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News Release —
County Committed to Binford Road RV Encampment Efforts in Light of Legal Challenge

Temporary restraining order denied by federal judge
Marin county civic center

Body of News Release

San Rafael, CA – A Federal District Court judge on Thursday denied a request for a temporary restraining order regarding County of Marin efforts designed to ensure safe passage along Binford Road near Novato and protecting the environment while working with homeless occupants along the corridor to connect them to safe housing opportunities. 

“The County works hard to support those living in RVs on Binford Road while also ensuring safe travel and protection of the environment by removing excess or hazardous personal property along this busy roadway,” said Dan Eilerman, Assistant County Executive. ”Our staff works with the population in a humane and supportive manner, providing extensive communications, properly disposing of hazardous materials, storing removed property, and destroying unwanted property after notice or with permission.”

A request for a temporary restraining order (TRO) was filed May 28 seeking to restrain the County from removing and destroying personal property adjacent to RVs on Binford Road. 

“County staff removes dangerous or excess materials accumulated along the public right-of-way that present safety concerns or are environmental hazards,” said Jamie Scardina, Marin County Sheriff. “I hear a lot about this from the community.”

Several fires have occurred along the corridor, and water pollution is a concern of regulatory agencies. 

Notice and outreach efforts inform individuals of the phone number they may reach out to in order to retrieve their property. The County asked the court to deny the request for a TRO, and declarations from County staff disputed the allegations.

“County staff communicate individually with those living in RVs to explain requirements for the safety of motorists and their own safety,” Eilerman said. ”Staff members have regular contact with each individual to identify items they want stored, what items they want to move into or on top of their RV, or want the County to properly dispose of.” 

Binford Road is a two-lane County maintained road with no sidewalks surrounded by the bay to the east and commercial buildings along much of the west, parallel to Highway 101 and just north of Novato city limits. A homeless encampment started with a dozen or so recreational vehicles during the COVID-19 pandemic. By August 2023 it had grown into a refuge for approximately 115 individuals in more than 150 vehicles across some 75 individual sites along the roadway. At the end of May 2024, there are 90 people living along the roadway at fewer than 50 sites. 

Several departments, including Health & Human Services, Public Works, the Community Development Agency, and the Sheriff’s Department stepped up efforts last summer to provide housing-based case management and outreach services to connect individuals to essential services and housing. Other services include portable bathrooms and handwashing stations, trash pickup and debris removal, regular pump out services to RV’s capable of the service, ensuring safety of individuals, and protecting the environment along the sensitive waters and habitat adjacent to the roadway. 

The County adopted a goal of enabling permanent supportive housing for at least half of the individuals along Binford Road within two years, and all within three years, made possible largely with state grant funding. In April, the County received an additional $18 million from the State of California’s Encampment Resolution Funds, $3.7 million of which is devoted to the Binford Road community to further these efforts. 

“Our goal all along has been to help individuals attain safe housing and provide key supports and services with a coordinated, compassionate and service-oriented response,” said Director of Marin County Health and Human Services Dr. Lisa Warhuus. “The plan is working, with 25 former encampment residents having been housed since August 2023, and an additional 12 on an identified housing pathway.” 

District 5 Supervisor Eric Lucan, who represents much of Novato, said, “We must focus on helping residents transition to safe housing while working to protect the sensitive habitat along the water. We’ve made progress, but our goal remains to identify housing options with an open, collaborative and humane approach.” 

The Board of Supervisors receives occasional updates during public meetings about efforts to reduce homelessness, and the public can monitor progress on the HHS website. Efforts to address homelessness are making headway, according to data released from the 2024 Point in Time Count.

Affordable housing and solutions to homelessness remain top priorities for the Board of Supervisors, aligning with responses from recent countywide community surveys. Marin HHS’ Division of Homelessness and Coordinated Care works to end homelessness in Marin by transforming the system of care, partnering with local jurisdictions and nonprofit agencies, and helping provide housing for the most vulnerable community members. A primary goal is to ensure clients remain housed utilizing the housing first approach.


Page updated May 30, 2024