The Gallinas Creek Defense Council is taking the City of San Rafael to court in an effort to halt the enormous San Rafael Airport Soccer Facility, set to be built in the middle of endangered species habitat.
The lawsuit was announced in the latest issue of the Santa Venetia Neighborhood Association newsletter. The soccer facility would be located on the private Airport property, an area immediately adjacent to the neighborhood. The neighborhood and the Airport are separated by Gallinas Creek, home to a significant population of endangered clapper rail.
The lawsuit follows a six year environmental review process described by one Santa Venetia resident as "Kabuki theatre."
Documents indicate that the soccer facility was a done deal from the start. In an email to the Airport owner, the City Manager stated that the City was fully and enthusiastically behind the soccer project.
Yet, in an extraordinary display of contempt, the San Rafael Planning Commission and three of four City Councilpersons brushed aside literally all neighborhood and expert concerns, including safety and proximity to the runway, lighting, hours of operation, noise, traffic, deed restrictions, flooding, watershed issues and risks to endangered species. They also discounted expert testimony from distinguished biologists and the California Division of Aeronautics.
Worse, the wealthy San Rafael Airport owner/project applicant - in what appeared to be an effort to chill dissent - dragged two prominent neighborhood activists through the courts for five years. (The project applicant claimed to own the lands underlying Gallinas Creek and thus the activists' legally permitted docks encroached on his property. Dozens of homeowners have docks extending into the creek, but only the activists were sued.)
Cronyism likely played a big part in the project approval. Mayor Gary Phillips keeps his plane at the private airport. Both Phillips and City Councilman Andrew McCullough served on the board of the San Rafael Chamber of Commerce, along with the project applicant.
Welcome to the petty, echo-Chamber world of San Rafael politics….