Ferber has been an invaluable presence in Mill Valley for decades, volunteering to photograph countless events and gatherings all over town and beyond. For that unparalleled level of dedicated service to our community, Ferber has been named the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center’s 2016 Business Citizen of the Year, and was honored with a Spirit of Marin Award by Bank of Marin at a reception at St. Vincent’s School for Boys in San Rafael on September 23.
How about that! More than 80 people poured into the vibrant Body By Xspace in Corte Madera, California to join the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce, Corte Madera Chamber of Commerce and Body by X owner Nadia and Xavier McClinton for an extremely fun Mixer. Thanks to our wonderful hosts, Harmony Restaurant for the delicious food, Marin Brewing Company for the beer, an array of donors for the wine and all who showed up in droves for the great company!
Go here to check out all the great photos of the evening by Gary Ferber!
And join us Oct. 19 at the Holiday Inn Express Mill Valley San Francisco Area, 5:30-7pm for our next Mixer.
From left, Assistant to the City Manager Linn Walsh, MV Chamber Co-Director Paula Reynolds, MV Chamber Board Chair Ann Aversa, Mayor John McCauley, Maureen Parton, Aide to Supervisor Kate Sears and City Manager Jim McCann, at La Ginestra Restaurant for the State of the City event on Sept. 7, 2016. Photo by Gary Ferber.
For the 2016 edition of the City of Mill Valley’s annual opportunity to deliver a State of the City report to Mill Valley Chamber members, there weren’t too many surprises, as City officials focused largely on the two biggest issues facing every resident and business owner in town: traffic and the Miller Avenue Streetscape Project.
“Traffic in Mill Valley – oy vey,” Mill Valley Mayor John McCauley said at La Ginestra Restaurant as he kicked off the traffic discussion. Throughout his lengthy summary on the subject, McCauley detailed the work of the City’s Traffic and Congestion Reduction Advisory Task Force, a group of leaders representing the myriad organizations and agencies with jurisdiction in some or all parts of the City’s road infrastructure. The Task Force began its work a year ago and now will sunset and pass the baton of addressing the City’s traffic congestion to City staff and the City Council, having fulfilled its purpose by creating a lengthy list of short- and long-term ways to reduce traffic in town.
“Mill Valley traffic volume has not changed much in the last 10 years – traffic going in and out of town has been relatively the same,” McCauley said. “But what has changed is the conditions around us.”
That includes the roads and lanes on and around the Highway 101 overpass at East Blithedale Avenue and Tiburon Boulevard, he said, where an increase in Tiburon traffic and poor synchronicity between the traffic lights has made conditions abysmal.
At a public meeting in the coming weeks, the City Council will review a lengthy report prepared by traffic consultant Parisi Transportation Consulting. The report will include a list of projects developed through the Task Force’s work that have received funding in the City's Capital Improvement Program budget.
Over the course of its work, the Task Force identified a clear objective: restore vehicle travel times on East Blithedale Avenue and on Almonte Boulevard/Shoreline Highway to what they were in 2012-13, after which those travel times spiked, despite a marginal increase on car volume on local roads. To achieve that goal, David Parisi told the Task Force that travel times on East Blithedale between Millwood Avenue and Highway 101 would need to go down by 35 percent from 7-10am, 24 percent from 10am-3pm and 33 percent from 3-7pm.
In targeting that objective, the Task Force kept in mind the multi-jurisdictional nature of local and regional roads and that there was no “silver bullet,” so to speak. Using a data-driven approach, they chose three umbrella strategies to do so, as well as nearly 50 specific measures within those three categories, each of which were ranked based on their likely impact, their estimated cost and the timeline within which they could be implemented. The strategies are:
MILLER AVENUE STREETSCAPE PROJECT
With the the Miller Avenue Streetscape Project now almost into its third month of construction, the City's $15 million overhaul of one of Mill Valley’s two main arteries is in full swing. The project, by far the biggest road renovation the City has undertaken in decades – spanning approximately two miles of Miller Avenue from Almonte Boulevard near Tamalpais High all the way to Sunnyside Avenue near downtown – is expected to last until late 2017. The City is providing weekly Construction Updates on the project. Here's the latest one.
