About Barbara

BC_by_mimi.jpegI have been a Fairfax Town Councilmember since May 2013 (initially appointed, then elected - as the top vote getter! in November 2013) and reelected in 2017 & 2020.  I served as Mayor in 2015 and 2019. I am a scientist with Bachelor's and Master's degrees in biological sciences, also with an excellent, decades long track record of commitment to environmental action.

I also serve on several Boards/Committees: Marin Clean Energy (Executive Committee and Board), Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority (since its enactment by the voters in March 2020), Marin Telecommunications Agency (former, as Chair, I led the efforts to disband MTA and transfer its responsibilities to MGSA as of 7/1/2020, for cost savings and efficiency), Community Media Center of Marin (PEG channels), Countywide HUD Community Development Block Grant, Marin County Assessment of Fair Housing, Marin Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo), Marin Mayors/Councilmembers (MCCMC) Legislative Committee and Town of Fairfax Committees - Affordable Housing, Climate Action (former, 3 years), Measures A & F/J, Open Space (former, Council liaison for 7 years), Age Friendly, Ad Hoc Pedestrian Trails. I also served as a Hearing Board member (alternate) for the Bay Area Air District (BAAQMD).

I have more than 30 years of public environmental agency experience, with more than 27 years serving in California. For more than two decades I was a Division Chief at the Department of Toxic Substances Control of Cal/EPA leading hazardous waste site cleanup and permitting programs statewide. For 5 years I enforced air quality laws as a Compliance & Enforcement Manager for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD). For the last several years, I served as an environmental consultant, as the Administrator of a significant climate change program for the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association (a non-profit of the 35 CA air districts) and later for the BAAQMD. I have drafted and negotiated numerous types of legislation on statewide environmental matters and I testified in Congress on behalf of the then Governor and the National Governor's Association on "Superfund" legislation.

I have lived in Marin County for 31 years with 24+ years in Fairfax.  Prior to the Fairfax Town Council, I served on both the Fairfax Planning Commission and the Open Space Committee.  For several years I also volunteered as an election poll officer as the Chief Inspector for two election precincts in Fairfax.

Some of my many accomplishments on the Council (as Mayor in 2015 & 2019 and as Councilmember in collaboration) include:

