Marin factions await fate of controversial parks tax measure

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Cattle graze alongside Pierce Level Street within the Level Reyes Nationwide Seashore on Friday, March 19, 2021. (Alan Dep/Marin Impartial Journal)

Measure A’s path to the June 7 main poll has been a tortured one, strewn with controversy and obstacles.

The measure asks Marin voters to resume a quarter-cent gross sales tax that they permitted by greater than a 74% margin in 2012.

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If the measure is permitted by two-thirds of voters, 65% of the projected $14 million in annual income will go to keep up county parks and open house. One other 15% will go to Marin cities and cities to assist fund their parks, open house and recreation packages. These allocations have not modified from when Measure A was permitted in 2012.

What’s controversial this time round is how the remaining 20% ​​of the income will probably be spent. The unique Measure A earmarked most of that 20% for agricultural easements, with the rest going to the Marin Useful resource Conservation District. The Measure A on the June poll, nevertheless, allocates simply half of the 20% for agricultural easements.

The conservation district will get one-fifth of the entire reserved for agriculture, and the rest will fund a grant program for a wide range of sustainable agricultural makes use of, together with group gardens.

There may be a lot at stake for Marin County Parks, which depends on Measure A income to pay the salaries of a lot of its staff. Income from the tax measure ended when it expired in March, and even when the measure is reapproved by voters subsequent month, tax income will not resume till November.

Visitors stroll through McNears Beach Park in San Rafael on Feb.  11, 2020. (Sherry LaVars/Marin Independent Journal)
Guests stroll by means of McNears Seashore Park in San Rafael on Feb. 11, 2020. (Sherry LaVars/Marin Impartial Journal)

Max Korten, director of the county parks division, has put aside sufficient cash to maintain it working by means of December.

The quantity of Measure A cash being spent on agricultural easements turned a hot-button difficulty in 2020 when Ross resident Ken Slayen accused the Marin Agricultural Land Belief of utilizing Measure A funds to complement present and former board members.

Slayen lodged his accusations after his 2015 bid for a conservation easement from the nonprofit was rejected. The have been finally dismissed by Marin County Counsel Brian Washington and the State Honest Political Practices Fee.

Then, in July 2020, MALT returned $833,250 in Measure A funds that the county had given it to assist buy a $1.66 million agricultural easement on the 326-acre Dolcini-Beltrametti Ranch in 2017. The county requested MALT for a refund after the belief acknowledged having did not disclose a property appraisal that will have decreased the grant.

Since then, two MALT government administrators have resigned — Jamison Watts in July 2020, adopted by Thane Kreiner in December.

Marin supervisors had hoped to ask voters to resume Measure A within the November 2020 election, however delayed the transfer due to the pandemic.

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An try to put the renewal proposition on the gubernatorial recall poll in October additionally did not pan out, and an earlier expenditure plan that will have lower the allocation for agricultural easements much more was rejiggered after the agricultural group objected.

To complicate issues additional, the approval of the Nationwide Park Service’s land administration plan within the Level Reyes Nationwide Seashore final 12 months generated further controversy concerning Marin agriculture. Cattle ranching continues on some 28,000 acres throughout the 86,000-acre seashore and the neighboring Golden Gate Nationwide Recreation Space. The administration plan permits the park to increase leases from five-year phrases to twenty years.

This go-around, Measure A faces extra opposition than in 2012.

“Our aim is to revise Measure A to be extra equitable, environmentally accountable and publicly accountable, and produce it again to the poll in November,” mentioned Susan Ives, vice chairman of public affairs for the Belief for Public Land.

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One other member of the group, Martin Griffin, co-founder of Audubon Canyon Ranch, mentioned, “We do not imagine that public cash needs to be used to subsidize Marin’s largest landowners, the identical ranchers who nonetheless occupy and have put in over 300 miles of barbed wire fencing on public land in our nationwide seashore.”

Additionally, a bunch calling itself the Marin Alliance for Public Land has created a web site, though it hasn’t shaped a committee to boost any cash.

Miyoko’s Creamery founder Miyoko Schinner, one other distinguished opponent of Measure A, mentioned she would like to see its income used to rewild West Marin farms and ranches.