“Our town has been talking about Miller Avenue for a long, long, long time,” McCauley said. “We got it going very quickly after school ended in June, because we knew it was going to be tough on for the businesses along Miller. But we’ll all be pretty happy with it when it’s over.” MORE ON MILLER PROJECT.
MUNICIPAL SERVICES TAX RENEWAL
McCauley also informed attendees about the City’s Municipal Services Tax, which was first approved in 1987, has been renewed twice since then and expires in 2018. Its renewal is on the ballot this November 8, with an increase from $195 to $266 per parcel and an annual 2 percent increase after that until it expires following fiscal year 2026-27.
The MST provides “the City with extremely valuable services,” McCauley said. Those services are two pronged: 1) $300,000 goes towards fire prevention and vegetation management programs and 2) Approximately $900,000 goes to repairing the City’s roads via the Street and Sewer Rehabilitation Project.
“The City has a deep understanding of the best way to maintain this huge investment,” McCauley said of local roads, noting that the strategic deployment of “slurry sealing” allows the City to “never let roads go to a point here you have to completely rebuild them – it’s more like it’s a protective coat of paint.” MORE ON THE MST.
Questions/comments about the State of the City? Email us.
Here's a note from Mill Valley Fire Dept. Chief Tom Welch: The City of Mill Valley wants consumers and businesses to be of aware of vendors not licensed by the California State Contractors Board (CSLB) to perform any type of maintenance on Fire Protection Equipment. Businesses that service Fire Protection Systems are required to have the proper license with the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB). To check the status of a license, please visit Department of Consumer Affairs Contractor State License Board (CSLB).
Business owners need to be alert to anyone coming to their offices, stores or restaurants to service their fire extinguishers, or to perform service on the hood and duct systems over the cooking areas, or conducting service to automatic sprinkler systems. We have received recent inquiries regarding Red Mountain Security & Fire Protection, they are not a licensed company to provide Annual Fire Safety Equipment Inspections, Tests or Certifications. If you have contracted with, been noticed by or invoiced from, or have been contacted by Red Mountain Security & Fire Protection, please contact the Mill Valley Fire Department at 415/389-4130.
At the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce's alliteratively aligned August Mixer at Chambers & Chambers, we took it to the streets. Dozens of members and friends packed into the architecture firm's offices until we were bursting at the seams, heading outside for some fresh air. Thanks to Barbara Chambers and her staff for being such wonderful hosts, to Equator Coffees & Teas' Equator Caters for the delicious food, La Ginestra for the great wine, City of Mill Valley officials for being on hand to discuss the Miller Avenue Streetscape project, Gary Ferber for the photos and for everyone who turned out to mingle and show support for our Miller Avenue-area businesses. MillerUP! MORE INFO & GARY FERBER'S PHOTOS.
NEXT UP: September 21, 5:30–7pm @ Body by X – Joint Mixer w/ Corte Madera Chamber. Xavier and Nadia McClinton will be our hosts for a joint Mixer with our neighbors to the north! Body by X, 5768 Paradise Drive.
We're getting closer to August 11 (8/11 on the calendar), which serves as a good reminder to everyone to call 811 a few days before digging to identify the approximate location of underground utility lines.
Every six minutes an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first calling 811, and we at Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce do not want anyone to become part of the statistic.
Utility services that your family depends on, such as cable TV, high-speed Internet, landline telephone, electric, gas, water and sewer, are buried underground in many communities. Striking one of these lines can result in inconvenient outages for entire neighborhoods, harm to yourself or someone else, and repair costs.
When you call 811 a few days before you plan to start your project, a local one-call center representative will collect your information and notify the affected local utility companies of your intent to dig. A professional locator will then visit the dig site to mark the approximate location of all underground utility lines with paint, flags or both. Once your site has been marked, it is safe to begin digging around the marked areas.
No matter the type of project – installing a mailbox, putting in a fence, planting trees or shrubbery, building a patio or deck, or excavating a new garden area – make sure to call 811 several days prior to digging to have your site properly marked, and remind our customers, as well as your friends and family, to do the same. Always call 811 before you dig and know what’s below.
“You can’t teach a kid to ride a bike at a seminar.”
