives being considered for a new direct freeway to freeway connector between Northbound 101 and Eastbound 580 (see the project website). The SWG has met five times between June of 2020 and now. Bret Harte is being represented by BHCA members Betsy Swenerton and Jim Draper. The project goals are to make pedestrian and bicycle improvements on Bellam Blvd (this work is included with all design alternatives), and to reduce travel time from 101NB to 580 EB (currently 7.6 – 16 minutes, depending on if you go through Bellam or Sir Francis Drake). A total of 9 different design alternatives are being considered; the top 2 or 3 will move on to the Environmental Impact phase. Many of the designs being considered make changes to the Francisco / Bellam / Andersen area, which directly impacts Bret Harte, California Park and the East San Rafael and Canal neighborhoods. We need to show TAM which alternatives Bret Harte residents support the most.
The Stakeholder Working Group and TAM design team are focusing on potential Equity impacts for each design alternative.
TAM has provided this Project Handbook to be shared with the communities most impacted by the proposed design alternatives.
BHCA has created a simple survey for Bret Harte Residents to indicate which design alternative they support most – ranked choice, top 3.
Below is a summary of each design alternative, highlighting elements important to Bret Harte. Please review the summary along with TAM’s Project Handbook, and complete the survey ranking your top three choices of design alternatives. This information will be shared directly with the TAM design team. Feel free to reach out to Betsy Swenerton at email@example.com with any questions.
As a Bret Harte resident who’s been participating in the stakeholder working group meetings, I support Hillside Options A and B first, and then Design Alternative 6. I feel that any design option that closes the SB 101 exit to Bellam (Options 2 and 4) would have a negative effect on the Canal neighborhood. I also feel that all of the low speed (35 mph) options (3A, 3B, 3B Mod, 4) do not offer enough positive change to justify the expense of building them. And finally, I’m generally against adding more congestion and overhead bridges to the Bellam area (5), which is why I prefer Hillside Options A and B first, and Alternative 6 second.
—Betsy Swenerton, firstname.lastname@example.org
Summary of NB101 – EB580 Direct Connect Design Alternatives
Hillside A (1A)
Hillside B (1B)
Simms Street (2)
Low Speed A (3A)
Low Speed B (3B)
Modified Low Speed B (Mod 3B)
Swing Out (4)
Medium Speed (5)
Andersen Dr Mid-Way (6)
2020 Bret Harte Candidate Forum
Bret Harte residents have always been well represented in local politics, and this year is no different. We have three members of the community this year running for city- and county-wide office, one for San Rafael City Council, and two running for the same position on the Marin Municipal Water District's Board of Directors. Please take a moment to get to know your local candidates before the November vote!
Maika Llorens Gulati
Candidate for: San Rafael City Council, District 1
Lives On: Du Bois St.
Maika Llorens Gulati has served as the first elected Hispanic school board trustee at the San Rafael Board of Education since 2015, currently as President of the Board.
Passionate about education, equity and the environment, Maika is the Executive Director of Slide Ranch, a nonprofit in West Marin connecting children to nature. Prior to that, she served as the Executive Director for HeadsUp – San Rafael Public Education Foundation for six years.
Maika is a former local business co-owner in downtown San Rafael, where she was involved with the San Rafael Downtown Business Improvement District and the San Rafael Chamber of Commerce. She has over 20 years of international marketing experience working with Fortune 500, midsize and entrepreneurial companies in both technology and services sectors.
Bicultural and bilingual, Maika is a proud mother of two children who attended San Rafael public schools, and they are now in college. She has lived with her husband Ashwin in Bret Harte since 1998.
Candidate for: MMWD Board of Directors (Division II)
Lives On: Du Bois St.
Key issues important to me in my campaign for Marin Municipal Water District Board Division II are as follows:
Candidate for: MMWD Board of Directors (Division II)
Lives On: Glenaire Dr.
Hello Bret Harte! I am running for MMWD Board Division II representing our neighborhood and much of southern San Rafael. I am running for the Water Board because this is my community where my wife Hilary and I are raising our two sons and I am concerned about our future.
