Marin County Parks and Open Space Department

Overview

The one-quarter cent retail transactions and use tax passed as Measure A in November 2012 to care for Marin’s existing parks and open spaces, support regional community parks projects and programs, and further farmland preservation is creating positive change throughout Marin County. Measure A (Ordinance No. 3586) includes an expenditure plan (pages 7-10 of Ordinance No. 3586, Exhibit A) that guides the use of these funds, as follows:

  • 65% will be used by Marin County Parks to restore natural resources, maintain county parks and open space preserves, restore and improve public access, and protect natural lands.
  • 20% will be dedicated to saving family farms and ranches through the purchase of agricultural conservation easements in voluntary transactions with landowners.
  • 15% will be used by cities, towns, and applicable special districts to enhance and manage their parks, nature preserves, recreation programs, and vegetation to reduce wildfire risk.

Annual Report:

The first Marin County Parks annual report on Fiscal Year 13-14 Measure A expenditures and other department efforts will be released in late 2014 or early 2015. The report will provide a broad overview of department budgets, expenditures, important planning, acquisition, maintenance and capital improvement projects, staff functions, and will describe Measure A expenditures within the context of department work as a whole. Once released, the report will be widely publicized and be available in print and digital forms.

Measure A: Protect Marin Parks, Open Space and Farmland

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Audit Engagement:

The certified public accounting firm Badawi and Associates was selected to perform the independent compliance audit of Measure A Fiscal Year 2013-14 expenditures. The audit resulted in an independent opinion of the compliance of use of Measure A revenues with Marin County Ordinance 3586 and its related Expenditure Plan. An ad hoc committee of the Measure A Community Oversight Committee worked with staff to oversee the audit. Outcomes of the FY 2013-14 audit were presented at the November 13, 2014 meeting of the Measure A Community Oversight Committee. The Final Report prepared by the auditor on the compliance of Measure A FY 13-14 expenditures is now available for review.

Measure A Community Oversight Committee:

The seven appointees to the committee that oversees Measure A expenditures met for the first time on May 29, 2014 to review the FY 2013-14 Measure A budget, department progress implementing Measure A-funded projects and programs to date, and to select ad hoc committees to oversee the annual audit and annual reporting required by the Expenditure Plan. The next meeting of the committee was held on November 13, 2014. During this meeting the committee reviewed a near-final draft of the first Measure A annual report, received a report on the FY 13-14 Measure A audit, received a presentation of FY 13-14 Measure A expenditures, and a presentation on expenditures planned in the FY 2014-15 budget.

Breathe/Respira Community Grant Program:

  • The Parks and Open Space Commission and Marin County Board of Supervisors approved six grant recipients to receive FY 2013-14 funds through the Breathe/Respira Community Grant Program. Grantees and grant amounts are as follows: Trips for Kids ($3,500); San Geronimo Valley Community Center ($3,000); Opening the World ($3,500); Marin City Community Services District ($10,000); Marin Asian Advocacy Project ($15,000); LIFT/Levántate ($48,600). Grantee efforts will engage a variety of Marin communities from youth to seniors in outdoor activity through mountain bicycling and hiking trips, photography, and picnics. Grantees will work with staff to improve outreach, transportation to and from our lands and events, and help to overcome additional barriers to connect more people with the benefits of our parks, open spaces and programming. 
  • The Breathe/Respira Community Grant Program provides grants to support projects, programs, and initiatives of varying scope and size that increase the capacity of community organizations to partner with Marin County Parks to engage and serve communities with limited access to our parks, preserves, and programs. Marin County Parks is focused on building relationships with and serving all of Marin’s communities in an equitable manner. Through this grant program, we are excited to dramatically enhance our community partnerships and the opportunities Marin communities have to enjoy our parks, preserves, and programs. The period to submit applications for the next round of grants will open in early January, 2015. This opportunity will be widely advertised through our website, social media, e-mail, newsletter and other forms of communication.

Marin County Park and Open Space Program:

