Key Priorities and Policies

Board of Supervisors

As your representative on the Marin County Board of Supervisors, I pledge to continue to keep your perspective close in mind in approaching all matters facing the County, and to keep open and active communication as the foundation of my service.

Below you will find an overview of my key priorities and key policy objectives, organized by greater issue groups. When it comes to the interests of the residents and neighborhoods from the County perspective, these issues are most important to 'keeping the promise of Marin.'

I will update this page as I continue to make progress on these goals and initiatives, the most recent update was in February of 2019.

My door is always open.  Please call, email, or set up a time to meet with me personally.  I want to know what is on your mind.  Please email me or reach out to my Aides to schedule a time for a phone call or meeting:

 

Securing a Healthy Range of Housing Opportunities in Marin

There is an undeniable shortage of affordable housing options in Marin. I will continue to think creatively and practically and promote solutions that are working. In Marin, the following efforts are underway and showing promise: The Landlord Partnership Program; allocation of an additional $4.1 million into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund in 2019 to support the acquisition, preservation and development of more housing in the County; streamlining and promoting Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs and JADUs); and tenant protractions.

Strengthening Section 8 with the Landlord Partnership Program

The Housing Choice Voucher Program, or Section 8, is a huge investment of federal funds into Marin County. After receiving many calls from constituents holding vouchers – including seniors, working families and veterans - who were unable to find rental opportunities to use them, we partnered with the Marin Housing Authority and leaders from our local landlord community to create the Landlord Partnership Program. This approach makes landlord participation in the Housing Choice Voucher program more attractive and feasible by addressing specific concerns that we heard during our outreach, and by making the entire program more streamlined. The Landlord Partnership Program is exceeding the initial goals of the Partnership, and we now have over 100 new landlords accepting Section 8 vouchers. If you have units for rent and are interested in exploring how this program can work for you, please email Monique Broussard or call 415-491-2567. 

Supporting Conversion and Acquisition Efforts

In January of 2019 we shifted $4.1 million in general fund money to the County’s Housing Trust Fund. Over the past three years, the County has invested nearly $5.9 million of Housing Trust Funds to fund up to 241 affordable homes.

Securing existing housing infrastructure for conversion to affordable housing mitigates potential impacts to our communities. We have had success with this approach by acquiring 27 units at the Piper Court Apartments in Fairfax, 8 units in Stinson Beach, 20 units at The Forest Knolls Trailer Court, and a home on Giacomini Way in Point Reyes Station. The County Housing Trust invested $3.6M as a loan for construction and acquisition of 54 units at Victory Village in Fairfax. The County has invested in preservation and predevelopment of 23 homes for families in Bolinas, for predevelopment of 80 new homes in Novato, and for preservation of 12 units in Larkspur. The County has contributed $37,725 in predevelopment funds for acquisition and preservation of 32 units for families at the Coast Guard Housing in Point Reyes Station. Continuing to bolster the Affordable Housing Trust Fund is necessary to ensure funds are available as opportunities to provide housing arise.

Supporting and Streamlining Second Units and Junior Second Units

Facilitating the production of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) is an opportunity to increase affordable housing without significantly impacting our neighborhoods. I worked with my Board colleagues, the Community Development Agency, local fire protection agencies, advocates and service providers to craft regulations that streamline and promote second and junior second units for homeowners. These changes were made possible by statewide legislation that we helped to enact. In response to the North Bay fires, we voted to waive permit and planning fees for Junior Accessory Dwelling Units and expanded the program to reduce fees for ADUs as well. If you are in the market for building an accessory dwelling unit and will commit the unit to long term rental for at least two years, then the Marin County Government building and planning permit fees will be reduced or waived. If you are not in unincorporated Marin, please check with your city or town to determine if they may also offer incentives. This step is a way of providing additional affordable housing in Marin. Please contact the Marin County Community Development Agency or my office for more details.

Affordability in the Rental Market and the Rental Housing Dispute Resolution Ordinance

We have been working actively with leaders in the landlord and property-owner community, as well as with renters, voucher-holders and tenant rights advocates, exploring solutions for preserving affordability in Marin’s rental market for a range of income levels. The Board of Supervisors adopted a “Source of Income Protection” ordinance to ensure that voucher-holders are evaluated as potential renters based on neutral criteria, and not turned away based on their vouchers. San Rafael, Novato, San Anselmo, and Fairfax have also adopted “Source of Income Protection.”

We passed a Rental Housing Dispute Resolution ordinance (Mandatory Mediation), offering landlords and tenants the opportunity to mediate issues related to increases in monthly rent greater than 5% in a one-year period.

On December 18, 2018 the Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance that establishes a Just Cause for eviction policy in unincorporated areas of Marin. The policy applies to properties with three or more units and requires that tenants be given a reason for a lease termination. The ordinance went into effect on January 17, 2019 and is a pilot, to be reviewed on January 18, 2021. Further details can be found here.

The Board committed to strengthening education for both landlords and tenants. Additionally, the Board committed to bolstering County code enforcement to insure rental units are habitable. The Board directed staff to reach out to the cities of San Rafael and Novato as well, to collaborate on code enforcement, recognizing that many rental units are in those jurisdictions.

I will continue to lead efforts to work with stakeholders to develop policies and programs that can work for everyone in stabilizing the rental market.

