NEWS & EVENTS, PROGRAMS OF SIGNIFICANCE TO OUR CONSTITUENTS
The County’s Planning Division administers and enforces zoning and subdivision regulations in accordance with the Marin Countywide Plan and applicable state laws. The Division is responsible for processing applications for development permits and providing public information on general plan, zoning, and subdivision matters, seeking to protect and preserve the high quality of the County's natural and built environments.
The Countywide Plan
The Countywide Plan, updated in 2007, reflects Marin’s environmental sensibility including the benefits of providing more affordable housing near public transportation and jobs. The plan also recognizes that Marin cannot just build its way out of fossil-fuel addiction and must also retrofit existing buildings and increase the use of fuel-efficient transportation to realize a significant energy reduction. The plan calls for environmentally friendly building techniques and energy-efficiency standards in excess of state requirements. Other innovations include the goal of reducing our ecological footprint to Western European levels, and using benchmarks to track our progress in implementing the plan. Visit www.future-marin.org to see the Plan.
To view “major projects” that have been submitted to the County Development Agency, go to: http://www.co.marin.ca.us /depts/CD/main/comdev/CURRENT/major_projects.cfm
Of particular interest to District 1:
St. Vincent's/Silveira Ranch
When viewed from the 101 freeway, the bucolic ranch lands of Silveira Ranch, and the adjacent property of St Vincent’s School and Chapel, remind people of the way California once looked. The open vistas of a working dairy ranch meeting the San Pablo Bay was once a common sight in the North Bay. One by one, these vistas have been converted to housing and commercial developments.
The approximately 1,110 acre St. Vincent’s/Silveira properties are largely undeveloped lands, including the tidelands and diked baylands of San Pablo Bay, open grasslands, oak woodlands and a riparian woodland along Miller Creek. These lands also act as a community separator between Marinwood/Terra Linda and the City of Novato.
The 1994 Marin Countywide plan presumed that the City of San Rafael would annex these two parcels and develop the lands within the city of San Rafael. There was a tug-of-war of sorts between the County of Marin and the City of San Rafael regarding which governmental entity would have jurisdiction over the site. Several San Rafael elected officials backed a more aggressive plan for a large scale development and were intending to annex these lands into the San Rafael city limit.
Shortly after Susan joined the Board of Supervisors, the City of San Rafael City Council voted to drop the Silveira/ St Vincent’s properties from the city’s sphere of influence, putting full control of the land use policies with the County of Marin. Susan was committed to curtailing, as much as possible, the development of the lands. As the Countywide Plan was in the beginning stages of a major revision, County planners, staff, the public and the Supervisors were in a position to take a fresh look at the land use criteria for these properties.
After a comprehensive study of the lands by the Marin County Planning Department, the findings indicated that there were a number of protected resource areas on the St. Vincent’s and Silveira lands, which include tideland; diked baylands; Miller creek and its riparian corridor; lands within the 100-year floodplain; and hills leading up to Pacheco Ridge at the northern boundary of the site.
The 2007 Countywide Plan created a fourth planning corridor, the new Baylands Corridor, to protect important baylands and large adjacent undeveloped uplands along the San Pablo and San Francisco bays.
A large majority of these lands are assigned the Planning Designation; Agricultural and Environmental Resource Area land use category. Potential uses include agriculture and related uses, residential development, education and tourism, places of worship, institutional uses, and small-scale hospitality uses.
Applying the criteria set forth in the Countywide Plan , the Board set the planning guidelines for this site to include up to 221 dwelling units for the combined St. Vincent’s and Silveira sites with up to 121 market-rate dwelling units plus up to 100 additional units for very low income households. Dwelling units shall be allocated proportionally to the respective St. Vincent’s and Silveira areas, based on the total acreage of each parcel. The siting of development was designed to protect the resource areas and be concentrated in an area that will not interfere with the view corridor from the highway out to the baylands.
To date, no plans have been submitted to Planning for consideration.
