BY SIGNING THE INITIATIVE PETITION YOU HELPED TO:
SAVE your right to vote
SAVE your environment
SAVE an essential firebreak
SAVE San Geronimo Golf Course
SAVE your tax dollars
SAVE your Community Plan
Imagine if the County bought and destroyed your local park
Picture the Ross Valley without Marin Art & Garden Center
Consider Mill Valley without its nine hole golf course under the redwoods
Do you have a favorite park in Corte Madera, San Rafael or Novato?
Your community park could be destroyed next
By signing the Initiative you sent a message - respect your community plan and preserve your local parks!
SAVE 50 Years of golf stewardship
For 50 years the San Geronimo Golf Course had been proudly open to the public.
San Geronimo Golf Course was known as the 'working people‘s' course because green fees were affordable and it welcomes everyone – no membership or initiation was required.
Women’s groups enjoyed, played, and excelled in the short game.
Youth groups were familiar faces on the course too - they enjoyed heavily discounted fees or, in some cases, no fees at all.
The clubhouse restaurant hosted many nonprofit community events and family gatherings. All members of the public were welcome.
And in community spirit, even dogs were welcome with their owners.
From 2010 to 2016 the San Geronimo Golf Course paid for itself, averaging $450,000 net annual operating income. And, in the same period, it received no ‘hand-outs’ from local, state or government grants.
In its last nine operating years it paid $5,854,000 in employee wages, taxes and benefits and generated $1,756,000 in property taxes, sales taxes, & fees.
SAVE your right to Vote!
This Initiative gave YOU THE RIGHT TO VOTE on the future of San Geronimo Golf Course and your tax dollars.
The Initiative requires Marin County officials to comply with the Community Plan and preserve the 157 acres for use - primarily for golf operations.
A change in use would require approval of a majority of Marin County voters, and action by the Board of Supervisors, including a report on the fiscal and environmental impacts of change.
The San Geronimo Community Plan (adopted in 1997 as part of the Countywide Plan) states the land should be used primarily for golf.
Now that the Initiative is approved, regardless of who owns the land, the primary golf use cannot be changed without popular vote.
Existing zoning protects the land from over-development. The Countywide Plan and the Community Plan prohibit any 'major expansion of the facilities'.
Fish and wildlife habitat would be protected under the 2014 Coho-Friendly Habitat and Operations Plan approved by SPAWN and California Department of Fish & Wildlife.
SAVE your environment!
SPAWN and the California Department of Fish & Wildlife approved the 2014 Coho-Friendly Habitat and Operations Plan for the San Geronimo Golf Course, which was prepared by environmental experts.
Over $1.2 million had been invested to improve the golf course streams, ponds and surrounding areas.
San Geronimo Golf Course complied with all Marin County protocols for Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
No herbicides or fumi-toxins were used. Weed removal was manual, with no spray. And, Summer 2018 only two products – and both were non-toxic -- had been applied.
The Golf Course did NOT remove 20 acre feet of water from Larsen Creek. An old entitlement runs with the land, but the Golf Course used less than 10% of its entitlement to fill a pond before Larsen Creek dries up each June.
Turf moisture came from winter rains and raw (untreated) water purchased from Marin Municipal Water District.
Among the large water users in Marin schools, college campuses, athletic fields and clubs, and - yes - golf courses.
Fairway water use averaged only 78% of the Golf Course's annual water budget fixed by MMWD for the past seven years.
Clubhouse water use was slightly (3%) over its MMWD budget. Water sept into the ground and eventually percolated into the streams to replenish flow.
Four acres of turf had been removed and re-planted with native vegetation. If the course had continued to make money with golf operations, investment in new water saving equipment and techniques it would have been guided by with the 2014 Coho-Friendly Plan.
SAVE an essential firebreak
San Geronimo Golf Course is defensible space, key to slowing a fire before it spreads over the hills to Fairfax or Lucas Valley.
Green mowed turf could have accommodate helicopters and fire equipment.
Airborne water buckets could have been re-load from pond water. Mutual aid from other fire departments could arrive fast via two main crossroads - Sir Francis Drake and Nicasio Valley.
Most important, 2,000 families living in the San Geronimo Valley could have sheltered in place at the golf course in the event of a fire or earthquake. The Golf Clubhouse and the Church across the street are certified by the Red Cross as shelters.
If the County destroys the green turf, ignores maintenance and lets the land 'go wild', the recent fires in Santa Rosa and Redding teach us the landscape will be burned to mineral soil. Wildlife and homes will be destroyed.
Our salmon streams will be choked with ash, fire retardant chemicals and melted metal and plastics.
SAVE San Geronimo Golf Course
Detailed plans have already been made costing $10 million to bulldoze a second creek channel, dig up the irrigation system, haul away the green turf, remove walking paths and bridges.
