Marin County explores purchase of 110-acre Tiburon property

Marin County is entering preliminary talks with Martha Co. to explore the possibility of acquiring the 110-acre Easton Point property on the southern tip of the Tiburon Peninsula.

County supervisors are scheduled to meet behind closed doors Tuesday with the county’s chief realtor and representatives from Martha Co. and the Trust for Public Lands.

“We cannot release any details on this at this time,” Marin County Parks Superintendent Max Korten said Monday. “But it’s on the county’s wish list, and the community has a long-standing interest in protecting this property.”

Jerry Riessen, chairman of the Tiburon Open Space Committee, said Martha Co. and the Trust for Public Lands have engaged in a joint appraisal of the property that is nearing completion. The trust, which bought the San Geronimo golf course in January 2018 for $8.85 million, had previously stated its willingness to help purchase the Martha Co. property.

Eric Williams, a project manager who will represent the trust at Tuesday’s meeting with supervisors, wrote in an email Monday: “We are in discussions with the owners of the Martha property in Tiburon, and at the request of the owners, all parties have signed a confidentiality agreement. At this time, we are unable to comment further. »

The Martha Co. put the property on the market for $110 million in 2018. The company reduced the price to $95 million in 2019, and it is currently listed with Sotheby’s International Realty with an asking price of $63 million. of dollars.

The listing notes that the property has “unparalleled views of the San Francisco skyline, Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, Richardson Bay and beyond.”

He adds that although the property was originally approved for a 43-lot subdivision, “the ideal buyer would purchase Easton Point for a single private residence, avoiding the historically proposed development.”

On Thursday, the San Francisco 1st District Court of Appeals dismissed a legal challenge to Martha Co.’s proposed 43-home development on the property.

The plaintiff in the case, the Tiburon Open Space Committee, sought to block the development by claiming that Marin County had unlawfully waived its responsibility to conduct a full environmental review of the project due to a judge’s order. federal government to approve the construction of 43 houses on the site.

In November 2007, after decades of legal haggling, Martha Co. won its second stipulated judgment requiring Marin County to approve 43 home sites on the 110-acre property.

The Tiburon Open Space Committee lawsuit, originally filed in Marin County Superior Court, asserted that the environmental impact report prepared by the county failed to adequately identify significant impacts resulting from the project and imposed mitigation measures that were impractical, speculative and unenforceable.

Riessen said fire risk – the property is in a wild urban interface area – and traffic impacts were not sufficiently covered. The appeals court disagreed.

“We conclude that the county has not abdicated authority or otherwise committed itself to non-compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA),” Presiding Judge James Richman wrote in his statement. decision.

Richman noted that Martha Co. sought approval from Marin County to develop its property for decades. Martha Co.’s approval finally came in October 2017, when the county certified an environmental impact report and conditionally approved Martha’s master plan to build 43 homes.

“The CEQA was meant to serve noble purposes, but it can be manipulated to be a formidable tool of obstruction, especially against proposed projects that will increase housing density,” Richman wrote.

Paul Smith, attorney and spokesperson for Martha Co., wrote in an email: “Martha’s position, in simply trying to secure the rights afforded to all private owners, has been vindicated once again. In a startling and long-awaited recognition of a seemingly endless private/public conspiracy to deprive Martha of her legitimate property rights, this Court could not help but comment on the “animosity” reflected in the record. .

Smith noted that although the county certified the environmental impact report and conditionally approved the master plan for the Martha Co. project, it denied its request for approval of a specific plan. Therefore, many details of what the project will look like – lot sizes, residential unit heights, house sizes – remain undetermined.

The Martha Co. has sued, unsuccessfully so far, to get approval for the specific plan it wants.

Riessen reacted to the latest court ruling in favor of Martha Co. saying, “We are certainly disappointed with the ruling.” He said the Tiburon Open Space Committee is reviewing his options.

Another legal challenge mounted by Tiburon/Belvedere Residents United to Support the Trails, or TRUST, was dismissed by the 1st District Court of Appeals in 2020. The group claimed that public use of trails on the property for decades constituted an implicit dedication to public use. .

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