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August 6, 2020

AUGUST 3 — Marin recorded its deadliest day yet amid the coronavirus pandemic with six new deaths on July 31, capping the county’s most troublesome month since public-health officials issued the regional and statewide shelter-in-place orders in mid March. Marin saw 19 deaths in the three months between its first, on March 27, and June 30, then saw 32 in the next 31 days — a 168-percent overall increase. There were 45 new hospitalizations, bringing the total to 106, a 74-percent increase. And there were 1,610 new cases, for a total of 2,817 in Marin on July 31, a 133-percent increase.

While the number of new diagnosed cases in July mostly paced the increase in testing, that figure also comes with major caveats: In the final days of June, Marin’s testing positivity rose to state-watch-list-level highs not seen since March, then flattened and never fell off again, while the number of new cases per capita remains roughly twice what’s required to be removed from the watch list, a designation...

July 29, 2020

The landscape of Marin County would likely look a lot different if it weren’t for the efforts of Belvedere’s Marty Griffin. There might be a city in place of the Bolinas Lagoon. Luxury homes in what is now Richardson Bay. A four-lane highway on the drive out to Stinson Beach. Griffin has dedicated his life to ensuring the wetlands and forested ridges of West Marin remain pristine, to be enjoyed by both people and wildlife for generations to come — and his passion for the environment hasn’t waned even as he marked his 100th birthday on July 23. (Elliot Karlan photo / For The Ark)

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July 29, 2020

Members of the Tiburon Parks, Open Space and Trails Commission expressed frustration last week that the Town Council has denied them the opportunity to engage in a public debate about the use of herbicides in town parks and the right to make recommendations for further changes to the town’s Integrated Pest Management policy. The sentiments bubbled up during the commission’s July 21 videoconference meeting, at which it received an information-only staff update on the town’s policy on herbicide use, which was approved in March. But commissioners were not pleased that their input on the issue had been limited by the council to essentially receiving an information-only update.

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July 29, 2020

The race for seats on the Belvedere and Tiburon city councils remained uncontested as of The Ark’s press deadline, with just a week remaining in the candidate filing period for the Nov. 3 election. As of the morning of July 27, one candidate — Steve Block — had filed to run for one of three open four-year Belvedere City Council seats, though Planning Commissioner Jim Lynch said he planned to file later that day. Incumbent Mayor Nancy Kemnitzer has also pulled papers to retain her seat though she also hadn’t yet filed by The Ark’s deadline. In Tiburon, incumbents Holli Thier and David Kulik have both filed for fresh four-year seats and are so far the only candidates in the race.

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July 29, 2020

JULY 27 — Marin’s coronavirus case rate remains nearly 2½ times what’s required to be taken off the California watch list — a list that mandates more than 30 counties roll back economic activity and halt any new reopenings, including in-class instruction. Health officials warn the local freeze won’t be lifted any time soon.

“It’s going to be weeks if our numbers continue as they are,” Marin Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis told the Marin Board of Supervisors at its July 21 meeting.

Meanwhile, hospitalizations and deaths remained stable, as did diagnosed infections in Tiburon and Belvedere, though Strawberry now registers for the first time on the county’s geographic breakdown with exactly 10 cases. With a population of 5,427, its overall case rate is 184 per 100,000 residents, compared with 26 cases in Tiburon, for a rate of 289 per 100,000 residents, and with 14 cases in Belvedere, or 736 per 100,000 residents, which remains the highest rate in Southern Marin.

Marin last week also l...

July 22, 2020

Since moving to Belvedere six years ago, Sally Wilkinson has worked diligently behind the scenes on many prominent city initiatives. She helped roll out the Yellow Bus Challenge, has contributed to the city’s planned update to its seawalls and chaired the most recent campaign to renew Measure E, which allowed the city to continue to fund its fire services. That breadth of experience, she says, has prepared her for her next, more high-profile step into civic life: a stint on the Belvedere City Council. “I just decided that I had done enough and understood enough of the areas I’d been working on that I would feel comfortable stepping into the ring,” Wilkinson says. The City Council at its July 13 teleconference meeting voted 4-0 to appoint Wilkinson, 50, to its vacant fifth seat. She was the only applicant to replace longtime Councilmember Marty Winter, who stepped down in June to move to Tiburon. Wilkinson will serve the remainder of Winter’s term, through November 2022.

For th...

July 22, 2020

Amid rising coronavirus cases and hospitalizations across Marin, public-health officials are now reversing course and asking schools to delay the start of in-person instruction until Sept. 8, the day after Labor Day. The county will have to meet strict new state guidelines if it wants campuses to reopen even by that date, but on the Tiburon Peninsula, some parents are petitioning to reopen on schedule Aug. 20. The new county guidance, issued July 15 with the Marin Office of Education, calls for schools to adopt a phased-in approach to the school year that focuses on distance learning to start but allows for small in-person groups on campus in August to give teachers and students time to get used to new safety precautions that will be in place to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

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July 22, 2020

The Belvedere Police Department will follow suit with Tiburon police and other law-enforcement agencies across the state and country by banning its officers from using the potentially lethal stranglehold known as the carotid restraint. 

