Please note:  City Hall and most departments/facilities will be closed from December 23rd through January 2nd. We will resume all services on Tuesday, January 3, 2023.

Maintaining Essential City Services

San Rafael is a wonderful place to live, work, raise a family and retire. Local residents value safe neighborhoods, good schools and the strong sense of community.

Aging Streets, Storm Drains, Libraries and Infrastructure

Incorporated in 1874, San Rafael is one of California’s oldest cities. With streets, sidewalks, bridges, storm drains, parks, playgrounds, libraries and other public buildings constructed as San Rafael grew throughout the 20th Century, aging city infrastructure needs repair and improvements. For example, San Rafael has 331 miles of streets that require ongoing pothole repair and repaving. Failing storm drains cause street flooding, which impedes rapid emergency response, evacuation routes and damages public and private property. Older public buildings like the downtown San Rafael Carnegie Library, which was built in 1909, do not meet current seismic safety standards and accessibility standards for youth, older adults and people with disabilities. Aging libraries lack space for summer reading classes and other programs for children, families and older adults.

Locally-Controlled Funding for Local Needs

The City of San Rafael is currently considering options for funding improvements to aging streets, storm drains, libraries and other public infrastructure. One option is placing a measure on the November 2022 ballot to increase the existing property transfer tax by 1% – which is only paid when a property is bought or sold in San Rafael. This measure would require approval from a majority of San Rafael residents and is estimated to provide $8 million annually in locally controlled funding to support city services and infrastructure, such as:

  • Repairing potholes and city streets, sidewalks and traffic signals
  • Upgrading storm drains to reduce street flooding and storm drain failures
  • Preserving rapid 9-1-1 emergency response and evacuation routes
  • Keeping city parks, playgrounds and downtown safe and clean, including addressing the impacts of homelessness
  • Repairing, renovating and updating the downtown San Rafael Carnegie Library and neighborhood branch libraries for safety, accessibility and to support programming

Accountability Requirements

A proposed measure to maintain and upgrade general city infrastructure in San Rafael would include fiscal accountability protections, including:

  • All funds must stay in San Rafael for local uses
  • No funds may be taken by the State
  • Annual independent audits and public disclosure of spending is required
  • Help San Rafael qualify for state and federal funding for infrastructure and homeless services that will otherwise go to other communities
  • This is not an annual tax on property owners - this tax is only paid when a property is bought or sold in San Rafael

Fact Sheet

We Value Your Input

The City of San Rafael welcomes your feedback and questions as we make plans to maintain and improve aging streets, storm drains, buildings and infrastructure. For more information or to share feedback on local priorities, please contact the City Manager’s office at (415) 485-3070 or cityservices@CityofSanRafael.org.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

San Rafael strives to provide a safe, healthy, prosperous and livable environment in partnership with the community. Important priorities include safe neighborhoods, good schools and the strong sense of community.

Incorporated in 1874, San Rafael is one of California’s oldest cities. With streets, sidewalks, bridges, storm drains, libraries and other public buildings constructed as San Rafael grew throughout the 20th Century, the aging infrastructure needs repair and improvements. For example, San Rafael has 331 miles of streets that require ongoing pothole repair and repaving. Failing storm drains cause street flooding, which impedes rapid emergency response, evacuation routes and damages to public and private property. Older public buildings like the downtown San Rafael Carnegie Library, which was built in 1909, do not meet current seismic safety standards nor accessibility standards for youth, older adults and people with disabilities. The aging library lacks space for summer reading classes and other programs for children, families and older adults.

The City of San Rafael is currently considering options for funding improvements to aging streets, storm drains, libraries and other public infrastructure. One option is placing a measure on the November 2022 ballot to increase the existing property transfer tax by 1% – which is only paid when a property is bought or sold in San Rafael. This measure would require approval from a majority of San Rafael residents and is estimated to provide $8 million annually in locally controlled funding to support city services and infrastructure.

Funding from a potential measure could support general city services and projects, such as:

  • Repairing potholes, city streets, sidewalks and traffic signals
  • Upgrading storm drains to reduce street flooding and storm drain failures
  • Preserving rapid 9-1-1 emergency response and evacuation routes
  • Keeping city parks, playgrounds and downtown safe and clean, including addressing the impacts of homelessness
  • Repairing, renovating and updating the downtown San Rafael Carnegie Library and neighborhood branch libraries for safety, accessibility and to support programming

A thorough analysis of San Rafael’s aging library facilities has identified upgrades required for safety, access for older adults and people with disabilities, and functionality for users. For example, the 113-year-old Downtown Library has frequent roof leaks, inadequate plumbing and restrooms and outdated electrical systems that cannot support current technology needs. Children’s programs at the Downtown Library are conducted in a converted parking garage. Additional space is needed for collections and programming at all three libraries, including the Pickleweed and Terra Linda branch libraries.

The City of San Rafael is committed to accountability and transparency with local funds. A local funding measure would likely include a clear system of fiscal accountability, including:

  • By law, all funds raised by the measure must stay in San Rafael for local uses
  • No funds may be taken away by the State
  • Annual independent audits and public disclosure of spending are required

Yes, most state and federal funding for infrastructure and other investments require local matching funds. A local funding measure would help San Rafael qualify for state and federal funding for infrastructure and homeless services that will otherwise go to other communities.

This is not an annual tax on property owners. A real estate transfer tax is only paid when a property is bought or sold in San Rafael and is calculated as a percentage of the purchase price.

No. By law, all funds from a local voter approved funding measure must be spent locally to address local needs.

The proposed measure would need a 50% majority vote in order to pass. All registered voters living in the City of San Rafael would be eligible to vote on the measure.

You can register to vote at www.registertovote.ca.gov. To find out more about voting in the November 8, 2022 election, please contact the Marin County Elections Department at (415) 473-6456.

The City of San Rafael welcomes your feedback and questions as we make plans to maintain and improve aging streets, storm drains, buildings and infrastructure. For more information or to share feedback on local priorities, please contact the City Manager’s office at (415) 485-3070 or cityservices@CityofSanRafael.org.

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