Marin County makes parks free to assist fairness

By Richard Halstead | Marin Unbiased Journal

Admission to all Marin County parks is now free as a part of the county’s efforts to advertise fairness.

The change took impact starting this month. The county will now not cost for parking at McNears Seashore Park in San Rafael, Paradise Seashore Park in Tiburon, Stafford Lake Park in Novato, the Miller Boat Launch on Tomales Bay and the Black Level Boat Launch on the Petaluma River. These parks had been the one Marin County parks nonetheless charging a $5 parking price.

“This has been a very long time coming,” stated Supervisor Katie Rice. “It’s so necessary.”

Supervisor Mary Sackett stated, “I simply actually admire it, and suppose it has rippling results of a dialog that should occur on this county.”

The county parks division estimates that the elimination of admission and parking charges on the parks might value greater than $397,000 in income. In 2022, the charges supplied 8% of the $4.9 million spent on parks.

A lot of the misplaced income will probably be backfilled with tax proceeds from Measure A, a quarter-cent gross sales tax that generates about $16 million yearly to assist fund county parks and open house, Marin County’s municipal parks, agricultural easements and a grant program for sustainable agricultural makes use of, together with neighborhood gardens.

Parks officers hope that a number of the misplaced income will probably be recouped by simultaneous will increase in charges for giant group websites. Employees members challenge that these will increase might generate about $89,000 a yr. About $14,000 a yr will probably be saved as a result of the county will now not must pay a vendor to gather parking charges.

Mimi Willard, president of the Marin Coalition of Smart Taxpayers, stated she is worried the misplaced income may jeopardize the dedication the county parks division made final yr in the course of the marketing campaign to resume Measure A to spice up spending on fireplace prevention.

The concept of constructing admission free originated from the Marin County Parks Fairness Roundtable, whose members symbolize communities of colour.

“Eliminating entrance charges is a crucial method for communities we symbolize to have extra entry to nature, which is so necessary for well being, well-being and neighborhood connection,” stated Aaron Burnett, director of coverage and civic engagement at Canal Alliance and a member of the roundtable.

This isn’t the primary motion the county has taken to make entry to native parks extra equitable. In 2015, it eradicated admission charges for folks getting into parks on foot or by bicycle. In 2019, the county lowered entrance charges at McNears Seashore, Paradise Seashore and Stafford Lake parks from $10 to $5 and eradicated the $5 swimming pool admission price at McNears Seashore Park.

Within the 2022-23 fiscal yr, the county parks division allotted $200,000 in Measure A cash as a part of its “Breathe/Respira” neighborhood grant program. This system primarily seeks to assist initiatives to attach underserved communities in Marin with parks, preserves and different leisure services managed by the parks division.

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