Revising the Housing Overlay Designation and Other County Policies

From a County policy perspective looking towards potential development in Marin, I’m concerned that our current Community Development Agency housing policies do not always work towards their intended goals. I look forward to working with Community Development Agency leadership and staff to reevaluate certain County policies, particularly the Housing Overlay Designation.

Affordable Housing Policies

The Marin County Board of Supervisors supports efforts to permit counties to collaborate with their cities to create more affordable housing opportunities, or to preserve existing affordable housing units, including a broader range of options that would be eligible to receive state housing element credits, such as senior housing, assisted living units, housing cooperatives and accessory dwelling units. The Board will further support state funding for the conversion of existing commercial and housing stock - and increasing funds, providing tax incentives, and exploring other mechanisms for affordable housing preservation, rehabilitation, development and/or conversion. As Marin's representative on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), I will work for local control on housing issues while working with the Board of Supervisors and community stakeholders to implement and support creative and practical solutions in Marin.

Addressing Homelessness with Every Tool at Our Disposal

Homelessness is one of the most challenging issues facing Marin County, and particularly District 1. As a member of the Board of Supervisors sub-committee on Homelessness and Chair of the Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health Committee I consider homelessness and the oftentimes related issue of behavioral health as top priorities. I continue to support bolstering County mental health services and strengthening our partnership with the City of San Rafael and local service providers, with a focus on alleviating the impacts of homelessness on Downtown San Rafael. I challenge our departments to ensure that County funded programs and services are evaluated in terms of their outcomes to maximize their efficiency and effectiveness.

The term “homeless” encompasses a wide spectrum of people and circumstances. Many individuals who rely on key services do not fit the stereotypical image of homelessness. They are often working people and families who have lost a job, housing or some other support system, or have encountered medical issues that led to loss of a job or housing. In many instances this includes children in our local schools and results in families doubling up in unstable, overcrowded apartments. These individuals need different services than those who suffer from mental illness or other disabling conditions and who are unable to take care of their own basic needs, different still from the disproportionately visible individuals who impact our Downtown business area and surrounding neighborhoods.

The Homeless Outreach Team, “HOT” identifies specific individuals who are high-utilizers of expensive public services (hospitals, jails) and have a disproportionate impact on our neighborhoods and public systems. The HOT team aims to end the “revolving door” by working intensively on individualized plans towards permanent housing, with whatever supportive services are needed to keep the person housed.

Each service provider is accountable for implementing  the individualized plan. Through assessing each person’s vulnerability, that is, determining how long he or she has been living on the street, how fragile they are medically or mentally, a list is created with the most vulnerable people at the top, the first to go into housing. Through this Housing First approach, capitalizing on the work of the HOT Team and coordinated entry, we have been successful in housing 100 of our most vulnerable people living on our streets.

Improving Mental Health Services

The County Department of Health and Human Services, through its Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Division, is the safety net provider for people living with a serious mental illness diagnosis and Medi-Cal eligible. During the last few years, the County added three units to our mental health outreach program: the Mobile Crisis Response Team, which responds to mental health crises throughout the County; the Outreach and Engagement Team, which proactively seeks out the homeless; and the Triage Team, which works with the precariously housed and those whose mental illness threatens their housing status. We continue to leverage County resources towards the most proactive, effective services to address the underlying mental health conditions that lead to homelessness.  The goal is to keep someone with mental illness stable in their housing through case management and wrap around services.

We also have what is called full service partnership.  This is a way to provide a complete range of services, using a ‘whatever it takes’ approach to the individual and their family.  Programs include “Helping Older People Excel” and Senior Peer Counseling; homeless outreach through the Odyssey Team, supporting adults who struggle with severe mental health symptoms and, as a result, homelessness;  Support and Treatment After Release, “STAR”, supporting adults with serious mental illness and who are currently involved with the criminal justice system; and finally, Transitional Age Youth, “TAY,” providing services to young men and women, ages 16-25, who are struggling with mental health challenges.

The Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Division Access Line is available to answer questions about services, arrange appointments and make referrals. Call (888) 818-1115  24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  You can read in greater detail at the County website by clicking on the following link:  County Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Better Coordination with the Court System and Expanded Mental Health Services in Jail

We are not alone in Marin County in struggling to effectively address the unique needs of people with mental illness in jail and in the criminal justice system.   I spearheaded County efforts around how our Health and Human Services divisions can work in concert with the Sheriff’s Office and the Courts to expand medical and mental health resources to those in detention as well as going through the Court system.  We are fortunate to have visionary leaders in Detention Services and on the Bench in this County and willing partners in Health and Human Services committed to doing what it takes to support people with serious mental illness.

The Stepping Up Initiative is an innovative nationwide effort to address the mental health crisis in our county jails. Through my advocacy, the Board of Supervisors passed a Stepping Up resolution and has also made these efforts a budget priority. I have been working with our criminal justice system partners to achieve a more coordinated relationship between County service providers and the Courts to ensure that people in the judicial system have access to appropriate behavioral health resources.

