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'Treegate' Hashed Out at Los Robles

Officials from SMART, city of Novato, construction company and Los Robles Mobile Home Park iron out communication issues after removal of a dozen caught residents by surprise.

We're sorry. Our bad.

Essentially that was the message by a contracting company that was entrusted to cut down some trees that were in the way of the train tracks near the Los Robles Mobile Home Park in Novato.

The subcontracting company cut down 12 trees to help make way for the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit cars that will ride the rails in a few years. And that ticked off park residents because there hadn't been any notification or discussion about it. Over two days, several homes adjacent to the SMART right-of-way lost their aesthetic and audio buffer that helped shield them from the noise and frenzy of Hamilton Marketplace shopping center and Highway 101.

Some residents whose properties back up to the tracks were in a tar & feather mood after the chainsaw massacre, so Novato Mayor Pat Eklund arranged a summit between representatives of the park, SMART and the city of Novato so that park residents could ask questions and vent some frustration. More trees will be cut, but there was a promise that better communication would take place with park residents and anyone else who lives along the railroad tracks in Novato.

How did the meeting go? Click on this story in the Marin Independent Journal and check out these videos and photos. Make sure to share your thoughts with a comment below.

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orangeparty123 February 10, 2013 at 07:43 PM
There is another issue here that concerns emergency evacuation. The plan is to have a double track just outside the park for trading train cars. If there is a breakdown at this juncture, residents can be trapped and wouldn't be able to get in or out. Is this the best place to plan for a double track?
Craig Belfor February 10, 2013 at 07:53 PM
A double track NIMBY? Look at it this way-if there was to be an emergency blockage at this site, you'd be no more blocked by two trains than one. I do feel sorry for the people who bought in thinking the trees would always be there, as it's a game changer to lose them, but the park was set up without this buffer control, and all of us who hate to see the adjacent property next to our home developed had the opportunity to buy it and save it. When one buys next to a state owned property, one takes his own chances.
orangeparty123 February 10, 2013 at 09:14 PM
The double track with connectivity changes heightens the possibility of breakdowns, and thus blockage. It's not about a single track or double track. Moving the juncture a little farther up or down the track would be a solution. Obviously, it needs to be placed somewhere. It's no longer a "NIMBY" situation, as it's happening regardless. Let's just be smarter about it. It displays a lack of understanding when one has the blinded illusion that people who buy next to state owned property are just simply ignorant and out of luck.
Steve B February 14, 2013 at 11:20 AM
I don't have the time to do this bit of homework, but would someone head down to the County, get the APN for the trailer park, find out when it was built and how much they pay in taxes per trailer??? I bet the tracks pre-date the trailers and I also bet the residents pay only about $200 per trailer per year in taxes. You get what you pay for!!! Or, you pay for what you get! Square deal! Not your trees! Never should have been any trees! Never should have ass-umed the neighbor's trees were under your control! If I recall correctly, SMART already accomodated the NIMBY whiners and agreed not to put a station right there even though it is an ideal spot. @orangeparty123, you are the one with a "lack of understanding."
Steve B February 14, 2013 at 11:36 AM
P.S. In the photos, there is that guy standing on the tracks... Is he an employee of SMART or the State? If not, he should be given a citation for trespassing on State / Federal land that has been posted. CA penal code section 402.

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