Sausalito Highlands Now Part of Open Space Sausalito

Sausalito's Open Space


Sausalito's Open Space

Sausalito’s Open Space Addition

For over twenty years there has been a debate in Sausalito over a 2-acre parcel of land that is now part of Open Space Sausalito. This was the largest parcel of zoned residential, undeveloped property in the city. Zoned for multi-family dwelling and located between Lincoln and Butte Streets abutting Highway 101, this land has been attractive to both developers and affordable housing advocates. Also active in the debate were area neighbors. They enjoy the open space and the enrichment it adds to their lives. There are also frequent visitors and inhabitants here that often have no voice in these debates and in this instance, it was their voice that carried the most weight.

Area wildlife have discovered in this small slice of undeveloped land, an important refuge. Biologist Jennifer Berry used motion-detection cameras to record wildlife traveling to the property in search of water. It was determined that this small parcel has one of 2 area riparian zones running through it is connected to other area open spaces.  Waldo Creek is a year-round waterway and feeds into the Bay. It is also documented in U.S. Fish and Wildlife National Wetlands Inventory. As a natural waterway, it is the lifeline for grey fox, squirrel, deer, and other area wildlife. There are also numerous resident and migratory bird species such as owl, quail, red-tailed hawk, and falcons who frequent this small haven.

Butte Street Task Force was formed and mandated to examine the available options and make recommendations to the city of Sausalito as a means to resolve the issue. In 2014 they recommended that the city find a land trust to buy the land and keep it as open space. In 2016 Open Space Sausalito came up with $225,000 to purchase half the property from the Hunt Family Trust — fueled in part by an $82,000. grant from the Transportation Authority of Marin and Caltrans. These funds were made available as a mitigation project to compensate for work elsewhere that affected the environment.

Marin Open Space Trust played a key backup role in the preservation of the Sausalito property. Early in the local efforts to preserve the property, MOST provided technical support to the neighbors who were organizing to purchase the land to prevent its development.  Later in the acquisition process, MOST offered to hold a conservation easement and accept responsibility for its permanent preservation as open space to satisfy the City’s requirement for additional assurance that the property would remain undeveloped. By providing the means to meet these requirements, the city has now transferred its interest in the parcel to the local non-profit, Open Space Sausalito.

Makin Grade Purchase in San Rafael

Green Wood Open Space

Green Wood Open Space Trail Head

San Rafael’s New Open Space


The Makin Grade Purchase in San Rafael was made by Marin Open Space Trust, with the support of generous neighbors. Two undeveloped lots on a wooded hillside in San Rafael are now part of San Rafael’s public open space, Oakwood Open Space.

Initially spearheaded by area residents Bill Carney and Tamra Peters, the $399,000 acquisition was funded from neighborhood donations and negotiated by Marin Open Space Trust. We are dedicating the land at no cost to the city. This land will be added to an existing 33 acres of city-owned open space situated at the end of Greenwood Avenue in the Gerstle Park neighborhood, south of downtown, straddling the Ross border.

Initially, there had been concerns by San Rafael council members due to an unwritten policy regarding the acceptance of land — and it was feared they would reject the offer because of concerns of liability and maintenance. The overwhelming community support for the move influenced the council’s decision, Mayor Gary Phillips said.

The terms negotiated by Marin Open Space Trust have set the standard for future negotiations regarding land acquisitions. “I think we have made out a template going forward if we are going to consider in the future such dedications,” he said. “This is the dedication that proves the exception.”, said Councilman Andrew McCullough after the vote.

The two 1.5-acre lots are part of the Oakwood subdivision made up of 45 residential parcels, established in the mid-1980s. A graded trail runs from the street through the adjoining properties to the Oakwood Open Space and follows the historic route of the old San Rafael-Bolinas stagecoach line.

Carney and Peters, who live across from the trail, wanted to preserve the natural beauty of the wooded area and contacted the Marin Open Space Trust. They collected 175 signatures through a petition. The Marin Conservation League, San Rafael Heritage, the Federation of San Rafael Neighborhoods and others also added their support to the petition.