Marin is facing an increasing risk to the reliability of our water supplies, and the health of our environment from climate change, drought, and wildfire. We urgently need experienced members on the Water Board who understand these issues and can work effectively with diverse stakeholders to find solutions that meet the water needs of our communities and protect the precious natural areas of the Water District’s 22,000 acres of land.
I have 25 years of experience as a senior environmental leader in California, working collaboratively with water districts, farmers, local communities, state and federal agencies and conservation groups to restore rivers and fish populations, promote cost-effective water management policies and address the impacts of climate change on our water resources.
I am currently Senior Project Director in The Nature Conservancy’s* California Water Program. My unique background and experience in water supply and resource management is needed on the Water Board today, so that we can move as quickly as possible to advance science-based solutions and achieve MMWD’s primary mission—to ensure our communities have safe, reliable, and affordable water supplies today and into the future.
My campaign is supported by a growing number of community members who believe I have the skills and expertise that are needed on the Water Board. I am endorsed by among others, Congressman Huffman, Supervisors Katie Rice, Damon Connolly, the Sierra Club, Water Board Members Larry Bragman, Cynthia Koehler, Larry Russell, and Bret Harte’s former Water District Board representative and new California State Park Director, Armando Quintero.
I humbly request your support and your vote by mail or by ballot on November 3.
*Organization/employer stated for identification purposes only.
Made in Bret Harte: Triple Voodoo
Before Greg and Renee Kitchen started Triple Voodoo Brewery & Tap Room in Dogpatch ten years ago, they were living in San Francisco working day jobs and homebrewing as a hobby. Once they finally decided to make a business out of it, they worked double duty for a couple years, building the business on evenings and weekends after hours. Two years ago, they moved out of the city to Bret Harte. “We wanted a change of pace from the craziness of SF and we fell in love with the quaint nature of Bret Harte,” said Greg.
Today, having just celebrated its tenth anniversary, Triple Voodoo is a thriving business located on 3rd Street in SF’s Dogpatch, with 16 rotating taps of its craft beers, a 26-foot bar, and a beautiful modern industrial event space.
Support the Neighborhood
You don’t have to travel all the way to Dogpatch to enjoy the beers, Greg delivers! Wednesday through Sunday, Bret Harte gets its own delivery, just order online at the Triple Voodoo Store by 5PM for same-day delivery and you can expect your beer to arrive between 6pm-9pm that day. When placing an order you should specify "pickup" and mention in the notes that you live in Bret Harte.
Who: Greg and Renee Kitchen
Where: Billou St.
When: Moved to Bret Harte in 2018
What challenges did you face at the beginning?
There are too many to list 😁
What do you like most about running your business?
Being part of the craft beer community and meeting awesome people every day
Lack of support by government for small business in California
If you could go back in time to before you got started, what would you tell yourself?
Oh boy.. this is gonna be a wild ride 😁
If resources were no object, what changes would you make to improve your business?
More diversification of different product offerings to help be more resilient to the unforeseen challenges in the market.. such as Covid-19
What advice would you give to people who want to do what you're doing?
Make sure you are passionate about what you do and put in 110% effort every day
Has living here helped you with your business in any way?
The community has really rallied around what we do and supported us through online orders. We are very thankful for everyone’s positive support and enthusiasm around what we do. This is what is going to help small business survive going forward.
BHCA Members Betsy Swenerton and Jim Draper are participating in a Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM) Stakeholders Working Group (SWG) that is exploring design alternatives for a direct freeway connection between Northbound 101 and Eastbound 580. Make sure your opinion is heard regarding the seven alternatives being considered for the new direct connection between Northbound 101 and Eastbound 580.
You can email the TAM 101N-580 Direct Connect Project Team by emailing: Marin101email@example.com. The dedicated project website is http://www.marin101-580.com
July 21, 2020 Meeting
The second Stakeholder Working Group meeting for the 101N-580E Direct Connect Project took place on July 21. Many Bret Harte neighbors participated in the Zoom meeting, where TAM project team members presented the seven design alternatives in greater detail. There are several alternatives that would greatly impact Bret Harte, Lomita/California Park and the Canal neighborhoods, not to mention the critical commercial and industrial businesses along Andersen, Bellam, Simms Street and Francisco Boulevard. Download the complete presentation here.