  • We now have 20 hours, 7 days per week of staff coverage in the jail to ensure safety cell checks are done within 4 hours from time of booking.We also have implemented 28 hours of face to face psychiatric coverage in custody and telephonic psychiatric consultations 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.This is a dramatic increase in access to mental health professionals for people in jail.
  • We have expanded Licensed Crisis Specialist staffing including one Bilingual (Spanish) Crisis Specialist.
  • We now have group programming and stabilization which allows people in jail more social interaction.
  • Increased Re-Entry planning: Working with MH inmate patients to identify short- and long-term goals for reentry into the community post incarceration.

Laura's Law --Assisted Outpatient Treatment

Assisted Outpatient Treatment through Laura’s Law is a valuable tool connecting people who are suffering from disabling mental health issues to the full-service partnerships they need.  Based on specific court-evaluated criteria, Laura’s Law, or AB 1421, provides outpatient services to those suffering from severe mental illness who have refused treatment yet are at risk of harming themselves, others, or unable to care for their own basic needs. I originally brought the issue to the Board of Supervisors in early 2016 but was defeated on a 4-1 vote. I then worked closely with families, advocates, mental health professionals and members of the community, building the case as to why Laura’s Law could be a tool for helping those with severe mental illness oftentimes living on our streets. In March 2017, the Board of Supervisors agreed, and on a 5-0 vote decided to implement a two-year pilot program enacting Laura’s Law in Marin. We now have an Assisted Outpatient Treatment program in place. We are pleased that those people who have been referred who meet the criteria have been linked to care.  Referrals can be made by calling 415-473-4321.

Creating a Program that Addresses the Impacts of Chronic Inebriates

The County funded a two-year pilot program for 8-10 of the people who create the greatest impact on our communities due to alcohol-related behavior and arrests. They are the “frequent fliers” between the back of a patrol car or ambulance to the hospital emergency room, jail, or Helen Vine Recovery Center. This pilot program has provided intensive services and housing, time and opportunity for the participant to find a new way of being in the community. Seven of the participants are now stably housed.

In addition, our partners in the criminal justice system, the Public Defender, District Attorney, Probation, the Courts, City officials and law enforcement are all working together to interrupt this problematic revolving door cycle.

Helen Vine Recovery Center

Buckelew Programs operates Helen Vine, a 26-bed non-medical detoxification program with recovery-oriented services for people with alcohol and drug addiction issues as well as co-occurring psychiatric services. Helen Vine is considered the best of three options for law enforcement to take people who are arrested for public drunkenness, for example. The other two options, jail or hospital emergency room, come with a booking and arrest in the former and a hefty price tag the community bears in the latter.

Maximizing Mobility through Effective Transportation Policy and Planning

As we face the reality of our current traffic congestion, the addition of SMART train service, envisioning a new transit station in Downtown San Rafael, and goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, I will ensure that Marin residents have access to transportation that is convenient and reliable. I will continue to make sure that infrastructure improvements are planned to integrate appropriately with the surrounding environment and to promote multi-modal transportation.

I have utilized a hands-on approach to understanding our local and regional transit issues by frequently using transit systems myself. I’ve implemented the #RideWithDamon program where I go 45 days straight without driving a car in order to determine what is and isn’t working in our systems. This has enabled me to better understand issues and policies that come before me as a decision-maker locally and regionally– and to provide important feedback to the public and to transit system operators.  In 2018 I reduced 1,067 miles of travel, which 511.org equated to reducing 1046 pounds of CO2 emissions, and saving me $326.24 in fuel and maintenance costs!  I look forward to doing this again in the spring of 2019.  Please join me as I ride and commit to leaving your car in the garage one day a week.

In 2019 Marin Transit launched a pilot in Northern San Rafael, offering completely accessible on-demand van service from door-to-door without advanced planning.  The service has improved transit options for paratransit riders, while also providing first and last mile connectivity between Northern San Rafael residential neighborhoods and transit corridors. Marin Transit Connect provides County of Marin and Kaiser employees with rides from their transit stop to and from their placement of employment. I would love to see the service area expand.

As Marin’s representative on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), I will continue to strongly advocate for our share of regional, state and federal transportation funding.

In 2018 I was appointed to the SMART Board of Directors, as one of two Marin County Supervisors on the 12-member Board. I am committed to pursuing the success of SMART in a manner that is fiscally sound. I am excited to say that SMART reached its millionth passenger on January 17, 2019!

In 2019 the voters supported the need for transportation solutions by passing Measure AA, affirming Senate Bill 1 and passing Regional Measure 3.  The combination will make a generational imprint on transportation solutions in Marin and our larger region.  The funds from Senate Bill 1 provide essential funding for maintaining our local streets and roads.  Regional Measure 3, which increases the Bay Area bridge tolls (other than the Golden Gate Bridge) and will provide crucial funding for a direct freeway connector from northbound U.S. 101 to eastbound Interstate 580 to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge; funding to replace and modernize the San Rafael Transit center; and improving and planning for the future on State Route 37.  With the passage of Measure AA we are poised to invest more in yellow school buses throughout the county, and secure crossing guards and fund Safe Routes to School, local street and road repair, senior mobility, local transit and highway congestion related projects.

Completing the Multiuse Path/North South Greenway

Now that SMART is funded to provide rail service through San Rafael to Larkspur, it is critical that we create circulation and connectivity to surrounding infrastructure in station design and integration, "first and last mile" local transit options, and that we work to fulfill the commitment of the North South Greenway and continue building a multi-use pathway through District 1 and the county. I continue to advocate for active transportation programs to provide safe and convenient infrastructure for bicycles and pedestrians. I serve as the County representative on a subcommittee dedicated to completing this pathway through the portions of District 1 that have presented challenges in the past.

