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Marin Civic Center Designed By Frank Lloyd Wright Has A Rat Problem

MARIN COUNTY (KPIX 5) – Rats have turned up at Marin Civic Center's public cafeteria, forcing it to temporarily shut down.

When the Marin Civic Center first opened in 1962 it was hailed as a building of the future. Created by legendary designer Frank Lloyd Wright, it put Marin County on the architectural map, even if sometimes form took priority over function.

Anne Layzer with the Marin League of Women Voters said the roof has be known to leak.

"We had this beautiful building with buckets all along the way because it leaked so badly," Layzer said.

That problem is currently being fixed, but it turns out rain is not the only thing getting into the building.

Marin County Public Works PIO Julian Kaelon said, "The Civic Center Café right now is closed after a routine inspection by the county's Environmental Health Services found rat droppings on Feb. 9."

Now, two weeks later, the cafeteria is still closed.  It reopened for a short time on the February 12, until a re-inspection found more evidence of the little beady-eyed varmints.

So, now everything has been pulled out and stacked up out of reach on tables.

"We want to do, obviously, a thorough cleaning, make sure this place is absolutely spotless for the future," Kaelon said. "But also to figure out how they got in initially and to make it so that won't happen again."

That's not easy since rats can fit through openings the size of a quarter.

So, all the appliances and fixtures in the kitchen have been pulled out from the walls so the tiniest holes can be sealed.

"So, it is, you know, a large process and that's kind of why it's taken so long," Kaelon said.

For now, employees and the public have to brown bag it.

The facility will stay closed until health services re-re-inspects it and gives a final approval.

If that happens on Friday, the café will reopen on Monday. And besides marveling at its beauty, visitors will also be able to get a bite to eat.

The cafeteria is operated by a private company but the county is responsible for vermin control and may have to pay the vendor for lost revenues.


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