Update: Measure A has passed! Thanks to more than 73% of Marin County voters who supported it!
We in Marin cannot imagine our county without the oak studded hills of Loma Alta, Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow or Ring Mountain that dominate our landscape. Our daily exercise with our dogs is in open space preserves like Blithedale Summit and Indian Valley. Roy’s Redwoods or Baltimore Canyon are where we head on a hot day. Whether biking on Mt. Burdell, or birding at Rush Creek, we love our open space preserves.
Our county parks are more developed. There, we host Marin’s family celebrations, company picnics, and community fundraisers at Stafford Lake, McInnis, McNears Beach, or Paradise Beach parks. Another 25 community parks serve neighborhoods, and 2 boat launches give us access to San Pablo and Tomales bays. More than one third of us live within walking distance of a county park or preserve, and we visited them six million times last year.
What would Marin County be without its parks? Forty years ago, the answer was uncertain. We watched as development crept up our hillsides and across our ridgelines. But in 1972, Marin voters passed Measure A for the acquisition and maintenance of open space preserves. Today, there are 34 in all. Together with the former Marin County Parks and Recreation Department, what we know as Marin County Parks now manages over 20,000 acres of local parks and preserves. We are responsible for the maintenance and protection of these lands and tasked with fostering discovery, learning, and stewardship through educational and volunteer experiences.
While Marin County Parks will celebrate its 40th anniversary this year, the celebration is tempered by revenue shortfalls and years of budget cuts. Our parklands and facilities have taken a beating these past 40 years, and we haven’t had the resources to stay ahead of aging infrastructure, community demands and natural resource needs. When our community leaders created this legacy, they relied on parcel tax projections of the day — pre-Proposition 13. Today, we are over $50 million behind in revenues.
What Does This Mean? Trails are rutted and gates are broken. Signs are virtually non-existent. Barbeque grills and fence posts are rotting. Our 500 picnic tables are in disrepair. Irrigation and water lines fail regularly. Popular McNears Beach pool, built in 1959, predates public use standards, is too small, is in constant need of repair, and is closed two days a week because we can’t afford lifeguards. Deferred repairs cost much more than timely ones.
There are fewer rangers ensuring safety, telling stories, mending gates, reducing wildfire risk and enforcing rules. We have the lowest number of rangers per trail-mile than any other district in the Bay Area. The effort to restore Bolinas Lagoon is nearly out of money. We have no funds with which to match grants available for wetland preservation projects on the bay and along our coast. We are at a critical point.
On August 7, 2012, the Marin County Board of Supervisors voted to place a new Measure A on the November 6, 2012 ballot for county voters to consider.
Measure A Overview
Marin County Measure A is a temporary one-quarter cent sales tax increase that will protect natural places, local parks, and family farms. Measure A will:
- Protect streams, baylands, natural areas, and wildlife habitat
- Manage vegetation to preserve biodiversity and reduce wildfire risk
- Protect water quality by managing and protecting open space and other natural lands that feed our lakes, streams, lagoons, and baylands
- Protect and preserve Marin County farms and ranches
- Improve public access and recreational opportunities by maintaining and enhancing walking, hiking, biking, and equestrian trails
Detailed Expenditure Plan
Measure A will generate $10 million annually for nine years. Marin County Parks convened a series of public meetings to determine how these funds would be allocated. The public process determined:
· 65% of the funds would be utilized by Marin County Parks to restore natural resources, maintain county parks and open space preserves, restore and improve public access, and protect natural lands
· 20% would be dedicated to saving family farms and ranches through the purchase of agricultural conservation easements in voluntary transactions with landowners
· 15% would be dedicated to cities, towns, and special districts to manage their parks, nature preserves, recreation programs, and vegetation to reduce wildfire risk
Local Marin County Control and Independent Oversight
The funds will be raised in Marin and will stay in Marin. A seven-member Citizens’ Oversight Committee will be appointed by the Marin County Board of Supervisors to report on how the money was spent. The state government, including California State Parks (a separate park system managed from Sacramento), cannot take away these funds.
Please learn more by visiting www.marincountyparks.org.
See you on the trail!
DIRECTOR & GENERAL MANAGER
Marin County Parks