At Risk in Marin County
Marla Fields and her husband moved to their home in Novato thirteen years ago, and now have two children, ages 10 and 12. They live near the San Francisco Bay Trail with views to the west of Marin’s permanently protected ridgelines. “I love going for family bike rides, hiking Mount Burdell, and walking the trails with my dog,” she says. “Enjoying open space provides a nice balance to the fast pace of our lives.”
Marin is home to national, state, and county parks, protecting 80% of county land. The Marin Agricultural Land Trust maintains conservation easements of more than 44,100 acres on 68 family farms and ranches. Even so, Marin’s hillsides are still vulnerable to the construction of “McMansions.”
But just because there shouldn’t be more houses in the hills doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be development in Marin County. The lack of home choices has made Marin the regional leader in in-commuters, with 60% of its workforce driving in from other counties. To give employees the chance to live locally, new development needs to be near 101 and future Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit stations. The county’s largest challenge is to communicate to residents the benefits more homes will have on the environment and the economy.
As an advocate for Stand Up for Neighborly Novato, Marla speaks with many members of her community. “I hear so many sad stories of people who are suffering due to the high cost of rents in Marin,” she says. “Even at a visit to my Novato dentist, the office assistant told me she would love to move from Santa Rosa to Novato, but as a single mom, she cannot afford to rent in Novato.” Providing more homes will improve the air quality in Marin and allow working farms and protected parks to thrive.