GOLF COURSE PURCHASE:
BAD USE OF $ THAT SHOULD GO TO FIRE PROTECTION.
SUPERVISORS MUST SAY NO!
Marin County plans to use $3.9 million of your taxpayer dollars to buy a golf course and turn it into an unmaintained fire-prone field.
The Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers urges Marin residents to contact County Supervisors to express strident opposition to the proposed use of county funds for the rush-rush acquisition of the San Geronimo Golf Course. The proposed transaction gets an “F” on use of public funds and appropriate public process.
Marin faces a fire emergency. As we learned from the Napa and Sonoma disasters, one fire could quickly engulf much of Marin. Our county parks and open space district are chock full of flammable vegetation and dead wood.
Marin elected officials must make fire prevention THE top priority for any discretionary funds.
The county’s proposed golf course purchase is not only fiscally irresponsible, it makes our shared county-wide fire risk worse.
To close the golf course purchase, the County would use $2.5 million from Measure A sales tax, which is one of the few funding sources available for vegetation management in open space and parks. In addition, the County would use $1.4 million from the general fund toward the purchase. This too, would be WAY better spent on reducing the fire-prone fuel load in some of the county’s high risk locales.
After purchasing the property, the county will then spend an additional undisclosed amount of Measure A funds on “total restoration” to nature per the Parks website.
In purchasing the golf course the County permanently removes the property from the tax rolls. Were the property sold to a private sector purchaser at the contemplated purchase price, it would generate over $100,000 in annual tax revenues to support vital county-wide services including fire prevention.
The golf course currently serves as an essential fire break and evacuation refuge in an area of the county whose large amount of minimally maintained park and open space land presents a significant fire danger. The County plans a total restoration of the golf course back to nature, increasing the peril of fire to residents of the San Geronimo Valley and beyond. The County Parks website asserts there will be no ongoing salary or other maintenance expenditure. This would lead to overgrown land becoming a fire hazard.
If the County decides to commit to vegetation management on the former golf course, this will likely result in the county permanently incurring higher compensation expense – salaries, health benefits and pensions — for employees to care for the property.
Rather than spending millions to purchase and decommission a golf course, our supervisors should focus their energy and taxpayer dollars on the far more urgent need to reduce the fuel load in existing, overgrown county owned properties.
Hurry is the enemy of good public process. Our supervisors seem determined to close the golf course transaction by year end, while entangling the county in a restriction limiting the use of the property. The net result: insufficient time to conduct an inclusive, transparent public process, explore alternatives, disclose ongoing budget impact, and assess environmental impacts.
Given the threats to county-wide fire safety, public process, and fiscal responsibility, the fate of the San Geronimo golf course is an urgent concern for ALL Marin residents, not just those living in the San Geronimo Valley. CO$T urges you to contact our supervisors immediately and also speak up at upcoming Board of Supervisors meetings including during public comment time on November 7 and particularly on November 14 when Supervisors will vote on whether or not to approve the golf course purchase.
ACTIONS TO TAKE (SPEAKING AT BOS MEETING IS MOST EFFECTIVE):
Tell our Supervisors to oppose this bad deal for County taxpayers and local community:
Speak out at Board of Supervisors Meetings, Room 230, Marin County Civic Center on
– Tuesday November 7, 10:30AM public comment period
– Tuesday November 14. This is the meeting at which Supervisors will vote on approving the golf course purchase. Meeting starts at 9AM.
If you are unable to attend, email Supervisors ASAP, and before the close of business Mon 11/13:
Judy Arnold: email@example.com
Damon Connolly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Katie Rice: email@example.com
Dennis Rodoni: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kate Sears: email@example.com
For the Full Low-Down, Keep Reading!
COUNTY’S RUSH-RUSH TRANSACTION IS A BAD DEAL FOR MARIN
County Uses our Taxpayer Money but Cedes Control of Land Use. The County project was instigated by the Trust for Public Land (a private foundation), which doesn’t plan to provide any permanent funding for the purchase or maintenance. Our Supervisors would commit to spend $3.9 million of our dollars, and then search for an additional $4.9 million in state and federal tax dollars, or conservation grants from private foundations.
Rushed transaction lacks transparency. The rush to close this transaction prior to year end leaves no time for Marin officials and constituents to carefully vet the transaction and explore alternatives. It allows a funding source to dictate the use of the land. This contracts away the power to consider all the citizens’ concerns for the use of this land.
The time urgency forecloses alternatives. The time urgency is created by TPL and/or the seller – at the expense of a good, orderly process that reduces the county’s risk and allows for ample public participation.
There’s no legitimate need to rush. The uses of the golf course land are limited to the current County plan’s commercial/recreational designation. There’s no current threat of objectionable alternative uses from which the county’s rushed transaction would “save” us. Marin County’s restrictive permit and planning process provides further protection. The only hurry is the seller’s desire need to close by year end.
ALL of Marin faces a fire emergency. It’s imperative that Supervisors stop doing business as usual. Marin Supervisors have historically “deferred” to one another’s parochial interests. It’s time for this trading of favors, at our expense, to stop! Marin faces cataclysmic fire risk and a tax-exhausted constituency. Supervisor Rodoni’s commitment to the proposed golf course purchase should be outweighed by every supervisor’s obligation to fiscal responsibility, good public process, and most important, protecting us all from the big fire that’s coming.