The next Stakeholders Working Group Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 25 at 3:00 p.m. Information on how to join the meeting will be sent out to the BHCA e-mail list and posted on the website as soon as it's available.
June 29, 2020 Meeting
The first SWG meeting took place on Monday, June 29, where the design team presented a broad overview of the project including seven design alternatives being considered. SWG meetings are conducted using Zoom and are open to the public. This is a very important project that has been in discussion for over a decade, and will have far-reaching impacts (hopefully positive ones) for Bret Harte and surrounding neighborhoods. We encourage all of our Bret Harte residents to participate in these early meetings. The presentation from the June 29th meeting is available here and on the TAM website.
Neighbor to Neighbor Toolkit
San Rafael Vice Mayor Kate Colin put together a great neighbor-to-neighbor toolkit that neighborhoods throughout San Rafael are using to help connect neighbors who need help with those that can provide. This project works through the power of personal connections—volunteer "Street Angels" proactively reach out and see if any of our neighbors are in need, and then connect them with others who would like to volunteer
Photos (not in order): Emma and Frankie, Craig Peterson and Jim Draper, the Cabrales Clan, Heather Brabo, David Leipsic, Heather Brubaker, Molly Blauvelt, Betsy Swenerton, Stacey Farrell, and Nigel Faulkner.
Some Art Ideas for Fun and Inspiration!
Greetings, neighbors, here are some art ideas and suggestions for your fun and pleasure, for all ages: kids and adults!
~ draw! on paper BIG and small. Any kind of paper will work. Try a 3-D drawing: cover a cardboard box with drawings and symbols! pro-tip: cover the box with paper (white or colored) then draw, or paint the box with acrylic paints or gesso, let it dry, then draw. Use all kinds of drawing tools: pencils, pens, and feathers and sticks dipped into ink or diluted tempera paint. Also: create a personal sketch book (all 3rd - 5th graders have made these with me before).
~ paint!: watercolors set up on top of newspaper on the kitchen table make less mess...Also, try setting up big sheets of cardboard or paper outside taped up on a vertical surface and encourage BIG painting!
~ clay!: mush, gush, pound out frustrations! Your finished clay can air dry outside in the sun and then be painted with acrylic paint.
~ hammer!!: securely clamp a 2 x 4 or thick wood to a table and find a hammer that fits your hand and use nails with a large head. Also, try pounding nails into an old wooden stump!
~ sewing and weaving are very soothing activities as well. Now might be a good time to start a quilt...holding a quilt in your lap is very comforting.
~ take a "trash walk" around your yard, or around the block, and set up your own rules: find and pick up 7 things, or 13 things, from Nature, or anything you find, including "trash” (please do not pick up any glass or anything dangerous!) Take these treasures home and make a collage by taping or gluing (white glue recommended) them onto a big colorful piece of paper.
~ now that the rain has washed our sidewalks and streets clean, go outside and create some street art to inspire your neighbors! create colorful drawings, start a ribbon of colors along the curb, or write out a message of hope and inspiration that all can enjoy as they walk through our neighborhood!
I hope you enjoy having the time to make some art. Take good care, be well and have fun!
—Molly Blauvelt, BHCA President
On behalf of the BHCA, we'd like to thank you for taking the time to contribute to Bret Harte's neighborhood update to San Rafael's 2040 General Plan. (This email is going to everyone, but you know who you are.) We received many excellent contributions, and did our best to aggregate them together into broad unified statements while staying true to the common priorities voiced by the community.