“Why do not we make it a very bucolic scene by returning it to nature?” mentioned Schinner, whose Sonoma-based enterprise makes cheese and butter out of vegetation as a substitute of cow milk. “There may be lots of proof on the influence of all animal agriculture as we’re working towards it as we speak on local weather change.”

Opponents of the measure additionally assert that the first rationale for the agriculture easements, to make sure that Marin agricultural land just isn’t misplaced to growth, is now not legitimate.

“It will take a argument in opposition to the county to overturn A-60 zoning, and there’s no water for subdivisions,” Griffin mentioned. The county’s A-60 zoning regulation permits just one home per 60 acres in areas zoned for agriculture.

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Measure A supporters, nevertheless, say the main focus needs to be on the 80% of Measure A income going to keep up parks and open house relatively than the 20% earmarked for agriculture.

“Any apprehensions concerning the efficacy of agricultural land trusts are far outweighed by the clear advantages Measure A will present to the Latino immigrant group and different underserved communities in Marin County,” mentioned Aaron Burnett, director of advocacy for Canal Alliance.

“The creation of group gardens mixed with elevated entry to low-cost farmland and farming can be a boon to the vitality and resiliency of the Canal group and past,” Burnett mentioned. “Moreover, Measure A would ship the funding essential to enhance fairness in entry to the identical parks and recreation services for which the measure units out to boost and restore.”

Invoice Lengthy, chairman of the Marin Open Area Belief, which has contributed $10,000 to the marketing campaign committee backing Measure A, mentioned the critics’ emphasis on agriculture’s influence on wildlife and international warming oversimplifies the position agriculture performs.

“The choice could possibly be much more damaging,” Lengthy mentioned, “notably when it comes to fireplace hazard.”

Lengthy mentioned cattle grazing reduces the quantity of flammable vegetation on West Marin land. As well as, the brand new expenditure plan for Measure A will increase spending on fuels discount in county parks and on open house land. Of the 65% of whole income reserved for county parks and open house, 1 / 4 will probably be spent on fuels discount.

Kentfield resident Mimi Willard, president of the Coalition of Smart Taxpayers, has estimated that may quantity to about $2.5 million yearly in spending on decreasing fuels. The group, which had threatened to oppose the measure if too little income was allotted to fireside prevention, has chosen to stay impartial.

The Marin Conservation League has additionally contributed $10,000 to the committee backing Measure A.

“MCL refutes two misconceptions: that working a Marin household dairy makes one wealthy (in actual fact, many Marin farm households should keep outdoors occupations to make ends meet), and that zoning, alone, can guarantee everlasting safety of Marin’s working lands from growth menace as land values ​​escalate,” Nona Dennis, a pacesetter of the group, wrote in an e mail.

Talking for the Sierra Membership Marin Group at a Marin supervisors assembly in October, Barbara Bogard mentioned the group was involved that there had been no dialogue about utilizing Measure A funds to supply partial reparations for each the Coast Miwok Tribal Council of Marin and the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.

Final week, the Marin Measure A marketing campaign committee reported receiving a $100,000 contribution from the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria. Greg Sarris, tribal chairman, mentioned renewing the tax will assist pure areas within the county “proceed to thrive.”

“Environmental stewardship is important to our tribe’s mission,” he mentioned.

On Monday, the Measure A committee reported receiving a $10,000 contribution from MALT, bringing the marketing campaign’s donation whole to about $143,000. In 2012, MALT contributed roughly $63,000 of the roughly $170,000 raised to fund the marketing campaign.

“Extra monetary assist will arrive over the following month,” mentioned Barry Barnes, a political marketing consultant engaged on the Measure A marketing campaign.

A trail marker on the Ridgewood Fire Road notes allowed activities and Measure A as a source of funding in San Rafael, Calif.  on Tuesday, Jan.  18, 2022. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal)
A path marker on the Ridgewood Hearth Street notes allowed actions and Measure A as a supply of funding in San Rafael, Calif. on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. (Alan Dep/Marin Impartial Journal)
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