New Open Space in San Rafael

MOST Recognized by the Marin Conservation League

MCL and California State Senate

Awarded “The Marin Green Award for Environmental Leadership”

[/one_half][one_half_last]The Marin Green Award for Environmental Leadership, which Marin Open Space Trust received from Marin Conservation League has been given annually since 1981. Each year an individual or organization is selected who has shown outstanding contributions to preserving and protecting the natural assets of Marin County. MOST was recognized as “An innovative and effective land trust spearheading acquisition and preservation of open space lands in Marin County.”

We want to thank the Marin Conservation League for their recognition and look forward to continuing our service to the people of Marin. This honor was also acknowledged by the California State Assembly and State Senate. We are proud of the commitment by residents of this county and the conservation efforts they take on to help insure the quality of life we enjoy now, for generations to come. [/one_half_last]

Thank-you Marin: the Sky Ranch Purchase is Complete

Sky Ranch as it was February 2015

The purchase of Sky Ranch has been completed! This was a big undertaking and countless members of our Marin ‘family’ have touched this project, helping to insure it’s success.

This is just the first leg of the journey and while there is more to be done, we want to pause and celebrate the many people who committed financially and/or with their time.

While everyone who assisted was an important part of this effort, special recognition and thanks is extended to Supervisor Katie Rice for her vital support. To our community groups; this would not have ever been anything more than wishful thinking without your time and/or financial support. Thank you:

  • Town of Fairfax
  • Town of San Anselmo
  • Marin Municipal Water District
  • San Anselmo Open Space Committee
  • MOST
  • California Wildlife Foundation
  • Tamalpais Conservation Club

To the 175 individual donors; we extend our sincere gratitude and joy in your commitment to Marin’s future. And last, but not least, our thanks goes to our passionate advocates; your voice helped keep the project on tract in your communities.

This addition to Marin’s green belt will not only enhance our community but it’s restoration will bring a delicate eco system back into balance, insuring that ‘wild country’ will be available for future generations to enjoy and benefit from. To this end, we will be working to bring this habitat back to it’s natural state. (Until that work has been completed the property will remain closed.)  Check back or sign up for our newsletter and stay up to date on our progress.

Please help us to reinvigorate this beautiful addition to Marin’s open space with a donation. All donations are welcomed, helpful and tax deductible. Together we will continue to preserve Marin’s beauty and open spaces. You can donate online, or by sending a check to MOST, P.O. Box 4133, San Rafael, California 94913.

Make an online donation.

Donate to MOST



Read more about this news in the Sky Ranch in the Ross Valley Reporter.

Slideshow photos: Georgia Gibbs

Save Sky Ranch

Preserving Our Pacheco Valle Meadow

Pacheco Valley Trail Head


Pacheco Valley Trail Head

Dear Pacheco Valle Neighbors,  All of us who live in the Valle cherish the large, open meadow at the entrance to our community. It is a critical component of the Valle’s ecosystem, providing forage and access to the creek for native birds, deer, and other wildlife. It shelters a 3,000 year old Native American burial ground, one of the oldest in the state. It affords us natural beauty, seclusion, and a buffer from the outside world. And yet, our beautiful meadow is the only portion of the open space that encircles the Valle that is not protected.

Preservation in Perpetuity
We are writing to you today because we have a wonderful opportunity to fix this problem and permanently protect the meadow as open space. The owner of the property, the Gannett Corporation (former owner of the Marin IJ), has finally agreed to sell the meadow and two nearby parcels to Pacheco Valle residents for $550,000, about 25% of the commercial list price. As you will see below, we can finally preserve these three parcels – all subject to development – at a reasonable cost to homeowners.

Likely Development If We Fail to Act
At least three developers have sought to build on the meadow, which is presently zoned for light industrial/commercial development. Pacheco Valle residents first organized to purchase the meadow in 2002, but Gannett was not interested. In 2008, residents from the condos, townhomes, and single family homes formed the Preserve Pacheco Valle

Meadow Committee (PPVMC) and have been fighting rearguard actions to protect the meadow from recent attempts to develop the property. Despite the recession and the crash of the real estate market, one commercial developer retained an option to purchase the property for three years, finally relinquishing his claim last year. Earlier this year, another developer was in talks with Gannett to purchase the property, and Gannett has continued to actively market all three parcels. With the real estate market reviving, if we do not make the purchase ourselves, it is just a matter of time before another builder acquires it.