Envisioning the Future of the San Rafael Downtown Transit Center

The redesign of the Bettini Transit Center in Downtown San Rafael will have a huge impact on traffic and public transportation both in Downtown San Rafael and the County at large. With the arrival of the SMART train, it will be imperative to focus on the effective integration of use between SMART, Marin Transit, Golden Gate Transit and local traffic. As chair of the Marin Transit Board, and Board Member on TAM and SMART, I will seek out and advocate for the highest possible level of overall functionality for the center, with a focus on connectivity.  This new site could also serve as a gateway to San Rafael.  The Golden Gate Bridge District is leading the project.  The Bridge District is holding a series of public meetings to gather input and comments from public agencies and the community.  Environmental Analysis of various alternatives will be conducted before preliminary engineering for the transit center will begin.  Project updates, including a page to subscribe to updates, can be found here.

Building Safe Options for School Transit

Pickup and drop off times affect local traffic. I am collaborating with Marin Transit, our local school leaders and communities, and community advocacy groups to make sure that all available means of providing safe routes for our kids to school are worked out and explored, with a focus on solutions that take cars off the road, along with keeping a close eye on crossing guards on the streets most heavily used by our students.

Following the passage of Measure AA, a half-cent sales tax renewal, in November of 2018 we immediately went to work on providing funds to our school districts that are providing yellow bus service.  On January 7, 2019 the Marin Transit Board voted to distribute $600,000 of Measure AA funds to existing yellow bus programs serving schools in the urbanized area of Marin County.

Pushing to Reopen the Richmond Bridge Third Lane

I understand the impacts this traffic issue has on District 1 and anyone traveling on 101 through Marin County, and will continue to support improvements to the connector routes that will alleviate the congestion. I continuously and strongly advocated for completion of the eastbound third lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge which opened in 2018.  I will continue to work tirelessly to improve the commute west bound.  The west bound third lane will open as a bicycle lane in the Spring of 2019.  I’m pursing shared use for vehicles, carpools and transit in the third lane westbound during morning commute hours.  I welcome your input on this matter.

Environmental Issues and Climate Change

The County has a key role to play in climate change issues on every level, from flood and fire risk management to sea-level rise adaptation to aggressively scaling down our local carbon emissions. Many of these issues hit too close to home for neighborhoods of District 1. The County has adopted an expansive Climate Action Plan. As part of the Board of Supervisors Climate Action Plan (CAP) sub-committee, I’ve spearheaded implementation of the CAP, including securing budget funding and making climate change a key policy priority for the County. Through a commitment to climate action planning, the County of Marin has reduced community greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 21 percent below 1990 levels.

In October of 2017, we implemented DRAWDOWN: Marin, a bold community-driven initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for climate change impacts.   The County, with the support and input from the entire community, will work to “drawdown” carbon emissions and will work to eliminate fossil fuel use.  We have stakeholder collaboratives developing recommended priority solutions with metrics in six focus areas: 100% renewable energy, low carbon transportation, energy efficiency in buildings and infrastructure, local food and food waste, carbon sequestration, and climate resilient communities.

Marin County hired a Drawdown:Marin coordinator, and is committed as the backbone organization to convene and facilitate the community and stakeholders. I am energized by my colleagues working on this project and inspired by the experts from the region who are dedicating their time and expertise to find workable solutions for Marin.

The Drawdown:Marin solutions will be fed into the new County Climate Action Plan, that will be completed in 2020. 

  • Marin County Climate Action Plan

  • 2017 Interim Community Greenhouse Gas Emissions Assessment

  • Sea Level Rise Litigation.The County of Marin filed suit against 37 oil and gas corporations for the impacts of sea level rise on our local communities – and are seeking to hold those companies accountable for withholding information about the risks associated with their products.

  • MCE Clean Energy. As Past President and a founding Board Member of Marin Clean Energy, I will continue to promote both MCE Clean Energy and its innovative energy programs to keep Marin on the forefront of smart, clean energy and energy efficiency.I am proud to say that The County of Marin is 100% Deep Green for all its government accounts through MCE Clean Energy.

  • Climate Resilient Communities. I led the first Resilient Neighborhoods team at the Civic Center, setting an example of ways in which we can reduce our own carbon footprint through individual action. Since then we have launched a Resilient Offices program, allowing employees to reduce their carbon footprint both at home and at work.

  • Public EV Charging Stations. In July of 2018 the County added 41 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations to the Civic Center campus in San Rafael.The new units were installed in the Civic Center’s Hall of Justice parking lot, bringing the total number of public EV charging stations to 45.The other 10 charging stations were installed at the Civic Center’s garage to be utilized by the County vehicle fleet.We hope to install additional stations at the County building located at 1600 Los Gamos Drivein the upcoming year.

  • Rebates for replacement of natural gas appliances. The County of Marin is now issuing rebates for the replacement of natural gas appliances with efficient all-electric units, including water heaters, furnaces, ranges and cooktops. Replacing natural gas appliances with electric models will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve indoor air quality, and contribute to a safer and healthier home. This program is available to single-family homeowners in all areas of Marin County.

