County of Marin - News Releases - Stream Conservation Area Ordinance

For Immediate Release
October 28, 2021

Stream Conservation Policy Goes Before Planning Commission

Draft ordinance affecting land in San Geronimo Valley subject of 11/8 meeting

San Rafael, CA – The opportunity remains open for residents of the San Geronimo Valley to share thoughts on a draft ordinance designed to protect and restore the valley’s stream resources. On November 8, the ordinance is heading to the Marin County Planning Commission for public review and community feedback. The staff report is now online.

A view of a creek with scrubs and treesAll the SCA work is part of the ongoing staff update of the 2007 Countywide Plan, a long-range land use document for the unincorporated areas of the county.

The Marin County Community Development Agency (CDA) released a draft of the Stream Conservation Area (SCA) ordinance in September, and planning staff is accepting feedback into next spring. The Planning Commission is scheduled to make a formal recommendation to the Board of Supervisors on December 13, and the Supervisors are tentatively scheduled to consider action on the proposed ordinance in March 2022.  

The draft ordinance would amend the County’s zoning ordinance (Development Code) to establish an SCA buffer of 100 feet or more where development is restricted 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 ordinance would expand the existing site plan review provisions to encompass development activities proposed within SCAs in the San Geronimo Valley.

The San Geronimo Valley is surrounded by wooded open space areas just west of densely populated parts of Central Marin. 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).

It is common for local jurisdictions to apply land-use restrictions to protect streams. Some of Marin’s cities and towns use stream setbacks as a tool to preserve riparian habitats that are considered irreplaceable. However, many riparian systems have been damaged by past stream channelization and urban development.

All the SCA work is part of the ongoing staff update of the 2007 Countywide Plan, a long-range land use document for the unincorporated areas of the county. The proposed ordinance is a continuation of the County’s effort to study, educate, and improve stream and streamside conditions.

The draft SCA 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