Although final say is with San Rafael city officials, the Marin Board of Supervisors will be submitting a letter to the city’s planning staff about their concerns regarding the proposed sports complex at the San Rafael airport.
The proposed 38-foot tall recreational building stirred lots of controversy in the past months among neighbors worried about the possible effects the facility would have on the Santa Venetia area. The Supervisors’ letter urges San Rafael planners and Council members to address issues with storm water run off, noise and light impacts due late hours of operation, maintenance of the nearby levees, environmental concerns with the nearby Las Gallinas Creek and the safety of soccer players in close proximity to the airplane runway.
“I think these are reasonable requests for the San Rafael City Council to consider,” said Supervisor Susan Adams, who represents San Rafael.
While San Rafael will make the decision regarding the proposed $6-million soccer facility that will be located at 400 Smith Ranch Road, Adams says that the Supervisors should weigh in since project’s impact would not just be local.
“The residents who will be the most affected in the surrounding area are living in the unincorporated area and won’t be able to vote for their representatives in this part of the community,” she said at the Tuesday board meeting.
The proposed recreational building will house indoor soccer fields and courts with spectator seating, offices, food and beverage service and meetings rooms. There will also be two outdoor soccer fields with parking and exterior lighting.
The project’s Final Environmental Impact Report stated that the threat of a plane crash is small, and that, with some minor changes, the fields and adjacent parking lot would be safe. But in late March,
In a letter from Caltrans’ Division of Aeronautics to the city, Aviation Planner Ron Bolyard wrote:
“In general, society gives special attention to protection of children. Special consideration should be given to facilities that cater to children such as recreation and sports facilities.”
The plan includes a parking area south of the soccer complex adjacent to the airport’s runway, which violates federal aviation standards, Bolyard wrote. “We ask the city of San Rafael to consider this new information in future decisions regarding this project,” he wrote.
Many who attended the Tuesday board meeting showed up in support of the Supervisors’ letter. Santa Venetia neighbor Gina Hagan believes that San Rafael staff have not adequately discussed issues like emergency response.
“I have two young children,” she said. “I want to have a place to take them to play soccer. I just don’t feel that this is the spot."
Mary Feller praised the board for their support. “You’re our only advocates. The city is not listening to us. They don’t care what we say because we don’t vote for them,” she said.
Although the letter offers suggestions to San Rafael’s staff, the county does not have any power over the decision. Supervisor Judy Arnold, who represents Novato, believes that the letter is unnecessary since the Council will most likely explore these questions about the project and that they should leave the authority with them.
“What would we think if we had received a letter from Assemblyman Huffman and Senator Leno telling us what they would like to see in, for example, the Grady Ranch project,” she said.