Marin County Park's
Acquisition of the San Geronimo Golf Course

 

background

The San Geronimo Golf Course is an 18 hole public course that spans 157-acres at the center of the San Geronimo Valley floor near the villages of Woodacre, San Geronimo, Forest Knolls, and Lagunitas. The course was constructed in 1965, intended for use as a private course, but was unsuccessful in selling enough memberships to support the course and soon converted to a public course (1) which remained the primary use of the property until it was listed for sale in 2017 and the Trust for Public Land acquired the property. The future use of the property is currently unclear, as a lawsuit has delayed public planning efforts. 


ACQUISITION by Marin county parks 

In the fall of 2017, the San Geronimo Golf Course was listed for sale, an offer was made and accepted by the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Marin County Parks (Parks). The intention of the purchase is to maintain the San Geronimo Valley's rural character for future generations by creating a public park and restoring critical habitat.

TPL acquired ownership of the property at the end of December 2017, with the intention to transfer the title to Parks for 50% of the total purchase price. On December 12, 2017, Marin County's Board of Supervisor's approved Parks' plans to acquire the property and Parks took over management and planning. As a result, Parks began seeking funds for public planning and to finalize the County purchase from TPL. Golf operations also ceased at this time. In response to public concerns over the removal of golf during the planning process, Parks promised to find an interim operator to resume golf for two-years while the County moved through the public planning and visioning process.


public access

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From January to March, limited public access was allowed on the property for pedestrians, dogs on leash, and bikes on paved pathways. At the end of March, the County announced they found a interim operator, Touchstone Golf, to resume golf operations on the course in April and remove continued public access.

Parks and the Board of Supervisors received several letters from organizations, individuals, and families stating their concerns with the removal of public access on the property. EAC provided public comments at the Board of Supervisors supporting the acquisition of the property for use as a park and voiced concerns over the removal of public access, as it prevented people in the Valley from the opportunity to connect with the land and be able to fully participate in the public visioning process. The Board of Supervisors were receptive to the concerns over the loss of continued public access and requested Parks return in 60-days with a plan to include public access on the property.

In June, Parks and Touchstone announced limited public access allowances at the property that includes access portions of the course on Sunday afternoons and one Friday a month to picnic, ride bikes, play on the lawns, walk dogs, and fish in the ponds (not the creek). Touchstone announced a family programming series that includes movie nights on the green, community dinners, and a holiday event. 


lawsuit

The Marin County Board of Supervisors adopted the December 12, 2017 Resolution Number 2017-135 approving the purchase of the golf course property. Following the Resolution, the San Geronimo Advocates (an organized group of golfers and residents), filed a lawsuit arguing that Marin County failed to meet the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). In July 2018, the Marin County Superior Court  blocked Parks' ability to complete the purchase and begin the public visioning and planning process by issuing an injunction, stating that the "County committed to a 'project' that included not only the purchase of property, but a definite course of action that required CEQA analysis, without having engaged in such analysis." 

The injunction stops all efforts for fundraising, public planning, and prevents Parks from providing ranger programming for the public like art in the park, biking with a ranger, etc.

Marin County has appealed the decision. More updates will be posted later as this progresses. 

The recent ruling granting a preliminary injunction related to the county’s acquisition of the golf course has resulted in staff stopping all of our efforts related to fundraising for the acquisition and planning future visioning efforts at this time
— Marin County Parks Director Max Korten (2).

EAC's Position

EAC strongly supports the acquisition of the golf course property and its transition into a public park. Creation of public lands and support for maximum acquisition of public lands by federal, state, and county parks is a foundational element of EAC. 

Since 1965, the San Geronimo Valley and Tomales Bay Watershed have endured damaging ecological impacts from the golf course's use of pesticides and fertilizers and its excessive use of water (more than 49 million gallons per year). The removal of the greens, tees, and fairways will immediately improve water quality and provide important water savings as we face increased threats of drought due to climate change.

This is the opportunity for Marin County to acquire the park for use by the public, provide habitat for wildlife, reestablish the valley floodplain, and to hopefully help to save endangered coho salmon and threaten steelhead trout from extinction.  

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to restore habitat in a critical watershed.  

 

How you can support the acquisition

Members of the public can get involved in several ways to support the acquisition of the property by Marin County Parks. 

  1. Write a letter/email of support to District Four Supervisor, Dennis Rodoni's office
  2. Write a letter/email of support to Marin County Park's Director, Max Korten
  3. Support the public access hours on Sunday afternoons (3pm-Sunset on the front nine holes) and the third Friday afternoons (3pm-Sunset on the back nine holes) to picnic, ride bikes, play on the lawns, and walk your dog.
  4. Attend public meetings and speak in support of creating a park, public access, and for the protection of habitat and species.

STAY UP TO DATE

Follow the recent news on the golf course property acquisition on the Marin County Park's website:
Marin County Parks - San Geronimo Property Acquisition

 

Page last updated: August 4, 2018


References: 

1. San Geronimo Valley Community Plan, History, page 11-10, December 22, 1997. 
2. Injunction freezes Marin fundraising for San Geronimo Golf Course purchase, Marin IJ, July 18, 2018