BY SIGNING THE INITIATIVE PETITION YOU ARE HELPING 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
Sign the Initiative to send 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 has been proudly open to the public.
San Geronimo Golf Course is known as the 'working people‘s' course because green fees are affordable and it welcomes everyone – no membership or initiation is required.
Women’s groups enjoy, play, and excel in the short game.
Youth groups are familiar faces on the course too - they enjoy heavily discounted fees or, in some cases, no fees at all.
The clubhouse restaurant hosts many nonprofit community events and family gatherings. All members of the public are welcome.
And in community spirit, even dogs are 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.
Over the past nine years it paid $5,854,000 in employee wages, taxes and benefits and it generated $1,756,000 in property taxes, sales taxes, & fees.
It intends to keep going strong!
SAVE your right to Vote!
This Initiative gives 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.
If 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 has been invested to improve the golf course streams, ponds and surrounding areas.
San Geronimo Golf Course complies with all Marin County protocols for Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
No herbicides or fumi-toxins are used. Weed removal is manual, with no spray. The past summer only two products – and both are non-toxic -- have been applied.
The Golf Course does NOT remove 20 acre feet of water from Larsen Creek. An old entitlement runs with the land, but the Golf Course uses less than 10% of its entitlement to fill a pond before Larsen Creek dries up each June.
Turf moisture comes 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 averages only 78% of the Golf Course's annual water budget fixed by MMWD for the past seven years.
Clubhouse water use is slightly (3%) over its MMWD budget. Water seeps into the ground and eventually percolates into the streams to replenish flow.
Four acres of turf have been removed and re-planted with native vegetation. If the course continues to make money with golf operations, investment in new water saving equipment and techniques would be 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 can accommodate helicopters and fire equipment.
Airborne water buckets can re-load from pond water. Mutual aid from other fire departments can arrive fast via two main crossroads - Sir Francis Drake and Nicasio Valley.
Most important, 2,000 families living in the San Geronimo Valley can shelter 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 is temporarily open for golf play. The course invites walkers and picnics during scheduled hours each week. The community garden is being watered and tended.
Youth and school teams practice and conduct 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 are among the public schools that have hosted fundraising tournaments at San Geronimo.
We cannot afford to lose a golf course that contributes 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 (Denis 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 preschools, 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:
Rick Seramin recently commented on the study conducted by ESA for SPAWN and the CDFW in 2014 called The Coho Friendly Habitat and Operations Plan for San Geronimo Golf Course. Rick noted that the study shows how golf can coexist with improvements to the salmon habitat. Todd Steiner, of SPAWN, rebutted that the study illustrated that some needed habitat improvements cited in the study would be limited due to respecting golf course boundaries. Art notes that he has reviewed the 2014 study many times and believes both Seramin and Steiner make valid points true to the science of the study. Mr. Steiner states a foundational assumption that “after 50 years it’s time for the property to be something else”. That is clearly an unscientific opinion. NEVER MIND. What we can draw from this interchange of letters to the IJ is that the discussion is now focusing on a document that has “good science” and an analysis of meaningful and productive strategies to protect salmon *and* preserve golf.
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: