San Rafael, CA – The ongoing public discussion about the possible renaming of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Marin County continues January 25 with an online session with Marin County Supervisors Dennis Rodoni and Katie Rice.
The boulevard, one of Marin’s primary east-west thoroughfares, has been the topic of several earlier sessions in light of deep public discourse on civil rights, historical record, and its namesake’s documented history as a 16th century slave trader. An organized grassroots effort to rename the road has surfaced over the past year.
The two Supervisors have worked with a cross-jurisdictional working group comprised of council representatives from each of the cities and towns through which Sir Francis Drake Boulevard runs – Larkspur, Ross, San Anselmo, and Fairfax. The group has guided the process to date. In the coming months, each jurisdiction representative will engage with their respective communities. The process will conclude with a public hearing in each jurisdiction to decide whether to rename the road within that jurisdiction. The five agencies agreed to complete this Phase 1 by March 31.
The January 25 session will start at 6 p.m. and will be closed captioned, offer Spanish translation and ASL/CDI interpretation (available via Zoom webinar ID: 994 2269 4295; Password: 212141). The session will be recorded and shared at a later time. The meeting will include a summary of outreach to date, presentation of the research gathered (such as costs and impacts to businesses/residents), historical information on naming of road, and a Q&A panel to hear from businesses/residents along the corridor in unincorporated areas. Answers to frequently asked questions are already online.
Rodoni, now the President of the Board of Supervisors, represents West Marin, where the boulevard winds through Point Reyes National Seashore and ends at the Point Reyes Lighthouse. He also represents residents in the Larkspur Landing, Quentin Village, and eastern San Rafael areas where that section of Drake Boulevard connects with Highway 580. Rice represents residents in the lower and upper Ross Valley, through which Drake Boulevard serves as the primary transportation artery.
Rodoni and Rice co-hosted an online listening session in June 2020 and a learning session with historians and representatives of Federated Tribe Graton Rancheria representing the Coast Miwok in August 2020. Visit the Marin County Free Library’s Drake Boulevard History Resource Page to review the June 26 listening session in both English and Spanish as well as online resources gathered by MCFL about Sir Francis Drake, about the Boulevard, and about Coast Miwok history.
The County of Marin’s Department of Public Works (DPW) maintains 35.3 miles of the boulevard’s 42.9 miles of pavement. In addition to towns and cities, Drake Boulevard runs through the unincorporated areas of Greenbrae, Kentfield, Woodacre, San Geronimo, Forest Knolls, Lagunitas, Olema, Inverness Park and Inverness.
Drake, an English explorer, is believed to have anchored his ship off Marin’s Pacific Coast and made landfall in 1579. According to History.com, Drake participated in some of the earliest English slaving voyages to Africa starting in 1567, and he earned a reputation for his piracy against Spanish ships and possessions.
The road was labeled with several previous names before it became Sir Francis Drake Highway in 1929 as a marketing ploy to attract tourists to Marin. Local historian Dewey Livingston documented the saga in an essay shared with the Marin County Free Library.
The Town of Ross has already said “NO” to the county in renaming the boulevard. Also, Supervisor Rice has already said she wants the boulevard renamed.