Rolling oak-studded pastoral hills, wave-strewn beaches and hidden coves, towering fog-shrouded redwood groves, and cows lolling in verdant meadows on heritage farms as they have for decades ... these are the images of Marin County.
I first came here 27 years ago, and although I left for brief stints in other cities, I always returned — connected to this place by an invisible thread that is firmly anchored in my soul. I am proud to be called a "Marinite," and suspect that others secretly and not-so-secretly envy my residence here.
After all, Marin is arguably one of the most beautiful and sought-after places to live on our planet — its open space areas, park lands, and heritage farm properties all cornerstones of our county's identity.
As residents who call this rich landscape “home,” we must be conscious of our stewardship responsibilities to preserve these areas for our enjoyment, as well as the enjoyment of future generations. This connection to the land is an important part of Marin's identity and legacy.
That's why Measure A deserves our YES vote at the polls on Nov. 6.
Placed on the ballot by the Marin County Board of Supervisors, Measure A would cost taxpayers a quarter-cent sales tax increase, automatically expiring in nine years, which would generate an estimated $10 million dollars annually. These much needed funds would be used, first and foremost, to cover costs for maintenance and repairs at county parks and preserves. Funds would also go toward providing additional protection to open space and local farm lands.
We are a county with an active populace whose residents enjoy access to many recreational hiking and multi-use trails, bike paths, and camping/day-use facilities located in parks and open space around Marin.
Due to recent budget reductions, and depletion of state bond funding that formerly covered these costs, Marin County has been forced to reduce staff and cut the hours of remaining staff at park facilities. The resulting decrease in available man-power at these parks has caused a backlog of repair and maintenance issues that need to be addressed for the continued safety and enjoyment of everyone who uses them. Continued deferment in addressing these issues can only result in more costly expenditures later.
If approved by two-thirds of voters, every cent generated from Measure A will stay in the county, with a seven-member independent citizens' panel overseeing and reporting on disbursement of funds. The measure’s text strictly prohibits the use of these funds for administrator salaries or pensions, and none of the funds earmarked by this measure could be taken by the state.
Under the provisions of this measure, visitors to our county who enjoy these recreational areas would also be required to contribute their fair share toward maintaining them.
Measure A has garnered an impressive list of supporters including the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT), Agricultural Institute of Marin, Audubon Society, Conservation Corps North Bay, Marin Conservation League, Marin County Farm Bureau, Marin Organic, The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, The Marin Independent Journal, and numerous other organizations and individuals.
Money is tight and everyone is feeling the pinch, but Measure A offers a practical solution over the next decade to insure the continued protection and maintenance of our county’s recreational and farmland legacy moving forward.