Description to come.
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.
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.
Despite the power outage (or maybe with help from it?), we had our best turnout ever at our annual Halloween event this year. Thanks to our event volunteers and everyone who came out and showed off their awesome costumes. Halloween went off as usual in 2019 in Bret Harte—a reminder that we remain one of the best neighborhoods in town for over-the-top trick or treating! (If you have any pics you can add, please send them to email@example.com).
On Thursday, July 11, 2019, the FSRN hosted an open meeting at San Rafael City Hall to discuss preparation for public safety power shutoffs. As you likely have heard, PG&E monitors weather conditions during fire seasons and plans to preemptively shut down electrical power to circuits in areas of high fire risk. San Rafael and Marin County Fire and OES officials helped address the concerns and needs for these outages from being prepared at home to the protocol for the city services. Speakers included San Rafael Fire Chief Chris Gray, San Rafael Emergency Manager Quinn Gardner, Marin County Fire Chief Jason Weber, Marin County Emergency Manager Tom Jordan, and Federation of San Rafael Neighborhoods Vice President Richard Bernstein. Mayor Gary Phillips and Supervisor Dennis Rodoni also attended.
Greetings, neighbors! Thank you to everyone who turned out at the meeting. If you couldn't make it, please come next time. Here's what we discussed.
Join the BHCA. We encourage all of you to please sign up to become a BHCA member! Dues for a family are only $25 annually (open to anyone in the neighborhood, renters and homeowners alike). We currently have approximately 50 households that pay dues each year, and we need at least 10 more to cover expenses. We're working on the website to include a payment mechanism, in the meantime you can visit the Join the BHCApage for more information.
Subscribe to the Email List. We also encourage all of you to subscribe to the BHCA email list, so you won’t miss any important information. Subscribe here.
Upcoming Events.Contact the event host if you'd like to sign up to volunteer. We are always in need of event volunteers, please consider helping out at an event or two.
Federation of San Rafael Neighborhoods (FedSRN). Consider joining the FedSRN (www.fedsrn.org, $10/year). There are two Bret Harte residents on the Fed SRN Steering Committee, Jim Draper (City Liaison for BHCA), and Betsy Swenerton. Monthly General Meetings are open to all:
New Vegetation Management Program. We are looking for neighbors to spearhead a neighborhood vegetation management program. Please contact Molly at firstname.lastname@example.org more information.
Join the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Be prepared in case of disaster and help your neighbors (and yourself) before first responders can arrive. Next San Rafael CERT Class is September 5, 7 & 14. Learn more at https://readymarin.org/cert/.
Upper Irwin Project. The repairs at Upper Irwin St. are proceeding well. All the retaining walls are completed. Paving and drainage work on the roadway will follow. work is expected to be completed and Irwin St. reopened by the second week of July.
Park Updates. PG&E has not yet hooked up our park bathroom. The City is trying to replace the toilet with a larger one, which requires retrofitting the prefab unit…in the meantime, please use the toilet gently.
Gas Pipeline Upgrades. PG&E is expected to begin work this week to replace the gas pipelines on Woodland between Picnic and Bungalow, and on Billou Street. The Billou St. gas project may require digging up the service lines to homes. please direct your questions and concerns to the City and the Dept. of Public Works. This work may be disruptive, so please be patient and drive safely.
SMART Train. SMART will begin testing their tracks from August into December, which will include testing the horns, and the 2nd and 3rd St. crossings. I hope you have a chance to check out the new multi-use pathway and bike paths!
Offramp Construction. Caltrans will begin work to upgrade the NB Central San Rafael Offramp from the freeway, at Irwin St. this Fall. The agency is warning that it will impact traffic downtown for more than a year.
Representatives from the BHCA attended the opening of Station 52 on Monday, March 13th. Bret Harte resident Willie Walker, who lives on DuBois, was recognized as one of the original firemen at the station when it opened in 1957 (See photo).
Wildfire Prevention Direct Assistance
AmeriCorps NCCC has partnered with the City of San Rafael to directly help low-income, elderly, and disabled homeowners reduce the wildfire risk around their home. In doing so, they will help create a more resilient and fire-safe San Rafael. We anticipate that this free need-based service to qualified homeowners will occur between late April and mid-June 2019. LEARN MORE
Our newly renovated park was filled with eager little ones, colorful eggs and a welcoming bunny for our annual Easter gathering, which was a fun success. Many thanks to Betsy and her family and her amazing crew: Max, Miles, Aliya, Kyan, Thomas, Jenny, Holly, Eric, and Jeff for put together a wonderful Easter in our renovated park! MANY many thanks to Mark and Betsy for making our new bathroom and toilet ready for the big event!!
If you see or experience any problems with the toilet or our new bathroom, please contact Dept. of Public Works at: 415 485-3355 during business hours. or go online at cityofsanrafael.org and "report a problem" .
Look for tile-painting workshops for neighborhood kids this summer, hosted by Molly Blauvelt and Patti McKay. We plan to beautify our new bathroom with colorful tiles.
If you have extra bounty to share from your garden or fruit trees, please contact Nigel or Chris Brown, who are putting together a wonderful new program: Bret Harte Bounty, to share extra fruit and veggies with elder neighbors who'd appreciate a hand and a visit, and others with need and interest: BrownIsTurningGreen@gmail.com. Thank you, Chris, Nigel, David and Sarah for your generous efforts!
The slide repair on Upper Irwin is progressing well, despite delays because of heavy rains this winter. The last retaining wall is being built right now, then Irwin Street itself will be finished and reopened. Latest reports from the City say it will be completed in June (or before July 4th).
Beware: PGE will be moving back into our neighborhood in June to put more new pipes into our streets, on Woodland: Lovell to Irwin, and Billou St. and perhaps other neighborhood streets. Please contact Dept. of Public Works with your concerns and questions. Hopefully maps of closed streets will be provided this time around...
The SMART train's multi-use pathway will be OPEN soon from the tunnel to Rice Lane. It will boast lighting and new fencing. The City is looking for funding to complete this pathway all the along W. Francisco to 2nd St.
PLEASE NOTE: 2nd Street at the transit center will be completely CLOSED the weekend of June 1 - 2 while SMART pulls the double train tracks across 2nd and makes the connection to W. Francisco tracks.
And then 3rd Street at the transit center will be completely CLOSED the next weekend of June 8-9 while SMART pulls the double train tracks across that section.
The SMART train will begin a testing period, with horns, from August - Dec. and then the train will be fully running to Larkspur by the end of 2019: exciting!
If you aren't already, please do consider becoming a dues paying and supporting member of BHCA, join in our neighborhood email chain for the latest updates, and support our wonderful neighborhood events and projects!