Marin County Summer Cooling Centers

Marin County Summer Cooling CentersThe following information is provided by the Novato Chamber of Commerce.  Since Marin weather is mild in general, so most of home owners do not need nor do they have air conditioner.  This information can be very helpful for the rare, but very  uncomfortable scorching hot days in Marin.

This is very important for the very young, the Seniors or others with health conditions who need to be especially careful when weather conditions change drastically!

The following facilities have graciously agreed to open their doors as Cooling Centers (to those of any age) in Marin County in times of need.

Hours of operation as a Cooling Center are informally offered and may change when necessary.

Each site is air-conditioned, has water for drinking, a restroom and seating.

Aegis of Corte Madera
5555 Paradise Drive; Corte Madera 94925
Phone: (415) 927-4200 Fax: (415) 927-4200
Hours available as a Cooling Center: 8:30am to 7pm daily (weekends included)

Marin YMCA
1500 Los Gamos Drive; San Rafael 94903
Phone: (415) 446-2101 Fax: (415) 492-9703
Hours available as a Cooling Center: 7am to 7pm daily (weekends included)

Aldersly Garden Retirement Community
326 Mission Ave; San Rafael 94901
Phone: (415) 453-7425 Fax: (415) 453-6377
Hours available as a Cooling Center: 9am to 5pm Monday thru Friday

The Margaret Todd Senior Center (MTSC) Primary Cooling Center in Novato
1560 Hill Road; Novato 94947
Phone: (415) 899-8290
Hours available as a Cooling Center: 9am to 5pm Monday thru Friday
For after hour assistance, please call Novato Police Department Dispatch (415) 897-1122

Aegis of San Rafael
111 Merrydale Road; San Rafael 94903
Phone: (415) 472-6530 Fax: (415) 472-3969
Hours available as a Cooling Center: 9am to 5pm Monday thru Friday

Information provided by Marin County Department of Health & Human Services

Commons at Mt. Burdell – Going Green, LEED Plantinum + Design

Novato Real Estate – For my Novato Neighbors and FFIC Friends

Background –

I recently (June 17th) attended a neighborhood presentation by American Assests, developer of the FFIC Site, about the proposed plan for their new project for the site – “Commons at Mount Burdell”.

I attended the meeting as a member of San Marin Improvement Association (SMIA) as well as a concerned Realtor who lives close to the project site and an ex-FFIC employee.  I have a vast interest in the project, for me, for my neighbors, for my friends and for our local community.  

I was probably the only one from SMIA, while most others were residents across from FFIC. 

Since this will have a major impact on our neighborhood, I have decided to share with you the information I gathered at the meeting.  The following are notes at the meeting.  In the interest of accuracy, I asked Ms. Margi Goodman,  representative of American Assets, to review the notes and have made corrections accordingly.  

To start with, from the information I received, I have created a graph with current FFIC topography and  American Assets’ “Commons at Mount Burdell” plan for comparison.   

Common at Mount Burdell and FFIC Current Facility
The Meeting –

John Chamberlain, CEO of American Assets, the owner of the site, was the presenter at the meeting. 

Since this is a project still being revised, please do check with the developer for details and updated plans (they are conducting meetings to get feedback from the community and will revise the plan if needed):

1. The project is called ‘Commons at Mount Burdell’, a place developed to serve the local community.  All the development is confined in the ‘LOOP’ – meaning the driveway surrounding FFIC campus with two entrances – West Campus and East Campus drive.

2. The plan is to keep and improve the three current FFIC buildings

3. The additional buildings will be built on the current parking facilities. All future parking will be underground with the exception of parking right in front of the center FFIC building, which they will keep as well as parkings for the two residential buildings.  Parkings for the two housing structures will be in the middle of the buildings and not visible from outside. 

4. There will be a new ‘world class’ hotel (similar to Sheraton Hotels) with a comprehensive health club (not a gigantic one but a luxury hotel quality facility). The health club will include swimming pool with possible retractable roof, weight room and will be accessible for FFIC employees.  (Note – Partridge Knolls neighbors wonder if they can get community membership)

The hotel will be located at the far east side of the property. The plan currently calls for a craftman style facility with 175 rooms, meeting facility, a large banquet room – capacity of 450, restaurant and the health club.  

5.  A residential facility in between the Hotel and FFIC building. The facility will house 150 units. The current plan is around 1/3 1BD/1BA units and 2/3 2BDs/1BA units. Rentals for 6 months to 12 months leases. All rental units will be on 2nd floor and up. 20% will be low income housing.

The first floor of the rental building will be shops and restaurants. Although after further inquiries (comments were there is really no need for restaurants and shops there), John said that the eateries will mostly consist of coffee shop, small stores, etc. for the hotel, apartment residents and office workers.