Marinwood Village Update
Community leaders testified at the Board of Supervisors meeting on September 26, 2006, to the Marinwood community planning process which resulted in the Marinwood Village Conceptual Plan. To hear the testimony of some of those who took part in that planning process, go to http://www.co.marin.ca.us/depts/BS/main/index.cfm, click on Live Video Broadcast, and go to September 26, 2006 meeting. Comment starts at 25:29 with Dave Mitchell, followed by Bruce Anderson, John Hammond, Frank Nelson at 36:10. The Conceptual Plan was incorporated into the General Plan in 2009.
As of February, 2012, BRIDGE Housing has reached agreement with Gerry Hoytt to purchase approximately 3.5 acres of the Marinwood Plaza site. BRIDGE Housing is very excited to now have the opportunity to work with the community on the second phase (the Marinwood Market being the first) of the Marinwood Village development and fulfill the vision created by the community for this site.
We will be working with BRIDGE Housing and County Planners to re-convene the community group.
For updates and more information go to: Marinwood Village Update page.
The Grady Ranch
In 1996, the Board of Supervisors approved the Lucasfilm Ltd. Grady Ranch/Big Rock Master Plan and Use Permit following environmental review, for development on Big Rock, McGuire and Loma Alta Ranches, as well as Grady Ranch. A total of 3,283 acres, or 97% of the entire site, would be permanently preserved as open space through dedication of an agricultural conversation easement and a fee-ownership gift of 800 acreas to the public located on Grady Ranch, which is the only one of the ranches located within the City-Centered Corridor. Under zoning current in 1996, there was a maximum residential potential of 206 units. The Board of Supervisors determined that a 206 unit residential alternative would not offer significant environmental advantages over the proposed project.
The Grady Ranch Precise Development Plan (PDP) details a second phase of the implementation of the 1996 Master Plan and Use Permit. Additional studies were performed with respect to potential traffic and environmental impacts and community meetings have been held in 2011-12 in order to share information and solicit comments on the supplemental environmental review. The PDP, revised in 2011, was approved by the Planning Commission in February 2012.
For more information on the Grady Ranch, go to http://www.co,marin.ca.us/depts/CD/main/comdev/CURRENT/major_projects.cfm and scroll down to Skywalker Properties Precise Development Plan.
Marin’s Sustainability Team
Take a look at the array of programs the County of Marin has developed to help us move as a community towards sustainability. These programs are designed to serve the residents and businesses of Marin now and in the future. To speak with a member of the Sustainability Team, call Dana Armanino at 415-473-3292 or email her at email@example.com. The following website is a wealth of information.
San Rafael Rock Quarry
In 1982, under a former owner/operator, the San Rafael Rock Quarry was rezoned from an industrial category to a mixed use residential/retail designation. The rezoning meant that the Quarry became an incompatible use under the zoning but mining activities were grandfathered in and allowed to continue under the condition that expansion of use would not be allowed. Under Dutra ownership, many compliance issues have been addressed, responsive to the concerns of the surrounding community and County oversight.
An Environmental Review Process was initiated in connection with an application for a Quarry permit and amended reclamation plan and the amended use permit was approved by the Board of Supervisors in 2010.
Throughout the process of litigation and administrative review and hearings before the Board, the Quarry and parties representing the surrounding neighborhoods met to identify areas of greatest impacts and opportunities for the Quarry to mitigate these impacts. Much was achieved, including an agreement by the Quarry to change out the decks of their barges to concrete to lower the noise level during the loading process, changing out all of its internal material moving equipment to the latest technology in diesel trucks to reduce particulate matter associated with diesel engines, covering the loads of trucks leaving the Quarry to reduce dust impacts along Pt. San Pedro Road, metering the trucks leaving the Quarry to reduce the congestion of truck traffic west bound along Pt. San Pedro Road, covering some of the rock crushing operations to reduce ambient dust and noise impacts.
