Paradise Beach Park“This has been a long time coming – it’s so important,” Supervisor Katie Rice told the Marin Independent Journal this week.

“This” is the decision by the Marin County Board of Supervisors to make all Marin County Parks free, eliminating the admission and parking fees at McNears Beach Park in San Rafael, Paradise Beach Park in Tiburon, Stafford Lake Park in Novato, the Miller Boat Launch on Tomales Bay and the Black Point Boat Launch on the Petaluma River, the IJ reported. The $5 parking fee at these sites was the only remaining admission fee to Marin parks.

“It has rippling effects of a conversation that needs to happen in this county,” Supervisor Mary Sackett told the IJ.

The decision came on the heels of a lengthy conversation in recent months, with lost fees associated with nearly $397,000 in lost revenue. The supervisors agreed to back fill the lost revenue with tax proceeds from Measure A, a quarter-cent sales tax that generates about $16 million annually to help fund county parks and open space, Marin’s municipal parks, agricultural easements and a grant program for sustainable agricultural uses, including community gardens.

Parks officials hope that some of the lost revenue will be recouped by simultaneous, modest increases in fees for large group sites. Staff members project that those increases could generate about $89,000 a year. About $14,000 a year will be saved because the county will no longer have to pay a vendor to collect parking fees.

“When we did our visitors survey in 2017, we found that our regional parks, where we charge a fee, had our most diverse visitors and had our most low-income visitors as well,” Marin County Parks Director Max Korten said. “Our open space preserves and beaches where we don’t charge a fee had our least diverse visitation and highest-income visitors,” Korten said. “It felt like an injustice to have that disparity.”

The idea of making admission free originated from the Marin County Parks Equity Roundtable, whose members represent communities of color.


Want to know what’s happening around town? Click here to subscribe to the Enjoy Mill Valley Blog by Email!