Key Priorities and Policies

Board of Supervisors

As your representative on the Marin County Board of Supervisors, I hold great value in being closely in tune with the people and issues of District 1. 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 be updating this page as I continue to make progress on these goals and initiatives.

 

Securing a Healthy Range of Housing Opportunities in Marin

There is an undeniable shortage of housing options in Marin. Many people feel that large, dense developments do not fit within the character of our communities. We are making progress in building community consensus around alternative strategies to preserve housing options for people at a range of incomes in Marin. This includes the Landlord Partnership Program, continuing to build the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and pursuing opportunities to convert and rehabilitate existing housing stock to affordable housing, promoting and streamlining county regulations for Accessory Dwelling Units, and considering policies that responsibly promote affordability in the rental market. 

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 new 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 70 new landlords accepting Section 8 vouchers.  If you have units for rent and are interested in exploring how this new program can work for you, please contact Monique Broussard at MBroussard@marinhousing.org or 415-491-2567. 

Supporting Conversion and Acquisition Efforts:

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. We've committed funds to bolster the Affordable Housing Trust Fund as part of this effort.

Supporting and Streamlining Second Units and Junior Second Units:

Facilitating the production of accessory dwelling units is an opportunity to increase affordable housing without significantly impacting the density or character of our neighborhoods. I worked with my Board colleagues, the Community Development Agency, local fire protection agencies, advocates and service providers to craft regulations that will 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 for 2018. If you are in the market for building a junior accessory dwelling unit, and will commit the unit to long term rental through 2018, then the Marin County Government building and planning permit fees will be waived. This step could provide needed relief to those who have been displaced by the fires, and could also be a long-term 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. We have convened stakeholders to examine the tough considerations of establishing a program that will gain widespread participation and have a real impact. 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. I will continue to lead efforts to work together to develop policies and programs that can work for everyone in stabilizing the rental market as best we can without stronger measures that bring with them more serious unintended consequences.

  • On December 12, 2017 the Board of Supervisors adopted a Rental Housing Dispute Resolution Ordinance.  The Ordinance is effective January 11, 2018.  The Ordinance requires landlords and tenants to participate in mediation if a landlord increases rent over 5% within twelve months.  Additional information and 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.

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.

Pushing for Support on the State and Federal Level:

We need to take an urgent, creative approach to the issue of housing at every level of government. We support 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 second units/junior second units.  We are supporting legislation for state funding for the conversion of existing commercial and housing stock – and increasing funds, providing tax incentives, and exploring other mechanisms for housing preservation, rehabilitation, development and/or conversion, including costs associated with American with Disabilities Act compliance.

Addressing Homelessness with Every Tool at Our Disposal

Homelessness is one of the most significant and 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 have made homelessness and the oftentimes related issue of behavioral health top priorities. My primary focuses include bolstering County mental health services, pushing for Laura’s Law, and strengthening our partnership with the City of San Rafael on multiple fronts, with a focus on alleviating the impacts of homelessness on Downtown San Rafael. I continue to scrutinize the County’s $50 million mental health budget to make sure funding for mental health services is working in conjunction with funding for homeless services to maximize their efficiency and effectiveness.

The term “homeless” encompasses a wide spectrum of people and circumstances. Those familiar with programs such as Homeward Bound or the REST Program know that many individuals who rely on key services do not fit the stereotypical image of homelessness. They are working people and families that 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 that impact our Downtown business area and the surrounding neighborhoods.

Many factors contribute to this complex societal problem, which is why I am working to approach this issue from several angles. We have made progress on this issue thanks to increased coordination between the County, the City and local service providers and a coordinated approach that every stakeholder buys into. Both the County and the City have created dedicated positions to manage homeless issues and services. This new collaboration and our network of service providers is embodied by the success of the Homeless Outreach Team, or the HOT Team, in finding housing for some of highest-needs individuals on our streets.

Implementation of the Homeless Outreach Team – HOT: 

During my first term, we implemented a program to prioritize help to the chronically homeless on the streets of downtown San Rafael called HOT based on a successful model in San Mateo. The Homeless Outreach Team represents an elevated level of coordination among service providers in Marin. HOT identifies specific individuals who are high-utilizers of expensive public services, and have a disproportionate impact on our neighborhoods and public systems. From there, the HOT team aims to end this “revolving door” by working intensively on a plan towards permanent housing. By focusing on specific individuals and coordinating across a range of agencies and service providers, the goal is to triage each individual’s needs by creating an individualized housing action plan, and then hold each provider accountable as that plan is implemented. We are now capitalizing on our early success with this approach to launch an overall Housing First strategy to meet the challenges of our most vulnerable.

