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Town of San Anselmo
—  Town  —
Location in Marin County and the state of California
Coordinates: 37°58′29″N 122°33′42″W / 37.97472°N 122.56167°W / 37.97472; -122.56167Coordinates: 37°58′29″N 122°33′42″W / 37.97472°N 122.56167°W / 37.97472; -122.56167
Country United States
State California
County Marin
 - Town Council Barbara Thornton (Mayor)
Ford Greene (Vice-Mayor)
Kay Coleman
Jeff Kroot
Tom McInerney
 - Town Manager Debra Stutsman
 - County Board District 2
Harold Brown
 - Representation Sen. Mark Leno (D)
Asm. Jared Huffman (D)
Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D)
 - Total 2.7 sq mi (7.1 km2)
 - Land 2.7 sq mi (7.1 km2)
 - Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation [1] 46 ft (14 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 12,378
 Density 4,584.4/sq mi (1,743.4/km2)
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 - Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP codes 94960, 94979
Area code(s) 415
FIPS code 06-64434
GNIS feature ID 0277591

San Anselmo is an incorporated town in Marin County, California, in the western United States. San Anselmo is located 1.5 miles (2.4 km) west of San Rafael,[2] at an elevation of 46 feet (14 m).[1] It is located about 20 miles (32 km) north of San Francisco. Neighboring towns include San Rafael to the east, Fairfax to the west, and Ross to the south. Mount Tamalpais dominates the view to the south. The population was 12,378 at the 2000 census.



San Anselmo was mostly pastoral until 1874 when the North Pacific Coast Railroad (NPC) added to its line a spur track from San Anselmo to San Rafael. In 1875, the railroad completed a line from Sausalito to Tomales and north to Cazadero via San Anselmo. For a few years, the town was referred to on railroad maps as Junction, but in 1883, the name San Anselmo came back into use. The San Anselmo post office opened in 1892.[2] Two postal substations were operated: Lansdale from 1924 to 1962, and Yolanda from 1924 to 1954.[2]

From 1902 until the early 1940s, San Anselmo was part of Marin's Northwestern Pacific (in 1907, investors formed the NWP) Electric Train system.[3][4][5] The Miracle Mile's and Center Boulevard's current "raised roadbed" were the railroad's right of way. Becoming unprofitable as a result of competition from the automobile and the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge, the railway was officially closed on March 1, 1941. The last of the major San Anselmo railroad station buildings was razed in 1963, according to the town's timeline. Interestingly, the 1913 electric train schedule shows a commute time from San Anselmo to the Sausalito Ferry to the Ferry Building in San Francisco of a mere 58 minutes, including the 32 minute ferry transit.[6]

San Anselmo incorporated in April 9, 1907. Its name came from the Punta de Quintin land grant, which marked this valley as the Canada del Anselmo (Valley of Anselm - an Indian who was buried in the area). San Anselmo was a silent film capital in the early 1900s. On March 12, 1974 San Anselmo officially became a town.

The town features in the song Snow in San Anselmo by Irish born singer/songwriter Van Morrison, about an unusual bout of winter weather that occurred when he was living in Fairfax, near San Anselmo in the 70's

Most of the downtown antique and boutique stores and restaurants, for which San Anselmo is well known, are along the banks of San Anselmo Creek.


The average high temperature is 85 °F (29 °C), in July, and the average low temperature is 41 °F (5 °C), in January and December. The record high was 111 °F (44 °C) in July, 1972, and record low was 18 °F (−8 °C) in December, 1990. Average rainfall is 47.47 inches (1,206 mm), with the rainiest month being January.[7]

All but a sliver of San Anselmo lies within the 28-square-mile (73 km2) Ross Valley Watershed that flows into San Francisco Bay. The principal waterway of the town's portion of the watershed is San Anselmo Creek, a branch of Corte Madera Creek. Two of San Anselmo Creek's tributaries, Sleepy Hollow Creek and Sorich Creek, also flow through the town, as do East Fork Creek and West Fork Creek, Sorich Creek's two tributaries.[8]

