To protect the natural resources and rural character
of the San Geronimo Valley
The San Geronimo Planning Group is the oldest environmental organization in the Valley and had an unexpected beginning. During the late 60’s and early 70’s politicos at the county level were split about future development in the county. Some of the more enlightened politicians were inspired by the incredible planning document entitled “Can the Last Place Last?” that recommended a new County Wide Plan that, if adopted, would have forever changed how Marin would be developed. Most residents of sleepy San Geronimo Valley were unaware of this “hot potato” and of the ’61 Master Plan. They took for granted the beautiful Valley with its wide-open spaces and unblemished ridge tops.
It was fortuitous that in 1972, one resident accidentally discovered that the Valley was subject to a Master Plan approved in 1961 by the Board of Supervisors that called for 5,000 homes covering the ridges, uplands and meadows and projected 20,000 residents with a major highway through the Valley. Horrified, this vigilant and tireless resident put up notices at the four local post offices expressing concern and invited representatives from the county and MMWD to come to the Valley and speak before a group of concerned citizens. At the end of that meeting the Valley quickly organized the ad hoc SGV Planning Group. At the same time former School board trustee, Gary Giacomini, was challenging the incumbent in the County Board of Supervisors election. Three months later he was elected and became the 4th vote for the adoption of the far-reaching County Wide Plan. Gary put the final nail in the coffin of the ’61 Master Plan and while working to implement the ‘Preservationist’ Plan at the county-wide level the Planning Group toiled for the next 5 years on a replacement of the ’61 Master Plan. It became the first Community Plan and was adopted in 1978. The key elements of the Plan included protecting the Valley’s natural resources, putting a boundary around each village and down zoning the open space areas outside the villages while maintaining the zoning within the village boundaries and protecting ridges from development. The result, and unchanged to this day, are the current zoning regulations for open space and agricultural lands: 1 house per 20 acres. With a stroke of a pen the development in the Valley dropped from an estimated population of 20,000 to less than 6000. And 5000 homes down to around 800 (all very rough estimates given constraints, etc)
The ad hoc environmental group morphed into a formal non-profit organization and serves the community to this day. Its membership pays dues annually and elects a Steering Committee that meets regularly. The Community Plan is their guide to decision-making and dictates policy for all issues. Meetings include project reviews, presentations by experts, and current discussions about future projects, programs, workshops and partnerships. The Group works closely with the County Planning Dept., Dept of Public Works, Open Space Dist., MMWD and like-minded local and regional groups. In addition, they seek grants and promote Valley Clean-Up Day.
The group meets at the Community Center the second Monday of the month, at 7:30 pm from September through June. Membership is required to vote. Valley residents are welcome.