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Terra Linda
—  Former unincorporated community  —
Terra Linda
Terra Linda is located in California
Terra Linda
Location in California
Coordinates: 38°00′15″N 122°32′59″W / 38.00417°N 122.54972°W / 38.00417; -122.54972Coordinates: 38°00′15″N 122°32′59″W / 38.00417°N 122.54972°W / 38.00417; -122.54972
Country United States
State California
County Marin County
City San Rafael
Elevation [1] 171 ft (52 m)

Terra Linda is a former unincorporated community incorporated in San Rafael in Marin County, California.[1] It lies at an elevation of 171 feet (52 m).[1]

The Terra Linda neighborhood is located in the Las Gallinas Valley area of Marin County, approximately 14 miles (23 km) north of the Golden Gate Bridge.



Terra Linda, a community in a valley surrounded by green and gold publicly-preserved open space hills, is a residential and light commercial/office community that was built on what was formerly the property of the Manuel T. Freitas family, one of the original immigrant Portuguese (Spanish land-grant) owners. It was originally operated as a dairy farm. The site of the ranch house and buildings is now the site of St. Isabella's Catholic Church and School.

Most of Terra Linda was built after World War II and was largely completed by 1970. Terra Linda is located in North San Rafael and shares Zip Code 94903 with Santa Venetia, Marinwood, and Lucas Valley. The Terra Linda post office was established in 1961.[2] About 900 homes in Terra Linda were built by Joseph Eichler from 1955 to 1965 the early 1960s.[3] Terra Linda's main streets are Las Gallinas, Freitas Parkway, and Redwood Highway. Its population is about 10,000.

Early Terra Linda residents formed a Community Services District, and Recreation & Parks District, under the direct authority of the Marin County government. These entities built the public infrastructure that stands today. In the early 1970s, citizens voted to annex these entities to the City of San Rafael.

The valley's main arteries, Manuel T. Freitas Parkway and Del Ganado Road, follow Santa Margarita creek, whose bed was cemented over in the early 1960s and turned into a storm trough when the area was developed. Freitas Parkway was originally designed to have three lanes (it currently just has two) each way to go over the ridge into the Sleepy Hollow neighborhood of San Anselmo. This design was never finished after Marin County Open Space bought the land on the ridge. Plans are being made to restore the creek to its original state and redesign Freitas Parkway to accommodate the creek. Costs to restore the creek are estimated at $20 million.


Schools in the Terra Linda area include the Dixie School District (Dixie Elementary School, Mary Silveira Elementary School, Vallecito Elementary School, and Miller Creek Middle School), Terra Linda High School (2004 NCS 2A Rewood Empire Football Champions and rival of San Rafael High School: both are in the San Rafael City High School District), and a number of private schools including St. Isabella’s Parish School (a Catholic K-8 school which in the Archdiocese of San Francisco), and St. Marks private school. St. Marks was previously known as Don Timoteo Elementary School, named after Don Timoteo Murphy, who built the first house in San Rafael. He was one of the first residents of Marin County and owned a large amount of land in the area. He also managed the property of (Mission San Rafael Arcángel). Montessori operates in Christ Presbyterian Church facilities.

Terra Linda's Marindale School, a school for physically challenged children, was a famous pioneer from the 1950s forward in providing a combination of specialized and mainstream education for its students, who became members of the co-located Santa Margarita School classes for a part of each day.

Other Facilities

At the edge of Terra Linda sits the world-famous Guide Dogs for the Blind, which predates the community. Its "students" and trainers can be seen walking Terra Linda and San Rafael streets each day.

The Mall at Northgate is the only enclosed mall in Marin County. Two anchor tenants dating from its original open-air design, were the Emporium, now Macy's, and Sears,and Kohls (previously Mervyn's); there also is a 15-screen theater, which was once a single-screen theater in another part of the mall. (Sears is the only original tenant, Mervyn's is new construction since the enclosure and Macy's was the Emporium before the enclosure. The theater was a half-dozen store fronts north of its present location.)Since 2008, the mall has been in the process of undergoing extensive remodeling, with completion projected for 2009. Also in 2008, mall resident Mervyn's announced its bankruptcy and has gone out of business.

Kaiser Hospital and clinic, a major facility in the Kaiser Permanente network, and one of the major full-service hospitals in the North Bay area, sits on the hill on the south side of Terra Linda.

1970's Crime Incident

Terra Linda is the location of the notorious "BBQ murders". In 1975, sixteen-year-old Marlene Olive and her shy boyfriend Chuck Riley murdered Marlene's parents as detailed in the 1982 book Bad Blood: A Family Murder in Marin County. The two then burned the bodies in a firepit at China Camp State Park.[4][5]

Notable residents

Mountain biker Susan DeMattei who won the Bronze Medal in Mountain Biking at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia was born and raised in San Rafael.

Swimmer Rick DeMont, gold medal winner at the 1972 Olympics that was taken away when the US Olympic Committee failed to notify the IOC that Rick was taking asthma medicine that caused ephedrine to show up in a drug test.[6] Currently a highly successful, world-renowned freestyle sprint coach. Rick attended Terra Linda High School and graduated in 1973.

Writer Dylan Orellana, who is known for his work with the S.O.A.K. artist's collective, resides in Terra Linda with his longtime girlfriend and dog.[1]

Bill Lee, MLB pitcher with the Boston Red Sox and the Montreal Expos, graduated from Terra Linda High School in 1964.

Multi Gold Medal US Olympic swimmer Ann Curtis Cuneo operated the private "Ann Curtis Swim Club" and swim team in Terra Linda for 20 years.

James Hetfield, vocalist and rhythm guitarist of the thrash metal band Metallica, resided in Novato for years before moving to Terra Linda recently.


  1. ^ a b c U.S. Geological Survey Geographical Names Information System: Terra Linda, San Rafael, California
  2. ^ Durham, David L. (1998). California's Geographic Names: A Gazetteer of Historic and Modern Names of the State. Quill Driver Books. p. 697. ISBN 9781884995149.  
  3. ^ The Eichler Network
  4. ^ Levine, Richard M. (1982). Bad Blood: A Family Murder in Marin County. New York: New American Library. ISBN 0451125487.
  5. ^ Best of 2002: Best Place for a Creepy Late-Night Barbecue by David Templeton, North Bay Bohemian, March 21, 2002.
  6. ^


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