Tiburon rated California’s third-safest place to live

A sailboat leans into the wind near Tiburon, which was named third in safety in the state based on its low crime rate.
 A sailboat leans into the wind near Tiburon, which was named third in safety in the state based on its low crime rate. IJ photo — Frankie Frost
Cameras photograph cars and their license plates in Tiburon. Councilman Emmett O’Donnell called the cameras “a valuable tool for the police department.”
Cameras photograph cars and their license plates in Tiburon. Councilman Emmett O’Donnell called the cameras “a valuable tool for the police department.”IJ photo — Frankie Frost

Tiburon has been rated as the third-safest place to live in California, and town leaders said they found the news pleasing, but not necessarily shocking.

Niche.com, a data analysis website, released a report naming Tiburon No. 3 for safety in the state based on its low rates of assault, robbery, murder, burglary, vehicle theft and larceny. The numbers came from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report.

According to the state Department of Justice, whose crime database is similar to the FBI’s, Tiburon reported a single violent crime and 107 property crimes in 2014, the latest complete year available.

The violent crime was an assault. The property crimes included 21 burglaries, four vehicle thefts and 82 thefts, among other offenses.

“Speaking honestly, I’m not surprised,” said Tiburon Mayor Erin Tollini. “I’m proud to be part of a community in which the community members all work together to create a town we want to live in.

“We want our children and our senior citizens to feel safe here, and we make an effort to make that happen,” the mayor said. “I want to credit the police force. I think we have an amazing police chief and incredible police officers and as a result of their efforts we live in a safe community.”

Half of the locations in the report’s top 10 were in the Bay Area, with Hillsborough, in San Mateo County, in first place. Other Marin locations that made the top 100 were Belvedere, No. 11; Mill Valley, No. 35; and Fairfax, rated No. 65.

Niche.com offers rankings and statistics on every neighborhood and city in the U.S. to help people find the best places to live. The rankings take into account indicators of a location’s safety such as violent and property crime rates in order to measure an area’s safety and security.

The assault and robbery rates for the various areas, as reported by the FBI, have the greatest weight in the assessment. Other factors such as the murder rate, the burglary rate, the vehicle theft rate and the larceny rate also figure into the equation.

Like the mayor, a top law enforcement official said she wasn’t surprised by the news.

“We have a rather high ratio of police officers to population that is pretty diligent in serving our citizens to keep them safe,” said Patricia Seyler, who serves as a police captain for Tiburon and chief of police for Belvedere.

Seyler extolled what she described as a partnership between police and the community.

“If citizens see something suspicious, they let us know,” she said. “With people working long hours and being insulated from their neighbors, that can be to the advantage of criminals; but when the community is looking out for each other and committed police … support community awareness, it makes for a really good place to live.”

The law enforcement official also mentioned the intrinsic value of Tiburon’s location.

“Geographically we are protected, as there’s really generally one main way in and out of the Tiburon peninsula. Our main access is in and out of Tiburon Boulevard,” Seyler said.

About five years ago, the town installed one stationary camera at each of the town’s two entrances, further enhancing the geographic advantage.

The devices scan the license plates of passing cars, instantly checking them against registration violations, warrants and criminal databases, sounding alarms when a plate on a stolen or suspect vehicle is spotted.

“It’s (the cameras) been a valuable tool for the police department,” said Councilman Emmett O’Donnell.

“(Tiburon police Chief Mike) Cronin was ahead of his time in recommending the license plate readers to the City Council and they have done a remarkably good job. It has a preventative effect because people know they are there” and it has helped police solve petty crimes, O’Donnell said.

At the time the cameras were installed, some privacy advocates objected because of what they saw as the system’s potential intrusion into drivers’ privacy. Since then, the controversy has abated to a great extent and other Marin police departments have adopted the devices.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Janis MaraJanis Mara covers education for the Marin IJ. She has worked at the Oakland Tribune, the Contra Costa Times and Adweek, winning awards for business coverage, live-blogging and investigative work. Reach the author at jmara@marinij.com or follow Janis on Twitter: @jmara.

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