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Fight Over Use Of Marin County Public Space To Be Decided With Measure D

MARIN (KPIX 5) -- March 3rd will bring not one but two votes out of a long dispute in Marin's San Geronimo Valley. What was once a golf course is now the property of the Trust for Public Lands, but a lot of people are still unhappy about how it happened.

"The extreme environmentalists and Rodoni, it's their mess," said Marin resident Alex Easton-Brown. "And they just can't dance away from it."

"Well it is certainly one of the things that keeps the papers being sold locally,"  said District 4 Supervisor Dennis Rodoni.

In the San Geronimo Valley, the golf course is fading away, but the long dispute over its closure is not. Some of the same forces that originally fought to save the course have regrouped with a ballot measure they say will fix the process that closed it.

"With Measure D, the voters will have a say over that kind of development," said Easton-Brown of the ballot measure. But he isn't  just pushing Measure D; he's running against Supervisor Dennis Rodoni.

"I have such a complicated district and there are so many other more important things going on right now," Rodoni said of the ongoing dispute. "I think this is about preserving something. For some people it's a golf course and for others it's just the open space and the beauty of that valley."

For golfers, the scene in San Geronimo is a grim one. For non-golfers, it's pretty wonderful because the place is theirs to do with as they please. But the dispute isn't just about the golf course itself. It's about the sequence of events that resulted in the sale of the land.

"Exactly. It's the process," said Easton-Brown. "They planned it in secret, behind closed doors for six months, and sprung it on the public as a done deal."

"People felt they maybe didn't have maybe as much input as they should've had," acknowledged Supervisor Rodon. "Realistically, while the purchase negotiation was going on, that was impossible. We opened it up to the public as soon as we could."

The odds on San Geronimo becoming an actual golf course again are considered quite long, so this new open space is now something of a blank canvas. In that respect, Measure D isn't just about the past, but how Marin will make decisions like this in the future.

"The fact that if we don't stop them, they can go anywhere in the county and create all kinds of development, without the voters having a say," argued Easton-Brown.

"Hopefully, at the end of the day, we're going to end up with a decision and a planning process and a plan that will satisfy most people," Rodoni says. "It won't satisfy everyone, I can guarantee you."

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