    Standard rebates range from $250 to $1,000 per replaced gas appliance, with higher rates up to $4,500 available for income-qualified applicants. Rebates will apply for qualifying heat pump water heaters, central air source heat pumps, mini-split heat pumps (ductless or ducted), induction ranges, and induction cooktops. For projects where installing a new electric appliance would require an upgrade to the existing electric service panel, supplemental rebates are available to offset the cost of the additional capacity. Visit www.marincounty.org/electrify to learn more. QUESTIONS? Tel: (415) 473-3069 or Email: energy@marincounty.org

  • Green Building Requirements. On March 13, 2018, the County adopted a new Green Building ordinance which will remain in place until the 2019 California Building Standards Code goes into place on January 1, 2020.The standards, which apply to new construction, additions, and remodels in the unincorporated County, are a way for the County to implement its 2015 Climate Action Plan. More information can be found here.

Our Natural Environment

BayWAVE

I serve on the Board of Supervisors subcommittee for BayWAVE, with the fundamental goal of increasing awareness and preparation for future Sea Level Rise impacts by using this coordinated, multi-jurisdictional assessment.  The assessment is evaluating the extent of impacted assets, assessing the sensitivity and adaptability of selected assets and working with local cities and towns to plan implementation of adaptation strategies.  BayWAVE focuses on  the eastern Marin shoreline from the Golden Gate Bridge to the northern end of Novato. A second phase is expected to continue planning and response based on the Vulnerability Assessment. For more information about BayWAVE, I encourage you to read about the project, deliverables, and the second phase of the project, on the website.

Resilient Shores through China Camp

The shoreline road through China Camp State Park floods several times a year on higher high tides and is expected to flood more often with sea level rise. This is the only road connecting two communities at either end of the State Park and serves as a critical local and regional emergency access corridor.  It provides the only vehicular access to state park facilities and entrance gates.

We are excited by the leadership of the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) in looking at short term and longer-term solutions along the roadway.  There are many parties with varying concerns, including the residents of Marin County, visitors to China Camp State Park, and state and federal agencies, all who are showing a collaborative spirit to address immediate impacts of sea level rise on an important roadway.  The County is responsible for maintaining a safe road, including providing emergency evacuation routes for residents and visitors. 

Planning for sea level rise and shore resiliency, marsh ecological integrity, public use, and public safety is complex and critical. Through this adaptation planning we will develop and evaluate a suite of possible solutions and lay out the path to move forward.

This process could be a model for addressing sea level rise impacts in other environmentally sensitive areas.

Gallinas Watershed Management and Flood Zone 7

Gallinas Creek provides a truly beautiful landscape that holds great value to the neighborhood and our region, but the watershed also presents challenges. As we critically evaluate flood control and infrastructure planning, balancing priorities, feasibility and costs vs. benefits, we are increasingly focused on watershed-wide and regional multi-benefit approaches. At the same time, we must tend to the specific needs of the flood zone and ensure that the smaller but critical components of the flood control program are functioning until there are other systems in place to protect from tidal water intrusion and drainage into Gallinas Creek from the watershed.

We are moving forward with planning the Timber-Reinforced Berm (TRB) Improvement Project to protect the community from 100-year floods.  To address rising sea level and the deteriorating condition of the existing levees that protect the Santa Venetia community, the Timber-Reinforced Berm would replace the existing berms with a durable wood composite material one to three feet taller and with a life expectancy of over 30 years.  For more detailed information on this program and other creek projects you can go to the following sources:

Habitat Restoration and McInnis Marsh

McInnis Marsh is a 180-acre historic wetland located east of McInnis Park between Miller and Gallinas Creeks. The existing levee system separates the former saltmarsh from the creeks and San Pablo Bay. In 2017, we attracted a $550,000 state grant for the McInnis Marsh restoration project in District 1 to fund the project through design and environmental review.

The McInnis Marsh Restoration Project includes habitat restoration and resilience to sea level rise. Marin County Parks has made progress on the planning for and design of the project.  Geotech testing, topography and bathymetry are complete, and preliminary plans for the project have been produced.  This multi-benefit project will restore this valuable piece of our habitat to support native species, improve public access to the San Francisco Bay Trail, and provide flood protection to McInnis Park and the adjacent water treatment facility. Marin County Parks is working in partnership with the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District and the Marin County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, and with potential funding partners including the California State Coastal Conservancy and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. I’ve met with federal and state agencies and there is real excitement for a potential project that could take advantage of federal and regional funding to enhance and protect this valuable natural resource.

Preserving Our Open Space - Silveira Ranch

Marin has a proud history of protecting our natural resources and preserving key pieces of open space and agricultural lands.  I led efforts to secure an agreement with the Silveira family to preserve the Silveira Ranch as agriculture for at least 10 years that I hope will pave the way for a permanent solution toward preservation. This land has been targeted for potential development for years and currently serves as an important community separator, view corridor, and tideland habitat associated with the Miller Creek estuary.

