History of Peacock Gap


Peacock Gap - A History, 1979

Archeology/History published in 1979 and authored by the University of California, Berkeley Department of Conservation and Resource Studies for the City of San Rafael.  This study includes the pre-history of the area as well as the history of the McNear family and the development of Peacock Gap and Glenwood.  

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The Lagoon

The golf course and lagoon were marshland and tidal flats until John and Erskine McNear built Pt. San Pedro Road then sold it to the County in 1894. The McNears used rock and gravel from their quarry to shore up the low spots. The County paved the road in 1934. At Peacock Gap there was open water on the south side of the road and marshes to the north.

In the late 1950's developers came to Peacock Gap with big plans - a golf course, which opened in 1960, a deepwater marina and beaches. Originally the lagoon was to be surrounded by apartments and have public access – which it did for many years - with water sports including swimming and boating. Currently there are 41 homes on the lagoon.

Plans were developed in conjunction with the City of San Rafael to convert the marshlands into the golf course and to establish flood management for the new community. Flood management was accomplished by excavating the lowest land as a catch basin, or flood retention area, and by directing rain and irrigation overflow from the golf course greens as well as from the neighborhood streets (water that flows into the street storm drains). All waters are directed into the lagoon, or catch basin, where they are held for recreational use. The City of San Rafael is responsible for discharging these waters into the San Francisco Bay via a pump station on Lagoon Road. The electrically powered pump was modernized a few years ago, and a diesel generator was added to provide power in the event of storm-caused power outages.

In 1997 a new golf course owner proposed to renovate and modernize the course, which required an environmental review and compliance with new environmental laws. Specifically, the Clean Water Act was enforceable, which restricts degraded water from being discharged into federal waterways such as the San Francisco Bay. Water quality standards were required by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board/CAL EPA to ensure that the San Francisco Bay is protected from polluted or degraded water from the lagoon.

Water quality and the relationship with human health and safety were key community concerns as well. Volunteers organized, collected donations, obtained grant money from Marin County and established community environmental educational programs. These grass roots efforts were successful in updating and improving the management practices of both the City of San Rafael, as operators of the discharging pump station, and the golf course owners, who own the land beneath the lagoon. The role of the lagoon/catch basin is now understood to support the San Francisco Bay environment, its wetlands and marine animal and bird habitats. Lagoon residents can now enjoy safe recreational access to these waters.