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 mental illness. During 2016 and 2017, 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.

Laura's Law --Assisted Outpatient Treatment:

Assisted Outpatient Treatment through Laura’s Law could be a valuable tool to 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 are 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.

Collaborating with the City of San Rafael and Alleviating Impact to Downtown San Rafael:

As a former San Rafael City Councilmember, I have a unique understanding of the issues that face the residents, businesses and visitors to San Rafael, and how important it is to have a strong partnership between the County and City in addressing these issues. The City has added a mental health professional on their police force and a staff person dedicated to coordinating homeless services. Meanwhile, the County has added staff in the same capacity. County and City staff now are coordinating consistently and working effectively together, alongside service providers.

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

I am spearheading County efforts around how our Health and Human Services divisions can work in concert with the Sheriff’s Office and Probation Department to address the unique challenges around people suffering from mental illness in the criminal justice system. I was a member of the working team that went to Sacramento in 2017 to create a local plan for implementation of the Stepping Up Initiative, an innovative nationwide effort to address the mental health crisis in our county jails. At my request, the Board of Supervisors passed a Stepping Up resolution and has also made these efforts a budget priority. I am 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 the right behavioral health resources.

Envisioning a Center for Wrap-Around Services:

The County is working with the City of San Rafael and other community partners to explore a new facility that would provide services, including job skills counseling, medical and mental health services and general structure for people’s lives. We are exploring models around the Bay Area and evaluating them against the unique needs of our community. This facility would be intended as the entry point for people wanting to make meaningful changes in their lives. Ultimately the location of such a facility will be critical and must accomplish the goals of providing appropriate services while alleviating the impacts on Downtown. The over-arching organizing theme in everything we do is to get people housed and do what is necessary to keep them housed.

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 is providing intensive services and shelter. 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 on identifying ways to interrupt this problematic revolving door cycle.

Helen Vine Recovery Center:

Buckelew Programs operates Helen Vine, a 26-bed residential detoxification program with recovery-oriented services for people with alcohol and drug addiction issues as well as co-occurring psychiatric services. The center lost its lease at its current location at the old Honor Farm on Silveira Ranch. We secured a new location on the Silveira Ranch to maintain this vital program without interruption. Click here for link to article in Marin IJ 7/30/17 "San Rafael detox breaks ground on new site." Helen Vine is considered the best of three options for police to take people who are arrested for public drunkenness, for example. The other two options, the police station or hospital emergency room, come with a booking and arrest in the former and a hefty price tag in the latter. The new location opens in early 2018.

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 dependable. 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 30 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.

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

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 a member of TAM and the Marin Transit Board, I will seek out and advocate for the highest possible level of overall functionality for the center, with a focus on connectivity.

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.

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 any and all improvements to the connector routes that will alleviate the congestion. I have advocated for completion of the third lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and have been advised by CalTrans that it is scheduled to open in April 2018.

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, and it’s time to be aggressive in implementing this 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.

We have a well thought-out and comprehensive action plan thanks to County staff and public input --but as with all plans, the County Climate Action Plan is only as valuable as its execution. We are now moving. I have proposed a community based process led by a BOS Implementation Committee consisting of Supervisor Kate Sears and myself working with County staff, local businesses, community groups and interested residents to prioritize our efforts and maximize results. I draw from my experience as the past chair of the City of San Rafael’s Sustainability Committee with an eye towards promoting a robust community engagement process.

  • Marin County Climate Action Plan
  • 2017 Interim Community Greenhouse Gas Emissions Assessment
  • We implemented DRAWDOWN: Marin, a community initiative to reduce carbon emissions that launched with a kickoff of over 400 people.  Follow-up community forums addressing specific CAP issues like 100% renewable energy, energy efficiency, food, transportation and community resilience will be held over the next year.
  • 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.
  • The County of Marin is now 100% Deep Green for all its government accounts through MCE Clean Energy.
  • 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.

BayWAVE

I serve on the Board of Supervisors subcommittee for BayWAVE. BayWAVE is a focused Vulnerability Assessment of the eastern Marin shoreline from the Golden Gate Bridge to the northern end of Novato. The fundamental goal of the BayWAVE project is to increase awareness and preparation for future Sea Level Rise impacts by using this coordinated, multi-jurisdictional assessment. A second phase is expected to continue planning and response based on the Vulnerability Assessment over the next 18 months. For more information about BayWAVE, I encourage you to read about the project, deliverables, and the second phase of the project, on the website.

MCE Clean Energy and the PACE Program:

In 2015 the County adopted the PACE Program, or Property Assessed Clean Energy, to promote energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water upgrades to residential and commercial building with creative and affordable financing through property tax bills. This program makes capital upgrades that save money in energy costs accessible to more home and business owners through low-cost, long-term financing, serving everyone’s best interest while having a positive impact on the environment. 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.