Supervisor Connolly’s Marin Voice regarding Silveira Ranch

Fire Protection and Disaster Preparedness

We are experiencing dryer summers, and a longer fire season. In addition, we have years of buildup of vegetation, or fuel load, that has not burned due to ongoing effective fire suppression. Four years of drought stressed our vegetation, and despite a couple of wet winters, our forests are not healthy. Marin County Fire Chief Jason Weber says, "It is always fire season." What happened in the North Bay Fires in October 2017 and Butte County in November 2018 could have happened here due to similar conditions. On September 11, 2018 Marin County Fire Chief Jason Weber shared with the Board an overview of lessons learned from the October 2017 North Bay Fires, pointing to several areas that need improvement and offering key recommendations. His challenges directed to the public are:

  • Harden homes to decrease structure ignitability, such as installing fire-resistant roofing, siding, vents, and dual-pane windows;
  • Maintain defensible space around homes through responsible vegetation management practices;
  • Keep driveways and roads clear to ensure emergency vehicle access.

Our regional fire coordination system is as good as anywhere in the world. City and County, Regional and State agencies are working more effectively together than ever before in vegetation management and prevention and response planning.

I am in close and regular contact with Marin County Fire and Marin County Parks and Open Space to regarding our resiliency and preparedness for disaster. The Marin County Community Wildfire Protection Plan was in place long before the North Bay Fires happened, and the work continues with strong collaboration.  In addition to robust plans, and updated building codes to improve construction techniques, vegetation management and access/egress requirements, a twelve-person Fuel Reduction & Fire Crew was created in 2005.

Marin has a premier FIRESafe Marin Council. Today there are thirty nationally recognized FIREWISE USA neighborhoods in Marin. I am proud to say that three are in District 1, Mont Marin San Rafael Park, Lucas Valley Homeowners Association, and Dominican/Black Canyon.

Firewise neighborhoods collaborate to solve problems related to wildland fire protection, can obtain insurance discounts, and are positioned to apply for grant funding for wildfire safety and fuel mitigation. I encourage all residents to reach out to your homeowners’ association for a presentation from FIRESafe Marin.

We all have a part to play in disaster preparedness, from maintaining firebreaks and defensible space around our homes, to clearing gutters and dead vegetation, to preparing an emergency kit and educating ourselves on how to react in an emergency. Defensive space saves lives and saves structures.

AlertMarin is the County notification service. Landlines are automatically registered; cell phones are not. You can request notifications for multiple addresses (home, work, school). You need to register your cell phone number if you live, work or go to school in Marin County.

To register for Nixle, text your zip code to 888777. Alerting can be geographically focused from a single zip code to the entire county.

Exchange contact information with a neighbor. Know what neighbors might need assistance in evacuating or a check-in. Know your evacuation routes. Research shows that in the face of major climate events like fire and flooding, neighborhoods where people know each other and look out for each other have the lowest mortality rates and recover more quickly.

Fiscal Responsibility and Transparency

County Budget Overview

The FY 2018-20 Budget is balanced and financially sound.  This budget was the first time in five years that we adopted budget reductions ($5.6 million) to bring our budget back into balance investing in road improvements and maintenance of county facilities.

I will continue to make fiscal responsibility and government transparency my overarching principles on all matters of County finances, with constant attention towards paying down our unfunded retiree liabilities and ensuring that the taxpayers of Marin are as engaged as possible in the process. The County remains on solid financial footing.

Paying Down Our Unfunded Pension Liabilities

Paying down our significant unfunded pension liability needs to be a County priority. Since I have been in office, we have taken significant steps by paying down our unfunded retiree liabilities beyond our required contributions. Over the past four years, we have contributed over $40 million to our “OPEB Retiree Health Trust.” The trust fund currently holds over $90 million. The Board also took the opportunity to build up our “pension rate stabilization reserve,” which serves to guard against fluctuations in the marketplace that could result in increased pension costs, bringing the balance to $8.9 million.

The Board of Supervisors took advantage of additional revenues to both meet obligations and make further contributions against unfunded liabilities, while also balancing a range of deferred needs such as infrastructure and roads. We are also critically evaluating best practices for workforce contract negotiations and taking steps to make sure that financial impacts of proposed benefits are fully understood and disclosed. Based on Grand Jury recommendations, the County has implemented new practices for calculating future obligations by requiring that cost analyses be publicly posted in connection with proposed collective bargaining agreements.

Bolstering Reserves, Maintaining Balance and Keeping the Longview

While the fiscal stability of local governments continues to strengthen, the challenges, strains and budget cuts of the Great Recession remind us of the importance of being prepared. The County budget is a dynamic list of real priorities. While we continually evaluate these priorities to make sure they are in line with the goals and needs of the people of Marin, we must always prepare as best we can for the inherent uncertainty of the future by bolstering our various reserve funds and taking a measured approach to the County’s finances.

Transparency, Accountability and Public Engagement

It is incumbent upon public agencies, bodies and officials to engage directly and actively with the taxpayers and constituents whom they serve. Proactive problem solving and working relationships with County staff, the community, and with the solid partnerships with our cities and towns results in a greater collective impact for our community.  We’re working on a variety of community issues which support our countywide goals of healthy, safe and sustainable communities, while keeping a close eye on the fiscal health of our County. Please take a look at the State of the County Video here.

I took a strong stand toward fiscal transparency by fighting to reform the “Community Service Fund.” This program had previously come under considerable criticism from multiple Grand Juries and members of the public as akin to a “slush fund” where individual supervisors could direct taxpayer funds to pet projects. Under reforms I spearheaded along with Supervisor Katie Rice, the program is no longer directed by individual Supervisors, is subject to an annual fiscal cap, and grants are subject to a transparent application process where projects are evaluated as part of a public hearing process.

