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Letter: Marin Agricultural Land Trust Co-Founder Calls for Support of Measure A

Biologist Phyllis Faber, who has worked for years to protect open space and parkland, encourages voters to preserve the hard work of the past for future generations.

More than 30 years ago, dairywoman Ellen Straus of today’s Straus Family Creamery and I were dismayed to see the row of “For sale” signs along Tomales Bay from Point Reyes Station to Marshall. At that time, the Point Reyes Seashore had been created and large-scale development plans for Marin were underway. Farmers saw the future of their farmland as subdivisions rather than as dairy ranches as it had been for over a hundred years. Out of desperation Ellen and I came up with an idea of a land trust to help make the land more secure for farming. This coincided with a planning effort required by the new Coastal Commission for ag preservation for each county. This moment in time happily resulted in the formation of the Marin Agricultural Land Trust, the first agricultural land trust in the nation, founded in 1980 to help save our family farms.

That was then. Today, thirty-two years later and beyond Ellen’s and my wildest dreams, farming is a growing enterprise. Young men and women are returning in increasing numbers to work on the family farm. New farm-based businesses are developing and established businesses are growing. The rural economy is once again thriving. And the increasingly abundant local food, the beautiful landscape and natural resources that we cherish continue to provide physical and spiritual nourishment to our community.

But we are at a crossroads. With state and federal funding sources in steep decline, these public sources to protect our family farms and ranches and open space lands are not there as in the past, so we will increasingly rely on private donations. Farming families that are in danger of losing their farms from inheritance and other issues could be gone forever. Open space lands will suffer from neglect.

The legacy of family farms, open space and parkland has taken decades for my generation to build. It’s a legacy Ellen, who passed away several years ago, and I care deeply about. Marin County is made special by its beautiful open space lands in East Marin and its productive farmlands in West Marin. Measure A provides an opportunity for each of us to do our share in taking care of the land. Measure A is your opportunity to express your appreciation and to ensure the land is cared for into the future. Please join me in voting YES on MEASURE A on November 6th.

- Phyllis Faber, biologist and co-founder of the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT)

Kevin Moore October 30, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Why not post? Many people are fed up with our government. It takes just a few minutes to post. Many of us cannot attend daytime Supervisors meetings and have families that make attending evening meetings difficult. After 10 or more years of seeing what is going on around Marin, you might join the frequent posters.
Kevin Moore October 30, 2012 at 04:34 PM
The "1/4 sales tax" seems to be a rather popular tax raising tool. "It's only a 1/4 cent." Talk about a death of a thousand cuts. I see no way we complete the SMART train without another 1/4 cent tax increase. Unfunded pensions? Hey, add a 1/4 cent next election. I figure once the sales tax is over 9% or hitting 10%, we will have an awakening.
Cathy October 30, 2012 at 06:39 PM
I'm voting NO on A for the reasons expressed so eloquently by Pam Drew and Tina McMillan. I might have considered otherwise if the local communities were given a much larger (>50%) cut of the proceeds for public recreation development....if we are really so deficient in recreational facilities for our young people that we are considering leasing public fields to private developers, closing facilities due to lack of operating funds, and holding fundraisers to buy outdoor lunch tables for our public schools; I simply don't understand why acquiring ever more private land is a higher priority than the preservation and/or development of what we already have. Not one more dime for public acquisition.
John Ferguson October 30, 2012 at 08:03 PM
It does tug on the heart strings a bit, but I think this argument is a bit of a red herring. Basic food, including bread, transportation and rent aren't taxed locally so these things wouldn't be affected by a local sales tax increase. Sure, sales tax is regressive but if you look at how other places tax consumption we're at the lower end of the sales (or VAT) tax scale. All countries seem to tax the true necessities (food, clothing, shelter, sometimes transportation) at a lower than 10% rate but otherwise the rate is generally above 10% and sometimes as much as 25%. I'm not advocating a rate into the high double digits, but we should probably get some perspective here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_tax_rates
Eleanor Sluis October 30, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Show Sacramento that we value local control for preserving and protecting our parks, easements, watersheds, and wildlife by voting yes on Measure A. The educational, social, and economic possibilities for that preservation far outweigh the costs of ¼ of a penny or 1 cent for an extra $ 4.00 spent. Think about the natural environment and density of 20 units per acre. Think about the scholars in Novato wanting to have recreation in this environment. Think about our small town character, which came from original agricultural interests. Consistency is voting Yes on A and coming together as Marinites who value this county as a special place aesthetically and organically. Consider the negative impacts of high density, sprawl, exploitation of cutting trees and degrading creeks and wetlands. Voting yes means maintaining a rural atmosphere that creates a benefit for all incomes. Property values probably rise as will the increase in visitors to a safe well-maintained environment providing an economic benefit for Marin. How possible is that? Think about present inhabitants and how casinos want to move into the area; what value do we place on land? Let us choose consistency of preserving open space. Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul John Muir Consider the three programs of Measure A. http://www.marincountyparks.org/depts/pk/about-us/main/ballotmeasure

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