County of Marin - News Releases - San Anselmo Property Acquisition

For Immediate Release
September 19, 2017

Board Approves Option to Stem San Anselmo Flooding

Purchase of problematic building would allow for improved creek flow

San Rafael, CA – San Anselmo, located within the Ross Valley watershed, has experienced numerous floods over the years that have caused great hardship for business owners and residents as well as millions of dollars in damage. In an effort to create flood-reduction options there, the Marin County Department of Public Works (DPW) is pursuing the purchase of a property in downtown San Anselmo that has long obstructed stormwater flow and contributed to flooding throughout the Ross Valley.

Muddy flood waters in Corte Madera Creek get close to flood level near buildings in downtown San Anselmo.The building at 634 San Anselmo Avenue straddles the creek and causes water flow problems during storms.
The building at 634 San Anselmo Avenue hangs over San Anselmo Creek, and its foundations are built directly into the creek bed, causing one of the primary obstructions to creek flow in Ross Valley. During the September 19 meeting, the Marin County Board of Supervisors set in motion an option to potentially purchase the building for $1.75 million. That price is based on an appraised cost and a comparison of two recent sales of similar buildings on San Anselmo Avenue.

The San Anselmo Flood Risk Reduction Project, spearheaded by the Marin County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, is designed to improve public safety and protect property throughout Fairfax and San Anselmo and is undergoing an environmental impact report (EIR). The building acquisition is one of the options being considered in the EIR, and would benefit more than 500 residential and commercial parcels along San Anselmo Creek in Ross Valley.

A draft of the report will be available for public review in January 2018,  and a public hearing for the final EIR will take place in April 2018. If the final EIR is approved and recommends the removal of the building to make way for flood mitigation efforts, the County would move forward with purchasing the property at that time.

The procedure would be a collaborative process with business owners who would need to relocate. Four businesses occupy the building: L’Appart Resto, The Ranch Salon, San Anselmo Optometry, and a Coldwell Banker real estate office. Additionally, a business in the neighboring building, Feldman Art Gallery, would also qualify for relocation. Under the Uniform Relocation Act, certain relocation expenses would be eligible for reimbursement through the state. The flood control district would use an independent business relocation consultant to prepare a plan, and the cost of relocating the five businesses would be based on surveys of similar local business properties.

If that option proceeds, construction would begin in January 2019 to meet state grant deadlines. Following that timeline, the anticipated completion date would be December 2020 and the renovated site would be incorporated into the town’s adjoining Creekside Park.

The $1.75 million potential purchase of property would be funded from the Ross Valley Flood Fee, which was passed in 2007. The fund currently has $5.7 million in available balance, which is used strictly for flood mitigation within Ross Valley’s Flood Control Zone 9, as overseen by the flood control district.

The district is leading the environmental review in partnership with the Town of San Anselmo. The project is a component of the Ross Valley Watershed Program, which looks at broader flood analysis and mitigation measures being considered for the 28 square-mile watershed. An EIR for the entire program is underway in parallel with the project EIR.

Information on the program and project EIRs, as well as other flood mitigation information for the region, can be found on the Ross Valley Watershed website at


Liz Lewis
Water Resources Manager
Public Works

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 304
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-7226
Email: Liz Lewis
Public Works website