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Rail Plan Not So SMART, According To Corte Madera Council

Town council voices its objections to transferring $8 million from TAM to SMART.

SMART or stupid? Corte Madera Town Council member Michael Lappert called the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit plan a "folly" during Tuesday's meeting.

"Not another dime of public money on this folly. It's insane," insisted Lappert at a special meeting of the Corte Madera Town Council on May 31. "A train that goes in only one direction? … It's stupid."

The meeting came in advance of the June 2 meeting of the Transportation Authority of Marin. TAM heard discussion over whether or not to hand over $8 million to help the financially-troubled Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit authority.

Corte Madera councilwoman Diane Furst, the town's liaison to TAM, was looking for some guidance on the matter and she got it. The council made no secret that it didn't see any benefit for the town.

Another TAM issue that raised some hackles was Sustainable Communities Strategy Planning, which is being administered by ABAG. The SCS housing strategy is linked to transportation planning, including SMART.

"We're all kind of autonomous. We're all part of the plan. … This notion that we're all one and the same, I just really find it objectionable. I feel that Corte Madera should be different than Larkspur, should be different than San Rafael, than Novato and Belvedere. Why do we all have to be the same?" councilwoman Carla Condon said.

"Another thing that disturbs me … is that something like this was drawn by some planning directors, when it should be drawn by the people elected by the town and not some planning officials who may not even live in the community? Their interests are different and their philosophies might be different."

The council received a letter from TAM suggesting that "Development in Marin should be focused along the Highway 101 corridor and around SMART stations. Communities without Highway 101 frontage or SMART stations should encourage nodal mixed use development served by transit."

SMART initially owned a right-of-way that went down to the area around The Village shopping center, but has since scaled back plans. The railway is expected to end at the Larkspur Landing Ferry Terminal, unless the plan is further scaled back.

The TAM board won't vote on the matter until June 23 after it is reviewed by the body's executive committee.

Jim Dickson June 07, 2011 at 03:51 AM
SMART is totally STUPID!! It is simply another perk for the over paid public "servants" who live in Sonoma and work at the Marin Civic Center!! It is a financial boondoggle and an impending fiscal disaster that rivals the pension arrangements that craven politicians cave into on a recurring basis in order to covet the unions' PAC dollars and their self-serving votes!! Pull the plug and stop throwing more good money after a bad deal. WAKE UP MARIN!!
Gayle R June 07, 2011 at 02:19 PM
Hey ... I think we would only need 50% to rescind this ridiculous vote ... which Marin was smart enough NOT to pass for many ballots. Let's kill SMART forever and rescind the vote that squeaked this bad project in the first place. No more good money after bad. SMART is not SMART.
John Parnell June 08, 2011 at 12:15 AM
I applaud the Corte Madera Council for taking this stand. I agree with Mr. Lappert - what was once envisioned as a mass transit benefit has now become nothing more than a political folly trolley, and could end up being the biggest boondoggle in California's history. It is so nice to see that not all of our politicians have been drinking the SMART kool-aid, and aren't afraid to speak out. The SMART deceit continues, and I find Mr. Kinsey's recent behavior not only arrogant, but deplorable. Susan Adams deserves our support for being the only one at TAM to speak out against them reneging on their promise to not use our road money to fund the train. Yes, Gayle, we only need 50% +1 to repeal SMART. And just like it passed, we don't need the majority of each county, but both counties. I do admit, I foolishly voted for it 2008 - which is why I ( & many others) am working hard to repeal it. My web prowess is lacking, and I messed up the site, but the registration still works. Please join us at: http://www.repealsmart.org or http://www.facebook.com/stopsmart (this one is more current) Please stay tuned and be ready to sign a petition, and get everyone you know to sign it. It's a bit of a David vs. Goliath battle, but one that we are going to win. (just make sure you're registered to vote in Marin or Sonoma)

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