Meet the Mayor: Carla Condon
With a determination to preserve its small town vibe, Corte Madera’s mayor is fighting to keep local control of land use and paving the way for citizens from all generations to interact with one another.
16 years ago, Carla Condon was first elected to the Corte Madera Town Council. Since then, she has been reelected four times as a council member, and now occupies the mayor’s chair for the fourth time. Condon, a mother of four and grandmother of five (all living in Marin!), cut her political teeth by serving a term on Corte Madera’s planning commission.
In addition to being Corte Madera’s mayor, Condon also is the district president of Sanitary District No. 2, vice chair of the Marin Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), an appointed member of the League of California Cities’ Housing, Community and Economic Development Policy Committee and a member of the Central Marin Police Council.
You’re very involved not only as mayor of Corte Madera, but also in a number of capacities. So let me start off by asking how Corte Madera’s citizens can become more involved in the community?
Corte Madera has a remarkable volunteer base and there are always more opportunities to get involved in our community. Standing committees and commissions within the town government are open to all residents, including the Planning and Parks and Recreation Commissions, Flood Control Board, the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee and the Beautification Committee which sponsors our annual Oktoberfest, and whose founding members, Carolyn and the late Ben Larson started the tradition of the beautiful hanging flower baskets that now appear throughout the town in blooming profusion every spring. Our town schools and scouting programs always need volunteers. Very timely and of significant importance, the Disaster Council and the Twin Cities Disaster Preparedness Committee always welcomes participation.
What’s one thing many people don’t know about Corte Madera of which you are most proud?
I’m especially proud that Corte Madera is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an age-friendly city within the global network of age-friendly cities worldwide. I serve on the Age-Friendly Corte Madera Task Force, therefore, I am also happy to share that our newest addition to the town is our age-friendly Intergenerational Center, opened in late April.
For the center, we’ve created an inviting space for all ages, ranging from pre-school kids to senior citizens. We offer programs in drawing, watercolor art, chair yoga, 3D printing, movie/book reviewing, singing for fun, crafts and storytelling for preschoolers. We even have teen techies offering assistance to older adults with their iPhones, iPads and laptops. This innovative concept helps prevent senior isolation, provides enrichment programs to a variety of ages and interests, responds to community concerns about the need for teen activities and increases multi-generational engagement and a sense of community.
Is it true that due to car dealerships and shopping venues, Corte Madera’s tax revenue is among the highest in Marin?
Corte Madera does indeed generate high sales tax revenue per capita in Marin County, thanks to our vibrant shopping opportunities. However, Novato and San Rafael collect a greater amount of sales tax. Other cities garner more in property tax than Corte Madera.
Now that the Tam Ridge Apartments, also known as the “WinCup Property,” are finally leasing, has the furor calmed down?
I’d like to think that the vitriol is subsiding, now that the complex viewed from Highway 101 has been repainted. Tam Ridge was a refuge to many who were impacted by the tragic fires in Sonoma County. Just as the memory of steam emanating from the former WinCup factory has dimmed, I’m hopeful that the contempt for Tam Ridge will be a thing of the past. Since its opening, I have received only one complaint about traffic congestion and that was due to traffic to and from Redwood High School.
What current political issue—national, state, county or local—causes you the most stress?
The multifaceted issue that causes me the most stress is the ongoing threat jeopardizing local control of land use by our state legislature. I acknowledge the need for affordable housing; however, unrealistic, inflated housing mandates (Regional Housing Need Allocations) will not solve the problem, but are instead counterproductive. Development should be controlled at the local level in such a way that the community will embrace a project, rather than oppose one. Legislation invalidating general plan design guidelines of towns and cities should not be passed. Efforts to mandate growth without consideration of infrastructure or local character should not be forced upon cities. I find it frustrating that we're always under the looming cloud of a one size-fits-all philosophy that is contrary to the small town character we are trying to promote, preserve and protect.