See website for all information regarding the permit and current monitoring: http://www.co.marin.ca.us/depts/pw/main/quarry.cfm If you have questions about Quarry operations, contact Berenice Davidson at 473-3770 firstname.lastname@example.org
Being prepared in the event of a natural disaster, earthquake or situation that might require “shelter in place” can be done on a community level, neighborhood level or in one’s own home. For those who have the time and interest in helping one’s community through such an event, excellent training is available through Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT, formerly DART). The goal is for individuals to be self-sustaining for the first 72 hours of a disaster. Individuals, families, and local communities must take personal responsibility for their own safety and welfare and be prepared to be isolated, without outside resources, in a variety of different disaster scenarios.
The First District’s San Rafael Fire Department and Marinwood Fire Department conduct trainings in disaster preparedness. Those interested in taking CERT classes or want to “Get Ready”, can contact the San Rafael Office of Emergency Services, Angela, at 458-5002, or go to the website for more information: www.sroes.org. Those who live in Marinwood and are interested in CERT training can call Fire Chief Tom Roach at 479-0122 or go to their website: www.marinwoodfire.org.
For more information on the County’s preparedness efforts and what you can do to prepare yourself, your family, your home and workplace, you will find the following website very helpful.
Get Ready Marin
Marin Medical Reserve Corp
Those who have medical training and are interested in being available as responders can be trained as part of our Marin Medical Reserve Corp (MMRC). This is a “community based” volunteer program which allows Medical and Mental Health professionals to volunteer their time and skills during a disaster. The training is “all hazards” for health clinics, field hospitals set up in neighborhoods or augmenting hospital staff. MMRC is recognized nationally and at the state level as one of the “best practices” Medical Reserve Corps units in existence. Members participate in hospital drills, regional exercises and mutual aid situations that may arise. For further information, contact MMRC Program Direction Brian Waterbury at 927-7118 or by email at email@example.com.
Public Health Alerts
The Marin County web site, www.marinflu.org is a rich lode of up to date information on current flu conditions close to home. Prevention (good hygiene) is the best medicine. Wash your hands frequently, cough into your shirt sleeve or use tissues and wash hands immediately after throwing them away. Avoid contact with those who are coughing or who have fevers. If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others until you are fully recovered. If you have a sore throat, cough and a fever over 100 degrees, contact your health care provider. The fact that 47 million Americans lack insurance and access to health care could be a factor in determining how well we weather these periodic flu episodes. Many working Americans do not have insurance or sick day benefits. This current public health threat sheds light on the importance of the need for immediate attention to creating a national universal comprehensive system of health care. Hopefully the Obama administration and Congress are effectively moving us in that direction.
Access to Healthcare
The Marin County Health and Wellness Campus was officially opened the end of 2008. This Gold LEED certified complex was built using Tobacco Class Action settlement funds and lease savings. Non-profit partners including Marin Community Clinics, Buckalew, Community Action Marin and others are providing comprehensive health services to the people of Marin who are low income or who do not have health insurance. For a tour of Marin’s Health and Wellness Campus, a LEED certified green building offering one-stop shopping for healthcare and mental health related services, go to: http://www.co.marin.ca.us/G-Channel/Default.aspx. Enter Health and Wellness Campus in the search box.
Managed care for Medi-Cal eligible residents has come to Marin Countyin , 2011, 16,000 Marin residents with full scope Medi-Cal have a new managed care health plan: Partnership HealthPlan of California (PHC). Partnership is a non-profit health plan that provides Medi-Cal benefits to several California Counties including Solano, Yolo, Napa and Sonoma Counties. For more information on Medi-Cal managed care, go to: http://www.co.marin.ca.us/depts/HH/Main/ss/PartnershipHealth/
Marin Clean Energy
AB 32 mandated that local governments meet the challenge of climate change and significantly reduce our current greenhouse gas emissions.
With its promise of accomplishing these goals, Marin Clean Energy was adopted by the Board of Supervisors in 2008 and a Joint Powers Authority was created in the form of Marin Energy Authority, to collectively study, promote, develop and manage energy programs with the potential of meeting the mandates of AB32 and decreasing energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.
The MEA Board contracted with Shell Energy North America to secure energy supply and price stability, energy efficiencies and local economic benefits. MEA now includes the County of Marin and all the cities and towns.
