Marin County Parks and Open Space Department

Measure A: Protect Marin Parks, Open Space, and Farmland

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In partnership with the Marin Open Space Trust and the California Coastal Conservancy, we are excited to announce our first major land acquisition using Measure A funds – the 16.2-acre Sky Ranch property near San Anselmo and Fairfax. Read the full story

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.

Read or download the Marin County Parks Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2013-14.

Audit Engagements:

Measure A provides funding to a range of community partners to care for Marin’s local parks and preserves, protect working family farms, and improve visitor services. The Marin County Department of Finance is responsible for auditing these subrecipients and has completed their first audit of Fiscal Year (FY) 2013-14 subrecipient Measure A expenditures.

The certified public accounting firm Badawi and Associates was selected to perform the independent compliance audit of Measure A FY 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.

Badawi and Associates has been contracted to perform the independent compliance audit of FY 2014-15 expenditures. The audit process will begin in late July.

Together, the compliance audits of Marin County Parks and subrecipients will cover all Measure A expenditures on an annual basis.

Measure A Community Oversight Committee:

The seven-member Measure A Community Oversight Committee, tasked with overseeing Measure A expenditures including annual audits and creation of an annual report, continues to meet the second Thursday in February and November each year. Committee members are also invited to attend an annual tour of Measure A project sites. All three meetings are publicly noticed and all are welcome to attend. Recordings of previous meetings are available on the web.

Breathe/Respira Community Grant Program:

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 improve our visitor services to Marin’s communities with limited access to or knowledge of our public lands. 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 next window to apply for these grants will open in Spring 2016. The Grant Program Overview includes additional information about the grant application and selection process.

  • Fiscal Year 2014-15 The Parks and Open Space Commission and Marin County Board of Supervisors approved seven grant recipients to receive FY 2014-15 funds through the Breathe/Respira Community Grant Program. Grantees and grant amounts are as follows: Marin Conservation League ($5,100); San Geronimo Valley Community Center ($8,000); Opening the World ($8,000); Trips for Kids ($5,300); Marin City Community Services District ($20,000); Conservation Corps North Bay ($17,840); Novato Youth Center ($14,000). 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.
  • Fiscal Year 2013-14 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). Grantees worked closely with Marin County Parks to offer programming and outreach that resulted in an estimated 1,985 visitors participating in 87 trips to county parks and open spaces. While most were new to these locations, roughly 80% reported they were excited to return within the month. 308 people from Canal and Hamilton neighborhoods used free shuttles provided by Whistlestop to enjoy Healthy Parks Healthy People (HPHP) outings. There they enjoyed physical activity and environmental education-focused outings and received recipes and other healthy eating information provided by Marin County Health and Human Services. Marin County Parks staff participated in and learned from these outings, and continues to revise HPHP and other programming to meet the needs and interests of Marin residents.

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 have increased our 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. After widespread community engagement these plans will be unveiled over the next several months and will result in new play features, park furnishings, and projects to address aging facilities.
  • A grant writer is under contract to pursue matching grants and other funding to match Measure A funds and expand the impact of Measure A in our parks and preserves.
  • An “inclusive access plan” is underway allowing the department to inventory the physical condition of open space roads and trails, review policy around accessibility, and define several trail locations to upgrade for improved access for all ability levels.
  • Now that the Road and Trail Management Plan is approved, Measure A funds are supporting regional planning meetings to define the future system and supporting early projects stemming from this planning.
  • The shade structure was reconstructed at the McInnis skate park and the Tam athletic field was reconstructed at McInnis Park.
  • Construction drawings are complete for the McNears pier maintenance project and construction will commence in FY 2015-16.
  • County Service Area 33 constructed an all-weather ping pong table and made other accessibility improvements.
  • A feasibility study and design is underway to restore Bolinas Lagoon.
  • Two seasonal employees were hired to fight the spread of weeds through the department’s early detection rapid response program and survey for wildlife in our parks and preserves.
  • Phase 1 of the Cascade Canyon sediment reduction project, repairing drainage structures on the Cascade Fire Road, is complete.
  • Several vehicles were purchased to replace an aging fleet including two trucks with dump beds to support maintenance activities, a trailer for equipment transport, and additional vehicles to support ranger and naturalist staff.
  • A surveyor was contracted to map encroachments at Ring Mountain to support resource protection efforts.
  • A roundabout was completed to calm and direct traffic on the Mill Valley Sausalito Pathway.
  • Interns were hired to support Wildlife Picture Index data collection and analysis.
  • Additional wildlife surveys are collecting data on badgers and red legged frogs.
  • The cascade fountains were repaired at Lagoon Park and a shoreline study is underway to assess path stability and future path maintenance efforts.
  • A $100,000 matching grant was awarded to Marin Audubon to purchase historic bay lands in Corte Madera for restoration.

Visit the Marin County Parks Overview of Proposed Budgets for Fiscal Year 2015-2016 Presentation for information on the Measure A budget.

Measure A will be funding other large park and open space restoration projects. Due to the size of these projects, they will be budgeted, 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.

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.
  • A matching grant in the amount of $412,000 was awarded to the Marin Agricultural Land Trust in 2015 for the purchase of an agricultural easement across the Murphy Family Fallon Ranch outside of Tomales.

City, Town, and Special District Program:

  • Marin’s 19 cities, towns and applicable special districts have received three disbursements of Measure A funding to date, totaling $2,106,248.55. 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, playground repairs and upgrades, vegetation management in open spaces, swimming pool improvements, and community center restoration among others.
  • Completed projects are reported on in the Measure A annual report and copies of all city, town, and special district work plans and expenditure reports submitted prior to each disbursement are available for review at the reception desk in Suite 260 of the Marin Civic Center.

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 independent compliance audits, 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. 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 (415) 473-2129 with questions.