Marin County Parks and Open Space Department

San Geronimo Property Acquisition

The County of Marin is interested in acquiring a 157-acre property in West Marin with the help of a national nonprofit conservation organization. The Trust for Public Land has signed an agreement to acquire San Geronimo Golf Course for $8.85 million, with plans to transfer ownership to the County. Marin County Parks' goal is to restore its extensive natural habitat into a greenbelt linking the San Geronimo Valley’s rural villages.

The Marin County Board of Supervisors will address the possible land purchase in two upcoming meetings. The public is welcome to attend these meetings, which begin at 9:30 a.m. in Room 330, Marin Civic Center.

  • Tuesday, October 10, 2017: The Board of Supervisors will take action regarding a notice of intent to purchase the property from The Trust for Public Land (TPL). This notice of intent formalizes the County’s interest in acquiring the land from TPL. It is not a contract to purchase the land.
  • Tuesday, October 31, 2017: The Board of Supervisors will review and take action on a sale agreement, with a timeline and other contingencies. This would be the next step in the process of transferring ownership of the property from TPL to the County. At this meeting the Board will decide whether to move forward with a land purchase agreement, or to not purchase the land at all.

No decisions about potential land use will be made at these meetings.  If the land is successfully acquired, a collaborative community visioning process will then take place to gather public input on how the land could be used.

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FAQs

What is the County Seeking to Acquire?

The County and Marin County Parks are seeking to acquire property currently operated as the San Geronimo Golf Course, located in the San Geronimo Valley and occupying lands buffering and separating the unincorporated communities of Woodacre, San Geronimo, and Forest Knolls. The property is 157 acres, comprising 4 legal parcels. It represents the largest block of land in the County that is zoned Recreational Commercial.


Why Does the County Want to Buy This Property?

This is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the County to acquire a large property in the heart of Marin and preserve land for park and public uses. It will help preserve San Geronimo Valley’s rural character and the unique identities of each of its communities. It offers a destiny changing opportunity for resident Central Coast Coho and steelhead salmon, and other native wildlife. Restoring the site for fish will create many other benefits for people and wildlife including enhanced floodplain protection for downstream communities, and protection of wildlife migration corridors. If sold to a private buyer, the property could be developed into a resort or for other commercial recreational uses. 
 


Is the Price Fair?

The current negotiated price of $8.85 million is less than the appraised fair market value. If the acquisition process moves forward, any organization providing matching funds to the County for the purchase will also evaluate the price to ensure it is fair.


How Will the County Pay for This Acquisition?

The County would use a combination of County general funds, Marin County Parks' Measure A acquisition funds, and funds raised from other public and non-profit sources to acquire the property. The current negotiated price is $8.85 million, less than the appraised fair market value. The County estimates $2.5 million of the purchase price will come from Parks' Measure A funds and $1.41 million from the County’s general fund. The balance will come from a joint fund-raising effort. As a private nonprofit, The Trust for Public Land (TPL) has been able to move much more quickly than the County, and will complete purchasing the property by the end of 2017. TPL is financing its acquisition of the property using borrowed funds that they will repay using proceeds of the eventual sale of the property. If the Marin County Board of Supervisors approves the purchase, TPL and the County will work together to raise non-County matching funds to support the County's acquisition of the property from TPL, likely in late 2018. The County's commitment to purchase the property from TPL will be contingent on its success in raising the outside funds.


What are the Prospective Uses for the Property?

Much of the existing property can become a turnkey greenbelt park with a ready-made network of multiuse pathways that allow travel between Woodacre, San Geronimo, Forest Knolls, and Lagunitas with no interaction with the motorized traffic on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard or Nicasio Valley Road. This is enabled by an already-existing tunnel under Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and an existing bridge over Nicasio Valley Road. If the project moves forward, Marin County Parks and the Trust for Public Land would participate in community outreach to establish a high-level vision for how the property may be developed and maintained as a park. Examples of things that may be considered are a continuation and enhancement of the community gardening program, public event facilities, playground, and play features. The County may consider other future public-serving uses that are consistent with the character of the community and compatible with park uses. Any future uses will be fully explored with the community and would need to be approved by the Board of Supervisors prior to implementation. 


Will the Property Remain Open for Golf?

No, not in the long run, because full restoration is critical to the fundraising effort. Golf may be an option in the short-term interim period before full restoration begins. TPL is committed to trying to find a third-party partner to manage the golf course under a lease agreement during the planning period, through late 2019, after which operation of the golf course would end. If successful in this effort, Marin County Parks would assume this lease together with the property, likely in late 2018. If TPL is not able to find a viable lease partner, operation of the golf course would wind down at or shortly ahead of TPL's acquisition in late 2017.


Will the County Proceed With Evaluation of Wastewater Recycling?

The previously considered site for a wastewater recycling unit near the banks of San Geronimo Creek is no longer feasible. Should the County acquire the site, the recent feasibility report of various options for addressing failing septic systems in Woodacre and San Geronimo Flats would need to be revised. Any wastewater recycling alternative proposed on this property would need to be compatible with the overall use of the property for park purposes, a salmon enhancement plan, and the restoration of the watershed. Community input would continue to be a part of the evaluation and selection of a wastewater alternative.


Will the Public Have an Opportunity to Provide Feedback?

Yes, the Marin County Board of Supervisors will first consider this acquisition in open public sessions scheduled for October 10 and October 31, 2017. At the October 10 session the Board will review a notice of intent that formalizes the County’s interest in acquiring the land. This notice must be circulated publically before the Board can review a sale agreement at the hearing scheduled for October 31. If Supervisors green light the sales agreement on October 31, Marin County Parks and TPL will work together to raise funds from the state and other non-profit sources to support the County's purchase. After the purchase is completed, County staff will engage the community in a collaborative discussion about restoration, preservation, and other uses over the long term. This community outreach process would likely begin in early 2018. Any future uses will go through a similar collaborative planning process.
 


Can Parks Manage the Property in Perpetuity?

Yes. The level of long-term commitment of resources is contingent on the scope and details of the vision for the property’s long-term development and use that the County and Marin County Parks will define with community input and guidance over approximately the next 18 months. Marin County Parks expects the site could operate as a relatively passive greenbelt and park with little or no long-term increase in staffing. Funding for the restoration effort would need to be seeded with Measure A funds but, like the acquisition effort, any input of Measure A dollars would likely be leveraged 2-3 times over with non-County funds.