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Mayor's Weekly (Feb 24 - Mar 2)

Novato's Mayor Eric Lucan shares city news, events and meetings on the horizon, and on occasion a few spontaneous thoughts.

Mayor's Weekly (Feb 24 - Mar 2)
On my Mind
This past week, I was saddened to read that the bridge I commute over Monday through Friday also happened to be the location where 46 individuals chose to cut their lives short in 2013.  Even more disturbing is the fact that this count is the highest it has been in nearly 50 years.  According to the Bridge Rail Foundation, the bridge has the most suicides of any structure in the world.  The encouraging news is that it appears the Bridge District is closer than it has ever been to installing a suicide barrier.  A final design for the barrier should be finished in the next couple of months and the final piece would be roughly $66 million for construction.  There remains to be a lot of discussion of where the funds might come from and debate over whether the funds should be allocated to such a project.   While some might oppose the use of bridge tolls to fund the barrier, what about the use of penalty fees?  When the bridge district moved to electronic tolls, those without FasTrak started getting bills in the mail.  However, if they didn’t pay within 30 days, they get hit with a penalty.  How much of a penalty?  Over the course of an entire year, it is estimated that the penalties could produce $15 to $22 million a year.  While I am sure many will argue the fines are too much or question the funds collected, allocating them to the suicide barrier construction might produce an ideal solution.  One other item worth noting—although there were 46 reported suicides at the bridge in 2013, there were 118 who were stopped through intervention.

Around Town
SMART Construction Update – This past Monday on February 24th, SMART hosted a construction update at City Hall.  We heard that SMART plans to begin work in Novato in the next couple of weeks.  You can stay up to date with construction here: http://main.sonomamarintrain.org/construction-updates/

North Bay Bio/Life Science Cluster Alliance Kick-off at the Buck Institute – On Thursday, I attended an event at the Buck Institute to help kick-off the City of Novato’s efforts and investment to strengthen the Bio/Life Science segment in Novato and the greater North Bay.  Novato has made a significant investment to launch this campaign which will aid in attracting bio/life science companies and jobs to our community.

Dining Around Town – My wife and I try to dine locally as often as possible and we were fortunate to find ourselves at Chianti Cucina on our most recent Friday date night.  Surprisingly, it has been quite some time since I had dined there last and I must say their Cioppino special was absolutely incredible.

Anubhuti Retreat Center – I wrapped up the week today by greeting and welcoming 100+ visitors to Novato at the Anubhuti Retreat Center in Bel Marin Keys for an annual festival.  Thank you to all those who attended for your warm hospitality.

The Week Ahead
Monday (Mar 3):
Joint Planning Commission / Economic Development Committee Meeting – 7PM (City Hall)

Tuesday (Mar 4):
No Regular Council Meeting
Commission, Committee, and Board Interviews – 6PM (City Offices)

Wednesday (Mar 5):
Design Review Commission Meeting – 7:30PM (City Hall)

Thursday (Mar 6):
Novato Youth Center / Fire District Chili Cookoff – 4-6PM at Novato Youth Center
More info: http://www.novatoyouthcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/NYCA-03-06-14-flyer.pdf

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