Rewilding 157 acres will destroy a wonderful recreation site and convert it to fire-prone weeds.
Marin Parks states it will not increase its maintenance budget for the rewilded 157 acres. Nature will recede with invasive thistle and broom, and there will be no security to prevent illegal campfires.
Creek access could be limited to SPAWN and its contractors during years of 'rewilding' deconstruction.
Until the end of 2018, the course was temporarily open for golf play. The course invited walkers and picnics during scheduled hours each week. The community garden was being watered and tended.
Youth and school teams practiced and conducted tournaments free or at heavily discounted prices.
From 2010 to 2016 San Geronimo Golf Course hosted on average 25 to 30 fundraising golf tournaments per year, raising between $400,000 and $500,000 annually for various charitable events and local schools.
Most of the funds were deployed in Marin County with the exception of the National Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, based on Market Street in San Francisco.
We’re told the full field, 144 person golf tournament at San Geronimo raises approximately $300,000 each year for Cystic Fibrosis.
Marin Catholic and Drake High Schools were among the public schools that had hosted fundraising tournaments at San Geronimo.
Can we afford to lose a golf course that contributed so significantly to community fundraising efforts and to the future of our young people?
SAVE your tax dollars!
Over $18 million of your tax dollars will be wasted, unless voters sign and approve the Initiative:
$8.8 million for Marin County to buy the land from a private trust
$10 million to destroy the course and re-wild the land
Marin County general fund and Marin Parks would pay $3.9 million. The County is applying for open 'grants' to cover the balance of the $18 million cost - again, taxpayer funding in the end - to cover the balance of the $18 million total cost.
SAVE your community plan & local parks!
When you sign the Initiative you send the message that all Marin families deserve respect for our community plans and local parks.
Most Marin neighborhoods have a local community plan filed with the County that establishes local parks, and regulates buildings, roads and natural resources. Each community plan becomes part of the Countywide Plan, which is our 'constitution' for development.
The 1997 San Geronimo Community Plan states: “the golf course should be retained with no major expansion of the facilities. Future uses should be limited to those which support the primary use as a golf course“.
Email records discovered in court litigation show that one Supervisor (Dennis Rodoni) devised a secret plan in January 2017 for Marin County to buy the golf course and destroy it, and proposed to re-wild the land as a salmon refuge for SPAWN.
Marin County Parks officials prepared grant applications and detailed plans to support the purchase.
Grants are not free money!
Government grants are tax dollars we pay to our state and national governments. These grant dollars come from your paychecks and property taxes.
The BIG money (2014 Proposition 1) is from State general obligation bonds. Our tax dollars pay back the principal and interest to bond holders.
West Marin already has 126,000 acres of parks and open space owned by the local, state and national governments.
However Marin County has no winter shelter for the homeless, it has waiting lists for pre-schools, it is renowned for traffic gridlock, and has unfunded pensions for retired firefighters and police.
Should we spend more money on open space and lose tax revenues from golf operations?
In good financial health during the Lee ownership
When the County put out an RFP (Request for Proposals) for a golf course operator to bid on managing the course for an interim period while Marin County acquired enough money to complete the purchase from Trust for Public Land (TPL), they provided a set of financial documents from the previous owner, Mr Robert Lee.
These were the same Profit & Loss documents that Mr Robert Lee provided to Trust for Public Land (TPL) as ‘Seller’s Disclosure Documents’.
The Seller’s Profit & Loss documents were done year-by-year.
To make the numbers more meaningful, one of the RFP responders transferred the financial information into a spreadsheet format. The result shows that Mr Robert Lee had a Net Operating Income (NOI) each year he owned the property.
He also had a net profit each year after deducting the interest expense on his investment financing.
The average Net Operating Income (NOI) over the years from 2010 to 2017 was approximately $450,000 per year.
Financials from Touchstone operations
The County released financial results from Touchstone recently.
Touchstone reports that they are losing money and they project further losses. We know Mr. Lee made money every year he owned the property.
Something must have changed!
It is important to separate opinion from science.
Art von Waldburg comments on recent Independent Journal letters by Rick Seramin and Todd Steiner. Art notes that he has reviewed the 2014 study ‘Coho Friendly Habitat & Operations Plan for San Geronimo Golf Course’ many times and believes both Seramin and Steiner make valid points.
Rick Seramin recently commented on the study and why it shows how golf can coexist with improvements to the salmon habitat.
Todd Steiner, of SPAWN, rebutted that the study illustrated that some habitat improvements cited in the study would be limited due to respecting golf course boundaries.
Art adds that a very important element of the 2014 study is the broad community input and support that it engendered. Comments from Jean Berensmeier on behalf of her “Valley Planning Group” are illustrative: