Letter to the Editor: Preserving Steep Ravine

Former Fairfax Mayor recounts the history of one of Marin's jewels, which were once targeted for removal.

After we ran a  highlighting the , Frank Egger wrote in about the history behind the cabins.

We almost lost Steep Ravine Cabins in the late 1970s when the California State Parks Department decided to tear them down. The state had received bad publicity when a San Francisco daily paper's investigative reporter wrote a story about how folks with political influence gave their friends first choice on staying at the cabins. Using this publically owned property apparently depended on who you knew.

State Parks decided the best way to end the bad publicity was to remove them. Their proposal to remove them was based, they said, on a new proposal to restore the area to its pre-cabin state. Fortunately, State Parks needed a permit from the Coastal Commission before they could remove the cabins.  

The Coastal Commission Staff Report recommended the commission approve demolition to support a sister agency.

As the first Prop. 20 California Coastal Commissioner appointed (on Dec. 7, 1972) after voters approval on the initiative, I was always at the forefront of the issues of the day. At the commission meeting held in San Rafael, I questioned the removal, stating the cabins provided low-cost overnight accomodations and they should be kept and we should require the State Parks Department to put them on the state's list of campgrounds for first-come, first-serve. 

After much public discussion, where the State Parks Dept questioned the right of the Coastal Commission to tell them to stop demolition, other commissioners joined me and on a split vote the permit to remove the cabins was denied.

Fortunately, my recommendation passed and the Steep Ravine Cabins were saved and today they are one of the most sought after campground reservation sites in Northern California.

Frank Egger, former California Coastal Commissioner


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