6. A few small office buildings will be built between the West Campus Drive and FFIC building. These will be built in the future pending needs.

7. They will donate a small parcel to Novato Rotary to build a community center.

8. The current ball park will increase in size. Some feedback is for multi purpose field. My personal feeling is that, the field and the community center for Novato Rotary, are part of what the developer wants to do to give back to the community and build local goodwill.  The exact plan is not clear at this point.  American Assets has contacted little leagues, etc, and will possibly be looking at a mixed use facility which they will build and maintain for local usage. 

9. The total projected usage will be for 5,000 people – the original maximum occupancy designed for the FFIC site. At the height of FFIC, there were 2,000 occupants and they currently have around 1,000 people on campus.

10. A big selling point is the green building aspect of the whole structure, hopefully a LEED Platinum (or exceeds Platinum) Certified complex. Platinum is the highest rating you can get from the LEED certification (Note – I did a research on this when making presentation at San Marin High School Green Week recently. So please do contact me if you need further information about LEED certification.)

11. Current FFIC buildings are up to 80ft tall.  The new buildings will be 40 feet at  most (most parkings will be underground).

If you are concerned, be sure to drive on San Marin Drive and imagine how it might look – which I do every time I drive by FFIC now. Good thing is that the trees at FFIC are more mature and the site sits lower than San Marin Drive.  My own feeling is that the new buildings might not be as intrusive as I first feared.  (Added 6/28- Also try to imagine how the site will look at night and when the leaves fall. It’s pretty dark now when you drive by, but it could be more lively at night with hotel, residential structures and community center. )

12. Per developer, they hope by doing this, they will be able to lower FFIC operating costs which will encourage FFIC to stay in Novato (there is always that speculation) and keep local employment rate up. With the new facility, they hope to attract other occupants, prevent the buildings from sitting empty and increase sales revenue for the city.

Major Concerns –

1. Traffic in and out of the site and how dangerous (per residents across from FFIC) it is currently and what it might do in the future. There are also concerns about the 101 interchange. Per developer, they are doing a traffic study including both and the plan will not go forward if 101 interchange needs to be improved – cost prohibitive.  In addition, the plan might change from Traffic Study Findings.

2. The effects on home values – opinions are divided on this. Some worried about what they will see out of their windows, some worried whether the residential units will affect the value of homes. Some thought the addition of world class facilities will add to home values.

3. Energy/water usage – see Green building plans

4. Views from residents who live on the hills across from FFIC

5. Noise level – from construction and from additional traffic

6. Secuirty (Added 06/28) – Another concern is the security of the site, especially the parking structures. The residential ones will be secured parking and public ones will have patrol – American Assets will be researching this.  

Design Review –

American Assets submitted the plan to the city on June 10th.  The city shall respond in 30 days after submission.  They will be conducting more neighborhood meetings to get feedback and anticipate revising plans from feedback received.   They will be going through Novato Design Reviews.  The high level time frame is estimated to be two years.      

Please make sure you attend future meetings for updated plans and let them know about your concerns. 

Comments –

I welcome your comments and do let me know if I have missed or misrepresented anything.  I will gladly make corrections. 

Updates and Meetings – (added 07/08) 

Ms. Margie Goodman has kindly agreed to keep me informed of updates and future meeting schedule so I can post them on this blog.   Please come back and check periodically. 

September 4, 2008 Update – The Fireman’s Fund meeting will be on Tuesday, Sept 9th at 6.30pm at the Nova Ro meeting room.  (From San Marin, take a right on Redwood Blvd, then take another right on Pinheiro Circle.  The meeting is at 31 Pinheiro Circle, upstairs in the mtg room.) 

The President of American Assets (John Chamberlin) will be there to show you the proposed project, listen to your feedback and answer any questions.   

Please bring neighbors along.
Thanks for your interest!
eMail Notices –  (added 07/08) 

Please email me at if you would like to be notified of future meetings.

References –

1. City of Novato Planning Department – Redevelopment of the Fireman’s Fund Office Campus – including two PDF files for detailed information.  

2.  Marin IJ Article  This article basically talked about the Green building aspects of the project and did not touch upon the concerns of the neighbors who attended the meeting – mainly the additional traffic in and out of the campus with the new Hotel, residential units and office buildings. Note that the first picture showed the angle from Ball Park to the campus, but the truth is the green space on the proposed campus is much smaller.

3.  Novato Advance Article, June 11, 2008

4. Another Marin IJ Article – announcing the Sale.

Novato Real Estate Market Overview, June 25, 2008

                               Novato Landmark - Old City Hall                                   

Novato Real Estate Market Trend, June 25, 2008

As can see from the list below, the entry level Novato homes are enjoying a high percentage of pending sale than two weeks.  With the starting home price drops in Novato, and the avaiability of Short Sales and Bank Owned (REO) properties on the market, the first time homeowners and investors are out looking and actually buying. 

