Marin Voters OK Sales Tax Hike for Open Spaces

Campaigning for Measure A brought many Marin organizations and leaders together to find support for Marin parks, open spaces and farmland, supporters say.


Grins on the faces of a variety of Marin leaders grew bigger and bigger throughout election night as voters backed a quarter-cent sales tax increase.

Measure A, which will raise approximately $10 million a year for nine years to preserve open space and farmland and repair park facilities, received nearly 74 percent of the vote Tuesday night by 10:50 p.m. The sales tax hike, which needed a two-thirds vote to pass, garnered 60,655 yes votes to 21,757 no votes with 100 percent of the precincts reporting.

The tax required a two-thirds approval to pass. It started with 70 percent of the voters backing the measure when 8 percent of Marin's precincts reporting before the "yes" percentage steadily increased through the night.

Bob Berner, president of the Marin Agricultural Land Trust, said the goal was to outperform a May poll where 67 percent of Marin voters said they were in strong support of the measure. Late on Tuesday night, the measure’s performance in the polls had exceeded many of the Measure A supporters' expectations.

More than $200,000 was raised for the Yes on A effort, which Berner called a “great grass roots campaign” at the Measure A party on election night at the McInnis Golf Club in San Rafael. “It was a real broad-based community effort.”

More than 50 people, including Marin County Supervisors Susan Adams, Katie Rice and Steve Kinsey, gathered at the Measure A party.

Linda Dahl, director and general manager of Marin County Parks, said she was relieved to see the measure do so well at the polls. “I didn’t really have a Plan B if this didn’t pass.”

Kinsey said the vote reaffirms Marin’s commitment to agricultural protection and “take care of what we have.”

“This keeps Marin’s legacy in tact as a community that is built on a foundation of environmental protection,” Kinsey said.

Since it started in 1972, the Marin’s parks and open space district was supposed to be fully funded, Rice said.

“It’s an exciting moment for Marin County to realize what generations of folks worked to preserve,” Rice said. 

Tom Boss, Marin County Bicycle Coalition membership director, said the Measure A campaign brought the MCBC together with organizations it had friction with in the past. “We were all able to put our differences aside and work toward a common goal.”

Boss said the funds will help enhance recreational activities and close important gaps for commuters.

Dahl expressed gratitude for all the volunteers who helped put up signs, table events and making phone calls. “I especially love the image of Mike and Sally Gale in Novato waving the Measure A sign from their truck with their two dogs. The whole thing was a heartwarming experience.”


Supporters of the measure say the county has reduced staff, cut hours at park facilities and reduced maintenance, resulting in a backlog of urgent and needed repairs. 

Sixty-five percent of the revenue ($6.5 million) will be used to protect or restore natural resources and maintain county parks and open space preserves. 

Twenty percent ($2 million) will go toward preserving farmland and ranches from development and subdivision, and 15 percent ($1.5 million) will be directed to municipalities and special districts to manage their parks, open space  preserves and recreation programs and reduce wildfire risk.

A small portion of the tax will go toward protecting properties along the Bay from development and to acquire strategic properties as a wildlife corridor, according to Susan Stompe, president of the Marin Conservation League's board of directors. 

Supporters of the measure include the Marin County Parks Department, Marin Agricultural Land Trust, Marin Audubon Society, Marin County Bicycle Coalition, Marin Organic and the Marin chapter of the Sierra Club.

The Marin United Taxpayers Association opposed the measure.

The measure was placed on the ballot unanimously by the Marin County Board of Supervisors in August after a lengthy rollout.

-Bay City News contributed to this report


How do you feel about Measure A passing? Tell us in the comments!


Check out other election 2012 articles on Patch:

  • Levine Edges Allen in Tight State Assembly Race
  • Incumbents Win Marin Healthcare District Seats
  • Levine Edges Allen in Tight State Assembly Race
  • Barack Obama Re-Elected President
  • 'Yes' Votes Prevail on Proposition 30

Michael November 07, 2012 at 04:27 PM
With Measure A and Brown's Prop 30 passing we now will add another 1/2 cent increase in sales tax. So now we are up to 9% in San Rafael. Amazed so many willing to increase taxes at this time. But hey the same people voted to increase our tax rate for the smart train in 2008 when we were in an economic free fall so this is really no surprise. Continued fiscal irresponsibility with no end in sight.
Al Dugan November 07, 2012 at 10:17 PM
I love this quote: Linda Dahl, director and general manager of Marin County Parks, said she was relieved to see the measure do so well at the polls. “I didn’t really have a Plan B if this didn’t pass.” Ms. Dahl, in the "real world" of business we learn to execute in our budgets. I know this is a really unique thought for a government agency.
William Bertram November 08, 2012 at 08:14 AM
Yeahhh, the banks get bailed out with billions of OUR own money and we have to TAX ourselves to keep parks open. The general public is 'Cowadice-in-Action' when it comes to fighting corporate crime and would rather give the criminals extra cash rather than miss 'Dancing with the Stars' or handing out information on the TRUTH of why we are so short of funds. Proposition 37 failed! How Ignorant an asshole do you have to be???
William Bertram November 08, 2012 at 08:35 AM
Lastly: This whole 'Patch' thingy seems to be a 'Feel-Better' and 'Information Sharing' publication for the community but reeks of a CNN mentality. I see SERIOUS corporate biased here as with Lucas, Obama, Disney, Whole Foods, etc. Making them as favorable as possible in the public eye. Fairfax IS my Home town and I Love it like the fertile milk of every Goddess ever born. Yet, what I see is a growing complacency to the convenience and standards of of a corporate wold that doesn't give a shit about you and practices SEVERE harm with every mutation-for-profit it offers. I care for you all deeply, as I do Everyone on this Planet, but I DO BEG of you to wake up beyond your accepted standards of 'Consciousness' and perhaps SEE a place where you can go BEYOND them and entertain a more awakened state of 'Action' that leads to sustainability and 'Awareness'.
tony masi November 09, 2012 at 03:16 PM
It's a frustrating battle to go beyond predominant, complacent mentality, William. But please, take advantage of the opportunity Patch provides and comment frequently and prevailingly to overcome manufactured attitudes that most of us blindly accept. This country is drowning in propaganda constantly pouring in from all sides so please continue to toss a life-preserver out every so often. The war for the mind is real.


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