County of Marin - News Releases - West Marin TOT

For Immediate Release
July 17, 2018

West Marin Occupancy Tax Hearing Set for July 31

Adding 4% on lodging would enhance emergency protection, local housing

San Rafael, CA – The Marin County Board of Supervisors has scheduled a July 31 merit hearing about a proposed tax increase that would be paid by overnight visitors in West Marin to support municipal services provided in that area.

County Counsel, Brian Washington, addresses the Board of Supervisors at a July 17, 2018 meeting.County Counsel, Brian Washington, discusses legal considerations of the proposed Transient Occupancy Tax for West Marin.
If approved, the Board would allow the proposed increase to be placed on the November 6 ballot. Because these new funds would be dedicated for a specific purpose, the ballot measure would require approval by at least two-thirds of the voters in a proposed new West Marin Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) Rate Area. The geographic boundaries would include all of coastal West Marin from Muir Beach to the south up to Dillon Beach in the north. It would include the San Geronimo Valley, Nicasio, Hicks Valley, and western slopes of Mount Tamalpais.

The Supervisors discussed a potential TOT rate adjustment for West Marin during their June 19 meeting and followed it July 17 with a first reading of an ordinance to call for the special election.

The proposal is to raise the rate from 10 percent of a lodging bill, which applies countywide, to 14 percent in West Marin through a ballot measure and establish a new 4 percent rate for private campground visitors in West Marin. Should a TOT rate adjustment be embraced by West Marin voters, proprietors at hotels, motels, bed & breakfast inns, conference centers, short-term rental properties and campgrounds would adjust charges for visitors.

Based on enhanced enforcement efforts and year-end receipts, it’s estimated after revised projections that a West Marin TOT rate of 14 percent would generate approximately $1.3 million in additional funds annually, which is consistent with previous estimated revenue at a 15% rate. The 14 percent rate also aligns with the 14 percent TOT rate of neighboring San Francisco. The additional funds would be split evenly between emergency services and community housing needs in West Marin.

“It deserves to be placed before the voters since the benefits from the additional revenue would greatly assist the community in critical-need areas, and the visitor will be asked to support these needs.” said District 4 Supervisor Dennis Rodoni, who represents West Marin. “No more than 5 percent of the proceeds could be used for administrative expenses.”

Balancing the costs and benefits of tourism is essential to the preservation of Marin’s communities and local residents’ quality of life, and TOT revenue is an important factor in that balance. The tax funds are used to mitigate the impacts of tourism and to fund tourism-friendly projects that benefit the County. Public parks, historical structure preservation, environmental preservation, and improvements to infrastructure are fueled in part by TOT revenues.

“Visitation to West Marin has increased significantly over time, and residents should not bear the entire burden that visitors bring to the area,” Rodoni said. “A new West Marin TOT would be an added TOT applicable only to unincorporated West Marin and the additional revenues would be for the benefit of enhanced emergency services and community housing needs in West Marin.”

Money from the TOT, collected under authorization from California Revenue and Taxation Code Section 7280, may be used for any legitimate County expense. The Board directed staff to ensure that proposed ballot language was clear that the additional funds would be used exclusively for West Marin. A local oversight committee of West Marin residents would be empaneled to ensure that the revenue is spent within the boundaries of the West Marin Tax Area and for the purposes approved by the voters.

Learn more about TOT on the Department of Finance webpage.


Daniel Eilerman
Assistant County Administrator
County Administrator's Office

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 325
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-7364
Email: Daniel Eilerman
County Administrator website