  • Preserving Open Space: Acquiring/restoring Sky Ranch - 16 acres of open space; key member of the team that raised $1.3+M in less than one year. Connects to 100s of miles of trails stretching from the Golden Gate to Point Reyes. 
  • Actions on Climate: As Mayor, I obtained a grant for a MCE Deep Green Incentive for 100 residents (credits $5/month for one year) - Fairfax now has the highest DG sign ups of any MCE community; member of Fairfax Climate Action Committee for 1st 3 years; adopted several PACE programs  in 2015 - funds homeowner/commercial energy efficiency and solar over 20 years; adopted mandatory recycling of construction debris ordinance; led efforts to increase water conservation for low flush toilets (ordinance 2015/2016); program approved to change out >500 Town streetlights to LED; I developed a Scorecard of Fairfax's many climate actions from the 1980s to the present. 
  • Facilitating Affordable Housing: Successfully advocating for affordable housing and providing renter protections since I have been on the Town Council. As Mayor in 2015 and 2019, and also as Councilmember in the intervening years, I have been a champion for these tools – I pushed for streamlining of JADUs and ADUs ("Junior & Second Units") with ordinance amendments over the years and for developing an amnesty program for “illegal” ADUs to bring them in from the cold (penalties are forgiven for a ten-year period and for all, fees are 50% for the ten years).  I brought three renter protection laws to Fairfax (the 1st city/town in Marin to do so): in 2018, we adopted a Source of Income ordinance which prohibits discrimination solely on the basis of being a Section 8 (or other 3rd party voucher) holder.  In 2019 as Mayor, I brought two more: Just Cause Eviction and Mandatory Mediation for Rent Increases over 5% in a one year period. As CDBG member, secured senior housing funding through HUD and County; in 2015 as Mayor we adopted an emergency homeless shelter ordinance and an updated "home grown" infill approach Housing Element. 
  • Living within & Balancing the Budget: Ensuring Fairfax stays lean but provides high quality services; limited use of consultants to specialized technical expertise; I led three highly successful voter campaigns for local taxes to support Fairfax (all funds stay in Fairfax); refinanced pre-2013 pension liability (saves $1M over ~20 years) - in 2020 the Council approved refinancing of all pre-July 2021 pension liabilities (will save $5.3M over 17 years). 
  • Senior programs: I have worked with Age Friendly Fairfax to create senior programs so we can all stay connected - added senior classes (yoga, dance, art) - all free; 1st Senior Fair held in 2015; monthly Senior topics added to Council meetings (2015/2016); recognizing Rosie the Riveters and Fairfax's Rosie, Phyllis Gould; Fairfax received Age Friendly designation by WHO in 2015; benches program; sidewalks program; I developed/update an Age Friendly Scorecard to document the many AF achievements in Fairfax.
  • Disaster Planning and Safety: As Mayor convened Citizen’s Disaster Council in 2015 & 2019 (1st and only Mayor to do so since 2006) – updated maps and Emergency Operations Plans/ER evacuation maps and in 2019/2020 community friendly evacuation maps; flashing beacons installed at critical pedestrian crossings; began and continued pedestrian flag program; initiated expanding pedestrian trails (e.g., Cypress, Forest Terrace Steps & ensuring allocation of annual funding).  In 2020, worked to hire our 1st Fairfax NRG coordinator to coordinate/develop NRGs in the many FX FireWise communities. 
  • Infrastructure: in 2018 and later as Mayor in 2019, I pushed for reconstructing the Parkade (the Town’s main parking area) using grant and Town funds for ADA compliance repairs/replacement in addition to other improvements (e.g., 2 new bus shelters, using rainwater infiltration/catchment techniques). Reconstruction started in late February 2019  & completed mid-May. This was the largest infrastructure project completed in more than a decade by the Town. As Mayor in 2015 created successful sidewalk repair cost-share program - waive $500 permit fee & reimburse $500 (increased to $750 in 2017 and $1000 in 2018 - program continuing) for residents; bridge capitol improvements program (Azalea, Creek & Meadow Way); pushed for downtown sidewalks repairs and street paving program. 
  • Strengthening Our Smoking Ordinance: I brought stronger amendments three times: 2015 as Mayor - restricted e-cigarettes, second-hand smoke and banning smoking/vaping in retail stores; 2018 - prohibited smoking in outdoor service areas; required a tobacco retailer license; banned product sampling and banned pharmacies from selling tobacco products; prohibited flavored tobacco products (except menthol); and established a minimum pack size for cigars; and as Mayor in 2019 - prohibited the sale of menthol-favored tobacco products, and eliminated the exemptions for pipe tobacco/chew products – effective date 9/1/2020. These efforts led to Fairfax receiving an A for its smoke free regulations in January 2018, in the American Lung Association's report “State of Tobacco Control."
  • Transparency: continued televising of Council and Planning Commission meetings; use of Social Media - Police began using Next Door in 2015 for routine and critical notifications; Town Manager publishes Newsletter and also posts on Next Door.  New Town user friendly website was launched in 2018; Google Translate added in 2020 - translates website into 108 languages.

I am deeply committed to protection of the environment and public health which is demonstrated by my work, education and many years of public service. I am a longtime resident of the west end of town, and I am an avid cyclist and hiker. My education and many years of public service with state, regional and local government has given me not only a good understanding as to how government works, but also the ability to understand what doesn't work and how to get things done.  I have a strong work ethic, I am known for my hard work, integrity and practical, progressive approach - I  care deeply about Fairfax and would love to continue to serve the residents of Fairfax. 

Also see Facebook @https://www.facebook.com/Coler4FairfaxCouncil/ 

Photo by Mimi Newton



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commented 2013-11-24 06:55:26 -0800 · Flag
TY :)
Barbara Coler for Fairfax Town Council