Several nicely priced mid range and higher end homes ($800K and up) are quickly claimed by ready buyers at the beginning of the summer housing season; a great time to shop and move. 

One reason of seeing increasing inventory, higher DOM (Days on Market) and higher pending rate is houses take longer to get out of pending status due to the much longer time required for lender to approve or disapprove the purchase. 

With proper guidance and patience, a savvy homebuyer will be able to get a fabulous buy. Make sure you do your research and your financing arrangement is ready when a great deal shows up.  With proper guidance from your Realtor and patience, a savvy homebuyer will be able to get a fabulous buy now!    



Total Units/ In Escrow


% Active


% Pending

% +/- since 5/28

All SFD’s and CID’s
























$0 -$500K SFD
















$600,001 – $700K








$700,001 – $800K








$800,001 – $999,999








$1M – $1.25M








$1.25M – $1.5M
















  • Buyer’s Market  < 25%
  • Neutral                25% – 40%
  • Seller’s Market   > 40%

Marin County July 4th Events – For the Patriotic You!

Independence Day is a heartbeat away and one of the beauties of life in the North Bay is the variety of fun events that our charming communities organize at this time of year. Read on to learn of the many unique ways to observe this all-American holiday. Happy Fourth and be watchful of the neighborhood fireworks during this very dry season! 

Corte Madera-Larkspur
43rd Annual Corte Madera/Larkspur Chambers of Commerce 4th of July Parade – Elaborate floats, precision drill teams, classic cars and the Corte Madera Town Band.
Parade Time: 10:30 am
Route: From Redwood High in Larkspur, it moves down Magnolia into Corte Madera and continues down Tamalpais Ave to the Town Center.
Post-parade: Check out the festivities at Corte Madera’s Town Park: arts and crafts, food and drink, carnival games, children’s activities and live entertainment.
Info: (415) 924-0441.

16th Annual 4th of July Parade – Come see over 100 parade entries ranging from classic cars and vehicles from a military museum to Irish bagpipers and a Chinese drum and bell corps.
Parade Time: 10 am
Route: Downtown Novato, starting at the corner of Grant and Railroad Avenues  
Along the parade route, you will also find food and refreshment booths, and souvenir t-shirts.
Info: (415) 899-8900.
The 55th Annual Buckaroo Breakfast
Location: Redwood Credit Union parking lot: 1010 Grant Ave, downtown Novato
Time: Breakfast served from 7-10 am
Organizer: The event is presented by the Presbyterian Church of Novato.
Fee: There is a suggested donation of $5 for adults, $3 for kids. Proceeds will be donated to the Marin Community mission project.

First Annual Novato 4th of July Race
Tamalpa, a Marin running club, presents a “4 on the 4th” four-mile road race and a “Mayor’s Mile” one-mile family walk/jog.
Starting time/place: 7:20 am at 7th and Grant, downtown Novato
Entry fee: $15, which includes a race mug and post-race goodies
To register, go to the Tamalpa website.

– This year, Petaluma is observing its 150th anniversary, and they’re making a joint celebration to go along with Independence Day. The day starts off with a 10K run at Putnam Park, then the celebration moves over to the Marin-Sonoma Fairgrounds for live music, fun for kids, food and fireworks display.
Location: The Sonoma-Marin (Petaluma) Fairgrounds, entry on E. Washington & Ellis Streets
Fee: $5 admission, free for kids under 13
Time: Gates open at 3pm; fireworks after dark
Info: Go to the Sesquicentennial Calendar page 

Annual Ross Commons Picnic
– Pack your own lunch, or you can order from Eddie’s. The picnic begins at noon and will take place at the Grove area of the Common.

