County of Marin - News Releases - Stream Conservation Area Ordinance

For Immediate Release
September 20, 2021

Public Review Begins on Stream Conservation Policy

Draft ordinance affecting land in San Geronimo Valley subject of October meeting

San Rafael, CA – A draft ordinance designed to enhance the San Geronimo Valley’s natural resources for local property owners is now ready for public review.

The Marin County Community Development Agency (CDA) released a draft of the Stream Conservation Area (SCA) ordinance on September 17, and the review period will remain open through late October.

A closeup of a stream in the Ross Valley, with rocks and vegetationConsistent with the Countywide Plan, the proposed stream conservation area ordinance builds upon efforts to protect the health of streams and habitat for the endangered coho salmon and steelhead trout in the San Geronimo Valley.

The San Geronimo Valley is a lush area west of densely populated parts of Central Marin, just east of Samuel P. Taylor State Park, and surrounded by designated open space areas. Lagunitas Creek in the San Geronimo Watershed supports one of the largest populations of wild federally listed endangered coho salmon, steelhead trout, and chinook salmon in Northern California. Coho were once plentiful in the natural waters that drain into Tomales Bay and the Pacific Ocean, but recent spawning counts were well below the federal recovery target needed to bring the salmon out of its endangered status.

The proposed SCA ordinance builds upon efforts to protect the health of streams and habitat for the endangered coho salmon and steelhead trout in the valley, consistent with riparian protection policies from the 2007 Marin Countywide Plan and mitigation measures from a final supplemental environmental report (EIR).

In 2019, the County completed analysis and adopted a supplemental EIR with mitigations that informed the updated proposed SCA ordinance. The draft ordinance consists of a suite of amendments to the County’s zoning ordinance (Development Code) that would establish an SCA buffer of 100 feet or more from the stream bank, create standards for development within the buffer, and provide consistent permit review procedures and requirements. The ordinance also includes various supporting resource materials to provide guidance to homeowners and contractors.

The work is part of the CDA update of the 2007 Countywide Plan, a long-range land use document for the unincorporated areas of the county first created in 1973. Future phases of the Countywide Plan will address general plan mandates from the State of California and state housing law. Wildfire risks, flood hazards, climate change adaptation policy, and  environmental justice all need to be considered over the next several years.

A combined Planning Commission and community workshop is scheduled for October 25 about the SCA ordinance and will be followed by a formal Planning Commission hearing November 8. The Board of Supervisors is tentatively scheduled to consider action on the proposed ordinance December 7.

The draft ordinance, supporting reference materials, and a subscription option for e-mailed updates are available at Comments or questions about the proposed ordinance may be submitted by email to CDA Senior Planner Kristin Drumm.


Kristin Drumm
Senior Planner
Community Development Agency

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 318
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6290
Email: Kristin Drumm
Community Development website