  • New life was breathed into McInnis Park facilities with restroom roof repairs and paint.
  • McNears Beach Park received new ADA accessible picnic tables.
  • We have repaved sections of the pathways at McNears and Paradise Parks, including the removal of many trip hazards.
  • A sign plan, coordinating communication across facilities managed by Marin County Parks and the Open Space District, is underway and will result in improved visitor experience.
  • Plan drawings for improvements and stream crossings along the Roy’s Redwoods loop trail were submitted for permits.
  • We have increased our capacity for open space maintenance work that includes restoring areas damaged by the construction of unauthorized trails, clearing creeks and drains behind homes that border the preserves in preparation for winter rains, mowing and other vegetation management work at hundreds of preserve entries in preparation for fire season, and reducing fire fuel loads in fuel breaks in the King Mountain, Blithedale Summit, Baltimore Canyon, and Camino Alto preserves, through contract labor provided by the Conservation Corps North Bay.
  • Ranger presence in our preserves has increased substantially with the addition of five new full-time rangers, leading to improved visitor safety, more visitor assistance and education, and increased compliance with open space regulations.
  • We are building our staff capacity to plan and implement natural resource management projects by hiring biologists, ecologists, and planners.
  • Visitor safety in our parks has been enhanced by pruning of old and diseased tree limbs at Paradise Beach Park, Miller Boat Launch and other locations, and by repairing sidewalks and other paving at McNears Beach and Paradise Beach parks.
  • Construction drawings to replace a failed seawall at Paradise Beach Park are underway. 
  • We’ve improved amenities for visitors to McNears Beach Park by installing a new furnace at the snack bar, and purchasing a new pool vacuum.
  • With the purchase of new tools for our volunteers, there is no longer a shortage. 
  • We’ve replaced the old and dilapidated maintenance carts used by our park rangers and landscape services workers, with new models that are more efficient and require less maintenance.
  • We’ve improved the cleanliness of our open space entrances by contracting with a dog waste pick-up service, and are in the process of installing 15 additional dog waste stations at trailheads where visitor volume is high. 
  • Master planning taking a fresh look at facilities in Stafford Lake, McNears Beach, and Paradise Beach parks are underway. Staff is planning widespread community engagement during development of these master plans.

Visit the Marin County Parks Overview of Proposed Budgets for Fiscal Year 2014-2015 Presentation for information on the Measure A budget (begins slide number 10).

Measure A will also fund large park and open space restoration projects. Due to the size of these projects, they will be planned and implemented over multiple years, and much of the on-the-ground features and amenities will not be seen until 2015 or later due to the time required for plan development and, if necessary, environmental review and permitting.


Picnic Tables
Image of newly repaved pathway at McNears Beach Park
Roof Repair

Farmland Preservation Program:

  • The matching grant program to support farmland preservation was approved by the Marin County Board of Supervisors April 22, 2014. The grant application form is now available, and includes information about the program and application process. The Marin County Agricultural Land Conservation Program, the County's program developed to promote, support, and engage in measures to permanently protect agricultural measures in Marin, provides additional information including the definition of a qualified applicant for matching grant funding.  
  • The first matching grant in the amount of $537,000 was awarded to the Marin Agricultural Land Trust for the purchase of an agricultural easement across the Thacher Ranch in Tomales.

City, Town, and Special District Program:

  • Marin’s 19 cities, towns and applicable special districts have received two disbursements of Measure A funding to date, totaling $1,859,013.20. Participants will continue to receive two disbursements per year over the life of Measure A. Funds are being used to care for local parks and preserves all over the county. Projects range from turf replacement, basketball and tennis court repairs, safety and accessibility improvements, vegetation management in open spaces, swimming pool improvements, and community center restoration among others. 
  • Projects recently completed by the cities, towns and special districts include: hazard tree removal and park improvements by Bel Marin Keys Community Service District; playground, little league field and irrigation system upgrades by Firehouse Community Park Agency; replacement of reception hall flooring and construction of an equipment storage shed by Marinwood Community Service District; maintenance work at Ross Common by the Town of Ross; vegetation management, fire fuel reduction, and playground and recreation facility repairs by the City of San Rafael; invasive species removal in open space by the Town of Tiburon; new gutters, play surfacing and a picnic table by Tomales Community Services District; and others.

Community Engagement and Transparency

Throughout the year, community members will have opportunities to attend public meetings of the Marin County Parks and Open Space Commission, the Measure A Community Oversight Committee, and the Marin County Board of Supervisors to learn more about how Measure A funds are being budgeted and spent. After the close of each fiscal year, the Community Oversight Committee will review expenditures to determine whether they complied with the Measure A ordinance, oversee an independent audit, and work with staff to prepare an annual report summarizing how Measure A funds were spent within the greater context of all department budgets and work. The annual report will include a map highlighting a sample of completed projects so you can give yourself a tour of the work that’s been performed. 
 

ALL opportunities to participate in Measure A discussions will be advertised through our website, events calendar, and other media, including Facebook, Twitter, our quarterly newsletter, and the local press. When you attend any of our events, ask one of our staff members about the latest on Measure A projects and programs! We will also be posting signs at locations throughout the county where projects and improvements have been funded by Measure A. Look for the official Measure A seal!


Measure A logo: Caring for What We Have 2012 - 2021

Finally, we want you to know we are developing more complete content for our website to provide you extensive information about how Measure A funds are bringing widespread improvements to Marin County’s parks, preserves, and farmland. Until then, check back here for regular updates and feel free to contact External Affairs Coordinator Kevin Wright at KWright@marincounty.org or (415) 473-2129 with questions.