San Rafael, CA – The Marin County Board of Supervisors on October 29 adopted revisions to a joint powers agreement to be consistent with other agencies that have agreed to join the new Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority.
Marin County Fire Department Chief Jason Weber (center, at table) speaks to the Board of Supervisors about the Marin Wildfire Protection Agency during a September 2019 meeting. At the table, County Administrator Matthew Hymel is at Weber's right and Novato Fire Protection District Chief Bill Tyler is to his left.
The 17 agencies that have joined the new authority represent more than 98 percent of the land and more than 96 percent of the residents of Marin. They include:
- Southern Marin Fire Protection District
- Novato Fire Protection District
- Stinson Beach Fire Protection District
- Sleepy Hollow Fire Protection District
- Kentfield Fire Protection District
- Bolinas Fire Protection District
- Marinwood Community Services District
- Muir Beach Community Services District
- Inverness Public Utility District
- Town of Fairfax
- Town of San Anselmo
- Town of Ross
- Town of Corte Madera
- City of Larkspur
- City of San Rafael
- City of Mill Valley
- County of Marin
Local fire professionals have collaborated with Marin’s cities and towns to create the new authority. The new agency’s singular focus is to significantly enhance local wildfire prevention efforts funded by a proposed March 2020 parcel tax initiative. The Supervisors will consider the parcel tax measure November 5 and, if approved then, conduct a final public hearing November 19.
The parcel tax will have a 10-year term and is expected to raise approximately $19.3 million per year solely for wildfire prevention programs in Marin, protected from being taken away by the state, and be subject to independent oversight and audits. 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.
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 not waiting for the new agency to promote defensible space around homes; that public education campaign has been going on for years. It’s especially important during Red Flag warning conditions like Marin experiences on a regular basis. In addition to defensible space education, the Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority would help residents understand more about disaster preparedness, reducing combustible vegetation, making homes fire resistant, and planning for an organized emergency evacuation. Together, the agencies involved have said homes and properties are more fire resilient when preparedness is approached at the community scale and resilience is built through a collective effort.