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Planes, Trains and Automobiles (and Real Estate & Death)

Columnist: Bill Meagher
July, 2017 Issue

Bill Meagher
All articles by columnist

Anybody who has spent quality time in the Marin commute knows, in terms of fun, it ranks with a decent root canal. But of late, a series of events have unraveled that could impact that commute.

To begin with, Golden Gate Transit (GGT) has taken over the commute route from Tiburon to San Francisco. For years that route was run by Blue and Gold, but the company approached GGT in 2015 about the change. It still runs a tourist service out of Tiburon.

GGT will also raise its fare schedule beginning this month for both bus and ferry service. The district is facing a $51 million deficit over the next five years thanks to seismic work on the bridge, anticipated drops in revenues and increased wage and pension contributions,

Ferry riders will see increases of 25 to 50 cents one way and those taking the boats to AT&T will see a 50- cent bump each year starting in 2018. Bus riders going into San Francisco will also see an increase.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission would like to extend the commuter carpool hours from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. and to 6:30 to 10 a.m. as part of a pilot program, running from June to December. The idea is that the extended hours would make things really cool for car poolers and folks on busses.

But the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM) wants the MTC to think twice. TAM says that longer high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane hours would reduce highway capacity by 25 percent to say nothing of pissing off CEOs in BMWs, as the acronyms get completely out of hand.

Instead TAM wants ramp metering, more cash for HOV lane enforcement and support for bus-on-the-shoulder lanes, which is quite different than the shoulder injury Madison Bumgardener received by riding a dirt bike and in general being an idiot.

The Federal Aviation Agency has put the brakes on an effort to lengthen the runway at Gnoss Field in Novato by 300 feet. Years ago the theory was that if the runway could be made longer the local airport would see more corporate jet traffic and more businesses would consider locating here.

That idea was grounded.

And finally on the transit beat, there is a real danger that the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit  (SMART) train will begin service this year, though the start date is still soft. Once the trains are on the track and running for real, they will run mostly on a 30-minute schedule between Santa Rosa and downtown San Rafael, with 34 trips on weekdays.

Redwood Highway For Sale

Were you to jump off on the San Marin exit in Novato and take the frontage road north past the new SMART station you would see that no less than three properties are for sale or lease in the corridor. Down the hill from the Buck Center is about 41 acres zoned for commercial and office space. Next door to the Days Inn Motel is another parcel. And the warehouse property that has been home to Birkenstock is also up for lease. Folks with a knowledge of that property say that the whole ugly sandal property can be had and ready for occupancy in 45 days.

Hayden Ongaro, executive vice president with Newmark Cornish & Carey and a man in-the-know, says the city of Novato is taking the long view with those properties as that stretch of road represents the last chance to do office development. And though the old Fireman’s Fund complex is as empty as Donald Trump’s heart, the city still sees a future with biotech companies growing locally.

Your Marin Moment

Dying is easy; comedy is hard, so goes the old saw in the stand-up business. But Hospice by the Bay has managed to bridge that unlikely gap with its “The Deal” ad campaign.

The campaign is designed to promote discussion among family members, caregivers and those who are considering their own demise. The ads run with a headline like “Nice Tushy”, “The Freak” or Birthday Suit,” to catch the eye. The Nice Tushy ad has a picture of a grinning bespectacled senior and the copy says, “Your mom wants to spend her final days at home. Also, she thinks your neighbor has a nice tushy.”

In case you’re wondering, the above paragraph ties a western regional record for number of times the word tushy appears within two sentences.

The ads, which can be found at, have been quite successful for the Larkspur hospice, increasing traffic to the website by almost 20 percent.

The ads inspired me to speak with my wife about my final days and now she knows that I want to be buried in my Dodgers Suck t-shirt, so that when I arrive at my final destination, they’ll know right away where I stand.




In this Issue

The Heroes Next Door

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Stars in Our Eyes

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How to Save a Park: Broadway Style

As the sun sets behind Sonoma Mountain, a talented group of professional singers and dancers perform on a stage set within the old winery ruins at Glen Ellen’s Jack London Historic State Park. T...

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