Why is only a customer "opt-out" option provided?
The Community Choice Aggregation law (AB117) requires the customer opt-out approach. The legislature decided that the opt-out approach is a way to ensure a critical mass of customer load to make the CCA viable without mandating that any customer be part of the CCA. The law also defines a clear process and time period for customer notification to ensure customers are aware of, and have a simple method to opt out. Customers will receive four notices and opportunities to opt-out of the program without penalty of any kind, twice within the 60 days prior to enrollment, and twice within the first two months of service. After this time, a customer would still have the right to choose between MCE and PG&E.
For the latest information on Marin Clean Energy, go to the website: www.marincleanenergy.info or www.marinenergyauthority.org
Integrated Pest Management Ordinance and Policy
On July 22, 3009, the Board of Supervisors approved a new Ordinance and Policy, providing transparency and accountability to the public with respect to the use of pesticides on County government properties. A dedicated website provides the public with information about the integrated pest management program and education that will hopefully encourage individuals to discover safer effective ways to manage pests in their own homes. Testament to the success of the County’s efforts in implementing the policy, Marin’s Parks Department and IPM Coordinator Ed Hulme received recognition from the State EPA in 2012.
To read the Ordinance, Policy and get information on IPM go to:
Criminal Justice Behavioral Health Committee
Department heads and division leaders of the Criminal Justice and Health and Human Services agencies meet quarterly with community based organizations with the common commitment to serve those involved in the Criminal Justice system who also have mental health or substance abuse issues. This committee offers a unique way for these departments, who have historically worked in silos due to their funding sources and reporting requirements; to work together creatively on solutions that cross barriers that often exist between departments. The Committee works to incorporate models of restorative justice practices into the criminal justice system. Conversations and brainstorming sessions at such a high level are especially important as funding resources tighten. Programs developed through this kind of cross-culture collaboration have demonstrated great success over the years, forming an excellent foundation for AB109 “realignment”, the state mandated transition of non-serious offenders from state incarceration to local jails and supervision.
Minutes of these meetings, which are open to the public, will be posted here each quarter.
Jail Study Marin Final Report
Meeting Minutes - July 27,2011
Meeting Minutes - April 27,2011
Meeting Minutes - October 27, 2010
Meeting Minutes - July 21, 2010
Meeting Minutes - April 28, 2010
Meeting Minutes - January 27, 2010
Meeting Minutes - July 15, 2009
Ending Homelessness in Marin
Point-in-time counts attempt to capture those people "precariously housed", people who are on the edge of becoming homeless, at risk of falling into the unsheltered category tracked by HUD. They may be doubled up with friends or family, living day to day at the invitation of another, which at any point could be taken away. It is hard to imagine how difficult it would be for children to do their homework and get a good night's sleep and be ready for school when living in a car.
Recent counts show a reduction in the number of people who are unsheltered, sheltered or precariously housed, most likely due to the success of collective efforts of various initiatives and housing assistance programs in moving persons experiencing homelessness into permanent housing and preventing homelessness via short-term financial support and case management. The County continues to work with community partners to identify resources to add a winter shelter, which is currently a gap in our services to those living without a roof over their heads. The County also continues to work to access bond money and state and federal grant monies to support services and programs. Budget challenges continue to threaten the partnerships and collaborations that have developed in our communities. Congregations throughout Marin have been generous with their physical space as well as their humanity in reaching out to provide shelter and compassion.
Contact Susannah Clark at 473-7342 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or our homelessness services analyst, Lisa Sepahi, email@example.com
Watershed Preservation and Flood Control
If you are a resident of Lucas Valley/Marinwood and are interested in discovering ways to protect and enhance the Miller Creek Watershed-stretching from Big Rock to the Bay, want to improve the quality of life in your neighborhood, protect endangered species and help to reduce the expense of watershed maintenance, please consider becoming a Steward of the Miller Creek Watershed.
