County of Marin - News Releases - Stream Conservation Area Ordinance

For Immediate Release
December 20, 2021

San Geronimo Valley Ordinance Receiving Changes

Development rules within Stream Conservation Area head to Board this spring

San Rafael, CA – After passing a key juncture, a draft ordinance designed to protect and restore the San Geronimo Valley’s stream resources appears headed to the Marin County Board of Supervisors this coming spring – with a few changes and more community feedback still to come.

The Marin County Planning Commission recently approved the draft the Stream Conservation Area (SCA) ordinance with some modifications to be made by staff of the Marin County Community Development Agency (CDA). The opportunity remains open for San Geronimo Valley residents to review documents and share thoughts right up until the Board hears the matter, tentatively in March.

There are 1,485 households in the San Geronimo Valley based on census tract information. The valley, near Marin’s geographic centerpoint, is surrounded by wooded open space areas just west of densely populated parts of central and eastern Marin.

CDA staff released an initial draft of the ordinance in September and heard the Planning Commission’s formal recommendation on approval December 13 pending changes (the staff presentation is online). 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 includes various supporting resource materials to provide guidance to homeowners and contractors. It would expand the existing site plan review provisions to encompass development activities proposed within SCAs in the San Geronimo Valley.

Planning Commission recommendations December 13 included modifications to add information about the removal of certain fire-prone trees, including language that clarifies allowances for building additions, and a requirement for staff to provide public biannual reports to the Supervisors that include facts and figures about building applications within the SCA.

“We’re in favor of full transparency, so we will be happy to provide the number of applications, the proposed project types, enforcement actions, appeals, and ultimately how many projects are approved, denied, or withdrawn,” said CDA Senior Planner Kristin Drumm.

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). 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.

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