Sherman R. Frederick
Twin Cities Times
“Fish or cut bait” was the phrase of the night at the Larkspur City Council public hearing Wednesday, Feb. 3, on whether to rename their little portion of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard.
“At some point we’re going to have to fish or cut bait,” Mayor Kevin Haroff said. But after presiding over a meeting in which all citizens who wanted to speak were heard, watching a short film produced by the County of Marin that essentially advocated for renaming the boulevard, the council could neither fish or cut bait.
At one point, Councilwoman Catherine Way asked the mayor when, exactly, “are we going to fish or cut bait?”
“Not tonight,” he said.
Other council members also seemed to wonder the same thing. After more discussion that nibbled around the edges of the question under the meandering direction of Mayor Haroff, the council decided to put it off to their next city council meeting on Feb. 17. And, the council told city staff, they wanted to see definitive information on what co-naming Sir Francis Drake Boulevard would look like.
The Town of Ross has already said “no” to the renaming idea. They were the first to make a call. It appears that Larkspur is leaning toward approving a name change, but only if it keeps Sir Francis Drake Boulevard as the legal name and allows a yet-to-be determined name as an honorary secondary name.
Mayor Haroff hinted that Ross may come around to the name change if Sir Francis Drake is retained.
Councilman Gabe Paulson was the first council member to speak substantively on the issue. He told his council mates that he likes the co-naming idea.
“I really wanted to hear both sides,” he said. “What I heard was division.”
Dual names, an idea for which he credited Marin IJ columnist Dick Spotswood, is one way to bring some unity. It is something more often done in the eastern part of the United States.
Paulson echoed some of the comments that came from the Town of Ross council members. He doubted that renaming of Drake is a fix to Marin social equity. When it comes to doing something real and immediate about inequity, he said, we must focus on “police reform, encouraging minority businesses, building more affordable housing and fostering better education inclusivity.”
Councilman Scot Candel also expressed concerns about Larkspur doing something real to address equity issues. “I’m willing to spend money,” he said, but asked rhetorically whether re-naming a street is where the city should spend that money.
Councilmember Catherine Way pointed out that most of the people who have written to the city are dead set against the name change.
“A name change during the second year of a pandemic is a substantial burden to our businesses,” she said. Even though Sir Francis Drake only runs 1.1 miles through Larkspur, it directly affects 90 businesses, she said.
“Co-naming might be the best strategy.”
Five people spoke at the Council’s public hearing, four in support of the name change and one against. Some of the callers were from out of town.
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