Grossi seeks public opinion in local engagement nights

09/22/2016

With the race for the District 4 supervisor entering its final 50-day push, both candidates–Dennis Rodoni and Dominic Grossi–are actively engaging with voters looking to secure their support at the polls. Various candidate forums are scheduled from now until Nov. 8, but Mr. Grossi has organized a number of independent meetings throughout the county to open the floor with the public.  

An attendance of 20 met at the San Geronimo Valley Community Center last Thursday to have an intimate audience with the fourth-generation dairyman from Novato. He began with a rundown of issues facing the valley and the West Marin community at large, including traffic congestion, affordable housing and the challenges to streamside development brought by the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network. Mr. Grossi said he was not a supporter of SPAWN, and a majority of the room was in vocal agreement. (One attendee referred to the group as “spawn of Satan.”) 

Another issue that generated discourse was the prospect of new medical marijuana dispensaries in the community. Two locations in the valley were listed on license applications last month; Mr. Grossi said he was “not opposed” to the idea but had certain stipulations. 

“They need to be in the right places,” he said, noting that the dispensaries would have to be located in well-lit areas with a strong law enforcement presence. A concern for the proximity to schools was also raised. (Operations must be at least 800 feet from schools, youth-oriented facilities, smoke shops and other dispensaries.)

The trouble with traffic in West Marin is a problem plaguing locals, and Mr. Grossi said he is brainstorming solutions and is open for public input. One suggestion he raised is to create a bus system that would usher tourists over the hill and back. 

“I really think public transit is the way we should move forward,” he said. 

He proposed the possibility of having hubs for buses that would act as stations from which smaller buses could transport visitors to individual locations. He mentioned the parking reservation system for Muir Woods as a possible model for how to handle the issue.

On Monday in Point Reyes Station, a congregation of 15 met at the Dance Palace Church Space, where affordable housing was discussed at length. It’s an issue Mr. Grossi considers to be one of the biggest he’s facing, alongside traffic. 

He is in support of affordable housing, particularly housing for the elderly; streamlining the process for allowing second units on properties would encourage the possibility of assisted living, he said. “I want to make sure people stay out here,” he said. 

In regards to AirBnbs and other short-term vacation rentals, Mr. Grossi said he hopes to treat them in the same light as bed and breakfasts, where a full-time resident is mandatory at each property.

On attendee asked Mr. Grossi how he distinguishes himself from his opponent. His first response was to cite the closure of Drakes Bay Oyster Company; Mr. Grossi was in favor of keeping the oyster farm, and said has always sought to support agriculture and business. 

He also mentioned his support for rural internet access across the county. “One of the things I want to look back on is internet,” Mr. Grossi said. During both nights, he referenced North Dakota’s push to offer reasonable and inexpensive internet across the state as a template for how he would act. “We have got to get West Marin wired in,” he said. 

Mr. Grossi’s political affiliation also came up at both meetings. He is currently listed as “decline to state,” but has identified as a Republican in the past. 

“I’m tired of labels,” he said, arguing that the role of county supervisor is a non-partisan position. 

In the audience at the Point Reyes meeting, Jerry Meral, an Inverness resident who petitioned for Mr. Rodoni to run against Mr. Grossi, questioned his response. “I assume he doesn’t feel his Republican background serves him well,” Mr. Meral remarked. 

Don Smith, a Bolinas resident who serves on that town’s public utility district board, left Monday’s meeting in a moderate position. “They’re both good guys,” he said. “I haven’t formed an opinion and I’m just here to listen and learn. I’ll do the same when Dennis comes.”