Below is the final statement we submitted, based on your feedback. If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
San Rafael General Plan 2040 (Bret Harte) Summary of Survey Responses 6. Please review the text below, which was drafted in 2001-2003 by the City of San Rafael to describe the Bret Harte neighborhood:
Formerly a dairy farm, Bret Harte is a historical district that began development in the early 1940s. Land use in this neighborhood is primarily residential with single-family homes and high-density apartments along Woodland Avenue. Due to the smaller size of many of the homes, Bret Harte is considered a more affordable housing area and attracts many young couples and families. Bret Harte Park is a central fixture of the neighborhood and is the setting for many community events and activities. The neighborhood has an active community association, the Bret Harte Community Association (BHCA), which organizes multiple events each year designed to strengthen relationships between neighbors. The small neighborhood is very close-knit, with a mix of young families and long-time residents appreciating its affordability, central location with easy freeway and transit access, and sense of community.
Residents of Bret Harte exit at US-101 and I-580 West at Francisco Blvd, a busy interchange with four ramps, and travel through an adjacent industrial area to access their neighborhood. Because of this, residents are closely watching ongoing transportation projects, including the Bellam Blvd. off-ramp improvement from northbound US-101, and the northbound US-101 to eastbound I-580 direct connector.
The recent extension of the SMART train to Larkspur Station has impacted traffic in Bret Harte. Monitoring traffic flows on Andersen Dr. and Woodland Ave. and making adjustments to lessen impact is important.
Due to its location adjacent to open space below Southern Heights ridge, residents have been aware of homeless encampments and the resulting littering and increased fire danger that accompanies urban camping.
7 (vision/future). Please review the "Vision for 2020," which was adopted in 2004 for the Bret Harte neighborhood:
New development in this neighborhood is expected to be limited to existing homes that are being expanded and in some cases adding Accessory Dwelling Units. With ADUs, the limited neighborhood parking is a concern. Residents do not want any additional homes built on the hillsides. This neighborhood also needs to be protected from the potential impacts of nearby industrial businesses, including employee parking. All the access roads to the neighborhood must be maintained, including Irwin St., Du Bois St., and Rose St.
Given the increasing impacts of climate change, maintaining and improving gutters, culverts, and storm drains to reduce flooding are major concerns for Bret Harte residents. Upper Bret Harte residents are concerned with continued mudslides that have caused significant damage to hillsides above Glenaire Dr. from runoff from open space above Irwin St.
Emergency preparedness and vegetation-management programs are needed to manage the risk of wildfires. Many residents have been in their homes for decades, and this aging population is at risk during emergency situations. The City should prioritize Safe Routes to School between the neighborhood and Laurel Dell Elementary and Davidson Middle School. Aging power lines are currently above ground and are at great risk given the abundance of street trees and high winds, and should be buried. Given the relatively inconspicuous entrances to the neighborhood from the adjacent industrial areas, signs could be erected at the entrances of Du Bois St. and Irwin St. to demarcate the neighborhood. Improvements in Bret Harte Park should be undertaken, including landscaping of the bare hillside to prevent erosion, community art projects, and shade tree maintenance.
8. Policy: Prepare a plan for the neighborhood to address neighborhood concerns.
Restrict development on the hillsides. Reinforce hillsides to prevent future mudslides from flooding, including surface erosion control, drainage improvements, increased attention to potential slide areas, and reinforcement measures. Continue CERT/DART/NRG emergency-preparedness programs for the benefit of aging residents. Underground existing power and cable lines to prevent conflict with street trees. Continue improvements to Bret Harte Park, including landscaping of the bare hillside to prevent erosion, community art projects, and shade tree maintenance. Create protected bike and pedestrian access to Laurel Dell Elementary from Irwin St.—currently the path along Woodland Ave. is dangerous with uneven sidewalks and blind hills along a well-traveled thoroughfare—and continue to Davidson Middle School and through to downtown. Improve utility infrastructure, especially aging gas lines that run through residential yards. Monitor and discourage homeless encampments in the extensive open space below Southern Heights Ridge. Renovate Bret Harte Center on Woodland, including repaving the parking lot. Ensure the few neighborhood access points are clear in case of emergencies, including Via La Cumbre, Irwin, and Du Bois. Plant additional and maintain existing street trees to provide shade and improve the neighborhood aesthetic.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year