There are three main roads running through San Anselmo. Their junction is known as the Hub, which lies in the central business district. Sir Francis Drake Boulevard runs north from Ross, turns north-west at the Hub, and then proceeds west to Fairfax. Red Hill Avenue runs east from San Rafael, where it is called 4th Avenue, and into the Hub where it becomes Center Street. Center runs north-west from the Hub to Fairfax.[9]

The town’s natural skyline is dominated by the hills of Ross Valley. To the north are Red Hill and Grove Hill. To the south-west is Bald Hill. To the east is Moore Hill. In the distance to the south is Mount Tamalpais.[10][11]

A large part of southern and western San Anselmo is built on a natural flood plain. About every 15-23 years, heavy rains cause the San Anselmo creek to flood the center of town by up to 4 feet - 1925[12], 1940 (11.38" rainfall in 3 days), 1963, January 1982,[13] as well as December 30/31, 2005. The worst flood, on Jan 2, 1982 (the highest creek water level, according to interviews with longtime creek side residents) was preceded by a rainfall amount that exceeded 8" in 12 hours.

San Anselmo's historic raised railroad bed (now Center Avenue), acts as a dike, providing some flood protection to the west side houses, upstream of the business district.

A number of homes on the floodplain (called the "Flatlands" by the Town) as far back as at least 1920, have been built with raised foundations to accommodate the minor periodic floods. Interestingly, the downtown Ross Valley (San Anselmo) Fire Department, that floods in most 20 year floods, was oddly just almost completely rebuilt, at the same grade, leaving it exposed for flooding in the next "20 year" flood.


As of the census[14] of 2000, there were 12,378 people, 5,267 households, and 3,191 families residing in the town. The population density was 4,506.5 people per square mile (1,737.9/km²). There were 5,408 housing units at an average density of 1,968.9/sq mi (759.3/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 91.62% White, 1.05% African American, 0.40% Native American, 2.92% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 0.95% from other races, and 2.93% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.14% of the population.

There were 5,267 households out of which 30.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.5% were married couples living together, 8.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.4% were non-families. 28.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.84.

In the town the population was spread out with 21.8% under the age of 18, 4.4% from 18 to 24, 31.4% from 25 to 44, 31.1% from 45 to 64, and 11.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 89.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.4 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $71,488, and the median income for a family was $86,528. Males had a median income of $61,172 versus $47,170 for females. The per capita income for the town was $41,977. About 2.5% of families and 5.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.7% of those under age 18 and 3.1% of those age 65 or over.


San Anselmo operates on a council-manager form of government, where the elected Town Council creates policy but hires an apolitical town manager to implement the policy. The five-member town council is elected by the town at large. The largely ceremonial posts of mayor and vice-mayor rotate among the council. As of December 2009, San Anselmo's mayor was Barbara Thornton, and the Town Manager was Debra Stutsman. Noted attorney Ford Greene was elected to the Council in 2007.

History, WW2

Ammunition Storage in Sleepy Hollow
During WW2, the Army based a small ammunition storage dump, known as ASP #2 about 2 miles up Butterfield Road from Sir Francis Drake Blvd. The facility was located between the road and a creek and had 23 to 45 men stationed there. [15] There were two batteries composed of four inch antiaircraft cannon manned by five soldiers on a 24 hour basis. One battery was on Stuyvesant Drive and the other on Oak Springs Hill.[16] During the war, the Sleepy Hollow Country Club, located in the old Hotaling mansion, was still open and provided a pleasant break from "grueling" guard duty, according to those stationed at the ammo dump.[17]

Air Raid Wardens
During WW2, "Air Raid" wardens, like Zinnia and Alfred Heiden of San Francisco Blvd, patrolled their assigned neighborhood during nighttime "air raid drills" to notify neighbors of any light that showed out of their houses. Windows were covered in cloth or thick paper during the war to deny enemy bombers illuminated night time bombing targets.[18]