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.

Habitat Restoration and McInnis Marsh: 

Key priorities of the McInnis Marsh Restoration Project include habitat restoration and resilience to sea level rise. In 2017, we attracted a $550,000 state grant for the McInnis Marsh restoration project in District 1, which will fund the project through design and environmental review. 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. 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. Preservation of open space and agricultural lands a key priority. 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.

Fire Protection and Disaster Preparedness

Our fire department confirms that we are experiencing dryer summers, and a longer fire season. On top of that, we have years of buildup of vegetation, or fuel load, that has not burned due to effective fire suppression. Four years of drought stressed our vegetation, and despite last year’s wet winter 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 could have happened here due to similar conditions.

Our regional fire coordination system is as good as anywhere in the world. The collaboration throughout the entire North Bay was tested by the number of firefighters assigned out of Marin stations and the amount of equipment pulled to aid in the North Bay Fires.

I am in close and regular contact with Marin County Fire and our Parks and Open Space to assess where we are and where we need to go. The good news is that our departments work closely together on vegetation management and fire prevention strategies. The Marin County Community Wildfire Protection Plan was in place long before October, and the work continues with robust collaboration.

In addition to the government resources, we all have a part to play in disaster preparedness, from maintaining firebreaks around our homes to clearing gutters and vegetation, to preparing an emergency kit and educating ourselves on how to react in an emergency. Defensive space saves lives and saves structures.

Register for AlertMarin and Nixel.

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 Nixel, 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.

I encourage each of you to reach out to your homeowners’ association for a presentation from FIRESafe Marin. The FIRESafe Marin website is a wealth of information. Becoming a Firewise USA Recognized Community empowers neighbors to work together in reducing their wildfire risk. Scientific research has shown the effectiveness and benefits, and some insurance companies offer a discount in recognized Firewise Communities, which has proven to be a huge step in protecting your home and neighborhood.

Fiscal Responsibility and Transparency

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. 

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 three years, we have contributed over $30 million to our “OPEB Retiree Health Trust.” The trust fund currently holds a balance of over $90 million, including over $17 million from investment earnings. 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 a total of $7 million.

With the 2016-17 budget, 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. Many County agencies do an exemplary job of public engagement, but there is always room for improvement across the board.

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.

I’ll be 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.

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.

I also pledge to continue to engage the community directly through local office hours throughout the District and by actively promoting neighborhood meetings and town halls around important community issues.

County Budget Overview

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 you can sign up to receive these updates using the links below. 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:

In 2005, the Marin County Board of Supervisors approved a Master Plan for a project called “Oakview Senior Living,” which approved 150 senior living apartments in the area south of Marinwood Plaza on a building area of 94,400 square feet. In 2017, “The Oaks” Master Plan Amendment, Design Review, and Tree Removal Permit was submitted and is under review.

Three buildings are proposed on the site, including a main building with 86 apartments, an attached memory care building with 40 apartments, and a separate affordable housing building with six apartments. Master Plan Amendment approval is required because the project does not conform to the approved Oakview Master Plan. Design Review approval is required because the project is in a Planned Zoning District. Tree Removal Permit is required because the project would entail the removal of mature, healthy, native trees. The application has been deemed complete for planning purposes, and the next phase of the project includes environmental review of the project as proposed. As a first step of environmental review and pursuant to State CEQA Guidelines Section 15162, a modified environmental checklist will be prepared that compares the proposed project to what was covered in the prior certified Final Environmental Impact Report (Final EIR) for the previous project approved on the site known as the Oakview Master Plan approved on January 11, 2005. The purpose of this checklist is to evaluate the proposed project to determine, for each environmental topic area, whether any “changed condition” (i.e., changed circumstances, project changes, or new information of substantial importance) may result in a new or substantially more severe environmental impact than was identified in the prior Final EIR.

Education and Youth Empowerment

Hack 4 Health:

My office partnered with our County IST and Public Health teams along with our local schools to sponsor the first ever Marin County Hackathon. This successful event provided an opportunity for local students to test their skills in computer science, developing new applications to serve the public in the field of public health through use of the County’s new “Open Data Portal.” Some of the students’ work from the event is now in active use as part of the County’s public health efforts.

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.

Youth Engagement:

I invite youth to speak at the beginning of a Board of Supervisors meetings in 2018. I believe that youth are important in providing fresh ideas and shaping policy. We are seeking voices from all over the county, and hope to hear what is on the minds of Marin County youth. There are no expectations of what they will speak to; it could be something happening in the world, in our nation, in our state, or locally. We are creating a venue where adults can hear what is on the minds of our youth. If you are interested in speaking, please contact my Aide Mary Sackett.

