County of Marin - News Releases - Homelessness Policy

For Immediate Release
December 12, 2023

New Initiatives Approved at Binford Road Encampment

County prioritizing housing options, enforcement, environmental protection

San Rafael, CA – Progress is being made to move individuals into permanent housing from an encampment along Binford Road, a County of Marin-maintained road parallel to Highway 101 just north of the Novato city limits, as well as to protect the sensitive habitat of the adjacent Rush Creek Open Space Preserve, which borders the encampment.

On December 12, the Marin County Board of Supervisors received an update from County staff and approved two new initiatives intended to accelerate these efforts. Overall strategies were summarized in three categories: supportive services, with the goal of identifying safe, permanent housing destinations without relocating occupants in need to other jurisdictions; stepped up enforcement of state and county rules; and environmental protection for the sensitive bayfront habitat.

A view of Binford Road shows a van with supportive services open to assist residents as well as tents set up with resources.County of Marin departments and other supportive agencies have brought resources and services to Binford Road residents.

The Binford Road encampment started with a dozen or so recreational vehicles (RVs) during the COVID-19 pandemic and turned into a refuge for 101 individuals and 132 vehicles as of December 1. Many living in vehicles there cannot afford Marin’s high rents, have lost housing or a job, or have endured unexpected medical expenses. Extensive outreach resulted in a more accurate count of people and vehicles, including RVs, cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles, utility and boat trailers. 

In the 100 days since the last public update in August, and while there is much work remaining, County staff reported progress in several areas:

  • Ten individuals recently moved into housing, with 19 more on a pathway to housing with assistance from social workers.
  • More than two-thirds of the Binford population has been connected to the County’s Coordinated Entry system for more stable housing.
  • Eighteen vehicles have been removed, and vacated roadside parking spaces are being fenced off to discourage new arrivals.
  • Environmental and health upgrades are being implemented, including biweekly sanitary pumping services, more portable restrooms and handwashing stations.
  • Public safety measures have also been added, including protective fencing along the waterfront, weekly debris removal, and a slower speed limit (35 mph) that goes into effect December 28.

Also on December 12, the Board adopted a new measure prohibiting overnight parking along the west side of Binford Road to ensure more turnover and parking for businesses. There are plans to return to the Board with additional proposed measures to address community, business and environmental concerns as more spaces are vacated. 

In addition, the Board adopted a new pilot vehicle buyback incentives program for individuals with an identified housing destination and exit date, but who may require some assistance to transition. Effective immediately and expiring in June 2024, and with limited funding, the program will provide $175 per linear foot for occupied vehicles if the owner can demonstrate they are relocating to a permanent housing destination. Registered, operable second or third vehicles at the site may receive the same incentive to turn in their vehicles – with proof of ownership, presence on Binford Road prior to October 1, 2023, and agreement to abide by all State Vehicle Code and County regulations.

The County’s Director of Health & Human Services will have discretion to prioritize and award incentives. More details are contained in the December 12 staff report, including the new Vehicle Buy Back Policy

“I’m encouraged by all the progress that has been made this year,” said District 5 Supervisor Eric Lucan, who represents the Binford Road area on the Board. “The community and businesses along Binford Road have raised valid concerns, and I will continue to advocate for acceleration of transitioning residents to safe housing and supporting measures to protect the sensitive environment along the water.” 

Gary Naja-Riese, the County’s Director of Homelessness and Whole Person Care, said, “Incentives like those approved today will mean fewer vehicles along the roadside while we accelerate housing options for some who just need a little help to transition. The Sheriff knows which vehicles are there, and success with some incentives will allow us to better focus on those with more intensive needs.” 

Employing a Housing First approach, the County works with local municipalities and nonprofit community partners to help house people and keep them housed all over Marin. A $1.6 million Encampment Resolution Grant from the State of California, matched with approximately $600,000 per year from the County, is providing the resources needed to address the Binford Road encampment over a three-year period. The money is used on public outreach, case management, housing vouchers, security deposits, first and last month’s rent, and other housing-related costs. 

An additional $500,000 in County General Funds is also available to support operations of the encampment resolution effort, including the proposed $100,000 Pilot Vehicle Buyback Program and measures to protect the Rush Creek habitat not eligible with the state grant.


Daniel Eilerman
Assistant County Administrator
County Administrator's Office

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 325
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-7364
Email: Daniel Eilerman
County Administrator website