UPDATE: The Board of Supervisors took the formal actions to move this matter forward during its September 24 meeting.
San Rafael, CA – After extensive effort among fire officials, law enforcement, land management agencies and city and town governments regarding the creation of a countywide multijurisdictional effort to prepare for wildfires, the Marin County Board of Supervisors will consider taking formal actions September 24 to create a new Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority.
Disasters such as the 2015 Valley Fire in Lake County have brought heightened awareness to Marin County about the need for a more coordinated wildfire prevention approach.
County staff will recommend that the Board adopt a resolution to create and join the new joint powers authority (JPA), direct staff to seek similar approvals from all fire-responsible agencies in the county, and in November place a parcel tax measure on the March 2020 countywide ballot. If the Board supports those moves, staff would work to encourage resolutions from all 19 associated Marin agencies over the next six weeks to join the JPA and request the County to place the initiative on the March 2020 ballot.
Marin County fire agencies and municipal governments propose creation of a JPA agreement that could be – with voter approval – the source of significantly improved coordination and funding for local wildfire prevention efforts.
The Supervisors discussed the Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority on August 13 with a potential ballot measure to raise approximately $21 million per year. Sixty percent of funds would go toward core functions such as vegetation management, wildfire detection, evacuation system improvements, grants, and public education. Twenty percent would go toward annual defensible space and home hardening evaluations. The remaining 20 percent would go toward local-specific wildfire prevention efforts. The collected annual funding would stay in Marin, be protected from state coffers, be restricted to wildfire prevention programs, and be subject to independent oversight and audits.
“A fast-moving wildfire does not care about jurisdictional boundaries, so we need a coordinated, large-scale countywide effort with flexibility to allocate funds where the risks are,” said Board of Supervisors President Kate Sears. “Saving lives and property should be our priority, and this proposal represents the best approach after a tremendous amount of effort among countless parties who’ve contributed their ideas.”
Marin’s natural beauty and abundant undeveloped lands are considered source fuel for a potentially devastating and fatal wildfire similar to the ones that have ravaged Sonoma, Napa, and Lake counties and the Butte County town of Paradise over the past few years. Many Marin neighborhoods are adjacent to wildlands because of a strong desire to live close to nature. Marin’s fire agencies and FIRESafe Marin are among the organizations promoting the creation of defensible space around homes.
The September 24 presentation to the Board will be televised live on Comcast Channel 27 for Comcast and AT&T U-Verse subscribers. It will be webcast live on the County website and archived for future viewing. The meeting will be in the Board of Supervisors chamber, Suite 330, Marin County Civic Center, 3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael.
All public meetings and events sponsored or conducted by the County of Marin are held at accessible sites. If you are a person with a disability and require information or materials in alternative formats – or if you require accommodation to participate in a county program, service or activity – please contact department staff by email or at 415-473-7331 or 415-473-4381 (voice/TTY).