Info: (415) 453-1453, ext. 176
San Rafael
Marin County Fair and Fireworks

The Marin County Fair (at Marin County Fairgrounds, Civic Center Drive) offers Marin County’s official fireworks display. The July 4th concert features the Preservation Hall Jazz Band from New Orleans.
Fair admission: $12 to $14, and includes free carnival rides, exhibits, and music
Fireworks begin at 9:30 pm
Info: (415) 499-6400 or
Santa Rosa
5th Annual Bicycle Santa Rosa – 4th Of July Festival And Bike Ride
The celebration begins with a bike ride with elected officials and candidates. The festival will feature live music and vendors, a bike decorating contest and parade for kids, a slow bike race, a flat tire changing contest, water balloon toss, a jump house, various art activities, drawings for prizes and more. SCBC will provide free valet bike parking.
Bike Ride Time & Place:  9am at Julliard Park, returning around 11 am
Festival: 11 am-3 pm
Info: (707) 545-0153
4th of July Parade and Fireworks – This year’s parade will include the Cal Alumni Marching Band, floats of all shapes and sizes, and the Sausalito Fire Department.
Parade Time: 10 am
Route: Starting at South Bridgeway, it will move through downtown Sausalito to Caledonia St and into Dunphy Park.
Post Parade: A town picnic in the park with food, entertainment, raffles, tug-of-war, and an egg toss. Fireworks: 9:15 pm
For a complete schedule of the day’s events, go to
4th of July Parade & Old Fashioned Celebration – Complete with booths, food, art show, games, music by the Hometown Band, Crossfire and Carlos Herrera. After dark there are fireworks at the field by General Vallejo’s house (east of the plaza).
Location: Sonoma Plaza
Fireworks Cruise
– One of the best ways to see the San Francisco fireworks display is from the Bay! The Angel Island-Tiburon Ferry Co. will offer a 4th of July fireworks cruise.
Boarding Time: 7:30 pm and departs at 8 pm
Place: The Tiburon ferry dock off Main Street
Fee: $40 for adults; $20 for children
Info:  (415) 435-2131.

4th of July Parade and Pancake Breakfast

Breakfast Time & Place: 8-11 am at the Woodacre Fire Station, 33 Castle Rock Rd.
Cost: $7 for adults; $3 for children
Parade Time: Noon
Route: Starting at the Woodacre Improvement Club (1 Garden Way), it follows Railroad Ave to the Dickson Ranch.
Post-Parade: A good old-fashioned celebration at Dickson Ranch – A family affair with games, face painting for the kids, competitions (including the men’s ugly leg contest), horse rides, plenty of music, barbecue, bingo, and everyone’s favorite, the flea market.

Marin Real Estate Home Sales Statistics as of June 15, 2008

Compare to four months ago, in the middle of winter, the number of inventories almost doubled (from 844 to 1586).  The good news is, the market has started to move again, after the dramatic slow down. 

The percentage of pending sales for bread and butter homes priced under $1M increased a healthy 6%, from 20% to 26% (brings it right to neutral market).  Homes priced higher than $2M stays the same at 15% and homes priced between $1M and $2M dropped 2% from 22% to 20%.  

The lowered price for start homes are allowing buyers who were not able to afford a Marin Home to start buying again. 

There is a silver lining in all that cloud! 🙂  

As of 06/15/2008      
     On Market In Contract % Pending
Marin Real Estate – Total 1586 362 23%
Belvedere Real Estate 22 4 18%
Corte Madera Real Estate 50 13 26%
Fairfax Real Estate 40 7 18%
Greenbrae Real Estate 33 7 21%
Kentfield Real Estate 29 7 24%
Larkspur Real Estate 35   5 14%
Mill Valley Real Estate 169 42 25%
Novato Real Estate 458 123 27%
Ross Real Estate 18 4 22%
San Anselmo Real Estate 80 17 21%
San Rafael Real Estate 400 94 24%
Sausalito Real Estate 65 13  23%
Tiburon Real Estate 86 8 9%
Marin Homes $1-2 million 396 80 20%
Marin Homes  > $2 million 215 32 15%
Marin Homes $0-999,999 975 250 26%
Buyer’s Market <25%
Neutral 25% – 40%
Seller’s Market >40%

Marin County Homes Property Tax Reduction – by 06/30

As Marin property prices fall, the homeowners in Marin County are requesting their home to be reassessed, hoping to lower their property tax.

Assitant Assessor-Recorder Rich Benson said most homeowners seeking reassessments should receive assessor’s office response by July 1, 2008.  The office is getting requests from across Marin that involve all values from condos to luxury homes. 

The county assessors’ office expects to received 1,000 requests, which is about 1 percent of all homes and condos. 

State law requires county assessors to roll back assessments if tax values of real estate – those printed on property tax bills – are lower than the current market value. As real estate prices have been sliding, assessors in some counties have ordered reassessments without waiting for homeowners to file requests.

Joan Thayer, Marin County assessor said that the likely candidates for re-assessment are homes purchased after January 2006, when most local prices peaked. 

Richard Benson, Marin County’s assistant assessor, estimated that more than 1,000 homeowners will have requested reductions in their assessed valuations – and thus their property taxes – by the end of June, the deadline for making such requests.

HOW TO DO IT: For questions, call county Assessor-Recorder Joan Thayer, an elected official, at 499-7215, or go to Room 208 of the county Civic Center in Sa-n Rafael on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Information and a form are posted at under “Valuation Review.