Local resident protests outside Marin County Supervisor’s home


Brody Rhodes

Breimer stands outside of Rice’s house, wearing her sign in protest of traffic signals, “highway-sized poles,” “arms” on poles, oversized long street signals, and “no fair open progress.”

Every weekend since Sept. 11, 2021, Greenbrae resident PJ Breimer has stood outside of Marin County Supervisor Katie Rice’s house, in protest of traffic signals and lights that were put up around her residence near the intersection of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and La Cuesta Dr. Objecting to the disturbances these lights create for her, Breimer stands in front of Rice’s gate on Butterfield St., usually on Saturdays and Sundays. Breimer wears a sign demanding Rice to restore the views from her house, the quietness in her neighborhood, and her home’s property value.

The traffic lights put up in the intersection of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, right behind Breimer’s home, were a part of a project that was intended to improve the street’s safety for pedestrians, cyclists, and traffic flow. Breimer finds that the lights disturb her day-to-day life, block the view from her house and garden, keep her up at night due to noise of a crosswalk buzzer, and lower the property value on her house.

“I want the two most offending poles removed from my back wall and placed where they do not damage my view, my quiet enjoyment, or my property value,” Breimer said. 

The Sir Francis Drake Boulevard Rehabilitation Project, also known as Upgrade the Drake, began its initial planning and background research in 2014. Approved by the Marin County Board of Supervisors in 2018, construction on the street began in Jun. 2020 with intentions of being completed by Dec. 2021. The project consists of repaving roads, improving the traffic operation and flow, upgrading pedestrian and cyclist safety, and intersection and signal improvements.

Before her physical protest, Breimer attempted to contact Rice and other supervisors in the county through emails and letters. Breimer stated that none of the supervisors gave solutions that met her standards, so she decided to use her spare time to protest outside Rice’s house, an area she knew she would be seen.

“I am standing here to ask for her help in fixing the problem she created by authorizing this design. I want her to undo the damage to my property’s view and value that she’s permitted,” Breimer said. 

Breimer is also unhappy with the timing of the construction put in place by the project. Unlike construction in other areas that usually take place during the day, the assembly of the traffic signals occurred well into the night. The noises took place from seven in the evening to nearly three or four in the morning for over a week, which disturbed her sleep schedule. 

“It was impossible to sleep because of the constant rumble of the heavy equipment, the back up beeping of the trucks, and the yells and honking of the crew as they signaled each other. The blower that blew the old street through the air and into an uncovered truck bed and the noisy repaving kept me up all night,” Breimer said. 

Breimer stands outside of Rice’s house, wearing a sign that reads, “Katie Rice! Restore our views, quiet, and property values” (Brody Rhodes)

Breimer believes that she was not properly notified about the construction project, and that there was a lack of transparency when it came to the construction plans. Though there were discussions of the project for nearly six years, Breimer didn’t find out about construction plans until other upset neighbors began spreading awareness about it. She believes that residents in the surrounding area of a construction site deserve to be properly informed on changes being made in their neighborhood. 

Breimer, a 40-year resident of her Greenbrae home, believes the safety measures due to construction are unnecessary. She wants all traffic lights at the intersection of Sir Francis Drake and La Cuesta Drive to be removed, and rather installed in another location. Despite the inconvenience of these traffic lights, Rice says that there is nothing further that her and the other supervisors can do. 

“I explained that I don’t have the ability to change out that signal light pole. There are traffic standards and codes for where you put physical objects like traffic signal poles, and there are also standards for the size of the poles,” Rice said. 

Rice says that the process for installing these lights involved extensive planning, as there was concern regarding the safety of the intersection behind Breimer’s house. The traffic engineer of the project also talked briefly with Breimer, but she was not content with the outcome of the conversion.  

“I had my office circle back to her and met with the traffic engineer so they could explain the same thing, and they did meet with her, but she’s just not satisfied,” Rice said.

Traffic lights that were placed by Breimer’s backyard garden wall that can be seen from her kitchen window. (Pj Breimer)

Breimer will continue to stand outside of Rice’s house during her free time and speak out until the issue of the traffic lights is resolved. As there is nothing further she can do, Rice is choosing to be courteous and respectful to her while Breimer protests outside her home, but decides to refrain from engaging with her.