The creek width dictates the amount bank erosion that may be caused by swifter moving water in a narrow channel. The control of further bank erosion, especially the control of erosion presently occurring behind the properties of several residents on Miller Creek, is of prime concern and is one of the major goals for the Miller Creek Watershed Stewards and the other support groups.
The historical background and mapping of Miller Creek was conducted by the San Francisco Estuary Institute. For additional information about the Watershed Project and how you can become a Miller Creek Watershed Steward, call Mike Elgie at 472-5947.
The Gallinas Creek watershed is of great interest to the Santa Venetia community. A combination of pump stations, levees and culverts protect the community from flooding. The marshlands and tidal waters provide rich habitat for a variety of plant and animal wildlife. The County has been working with the Army Corps of Engineers on a study of the levee system to determine the condition and costs for repair and/or enhancement; at the same time we have been lobbying state and federal elected officials to fund infrastructure and watershed improvements for the area. Flood Zone 7 Advisory Board at its February 2012 meeting agreed to move forward with a broader watershed approach which will include all agencies and parties of interest in the Gallinas Creek watershed.
Go to http://marinwatersheds.org/ for more information on Marin’s watersheds.
Marin Transit 259 and 257 shuttles serve north San Rafael, connecting Smith Ranch, Kaiser, Northgate, the Marinwood, Terra Linda and Los Ranchitos neighborhoods. Route 233 shuttle connects Santa Venetia, San Rafael Transit Center and the Civic Center.
Please consider taking a ride and see what it can do for you. Go to the Marin Transit website for more information: http://www.marintransit.org/
Civic Center Volunteers
Are you recently retired and desire a diversion from all that free time? Are you interested in meeting new and exciting people while learning new skills? Have you ever thought about becoming a Civic Center Volunteer? Volunteers provide services that translates to millions of dollars of savings each year to the county taxpayers.
The Civic Center Volunteers (CCV) was founded in 1979, and is an internationally recognized innovative volunteer program. Last year the Civic Center Volunteers delivered more than eight million dollars in services to the citizens of Marin!
To join the ranks, call Joan Brown, volunteer coordinator at 499-7167. For more detailed information regarding the volunteer program and the current opportunities available, you may go to www.co.marin.ca.us/depts/HR/ccvol/index.cfm. Do yourself and Marin County a favor; volunteer. You will be glad you did.
Boards & Commissions
Be part of the public process by serving on one of a variety of boards and commissions that are advisory to the Board of Supervisors. You can review the duties and purpose of the various commissions and committees, see the meeting schedules and submit an application for consideration by the Board of Supervisors without leaving the confines of your home computer area. Go to:
You may also contact the Board of Supervisors Clerk, Patrice Stancato, @ 473-7332, firstname.lastname@example.org. Patrice can also inform you of the duties, meeting times, etc. of the commission/committee of your choice.
Banning Plastic Bags
On January 18, 2011 the Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance regulating the provision of single-use carry out bags by approximately forty (40) retail establishments located within the unincorporated areas (outside of Marin’s city limits) of Marin County. The ordinance prohibits the use of single-use carry-out plastic bags and requires the retail establishments, as defined in the ordinance, to charge for the cost, not less than five cents, for recycled content single-use paper bags.
The forty effected stores within unincorporated Marin County are drug stores, pharmacies, supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience food stores, food marts and other entities engaged in the retail sale of a limited line of goods that include milk, bread, soda, and snack foods, including stores with Type 20 or 21 license issued by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
In order for the stores and consumers to have the time to comply with the ordinance and to locate reusable bags as alternatives to plastic bags, the ordinance took effect on January 1, 2012.
Enforcement of the ordinance is administered by the Agricultural Commissioner using his authority as the Director of the Department of Weights and Measures during routine inspection of store scales, cash registers and scanners at retail establishments.
For more information go to: http://www.co.marin.ca.us/depts/AG/Main/PlasticBags.cfm
Video: Plastic State of Mind (Parody)
Real Pension Solutions
Nearly everybody agrees that public employee pension systems need reform. State government has done very little to address the issue with respect to state pensions, however, the county has taken several steps to rein in our long-term costs.