Supporting innovative initiatives through the County Information Services and Technology Unit’s Strategic Plan to provide maximum public access to County government through technology.

I will continue to keep the perspective of the taxpayer and be a force within the County for promoting active, public engagement and transparency to strengthen the trust between local government and the people of Marin.

Land Use and Project Proposals

I believe deeply that we need to take the right approach to development proposals in our community –and that approach is centered around proactive community engagement, and a complete flow of information on all proposed projects between applicants and the community. My job in representing the interests of the community is to make sure that any proposal is viewed in the context of the cumulative impact on the entire area, and not just in isolation. 

I’ve set up dedicated email lists for news and updates around development proposals that garner great community interest in District 1, and and you can sign up to receive these updates here. You can also sign up for future updates on specific geographic planning areas from the Community Development Agency using the links below:

Marinwood Plaza

Since taking office, I have been engaged with both community members and current Plaza ownership to do everything that I can to facilitate a successful transition of the property from a dilapidated shopping center – with a stellar market – into a valued part of the Marinwood community that fulfills the property’s great potential.

I helped a community-led effort to achieve cleanup of toxics left behind by a former dry cleaning business at the site. This included advocacy before the Regional Water Quality Control Board - the agency with jurisdiction - to keep pressure on those responsible for the cleanup to complete the job.  I took an active role throughout the process on behalf of neighborhood interests in mediating between Plaza ownership, the community, and the Regional Water Board.

The stage is now set for Plaza ownership to pursue a buyer of the property with the goal of transitioning it from an underutilized shopping center into a valued part of the Marinwood community that fulfills the property’s great potential. I will continue to be a leader on efforts to ensure that the community is involved and has a voice on any proposals that come forward. Just as we’ve worked to build public input and engagement into the cleanup process, we must take the same approach to planning for a successful project at the Plaza.

Looking ahead, we are well-positioned for a number of reasons, and can use the lessons of past experience to our benefit. For example, we benefit from the “Marinwood Village Guiding Principles,” developed by the community in 2005-06, which lays out a vision for a mixed-use project featuring community serving retail, a public gathering space and housing with up to 50 percent affordability. We know that senior housing is a great and growing need in Marin County.

We remain in contact with the Plaza owners, and will continue to play an active role in working with the community towards a project that is a valuable addition to the neighborhood - and something we can all be proud of.

Grady Ranch

On June 23, 2015, the Marin County Community Development Agency responded to the Pre-Application filed for Grady Ranch in April 2015. Since then, there has been no further action in the application process.

    Oakview

    The Oaks project was approved in December of 2018. The project was approved as a 126-unit senior living facility and five affordable housing units on 9.6 acres in Marinwood along the west side of Highway 101 between Lucas Valley and Miller Creek roads.

    Education and Youth Empowerment

    Youth Engagement

    As President of the Board of Supervisors in 2018, I wanted the youth voice in our Chambers. I invited youth to speak at the beginning of our Board of Supervisors meetings throughout the year. I believe that youth are important in providing fresh ideas and shaping policy. We were fortunate to hear from youth from all over the county. Some spoke about something happening in their school, in their peer group, in our state, or of a personal experience. We were impressed with how they are grappling with issues like discrimination, the political landscape coming out of the 2016 Presidential election, teen suicide and mental health, acceptance of diversity, and other very personal challenges. We have a very active Youth Commission as well that provides input on issues coming to the Board, including in the last year, flavored tobacco, opioids, and access to mental health services.

    City of San Rafael Schools and Dixie Schools quarterly meetings with the County and City of San Rafael

    To ensure open communication and current information, I meet four times a year with the Superintendent and two Trustees from the City of San Rafael Schools and the Superintendent and two Trustees from the Dixie Schools, along with the San Rafael Mayor and City Manager. We share information on developing issues and upcoming projects and share ideas to address community concerns.

    San Rafael City Schools Facilities Master Planning

    The San Rafael City School District is moving forward with their facilities planning and with making improvements to our schools, we are actively supporting community engagement on behalf of both local students and the residents of District 1 neighborhoods as we work together for great school facilities. For information on where the process stands, click below.

    Other Links and Issues

    Exploring Flood Insurance Options

    In 2016, FEMA updated their maps for risk of flooding.  At the same time, the federal government changed its approach to subsidizing the cost of flood insurance to home-owners and the cost of obtaining flood insurance went up significantly. Since most mortgage lenders require a homeowner to carry flood insurance if they are in a FEMA designated flood zone, we recognized this as an area of vital concern to our constituents.

    We hosted a very well attended community meeting on April 12, 2016 to provide information on flood insurance for people who now find their homes within the FEMA updated maps for risk of flooding. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was developed as a way for homeowners to access affordable flood insurance for those living in moderate-to-low risk areas as well as high risk areas, and you can find information on the program in the first link below. The “Floodsmart” website will answer most of your questions and provide resources on where to go and who to contact to explore the most appropriate coverage for your home. If your lender does not require you to obtain your coverage through the NFIP, contact a private insurance agent to see if they place flood insurance policies with Lloyd’s of London or another excess coverage company. Those companies may provide options not offered through the NFIP that are more attractive to your situation. Finally, elevating your house may provide you a longer-term strategy to address the risk of flooding as well as sea level rise. The third link below has further information on this approach.

