County Settles with Nonprofit Trust on Litigation
The County of Marin, the San Geronimo Advocates, and a nonprofit trust that owns the former San Geronimo Golf Course have settled out of court instead pursuing an appeal of the Marin County Superior Court decision regarding the 157-acre property.
The Trust for Public Land (TPL), which in 2017 bought the course in Marin’s San Geronimo Valley, had intended to sell the property to the County by the end of 2018 once the County arranged its finances. TPL was appealing an October 2018 court ruling that prevented the transaction.
County Counsel Brian Washington said TPL incurred significant expenses in defending the litigation alongside the County. The County has agreed to pay TPL’s share of the attorney fees and costs liability arising from the case and is resolving all outstanding issues with TPL over the purchase and sale agreement. The total compensation is $308,391, and it will be paid from the County’s litigation fund.
Starting in 2017, the County sought to purchase the golf course and preserve it as a park. The motivations were to protect the area’s character, preserve recreation and environmental values, and consider potential long-term public uses subject to the community planning process. The County leased the golf course and contracted with another company to manage golf operations as it worked on fundraising to complete the purchase. However, the Court decision required the County to rescind its purchase agreement. The County no longer has any control over the property and is not participating in any discussions about it, Washington said.
“The County appreciates TPL’s partnership with the County in attempting to acquire the San Geronimo property for park and recreational uses,” Washington said. “This is a fair resolution that allows TPL to move forward.”
A voter initiative aimed on restricting the use of the property will appear on the March 2020 ballot in Marin County. The Marin County Board of Supervisors voted in February 2019 to order the Registrar of Voters to place the initiative on the next statewide ballot. All registered Marin voters will be eligible to cast a vote on the issue. The initiative would amend the San Geronimo Valley Community Plan and the Marin County Development Code to mandate retention of a golf course use as the property’s primary use.