I do not participate in the county pension plan which allows me the opportunity to consider pension issues from a non-vested perspective.
Although much of our pension liability has already been incurred and is legally binding, the county has taken steps to reduce our long-term costs. For example, retiree health benefits for new employees have been substantially reduced, saving taxpayers tens of millions of dollars over the next 30 years. Over the past three years, we have eliminated 180 positions (thus fewer pensioned positions). The county is working with our employees to create new, more cost effective health benefit plans and a new retirement tier that increases the age for retirement.
Employees already contribute a portion of their salaries to their retirement (tax payers do not pay the whole tab on top of salaries as has been implied by some). The county doesn’t allow spiking and uses a 3 year salary averaging to determine the retirement benefit.
The county has been proactive in challenging a proposal by the Retirement Board to provide “excess funds” to retirees at a time when the obligations aren’t fully funded. There are currently no true excesses. Most county staff have not received cost of living increases.
Our librarians, firefighters, paramedics, nurses, road crews, park rangers, accountants, law enforcement officers, clerks, planners, engineers, transit operators, in-home support workers, probation officers, attorneys, dispatchers, and others (including volunteers who provide $10 million of in-kind work for the county) work hard for the people of Marin and deserve our thanks and fair compensation. We are working with our employees to implement real reforms that control our pension costs and save taxpayers real money over the long run.
For more information on pension reform: http://www.co.marin.ca.us/depts/AD/Main/pension/index.cfm
Sustainable Communities Strategy—Regional planning for our future
As vice president of ABAG in 2011, Supervisor Adams worked with Marin and other Bay Area elected members to address some of the challenging aspects in determining local housing allocations as distributed by the state. The State’s Housing and Community Development Agency (HCD) calculates the future growth in our state and determines the number of housing units in all income categories needed to address the growth. The Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA, also referred to phonetically as “reena”) is determined using data such as the census count, number of jobs created, population growth through birth and migration, etc. The state allocates these numbers to local regions and in particular to the local councils of governments (COGs) in the state. Sacramento, San Diego, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area have COGs. The SF Bay Area’s COG is the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). ABAG takes the numbers distributed by the state and begins to work on the methodology to decide how our 101 cities and towns and 9 counties will meet the state’s RHNA allocation.
The original state legislation was created in part to address the concerns that a full range of housing was not being built to address the growth in our region and in the state. The types and numbers of jobs being created contribute to the calculation of the final housing numbers. Cities derive much of their revenues through sales taxes from retail. Retail sales jobs typically pay lower wages e.g. Big Box retail. Lower paying jobs also create the obligation to build the housing for the workers in those jobs.
In a county like Marin, which is suburban/rural, where growth has been slow and where land prices are expensive, creative options for creating the full range of housing are currently not allowed to be counted. For example, the Habitat for Humanity conversions of blighted housing into deed restricted affordable housing is not counted. The conversions the county made in Southern Marin from market rate to affordable housing was only given credit for ¼ of the conversions. Senior assisted living units for our rapidly aging population; co-operative housing for those who need wrap around services and some types of farm worker housing are not counted, yet we need to consider the housing needs for all of our community as we plan for how we will or will not grow.
What we now have is a state imposed one size fits all dysfunctional approach to creating sustainable communities. ABAG is trying to address this through the Sustainable Communities Strategy where growth is being directed toward the more urbanized areas where transit and jobs are located. Preserving the open spaces and agricultural areas as a region is also important so we don’t end up with the sprawl of southern California. But if we are growing jobs and our population in Marin, we will also share a small part of the regional obligation to create the housing for the people who will be living and working in our communities. San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland have taken on tens of thousands of units in the past cycle and will likely bear much of the burden for the regional development going forward.
The public has become more engaged in the “Sustainable Communities” process in 2011-2012, Please visit the following links and websites to learn more about what potential impacts and opportunities are being discussed.
Sustainable Communities Strategy Overview Presentation
What is One Bay Area? Sustainable Communities?"
Websites for more information: www.abag.ca.gov/jointpolicy or