Marin City leaders are considering a community inclusion push.
Despite the name, Marin City is not a city or town – there is no mayor or elected council. As an unincorporated municipality, the district maintains its infrastructure, offers fire and law enforcement services and makes important decisions for the municipality.
The de facto government of the parish is the Marin City Community Services District, which consists of five black directors. Representatives on the board of directors who currently govern the community are white.
If Marin City includes itself, it would be the 12th city in the county. Marin City CSD director Damian Morgan said although it has previously tried unsuccessfully, the board is seriously considering the effort.
“This is beyond planning and discussion,” said Morgan. “We have a team of lawyers and consultants who collect and analyze our financial data in the background. You will follow up and see how we would be fair as a city. “
The CSD community meeting in Marin City to discuss the problem is provisionally scheduled for March 23rd.
In order for the community of about 3,000 residents to become a city, Marin City’s CSD would have to file an application with the Local Agency Formation Commission, which would conduct a financial analysis.
“Part of that process would be what exactly a city would offer citizens, where it will get its income from, and whether that could cover the services it needs to provide,” said Jason Fried, LAFCO executive officer.
Fried said it would take about a year to go through the process. Before LAFCO could consider the application, he said the Marin City CSD would need to enter into a tax exchange deal with the county as it would take on some duties – such as infrastructure, fire or law enforcement services.
“So the county says, ‘What are you taking away from us and how much is that worth compared to what we are currently getting for this area?’ So that everything has to work, ”he said.
Terrie Green, Marin City CSD director, hopes something can be cleared up.
“We are in the process of making sure we have the finances to become a city,” said Green. “We believe we will, but we have to make the county transparent and give us back the tax money they owe us.”
She said while the value of homes has increased, Marin City Pride has not seen that increase reflected in its annual revenue, which is determined by the county.
Marin City is one of two tax rate areas that have 14 tax authorities operating and providing services, according to Mina Martinovich, the county’s assistant finance director.
In 2019-20, these two areas earned approximately $ 3.2 million in property taxes. Marin City CSD received approximately $ 275,000 from that money.
She said Marin City leaders have shown interest in becoming a city in the past.
“In both cases, the services to Marin City were significantly higher than the revenue generated,” said Martinovich. “In 2013, we spent more than $ 3 million more than we raised on tax revenue.”
Marin City was built during World War II and was home to thousands of shipyard workers. After the war, black workers were banned from buying houses in surrounding communities due to exclusive housing ties.
In the 1960s, the Golden Gate Village was built for low-income families. Marin City’s population was predominantly black until the 1970s, but as townhouses were added, the community diversified ethnically.
According to the 2010 census, whites and blacks made up about 38% of the population, Latinos 14% and Asians 11%.
Marin City CSD director Royce McLemore said the population has changed over the years.
“Blacks are no longer the majority,” said McLemore. “It’s because they couldn’t afford it and they moved away or people started selling themselves.”
She said that if Marin City became a city, it could have more of an impact on the fate of Golden Gate Village. The district’s housing authority is currently reviewing a redevelopment plan for the eight high-rise and 22 low-rise complex owned by New Jersey-based Michaels Development Co.
An alternative plan proposed by the Golden Gate Village Resident Council envisages moving the complex into a municipal land trust, offering vocational training and education programs for residents, and gradual maintenance and installation of green infrastructure.
Stephanie Moulton-Peters, District 3 director representing Marin City, did not respond to a request for comment.