So said Linda Palermo of Sandler Training in San Rafael at the outset of her “A Better Way to Close a Deal” seminar, part of the ongoing The Essentials series from the Mill Valley, San Rafael, Corte Madera and Tiburon chambers of commerce.
Palermo drove home that point right away to set expectations. “You can’t learn to sell overnight – it’s like learning Spanish,” she said.
Every salesperson needs to develop a system, Palermo said. One of the keys to doing so is to get out from the shadow of “hundreds of years of bad salespeople” and not to fall prey to their cliched, tired strategies that have given salespeople an oft-deserved bad reputation.
“In the world of selling, you have two systems at work,” Palermo said. “The prospect (buyer) system and the seller system." While those two systems in terms of perspective, they share the same problems: misperceptions, mistrust and stigma.
“This is the buyer-seller dance,” Palermo said. “It’s like ballroom dancing – one person, in this case the prospect, controls everything. To change the game, you have to have a system of your own and take control of the sales process.”
One of the key ways to do that is the Sandler System, which calls on salespeople to break the defensive wall built up by prospects by building a rapport, not coming off like a salesperson and putting the person at ease with your words but also with your tonality and body language. She recommended establishing a set of advance ground rules, including the possibility that the salesperson could determine that their product or service wasn’t a good fit for the prospect. That creates an equal business stature between seller and buyer.
“You have something to offer – salespeople shouldn’t beg,” she said. “Have dignity.”
Once that equal footing is established, salespeople should get beyond the surface-level needs of the prospect and focus on a deeper relationship.
“People buy emotionally – they only justify their decisions intellectually,” Palermo said. “Get them talking emotionally instead of intellectually.”
Palermo emphasized that all of the aforementioned work should happen before your sales presentation. “You don’t present to an unqualified customer,” she said. “You should close them before you get to the presentation. The presentation is just a formality about how you are going to make it happen for them.”
GO HERE for more info on Sandler Training. Here's a portion of Palermo's presentation:
Dozens of Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce Members and friends showed up to our June 15th Mixer at Citibank downtown to kick off the summer. With delicious food from Piazza D'Angelo great wine from La Ginestra - Mill Valleyand some amazing raffle prizes from SF Bay Adventures, FitWise Pilates- MIll Valley & El Cerrito, Holiday Inn Express Mill Valley San Francisco Areaand two tickets to this weekend's Mountain Play production of West Side Story, courtesy of our ace photographer Gary Ferber – it was a fantastic event! Thanks to all of you who joined us. Click here to see all the photos.
Lisa Taylor Powers of The Hive Marketing gives attendees of “The Essentials” seminar a clear sense of developing their social media strategy.
Know your audience – and your competition.
That fundamental principle, a critical element to running a business, can also be applied when trying to find your way through the oft-dizzying social media landscape as a business owner, according to Lisa Taylor Powers, owner of The Hive Marketing agency.
In an informative, clear and strategic “The Essentials” presentation on June 1 to members of the Mill Valley, San Rafael, Corte Madera and Tiburon chamber of commerce, Taylor Powers spanned the entirety of the social media landscape. In doing so, she gave the nearly two dozen attendees a clear system to identify what social platforms are best for them, and how best to leverage those channels.
The first step before diving into social media – or re-evaluating your current social media strategy – is to know your business and your goals, as well as those of your competition. That analysis is crucial to understanding what social media platforms to prioritize, Taylor Powers said.
“If you’re looking to increase traffic to your website, and lead generation and e-commerce sales in the process, Facebook provides the largest audience there is,” she said, noting that 66 percent of all men and 77 percent of all women in the U.S. are on Mark Zuckerberg’s creation.
Business owners should also square their sights on their competition, seeing what they do and determining if their social media strategy presents any lessons – or opportunities. “If they’re not doing it, why should you be doing it?” Taylor Powers said. “Or have they missed a chance to reach your shared audience?”