Other Links and Issues

Exploring Flood Insurance Options:

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. If your house is in a flood zone, and you have a mortgage, your lender will require that you have flood insurance. 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. You may have already been contacted by your lender and you should check with them to see if they require you to get your insurance through the NFIP. 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 over two years 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 initial trail designation process has taken place for Regions 1-4, the work and public engagement process continues. In the past year improvements were done on the Bob Middagh Trail/Horse Hill in Region 1, the Hunt Camp Trail in Region 2, and the Irving Fire Road in Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Open Space in Region 5. The Irving Fire Road project work was completed in May of 2017. The project will reduce sedimentation into the watershed and maintain safe emergency access.  These projects were funded by Measure A.

Region 5 includes Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow, San Pedro Mountain, Santa Venetia, Santa Margarita Island, and Bald Hill Open Space. A public meeting for Region 5 will take place in the Spring of 2018, at which time a map of the draft trail designations will be presented and the public will be invited to provide input.

Region 6 includes Ring Mountain, Old St Hilary’s Open Space Nature Preserve, Bolinas Lagoon and Bothin Marsh. A public meeting for Region 6 trail designation is planned for 2019.

County Parks and Open Space is committed to continuing to collaborate with all user groups to identify new opportunities for good trails that focus on connectivity and environmental stewardship beyond the current draft proposal. Further information is available online at the County Parks and Open Space website, below. For questions or comments, please contact Jon Campo at jcampo@marincounty.org.

Medical Cannabis: 

I served on the Board subcommittee that finalized a Medical Cannabis Ordinance in Marin County that was unanimously 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.

The Community Development Agency (CDA) is developing application submittal requirements, the criteria for selection, and an application fee schedule. CDA staff expects the application process to open in January 2018. Once complete, documents will be posted to the webpage for the most up-to-date information.

CDA has set up a dedicated webpage with information on the process to apply for up to four business licenses for medical cannabis delivery only retail dispensaries.

The County has in place an ordinance that bans adult use cannabis business activities in unincorporated areas of Marin to maintain local control. This ban gives the County time to implement and learn from the licensing program for medicinal cannabis retailers that is currently underway.

Marin History Museum:

I worked closely over the last couple of years with concerned community members and local officials to preserve this important community asset under the threat of closure and alleged mismanagement. Under my direction, the County reached an agreement with the Museum’s Board of Directors to ensure new leadership for the Museum as well as a plan for caring for the assets under the Museum’s protection. The Museum is now led by highly respected community leaders who are committed to secure the stability of the organization into the future, and regaining the trust and support of the community.

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. Expect to see new signage at McNears soon, and additional projects 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’s unlikely that Measure A will have capacity to fund the implementation of all of 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 (to be installed in early 2018).

Safety on Lucas Valley Road:

Safety has been a long-standing issue of concern for the residents and travelers of Lucas Valley Road. After a truck overturned in 2015, our Department of Public Works worked quickly with County Counsel on an ordinance prohibiting trucks 36 feet or longer from using the road, which the Board of Supervisors approved on February 2, 2016. Signs have been posted and the ordinance is being enforced. What’s more, CalTrans has approved the County’s Highway Safety Improvement Program grant application. This will provide funding for additional safety improvements to the road.

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 below.

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.

An inaugural Trash Summit was held on November 1st, 2017 to empower and strategize collaborative litter prevention and cleanup efforts between community members and local government. 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. Effectively removing trash from the environment is a complicated issue, and there is a wide spectrum of activities that the action teams could undertake. Action teams were formed to work on four main areas:

  • Volunteer cleanup – forming or joining a Clean Marin group, “Adopt-a-Spot” program, Clean Business Program, and other similar activities.
  • Source control & zero waste – product bans, recycling, waste bin management, producer responsibility.
  • Clean highways – Highway 101, Adopt-a-Highway, Caltrans partnership, California Highway Patrol/local police enforcement, Tarp Your Load events.
  • Outreach & education – Clean Marin press, educating/engaging youth, creek education, marketing, public service announcements.

If you have questions, or would like to participate on one of the action teams, please contact my office or Angela Clapp at MCSTOPP.

The Las Gallinas Lions Club cleared and cleaned the Marinwood/101 freeway interchange in December of 2017 and “adopted” the interchange for future clean up. 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 have taken part, and those who have committed to help in the future, to keep our neighborhoods and waterways clean. I really enjoy working alongside the volunteers in the neighborhood. Contact my office if you would like to participate in future cleanup efforts.