    Santa Venetia Neighborhood and the Santa Venetia Community Plan

    We have a strong working relationship with the Santa Venetia Neighborhood Association and meet regularly with their leadership. A very dedicated community group worked with County staff to update the Community Plan for Santa Venetia. It was approved in 2017 and lauded by the County’s Planning Commission. To learn more, see the links below.

    Road and Trail Management Plan

    The Road and Trail Management Plan (RTMP) is a designation process for the use of our trails and open space that relies on both a science-based approach and public input from all user groups. Trail designations aim to achieve three goals: reduce environmental impacts, improve visitor experience and safety for all users, and establish and maintain a sustainable system of roads and trails.

    The trail designation process involves extensive public engagement to address the complex challenges of Marin County Open Space District road and trails. A number of projects are now complete, and others are in the works. The project will reduce sedimentation into the watershed and maintain safe emergency access.  These projects were funded by Measure A.

    The Region 5 Road and Trail Designation consists of five preserves with 20 miles of roads and trails: Bald Hill, San Pedro Mountain, Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Divide, Santa Margarita Island, and Santa Venetia Marsh. A public meeting for Region 5 took place on August 25, 2018, at which time a map of the draft trail designations was presented, and the public provided input.  Detailed maps are available here, for questions or comments, please contact Jon Campo at Jon Campo.

    Medical Cannabis

    A Medical Cannabis Ordinance in Marin County was approved by the Board of Supervisors in December 2017, regulating the sale of medical cannabis through delivery only retail dispensaries in the unincorporated areas of Marin. The ordinance requires a retailer to be closed to the public and dispense medicinal cannabis exclusively by delivery. Retailers will have to be located at least 600 feet from schools, day-care centers, youth centers and playgrounds. Locations could be within industrial-zoned and office properties in addition to commercially zoned districts.

    • In November 2018 we completed the review and scoring process of 15 applications for the initial “Applicant Review” phase.  Six of the 15 applications received a score of 80 or above, becoming eligible for advancement in the selection process
    • A lottery was conducted in January 2019 of the six eligible applicants to reduce the applicant pool to the number of delivery only retail licenses available (4). Four applicants were selected.
      • Buttercup and Spring dba Ona.life (Nurit Raphael, Founder)
      • Elite Herbs, Inc dba E-leaf (Mike Callahan, President)
      • Express2You, Inc dba Canna-Fly (Alex Boggio, Owner)
      • Mohave Distribution, LLC (Sara Presler, Operations)
    • Completing the lottery triggered a 120-day timeline for the four lottery selected applicants to locate a site for their operation and file an application for the “Site Review” phase.
    • The Board of Supervisors hearing to consider the applications should be held in the summer of 2019.

    You can subscribe to the webpage for updates.

    McNears Beach Park Master Plan

    County Parks and Open Space prepared a comprehensive Master Plan for McNears Beach Park to guide future projects. Over $1 million in Measure A funds have been expended at McNears in the last few years to repave the entrance road, repair the pier foundation, and to remove hazardous trees. New signage is in place at McNears and you can look forward to additional improvements as funds become available.

    McInnis Park Master Plan Update

    The McInnis Park Master Plan Update was approved in 2009. Marin County Parks has been working on developing designs and construction drawings for three improved multi-use fields, a dog park and improved access and parking. It' unlikely that Measure A will have capacity to fund the implementation of all these elements, so we are also pursuing external funding. McInnis Park has seen significant upgrades funded by Measure A including new turf and irrigation at one of the softball fields, new operations facility, resurfacing of the tennis courts, a new shade structure at the skatepark, marsh restoration planning, removal of several hazard trees and a new entrance sign.

    Integrated Pest Management

    The County of Marin has an award-winning Integrated Pest Management Program, and I will continue to push towards using zero glyphosate in our Open Space. Learn more here.

    Diverting Trash from the Waterways

    Beyond being unsightly, trash pollutes Marin's waterways and is detrimental to the environment and wildlife.

    In April of 2015 the State of California adopted Statewide Trash Amendments which require that trash greater than 5mm (size of a cigarette butt) be prevented from entering the storm drain system by 2030. More information is available on the Marin County Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program (MCSTOPP) website.

    Community organizations and their MCSTOPP members have created Clean Marin action teams and are looking at source control, education, promoting clean business, and bolstering local groups' efforts to pick up trash. Based on the positive feedback from the Trash Summit, Clean Marin is organizing action teams that will meet to set specific, achievable goals during the next year. Removing trash from the environment is a complicated issue, and there is a wide spectrum of activities that the action teams are undertaking. Clean Marin action teams are looking at volunteer programs and business programs, source control, clean highways, and outreach and education.

    The Las Gallinas Lions Club "adopted" the Marinwood/101 freeway interchange in December of 2017. The Marinwood interchange is the first unincorporated Marin "Adopt-A-Spot" administered through the Marin County Storm Water program. The Lions are working with the County and Caltrans to keep the area clean. The Lions are also looking at adopting the Lucas Valley Road interchange.

    I appreciate all the volunteers who are committed to keep our neighborhoods and waterways clean. If you have questions or would like to participate or be supported in work you are currently doing to address litter, please contact my Aide, Mary Sackett.