A proposed ballot measure that would extend funding for Marin County parks, open spaces and farmland has stalled with the Board of Supervisors.
Measure A, also known as The Marin Parks, Open Space, and Farmland Preservation Transactions and Use Tax Ordinance of 2012, established a quarter-cent sales tax to fund efforts such as public trail maintenance and wildfire fuel reduction. The Board of Supervisors planned to add an extension of Measure A to the September special recall election for Gov. Gavin Newsom, but a guidance released by the California Secretary of State’s Office prevented them from doing so.
According to the guidance, special local elections could only be consolidated with the recall election if they were called prior to June 15. Instead, the board has turned to including the measure on the ballot of the scheduled June 2022 statewide election.
The COVID-19 pandemic prevented Marin County Parks from pursuing an extension of the measure earlier, and consolidating with the recall election was the last chance to avoid a cost-prohibitive special election before the measure’s expiration in March 2022. Even if the two elections had been consolidated, Marin County Parks estimated that the election would cost $80,000 to $100,000.
At a special meeting held July 6 to discuss the matter, Supervisor Dennis Rodoni said he was “disappointed” that the board could not move forward yet, but that the extra time would allow for a “robust outreach program” to incorporate public input into the measure’s renewal. During the meeting, some residents and advocates called for alterations to the measure, including reducing funding for private farmlands and designating specific allocations for funding.
About half of Measure A’s funding is used to maintain parks and open spaces — including wildfire safety — while 20 percent benefits farms and ranches through grants and transactions with landowners. The rest of the funds go toward local parks and purchasing land for preservation and public use. Marin County Parks estimated that extending the measure for nine more years would have generated $14 million in annual funding.
In the 2021 Marin County Survey, 82.8 percent of Marin voters polled supported extending Measure A by nine years. Marin County Parks Director Max Korten said in a statement he was “pleased” that the measure had strong public support, even if voters won’t be able to express so on a ballot for another year.