The Police Department has also banned officers from shooting from moving cars and strengthened requirements that officers intervene if they observe colleagues using excessive force. Belvedere Police Chief Jason Wu and City Manager Craig Middleton presented the updates to the city’s police use-of-force policy manual to the Belvedere City Council at its July 13 teleconference meeting. The council accepted the updates without comment or a vote.

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July 22, 2020

JULY 20 — Marin saw 106 new COVID-19 cases in a single day last week, shattering the previous one-day record of 75 as the county continues to be monitored by the state for exceeding minimum case and positivity rates. Tiburon’s total case count also grew to 26, while data for Belvedere is being reported for the first time as the city hit 14 total cases, giving it the highest per-resident concentration of infections in Southern Marin. 

But Marin’s top public-health official notes that despite the increase in number and percentage of new infections, the number and proportion of hospitalizations continues to fall, with fewer hospitalizations per new case.

Meanwhile, with Marin barred from any new reopenings as long as it remains on the state’s watch list, the county on July 21 was set to establish a new non-criminal citation framework. The rules would allow jurisdictions to fine residents $25-$500 for violating public-health orders such as face-covering and physical-distancing mandates — a l...

July 15, 2020

Town officials have denounced a weekend incident in which someone scrawled “All Lives Matter” and “Don’t Tread on Me” — slogans associated with groups opposed to the Black Lives Matter movement and increasingly with extreme-right sentiment — in chalk on Main Street. Activists and supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement have noted the phrase “All Lives Matter” is intended to delegitimize the movement and minimize the systemic disenfranchisement of Black Americans. “I think the message is reprehensible, the way they delivered it cowardly, and I think it’s disheartening that someone would use our community space this way — especially on Main Street where we want to have events that bring people together,” Tiburon Town Councilmember Jack Ryan said.

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July 15, 2020

More than 300 Tiburon and Belvedere businesses and nonprofits combined to receive up to $52.3 million to cover rent, utilities and the payroll of nearly 2,400 workers under the federal Paycheck Protection Program, the forgivable-loan initiative designed to help businesses retain staff amid the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. By far the largest local recipient was Tiburon resident Allan H. Rappaport’s NES America Inc., the parent company for many emergency- and health-care-staffing companies scattered throughout the world, whose headquarters are at 39 Main St. Its three Tiburon entities were approved for loans of as much as $16 million, according to data released last week by the U.S. Small Business Administration. See a grid of all the $150,000-plus loan approvals for Tiburon, Belvedere and Strawberry at thearknewspaper.com/ppploans.

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July 15, 2020

A $722,000 project to rehabilitate both the paved and decomposed granite lanes of the Old Rail Trail is expected to begin this month, work that could close segments of the trail for up to three days at a time. The project will cover the entire trail from Blackie’s Pasture to Lagoon Road, opposite the library, with construction taking place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, though hours and traffic-control measures could change as the start date approaches, Tiburon Public Works Superintendent Steve Palmer said. (Elliot Karlan photo / For The Ark)

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July 15, 2020

Belvedere is giving police new flexibility to issue citations for violations of face-covering mandates amid the coronavirus pandemic, allowing for a sting to the pocketbook without handing residents a rap sheet. In his capacity as the city’s director of emergency services, City Manager Craig Middleton issued an emergency order July 8 that allows police to issue administrative citations of $100 for the first violation, $200 for the second violation within a year and $500 for each subsequent violation of the existing orders of the Marin Department of Health and Human Services and of the California Department of Public Health. The order does not create new face-covering rules in Belvedere. The state and county orders already allow for police enforcement, but the penalty carries a misdemeanor charge with up to a $1,000 fine, jail time or both.

For the complete story, pick up this week's edition of The Ark on newsstands or SUBSCRIBE NOW for home delivery.​

July 14, 2020

JULY 13 — Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered more than 30 counties, including Marin, to shut down indoor businesses amid a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

Marin has been on the state’s watch list since July 3, which started a three-day clock that triggered the closure of indoor dining when case numbers didn’t improve by July 5. 

As cases and hospitalizations grew across the state last week and more counties landed on the list, Marin and other counties on the list have now been ordered to shut down hair salons, malls and offices of non-essential businesses. 

Had they been open in Marin, the county also would have been forced to shut down indoor worship, gyms, nail salons and other personal-care services.

Broader orders were also issued statewide, though none directly impacted Marin. Indoor dining was halted last week, while bars and wineries that don’t serve food, as well as family entertainment, zoos, museums and cardrooms either never reopened in Marin or don’t apply here...

July 9, 2020

JULY 6 — Less than a week after being given the green light to reopen, restaurants across the Tiburon Peninsula and the rest of Marin have again been forced to shut down indoor dining. 

The California Department of Public Health mandate, which went into effect at 11:59 p.m. July 5, will last at least three weeks and was triggered when Marin spent its third consecutive day on a state watch list of counties seeing spikes in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. While outdoor dining and takeout service is allowed to continue, Gov. Gavin Newsom says “strike teams” will be targeting restaurants and bars statewide that have refused to comply with health orders.

“Marin County Public Health is urging renewed diligence by everyone on adhering to the shelter-in-place order first established March 17,” public-health officials said in a July 5 press release. “Wearing facial coverings in public, washing hands often, adhering to social bubble guidelines and practicing social distancing are among pra...

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