Time to Act: Vote to Save the Meadow
We must face facts. Flat, buildable land in Marin situated right next to the freeway and public transit is at a premium. If we want to keep our meadow free of development, along with the attendant automobile traffic and parking lots, we need to act now, and we need your support.

The PPVMC has partnered with the Marin Open Space Trust (MOST), a non-profit organization, to acquire all three properties from Gannett. Final purchase requires Pacheco Valle voter approval of a Community Facilities District along with a 15 year parcel tax. The special election is tentatively scheduled for April 8, 2014, with 2/3 approval of voters required for passage. (Please note: Owners and renters residing in the Valle are eligible to vote.)

With interest rates at historic lows and the highly discounted sale price to which Gannett has agreed, we will never have a better opportunity to acquire this land. Based on current interest rates, and factoring in the costs associated with creating the district, we estimate the annual tax to be:

Condominiums / Town Homes: $ 6.58 per month
Single Family Homes: $ 20.67 per month
Ocusun (former IJ building): $324.42 per month

Marin County Open Space District 

If the election is successful, we will have insured that the land is preserved in perpetuity as open space. The Marin County Open Space District intends to assume responsibility for the meadow – including annual mowing – at no cost to Pacheco Valle residents.

Preserve Pacheco Valle Meadow Committee

  • Frants Albert
  • Leslee Budge
  • Patrick MacLeamy
  • Judith Strong
  • Albert Margie Goodman
  • Kathy Schlegel
  • Rikki Baum
  • Peter Logan

Pacheco Valle Medow

Benefits of Open Space in Marin

Open space benefits have a tremendous impact for Marin residents beyond simply scenic beauty and recreational opportunities. Some of those benefits include:

Quality of Life

Parks, open space, and trails contribute to the high quality of life in Marin County and the greater San Francisco Bay Area. While difficult to quantify, this high quality of life attracts new and retains existing businesses, sustains local and regional economic growth, and generates jobs and income. An estimated 3.5 million visitors enjoy the County’s parks, open space, and trails system annually.

Property Values

Parks, open space, and trails, by increasing the quality of life, enhance property values in Marin and throughout the region. Homes adjacent and close to these community assets benefit even more because of the views and easy access to recreational opportunities.


User Utility

User utility is defined as the value park users place on the experience. The total user utility received by Marin’s park users is currently estimated at about $22 million annually, based on economic analyses of user utility elsewhere. These values are generally provided to a diverse set of park users at no cost or well below the actual cost of provision.

Ecosystem Diversity

Preservation of open space lands and natural resources ensures that the region enjoys multiple ecosystems. Without ecological life support systems, including clean air, fresh water, fertile soil, and an amenable climate, communities and their economies would suffer. Urbanization, over time, gradually reduces vital “ecosystem services” due to the loss of natural lands that provide these services. These services have an economic value. Without them, public costs may be incurred through the need for additional wastewater treatment plants, private costs may be incurred through the need for water filtration systems or property damage because of landslides, and the overall quality of life of a region may suffer because of worsening air quality, which, in turn, may reduce economic growth.

tam view

Decisions concerning land development and depletion of natural resources that do not take account of these factors may damage the regional economy and reduce prosperity, despite the addition of building space and expected increases in property taxes, sales tax, and other public revenues. MCOSD and Marin’s cities and towns are custodians of lands that provide ecosystem services. Good land stewardship, exemplified by activities such as visitor management, fire hazard reduction, and restoring native habitat, keeps these lands healthy and enhances their value to our community.

Community Form and Connections Parks and open space are integral to Marin County’s landscape, spatially defining its communities, and contributing to local identity, individuality, and a sense of place. The system of unpaved trails throughout Marin connects communities with other communities and with other parks and open space lands. Multi-purpose paved paths facilitate bicycle commuting and pedestrian access between communities. However private properties create multiple gaps in Marin’s network of trails.

Health, Education, and Public Safety

MCOSD’s lands, programs, and services provide a variety of benefits that accrue to other public sector service providers, to individual park users, and to the broader community. These include health benefits through recreational opportunities, educational benefits through environmental education, and public safety benefits through wild land
fire fuel reduction activities.

San Francisco Bay and Marin