Taylor Powers broke businesses into three types of social media users, and the platforms that best fit their needs/goals:
–Visual Industry: Retail, food, restaurants, real estate, art, consumer goods and construction. These businesses lend themselves to photography-laden posts. Taylor Powers highlighted the work of Equator Coffees & Teas on Instagram, Sol Food on Twitter and Super Duper Burgers on Facebook. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
–Knowledge-based industry: Consumer and business service providers, technology, software, nonprofits, healthcare and education. Sharing information – Taylor Powers lauded Vogue Cleaners’ post of tips to saving energy when doing your laundry – and developing a reputation as a ‘thought leader’ are keys for these businesses. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
–Regulated industry: Banking, finance, legal and some healthcare. “There is a place for you in social media but you must do it in a way that complies with the regulations of your industry,” Taylor Powers said. Twitter and LinkedIn.
“There are so many platforms that it feels like the landscape is changing every day,” she added. “We have to know who we are targeting. Know how your target market shops, how they do research, what questions do they ask and what are their daily problems.”
And you must stay vigilant in the ever-changing social media landscape, she said, by constantly analyzing what you’re doing and being willing to iterate along the way.
Go here for more info on Taylor Powers’ presentation, and watch a portion of it above. Email her with inquiries.
Upcoming Chamber events.
The second forum convened by the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce on the issue of sewer fees for restaurants within the City of Mill Valley yielded a dose of both good news and bad news for restaurant owners and their property owners.
The good: The consultant hired by the City to conduct an analysis of the City’s sewer rates, Greg Clumpner of NBS Consultants, said he would be recommending to the City Council in May to reduce the “strength factor” used to calculate the sewer fees for restaurants.
The bad: In the ongoing efforts by the Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin (SASM) to upgrade its aging facilities, the City is projected to increase sewer rates by at least 20 percent in 2016-2017, with a lesser increase in the subsequent four years. So while restaurant owners will see their “strength factor” used to calculate their sewer fees go down, their overall fees will go up.
The Chamber convened the forum with Clumpner and City officials this week to continue to address concerns about steep hikes in sewer fees in recent years, hikes that some said place an unfair burden on local restaurants. Downtown commercial property owner Mike Walsh, whose family owns the Bungalow 44 building as well as the L-shaped building that wraps around it on Sunnyside and East Blithedale avenues, containing both Kitchen Sunnyside and Pearl’s Phat Burgers, said the restaurant-specific sewer fees on his annual property tax bill increased by as much as 1000 percent since the City shifted to a “flow-based” rate structure in 2012.
“The impact on restaurants was just enormous,” Walsh said.
The issue stems from the City Council’s approval in 2011 of sewer rate hikes for six years, with City officials citing rising costs from SASM, the joint powers agency that collects and treats wastewater for approximately 28,000 residents in Mill Valley and five neighboring sanitary districts. The City’s rate structure at that time was among the lowest in Marin County.
The lion’s share of the rate hike went towards an overhaul of a large chunk of the city’s 59 miles of sewer pipes, much of which dates back some 50 years. An EPA-mandated video survey of 12.6 miles of the system found it laden with a variety of defects, including cracks, holes, blockages and tree root intrusion.
One year later, at the urging of many residents, the Council approved a shift to what City officials say is a more equitable "flow-based" system by which residents and business are charged based on how much water they consume and thus discharge into the sewers. During that process, the City applied higher rates based on the “strength factor” of the water discharged by different types of businesses, with restaurants paying a higher rate than retail shops and offices, for instance.
That shift led many restaurants to see huge spikes in their sewer fees, which are applied to property tax bills and primarily passed on to tenant restaurants. For example, Bungalow 44 saw its sewer fees jump from $4,000 in 2007-2008 to $11,000 in 2014-15.
At the forum in January and again this week, restaurant and property owners argued that the City hadn’t taken into consideration two factors: 1) that restaurants have gotten decidedly more efficient with their discharge via things like composting, highly efficient dishwashing machines and the use of grease traps and 2) that restaurants serve thousands of meals per week, thus vastly reducing the amount of discharge from homes throughout Mill Valley.
City officials and Clumpner said they were convinced that those factors warranted a reduction in the strength factor attributed to restaurants. But they noted that because of the much-needed overhaul of SASM’s wastewater treatment plant, sewer rates for all users, residents and businesses, will be going up in subsequent years.
The issue is expected to be on the agenda of the Mill Valley City Council on May 23.