Pilot training Accidents
In the late afternoon of November 2, 1941, 5 weeks before the US entered the war, San Anselmo residents were startled when two low-flying Curtiss P-40 warplanes roared up the valley at just above roof level and crashed into the east side of Bald Hill (often incorrectly reported as Mount Baldy or Bald Mountain) at 5:40pm.
Element leader Lt. Thomas “Bud” L. Truax and Lt. Russell E. Speckman were killed when their planes crashed, in low visibility, into Bald Hill, just shy of the peak. It was almost dark, was misty and they were under a low cloud ceiling. They were critically low on fuel and part of a larger training group that had gotten separated. They were under the wintertime marine layer of low clouds that are common in the Marin County area, searching for nearby Hamilton AFB to land.[19] [20]
Truax Field / Dane County Regional Airport KMSN, located in Madison, WI was named in memory of Lt. Truax.
A third pilot, Lt. Walter V. "Ramblin" Radovich,[21] had left the formation over San Rafael, almost hit the city courthouse on 4th Street, circled the Forbes Hill radio beacon (37°58'44.73"N,122°32'50.78"W), clipped a tree and then turned northeast, towards Hamilton AFB. Unsure of what the oncoming terrain would be and critically low on fuel, he decided to climb up though the typically thin marine cloud layer to 2500ft, trim the airplane for straight and level flight and bail out. According to USAAF accident reports, his left leg was broken when exiting the plane and he parachuted down, landing near Hwy 101 in Lucas Valley, reportedly near where Fireman's Fund / Marin Commons is currently located (38° 1'10.66"N, 122°32'29.36"W). Ironically, after Lt. Radovich bailed out, the airplane slowly descended back down through the clouds and made a relatively smooth "gear up" landing.

Notable residents, past and present

Ford Greene: anti-cult attorney, current Town Councilman and Vice-Mayor
Michael Jantze: syndicated comic strip writer "The Norm"
John Walker Lindh: The first "American Taliban"
George Lucas: film producer, screenwriter, director and chairman of Lucasfilm Ltd
Brian Leigh Maxwell: athlete, coach, entrepreneur, philanthropist, inventor of the PowerBar energy bar
Marc Reisner: environmental author


San Anselmo is home to a variety of schools:

  • Brookside Elementary School (California), part of the Ross Valley School District. It is divided into two campuses, upper and lower. Brookside lower campus is used by grades K-2, while the upper campus is used by grades 3-5.
  • Wade Thomas Elementary School, also part of the Ross Valley School District and teaching grades K-5.
  • Saint Anselm's Catholic School, a private school founded in 1924 by the Catholic Church. It teaches grades K-8.
  • Sir Francis Drake High School, part of the Tamalpais Union High School District, teaching grades 9-12.
  • San Francisco Theological Seminary, a part of the Presbyterian Church (USA) system of seminaries.
  • San Domenico School, which has a co-ed pre-kindergarten through eighth grade with an all-women school for grades 9 through 12.

Movies filmed in San Anselmo

  • Bandits (2001)
  • Farmer & Chase (1997)
  • Juko's Time Machine (2009)
  • The Martini Shot (2000/I)


  1. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographical Names Information System: San Anselmo, California
  2. ^ a b c Durham, David L. (1998). California's Geographic Names: A Gazetteer of Historic and Modern Names of the State. Quill Driver Books. p. 694. ISBN 9781884995149. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ The Weather Channel, "Averages and Records for San Anselmo, CA (94960)", [1] (Accessed 10/25/2007).
  8. ^ Ross Valley Watershed, "Watershed History", [2] (Accessed 10/25/2007).
  9. ^ Google Maps, Google Maps, [3] (Accessed 10/25/2007).
  10. ^ Ross Valley, "Watershed History".
  11. ^ "Topographical map of San Anselmo, from Google Maps".,+CA+94960+(94960)&ie=UTF8&ll=37.972012,-122.559357&spn=0.060083,0.112438&t=p&z=14&om=1. 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  15. ^ Claude E. Cook oral history
  16. ^ v Sleepy Hollow Country Club Homeowner's Association
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ The Night it Rained P-40's in Marin
  21. ^ Walter Radovich life story

See also

External links



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