County of Marin - News Releases - Farmers Market Agreement

For Immediate Release
May 16, 2017

Farmers Market Agreement OK’d by Supervisors

One step closer to permanent facility with revised memorandum of understanding

San Rafael, CA – The organization that operates a year-round farmers market at the Marin County Civic Center on Thursdays and Sundays has entered into a new non-binding agreement with the County government to build a permanent home on a long-vacant lot along Civic Center Drive in San Rafael.

Cultural Services Director Gabriella Calicchio (left) and Agricultural Institute of Marin's Brigitte Moran (right) speak before the Board of Supervisors.Cultural Services Director Gabriella Calicchio (left) and Agricultural Institute of Marin's Brigitte Moran (right) both talked about the updated memorandum of understanding before the Board of Supervisors on May 16.
The Agricultural Institute of Marin (AIM), based in an office off Smith Ranch Road in northern San Rafael, has been working with County officials to update a memorandum of understanding for a 40-year term of use (with two more 10-year terms to extend). The vacant lot is known by most as the Christmas tree lot, located across Civic Center Drive from the Marin Center complex and county fairgrounds.

The Marin County Board of Supervisors approved the agreement, an update of a 2012 memorandum of understanding, during its May 16 meeting. The agreement outlines the responsibilities of both parties in the planning of potential future construction of a new business headquarters for AIM, an indoor market, a paved parking lot, canopies over parking stalls, and other improvements. AIM’s $24 million master-planned project for its Public Market Hall includes a 30,000-square-foot building on the northern end of the lot, close to the new Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit station at McInnis Parkway and Civic Center Drive. Fundraising is ongoing and construction would be phased in over time.

AIM CEO and Executive Director Brigitte Moran said the project is more than 13 years in the making and described the agreement as “fair and a really good deal.”

“I’m so excited, I can’t even tell you,” Moran said. “It’s a big deal for us.”

“Both sides approached this with good faith and had the common vision in mind to get the job done,” said Supervisor Damon Connolly, who represents the Civic Center area and most of San Rafael. “In turn, this is really going to fit in with the broader vision for the Civic Center and Marin Center and create a groundbreaking farmers market going forward for Marin.”

“We see this as an example of a public-private partnership that yields mutual benefits for both parties as well as for local residents,” said County Administrator Matthew Hymel. “We’ve had a working relationship with AIM for many years already, and the public would greatly benefit from AIM establishing a more permanent home at the Civic Center.”

AIM operates a Thursday farmers market at the paved lot in front of the Veterans Memorial Auditorium, directly across Civic Center Drive from the proposed market complex at the vacant lot. Also, it operates a Sunday farmers market in the southern parking lot of the Civic Center off Peter Behr Drive. Eventually, AIM would like to move both markets to the new location.

Countywide voters approved a ballot measure in June 2014 to allow the County to consider the AIM project. The Civic Center complex, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is a state and national historic landmark. Any proposed improvement to the Civic Center complex larger than 250 square feet requires local voter approval. Since that measure passed, AIM has worked to design and fund the project. There will be a future Board public workshop when AIM brings forth a completed design.

AIM, which also operates other farmers markets throughout the Bay Area, plans work in conjunction with schedules for Marin Center events, including the Marin County Fair, to minimize parking conflicts in the Civic Center area. The unpaved Christmas tree lot is used for parking for many large events at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium and fairgrounds, and it has transformed into a commercial Christmas tree lot in the late autumn and early winter each year. Last season, the Christmas tree operation was moved to a nearby parking lot adjacent to the Marin County Fairgrounds because of construction upgrades taking place along Civic Center Drive.

All the details of the memorandum of understanding in a staff report online


Gabriella C. Calicchio
Department of Cultural Services

Marin Center
10 Avenue of the Flags
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6400
Email: Gabriella C. Calicchio
Cultural Services Website